Brad Blakeman, a Republican strategist and former Bush White House aide, today pushed the GOP narrative that President Obama favored health care reform over fixing the economy. This narrative doesn't hold up to the facts, including that Obama pushed through the first of many economic initiatives a month after he was elected -- more than a year before health care reform became law.
In an appearance on Fox News' America's Newsroom, Blakeman lashed out at Obama, saying, "If health care is struck down, this president has an awful lot of explaining to do to the American people as to why he concentrated on health care at the expense of the economy."
The narrative that Obama chose health care reform over the economy is busted by the facts.
Obama's first speech to Congress, on February 24, 2009, focused on the economy, as CNN noted in an article that included the transcript of his speech. The headline CNN used read: "Obama speech to Congress focuses on economy."
On February 17, 2009, Obama signed the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law, which was described by the Associated Press as "an ambitious package of federal spending and tax cuts designed to revive the economy and save millions of jobs."
Obama also signed credit card reform into law in May 2009, assisted General Motors in exiting bankruptcy protection in July 2009, and announced several small business lending initiatives in October 2009.
Moreover, Obama administration measures have helped grow the economy. A May 2012 CBO report estimated that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act "lowered the unemployment rate by between 0.1 percentage points and 0.8 percentage points" and "increased the number of people employed by between 0.2 million and 1.5 million" during the first quarter of 2012. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Alan Krueger stated on June 1 that "the economy has added private sector jobs for 27 straight months, for a total of 4.3 million payroll jobs over that period."
Blakeman's remarks come on the heels of media figures, including Rush Limbaugh and The Washington Examiner's Byron York, amplifying Mitt Romney's discredited allegation that Obama knowingly slowed down the economic recovery by pushing for health care reform.
When will media outlets begin correcting this false narrative?
President Obama officially kicked off his reelection campaign today with a rally at Ohio State University. Viewers of Fox News could be forgiven for not knowing this, since the conservative network covered less than three minutes of the actual event before cutting out to get "reaction" from Republican strategist Brad Blakeman.
Imagine what Blakeman might have had to say had he heard the whole speech, which continued for quite a while, to the determined disinterest of the Murdoch network.
In the time it took the president to finish his remarks, Fox News aired several news segments, including a sit-down with Rep. Peter King (R-NY) about how the White House is supposedly screwing up the "war on terror," and a piece on how President Obama should be more like Ronald Reagan.
This was made all the more absurd by the guest's acknowledgement right out of the gate that "it's so difficult to even compare the two periods." Indeed it is! But there was clearly no interest in covering the president's first official reelection campaign speech, and they had to air something, right?
After Fox News aired a doctored version of Teamsters president James Hoffa's Labor Day speech, the right-wing media pointed to the clearly edited video to accuse Hoffa of encouraging violence against conservatives. In fact, unaltered video -- video aired by Fox hours after the clearly edited version had been heavily promoted throughout the conservative media -- shows that Hoffa was encouraging the crowd to vote against Republicans in the 2012 election.
From the April 25 edition of Fox News' America Live:
Loading the player reg...
Right-wing media figures seized on what ABC News' Jake Tapper has described as an "apparently erroneous" report of a statement allegedly made by President Obama's nominee for special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference Rashad Hussain to portray him as a "pro-jihadist," a "radical," and a "terrorist sympathizer." But, as Tapper points out, Hussain has argued that terrorism is "antithetical" to Islam had has written extensively on "[d]iscrediting the terrorist ideology...to stop al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups."
From the August 17 edition of MSNBC Live:
Loading the player reg...