A Fox host and Wall Street Journal assistant editor disputed the existence of a multiplier effect with unemployment benefits -- which generates more dollars worth of economic activity than the dollars invested in the program by boosting consumption -- though the effect is well supported by economic research.
Unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed expired at the end of 2013, abruptly cutting off benefits for 1.3 million Americans. Department of Labor estimates show it would cost approximately $25 billion to extend the unemployment insurance for another year, a step President Obama urged Congress to take during a January 7 speech in which he argued that such an extension would not only help people but help the economy and create jobs.
Wall Street Journal assistant editor James Freeman and Fox host Steve Doocy took issue with the idea that unemployment insurance benefits have a net-positive effect on the economy during the January 9 edition of Fox and Friends:
DOOCY: We heard this from the president the other day. Unemployment creates jobs. And?
FREEMAN: Yeah. It's hard to explain that one. The administration argument is that there's something called a multiplier, where when you put $1 of unemployment benefits into the economy it creates $1.80 in economic activity. So if this is true, this would suggest we should all stay home and the country will become wealthier by giving us unemployment benefits.
During the segment, Fox aired an on-screen graphic mocked the notion as "fuzzy math":
But economists agree that the economic benefits of unemployment benefits outweigh the cost. In what's known as the multiplier-effect -- which Freeman dismissed -- recipients of unemployment benefits reliably spend that money. In fact, Moody's chief economist Mark Zandi estimated that each dollar spent on unemployment benefits generates about $1.55 in economic activity. To put it another way, spending $25 billion on unemployment benefits would increase consumer spending and raise by $37.8 billion, according to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).
What's more, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explained that benefits for "unemployed workers in hard-pressed communities helps prevent the spread of layoffs and job losses in those communities." EPI emphasized (emphasis original):
We find that continuing the extensions through 2014 would generate spending that would support 310,000 jobs. If this program is discontinued, the economy will lose these jobs.
During her first week as a Fox News host, Elisabeth Hasselbeck ran daily "Eyes On Obamacare" segments that pushed falsehoods and myths about the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
On September 16, Hasselbeck hosted FoxBusiness.com reporter Kate Rogers to spread fear about some insurers dropping out of some states' individual health care markets, alleging that the law would increase the cost of health insurance.
But a report released by the Kaiser Family Foundation early in September found that the cost of obtaining health insurance will be lower than expected:
This report -based on 17 states and the District of Columbia that have made data publicly available -provides a preview of how premiums will vary across the country, and how much consumers in different circumstances will actually pay after taking into account the tax credits available under the ACA.
While premiums will vary significantly across the country, they are generally lower than expected. For example, we estimate that the latest projections from the Congressional Budget Office imply that the premium for a 40-year-old in the second lowest cost silver plan would average $320 per month nationally. Fifteen of the eighteen rating areas we examined have premiums below this level, suggesting that the cost of coverage for consumers and the federal budgetary cost for tax credits will be lower than anticipated.
The Department of Health and Human Services also released a report on September 16 that shows 56 percent of uninsured Americans could obtain health insurance for less than $100 per month. From the report's press release:
A new report released today by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) shows that 56 percent, or nearly six in ten of the people who don't have health insurance today may be able to get coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace for less than $100 per month.
Of the 41.3 million individuals who are uninsured and eligible for coverage, 23.2 million (56 percent) may qualify for Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program, or tax credits to purchase coverage for $100 or less per month. The amount an individual will save on premiums depends on their family income and size. Today's report uses data about family income and size from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey to estimate the number of uninsured individuals who will qualify for lower costs on monthly premiums.
Today's report also shows that if all 50 states took advantage of new options to expand Medicaid coverage, nearly 8 out of every 10 people (78 percent) who currently do not have insurance could be paying less than $100 a month for coverage under the Affordable Care Act. While some states are expanding their Medicaid programs in 2014, other states are not doing so.
Wall Street Journal assistant editorial page editor James Freeman claimed that efforts to pass cap and trade legislation will fail because there is "no premise" for such legislation since "there hasn't been any warming since 1998," later adding that "there's no proof that this is happening as a result of man's activities, in fact, lately, it's not even happening anymore."