Fox News is distorting President Obama's economic agenda by pushing the straw-man argument that taxing the entirety of millionaires' incomes would fund the government for less than three months. In fact, Obama has proposed no such thing, and this Republican talking point obscures the billions in revenue that would be generated from letting the Bush tax cuts expire for wealthy households.
From the September 21 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:
Loading the player ...
Fox News host Jon Scott claimed that the "organized bankruptcy" Mitt Romney proposed for General Motors was "essentially what happened" for the automaker. But experts agree that the strategy Romney proposed for GM and the other automakers would not have worked given the state of the financial markets at the time.
On the September 14 edition of Fox News' Happening Now, Scott and Real Clear Politics reporter Erin McPike were discussing Romney's lagging poll numbers in "swing states" like Ohio, a state that has been receptive to Vice President Joe Biden's claim that "General Motors is alive" because of the Obama administration. Scott said, "We've also heard Governor Romney talk about the fact that what he proposed for the auto industry was an organized bankruptcy, which is essentially what happened to General Motors."
Romney first articulated his support for a "managed bankruptcy" and opposition to bailouts in a November 2008 New York Times op-ed, headlined "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt." Romney later expressed his sentiment that the automakers needed to go through bankruptcy before receiving any government assistance. In June, he told The Detroit News:
I think (Democrats) will try to distort what I was saying. As you know from the very beginning, it was my view that the companies -- if they were in distress - needed to go through a managed bankruptcy to relieve themselves of their excess debt and other burdens. If they needed help coming out of bankruptcy and government support, that was fine but I was not in favor of the government writing billions of dollars of checks prior to them going into bankruptcy -- and by the way that posture was ultimately agreed upon by people in Washington -- because despite the fact that they resisted going into bankruptcy, they finally came around.
Most recently, Romney said on the September 9 edition of NBC's Meet the Press:
My view was General Motors should have gone into bankruptcy earlier. The president resisted that for six months. I said, "Let them go into bankruptcy. Help them come out. But let them go in." And I don't think most Americans know that GM went bankrupt. That they did go bankrupt. The president put them into bankruptcy. And he finally did what I also thought was the right thing to do, but I thought it from the very beginning.
Scott's claim echoes what other Fox personalities have said in support of Romney's vision for handling the auto industry's problems -- that GM and Chrysler would have successfully navigated a bankruptcy filing without a government bailout. But economists pointed out at the time that credit markets -- which were in the midst of a financial crisis -- would not have permitted GM and Chrysler to come out of bankruptcy with the private financing it needed to survive and be competitive.
Fox News host Jon Scott disputed President Clinton's claim that no one could have turned the 2008 economy around in four years with a dishonest use of statistics and a faulty comparison to the Reagan economy.
On Happening Now, Scott showed part of Clinton's speech at the Democratic National Convention in which Clinton said that no president "could have fully repaired all the damage that [President Obama] found in just four years."
Scott then claimed that when President Reagan took office, unemployment was 8.2 percent, and by the time his first term ended, it had dropped to 6 percent. Scott concluded, "Clearly there are presidents who have faced challenges at least as great as those faced by President Obama."
During the segment, the following graphic aired:
In reality, the numbers Scott used are not from Reagan's first term -- they cover Reagan's entire eight-year presidency. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that the unemployment rate that Fox used was 8.2 percent in January 1981, but wasn't 6.0 percent until January 1989. In July 1984, which would correspond to the last month available for Obama's presidency, the rate was 7.5 percent, after declining from a high of 11.4 percent.
But Fox's problems with the data don't end there. Fox used employment data that are not seasonally adjusted. As the BLS points out, the adjusted numbers are the ones that are widely reported, because they avoid major fluctuations based on seasonal events such as weather and holidays. In fact, Fox itself normally uses the seasonally adjusted numbers to report on Obama's economic record, including in another dishonest graphic it aired last December.
Mitt Romney's nomination acceptance speech contained numerous falsehoods that originated in the right-wing media. Right-wing media have also echoed some of Romney's other dubious claims that were part of the speech.
In an attempt to shield Mitt Romney's campaign from criticism that many of its claims against the Obama administration are based on falsehoods, conservative media have resorted to attacking fact-checkers, accusing them of liberal bias or of "shilling" for the Obama campaign. This is in keeping with the position of the Romney campaign, which has said, "We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers."
From the August 15 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:
Loading the player ...
Fox News host Jon Scott suggested today that Democrats shouldn't criticize Medicare provisions in Paul Ryan's budget because "one of their own," Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), was a "cosponsor" of Ryan's plan. But while Wyden did write a Medicare policy paper with Ryan, he ultimately voted against Ryan's budget and has criticized the idea that it has bipartisan support.
