In a Washington Times column, former Times chief political correspondent Donald Lambro claimed that President Obama "failed miserably" on the economy by thinking "he could spend his way out of the recession." But independent economists agree that Obama's economic recovery act significantly increased employment and GDP.
In the days leading up to the anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, a disaster that killed 11 men and resulted in the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history, conservative media figures have complained about federal oversight of drilling and have called for a swift increase in domestic oil production. This comes as news reports note that Congress has yet to enact reforms recommended by the National Oil Spill Commission, that the agency tasked with minimizing risks from offshore drilling lacks the resources to do so effectively, and that a design flaw in the blowout preventers has not been fixed.
If you've been reading conservative columnists lately, you might think balancing the budget via spending cuts is easy. That's what they keep telling us, anyway. Under the headline "Look, It's Easy to Whittle the Budget Down," for example, Donald Lambro writes:
There are lots of places where spending can be cut and billions saved. Among them:
-- Federal aid to the states: A study by budget analyst Chris Edwards at the Cato Institute found there are 1,122 aid-to-state programs, or "72 percent more programs than just a decade ago." "For lawmakers looking for places to cut, the $650 billion federal-aid empire would be a good place to start," he says.
-- Cut the government's travel budget to half of its level. Savings: $5.8 billion.
See? Easy! Except that Lambro doesn't write a word about about the consequences of slashing federal aid to the states -- what effect it would have on state budgets, on public services, on the economy, etc. And he doesn't write a word about what cutting the government travel budget in half would mean -- what wouldn't get done as a result, or what other costs would be incurred. He gives no indication that he has any idea what the "government's travel budget" pays for. (No, "travel" is not an answer, any more than "dinner" is an answer to the question "what did you have for dinner?") He just wants to cut it.
John Stossel, under the header "I can balance the budget" also pretends budget-cutting is easy: "[E]liminate the U.S. Education Department. We'd save $94 billion. Federal involvement doesn't improve education. It gets in the way. ... We should also eliminate Housing and Urban Development. That's $53 billion more. Who needs the Energy Department and its $20 billion sinkhole?"
Stossel may think that's a rhetorical question, but it isn't. In addition to little things like cleaning up radioactive waste and funding and conducting important scientific research, the DOE plays a rather significant national security role. How will radioactive waste get cleaned up in John Stossel's DOE-free world? How will students pay for college without the financial aid that disappears when Stossel eliminates the Department of Education?
As an opinion columnist, Stossel is of course under no obligation to have answers to those questions that I find satisfactory. But he gives no indication that he's even considered them, just as Lambro gives no indication that he has any idea what it means to cut travel spending, or what effects slashing aid to states would have on state budgets and the economy.
Yes, cutting the budget is easy if you completely ignore the consequences of doing so. But that isn't a rational approach to budgeting. Families struggling to make ends meet don't simply announce "we'll just spend half as much on food and transportation" and think they've solved their problem. They consider whether it's even possible to cut their grocery budget in half without starving or dooming their children to malnourishment. They consider whether it's possible to cut their transportation budget in half and still make it to and from work. And whether adding an additional hour to their daily commute will actually save money once they factor in the increased daycare expenses that will result.
But the "it's easy to cut government spending" crowd doesn't bother thinking things through like that. They just Google the Department of Education's total budget, say we should eliminate it, then wonder why people think balancing the budget is difficult.
Conservative media outlets including The Washington Times and Fox News have pushed the claim that health care reform proposals under consideration by Congress are unconstitutional. However, legal scholars -- including one who recently served as a special counsel to Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) during Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation proceedings -- have pointed out the flaws in conservatives' arguments, including the facts that regulation of the health care sector falls under Congress' broad power to regulate interstate commerce and that Congress has repeatedly passed laws regulating health care and health insurance.
Donald Lambro falsely claimed that President Obama said that equipment and tests used to "diagnose, treat or otherwise care for" patients "don't make Americans any healthier."
Media figures have continued to advance the claim that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has failed. In fact, many economists believe that it is too early for the stimulus package to have fully taken effect.
Many media conservatives have recently embraced and promoted the accusation, almost in unison, that President Obama has "lied" or broken promises. In many cases, these accusations are based on distortions of comments he has made or misrepresentations of campaign pledges.
The Washington Times' Donald Lambro wrote, "Nine thousand pork barrel earmarks were buried in the $410 billion omnibus budget that passed the House last week," adding that "President Obama told Congress the day before it passed that he was happy it didn't contain any earmarks, eliciting gales of laughter from the Republican side of the chamber who knew better." In fact, during his February 24 address to Congress, Obama praised the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act -- not the omnibus legislation -- for not containing any earmarks.
The Washington Times' Donald Lambro falsely claimed that in a January 2008 paper, President Barack Obama's campaign economic adviser Jason Furman "doubted any infrastructure spending 'would generate significant short-term stimulus.' " In fact, in that paper, while stating that infrastructure projects are "difficult to design in a manner that would generate significant short-term stimulus," Furman also said that infrastructure spending "might be more useful if policies could be designed to prevent cutoffs in ongoing infrastructure spending (such as road repair) that would exacerbate an economic downturn."
Claiming that President-elect Barack Obama's "wiggle-room talk is making his party's hard-line, antiwar base very unhappy and there is growing anger in the leftist blogosphere," The Washington Times' Donald Lambro falsely suggested that Obama has only recently proposed a "residual force" of U.S. troops in Iraq, claiming that Obama "now says the U.S. will have 'to maintain a residual force to provide potential training for the Iraqi military, logistical support to protect our civilians in Iraq' " [emphasis added]. In fact, Obama talked throughout the presidential campaign about the likely need for such a force to remain in Iraq.
A Washington Times article and a Boston Globe column both discussed a statement from the New York chapter of the National Organization for Women that criticized Sen. Edward M. Kennedy for endorsing Sen. Barack Obama and not Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for president, but both omitted the Clinton campaign's reported disavowal of NOW New York's statement. In a New York Daily News column, Bill Hammond reported that "her [Clinton's] campaign quickly disavowed [NOW New York president Marcia] Pappas' attack on Kennedy. 'This statement does not at all reflect her views or the opinion of the Clinton campaign,' spokesman Howard Wolfson said."
In his Washington Times column, Donald Lambro repeated the oft-debunked claim that Democrats received money from Jack Abramoff and used months-old polling data to claim that a "plurality" of Americans view congressional ethics scandals as affecting both Democrats and Republicans equally. In fact, more recent polling indicates that the public views ethics scandals as more of a Republican problem than a bipartisan issue.
The Washington Times' Donald Lambro claimed that New Jersey state Sen. Thomas H. Kean Jr., a Republican, "is running even" with Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) in the 2006 New Jersey senatorial race. In fact, the most recent polling shows that Menendez is six points ahead of Kean.
Over the span of two weeks, Washington Times chief political correspondent Donald Lambro has apparently reversed his support of continued U.S. military action in Iraq, without acknowledging that he has done so.