On today's broadcast of Fox's Happening Now, Scott asked his guest about the Ryan plan, saying: "The Democrats are saying, you know, 'Extremist position on Medicare.' They're saying it's Social Darwinism, that kind of thing. And yet, conveniently ignoring that one of their own, Ron Wyden of Oregon, is a cosponsor of the Ryan plan."
But while Wyden did co-author a paper with Ryan in December 2011, he was not a "cosponsor" of Ryan's budget, nor did he support the Medicare changes the budget would have imposed. In fact, Wyden voted against Ryan's plan -- which called for "significant cuts for future Medicare benefits" -- when it was put forward in the Senate in May 2011. As Roll Call noted this week, Wyden "never signed on to support the House-adopted budget resolution written by Ryan that included plans for a premium support approach."
Not only did Wyden vote against Ryan's plan, he has specifically rejected the idea that his work with Ryan suggests there is bipartisan support for Ryan's plan. As Roll Call reported, Wyden called such an idea "nonsense":
At a Saturday campaign stop with his new vice presidential pick, Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.), Romney praised the House Budget chairman's work with Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.) to develop a Medicare overhaul plan.
"This man said, 'I'm going to find Democrats to work with.' He found a Democrat to co-lead a piece of legislation that makes sure we can save Medicare," Romney said in Ashland, Va. "Republicans and Democrats coming together. He's a man who has great ideas and the capacity to lead to find people to cross the aisle - to work together."
Wyden was quick to push back on Romney's version of events.
"Gov. Romney is talking nonsense. Bipartisanship requires that you not make up the facts. I did not 'co-lead a piece of legislation.'" Wyden said. "I wrote a policy paper on options for Medicare. Several months after the paper came out, I spoke and voted against the Medicare provisions in the Ryan budget."
From the July 27 editiion of Fox News' Happening Now:
Loading the player ...
Taking its cues from the Romney campaign, Fox News used many of its shows on July 16 to deflect from the brewing controversy over Mitt Romney's tenure at Bain Capital to focus on the economy:
In an appearance on Fox & Friends, Romney responded to intense scrutiny into his years as CEO, chairman, and sole shareholder of Bain by downplaying the criticism and focusing attention onto President Obama and the weak economy.
Fox News apparently noticed Romney's dodge, and several of the channel's hosts dutifully repeated the "Bain doesn't matter, the economy does" mantra over much of the day:
Fox News anchor Jon Scott claimed the Bush tax cuts generated growth and substantially increased revenue. In fact, economists say the Bush tax cuts produced anemic growth at best while creating substantial budget deficits that persist to this day.
After President Obama proposed allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire for incomes over $250,000, Fox News dismissed the revenue this would bring as merely "a drop in the bucket." In the past, Fox has repeatedly characterized billions in revenue increases from the wealthy or corporations as being too little to bother with, but claimed that relatively small amounts of funding for public broadcasting and Planned Parenthood were unaffordable.
From the July 3 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:
Loading the player ...
Fox hosts downplayed the severity of the recession and whitewashed the financial crisis after President Obama reminded voters that the recession was caused by a financial crisis and thus would take longer from which to recover. In fact, economists say that recessions caused by financial crises, like the most recent recession, are more severe and have a much longer recovery time than other recessions.
Fox News covered up GOP obstructionism on jobs creation, letting Senator Mitch McConnell falsely claim that Congress has passed "most" of President Obama's jobs bill.
McConnell appeared on Fox to respond after President Obama appeared at a Friday press conference and urged Congress to pass a jobs bill he has been promoting since September. That proposal included $35 billion for teacher rehiring and first responders, along with $105 billion to fix roads and schools, make long-term investments in the nation's infrastructure and to improve vacant or abandoned properties to revitalize communities. Economist Mark Zandi estimated that the bill would have created 2 million jobs and boosted economic growth by 2 percent.
In pressing Congress to pass the jobs bill, Obama specifically noted: "If Congress had passed it in full, we'd be on track to have a million more Americans working this year. The unemployment rate would be lower. Our economy would be stronger." Fox turned to Mitch McConnell, the top Senate Republican, to respond, allowing McConnell to argue, "we passed most of what he asked us to pass last fall, and some of the rest of it is about to pass."
Anchor Jon Scott, hosting one of Fox's so-called news shows, made no effort to have McConnell explain what it means to pass "most" of a jobs bill, thereby letting McConnell off the hook for the GOP's efforts to block the bill.
In November, Senate Republicans, led by McConnell, filibustered the bill preventing it from becoming law. CBS News reported at the time:
Senate Republicans blocked President Obama's $447 billion jobs package on Tuesday, putting the brakes on a bill Mr. Obama has been vigorously promoting over the past month.
Fox viewers were left with the impression that that filibuster never happened.