CNN's State of the Union downplayed the economic consequences of not raising the debt ceiling, claiming "there is a way" for the federal government "to pay the bills." Economists, however, have warned that a default would have catastrophic effects. Moreover, even if the federal government could stave off default by prioritizing interest payments, the decline of government spending would create "a massive demand shock to the economy."
On State of the Union, during a discussion of the consequences of failing to raise the debt ceiling, Wall Street Journal editorial board member Stephen Moore downplayed the impact of a default, arguing: "There's no default. The Treasury bills get paid before anything else does." Host Candy Crowley responded by saying, "There is a way to pay the bills, but it is unsettling, you would agree."
But in fact, economists have warned that not raising the debt ceiling would be economically calamitous for the United States. Following Republican threats not to raise the debt ceiling in 2011, Moody's analytics chief economist Mark Zandi warned of the economic ramifications of a possible default, writing that "financial markets would unravel and the U.S. and global economy would enter another severe recession." A June 2011 letter to congressional leaders, signed by 235 prominent economists, warned of the deleterious impact to the U.S. economy if the debt ceiling was not raised:
Failure to increase the debt limit sufficiently to accommodate existing U.S. laws and obligations also could undermine trust in the full faith and credit of the United States government, with potentially grave long-term consequences. This loss of trust could translate into higher interest rates not only for the federal government, but also for U.S. businesses and consumers, causing all to pay higher prices for credit. Economic growth and jobs would suffer as a result.
The Economic Policy Institute noted that even if the federal government were able to prevent default by prioritizing interest payments on the debt, the resultant ceasing of government spending would create "a massive demand shock to the economy." EPI explained:
Even if the Treasury were able to avoid officially defaulting on the debt by prioritizing interest payments, the government would have to immediately cut expenditures by roughly 10 percent of that month's GDP, and more than that as time went on. This means Social Security checks would be cut, doctors would not be reimbursed in full for seeing Medicare and Medicaid patients, and private contractors doing business with the federal government would not be paid. All of this would constitute a massive demand shock to the economy.
A Treasury Department report, titled "Debt Limit: Myth v. Fact," stated that efforts to prioritize payments on the national debt above other legal obligations "would not prevent default, since it would seek to protect only principal and interest payments and not other legal obligations of the United States from non-payment":
Suggestions that Congress could somehow evade responsibility for raising the debt limit by passing legislation to "prioritize" payments on the national debt above other legal obligations of the United States are simply not true. This would not prevent default, since it would seek to protect only principal and interest payments and not other legal obligations of the United States from non-payment. Adopting a policy that payments to investors should take precedence over other U.S. legal obligations would merely be default by another name, since the world would recognize it as a failure by the United States to stand behind its commitments. It would therefore bring about the same catastrophic economic consequences.
CNN host Candy Crowley gave cover to the Republican claim that Americans don't support increasing taxes, allowing Representative Marsha Blackburn to say that Americans "don't want our taxes to go up." In fact, a majority of Americans support increasing taxes on upper-income earners.
On State of the Union, Blackburn (R-TN) argued against President Obama's plan to let the Bush tax cuts expire for the wealthiest two percent of Americans, claiming he does not have support for his proposals. Blackburn said that, in re-electing a Republican majority in the House of Representatives, "the American people have clearly said, we don't want our taxes to go up."
Crowley made no effort to point out that a majority of Americans support increasing taxes on wealthier Americans, a fact her own network has previously noted.
On December 6, CNN reported that a majority of Americans support raising taxes on incomes over $250,000 per year as part of a deficit reduction deal.
Furthermore, national exit polling from the 2012 election revealed that six in ten voters favor increasing taxes. That echoed an October 12 Pew Research Center survey finding that 64 percent of Americans support increasing taxes on households making more than $250,000, and a December 2011 survey concluding that 57 percent of Americans feel the wealthy don't pay their fair share of taxes.
The Washington Post, citing a Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll, reported that "nearly 2 to 1" of Americans will blame Republicans, not Obama, if a deal to avoid the automatic tax increases and spending cuts scheduled for January is not reached.
Four of the five major Sunday morning political shows ignored the issue of job creation and economic growth, which economists and voters say are the most important economic issues facing the nation. Instead, the economic discussion on the November 11 editions of these shows focused almost exclusively on the debate over how to achieve deficit reduction.
Among the participants in the major Sunday shows, NBC's Meet the Press, CBS' Face the Nation, ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Fox Broacasting's Fox News Sunday, and CNN's State of the Union, only This Week guest Katrina vanden Heuvel pointed out that the exit polls found that voters say the government should focus on job creation rather than deficit reduction.
By contrast, Meet the Press guest Bob Woodward identified deficits and debt as " the big issue" the government must solve. Woodward went on to suggest that Obama should be looking for a "payoff for everyone in the community, not just his base."
WOODWARD: I think the big picture here is that President Obama has got to deliver on the big issue, which is fixing the financial house of the U.S. federal government. It is in disarray. It's not just the fiscal cliff, it's $16 trillion in IOUs out in the world. In a couple of months, in February or March, they are going to have to renegotiate an authority -- lending and borrowing authority -- for another trillion or two dollars, and if the president can fix that and put us on some sort of path of restoration for the economy, that is a payoff for everyone in the community, not just his base.
And he's got to think much more broadly. The job of the president is to find the next stage of good for a real majority and he's capable of doing it.
The Associated Press analyzed data of national exit polls following the presidential election and found that 59 percent of voters interviewed listed the economy as the biggest issue facing the country. In comparison, only 15 percent said that deficits were the most important issue. Similarly, when asked about specific economic concerns, nearly 40 percent of voters said unemployment was the "biggest economic problem facing voters like them."
Economists and other experts also say that job creation and economic growth are the most important issue facing the country.
CNN's Candy Crowley is giving cover to the Republican claim that businesses will not hire due to "uncertainty" over the implementation of the health care law, which has now been endorsed by all three branches of the federal government. In reality, the only uncertainty surrounding the law is being created by Republican threats to repeal it.
On State of the Union, Crowley aided National Republican Senatorial Committee Vice Chair Carly Fiorina's claim that uncertainty over Obamacare would continue to prevent companies from hiring. Crowley said, "And this has been part of the Republican mantra was that big business doesn't know where tax reform is going, they don't know how much new regulation is going to cost them, what kind of infrastructure they'll have to put into their own -- so they're kind of sitting on all this money and not hiring."
By contrast, a June 28 Associated Press article noted that "the health industry -- and company stocks -- still face uncertainty, at least until the November's presidential election. Republicans want to scrap the law."
Furthermore, economists and small business owners say a lack of demand is holding back hiring, not uncertainty.
From the May 20 edition of CNN's State of the Union:
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On yesterday's edition of The Five, Eric Bolling gave a decidedly skewed version of history when he said, "America was certainly safe between 2000 and 2008. I don't remember any terrorist attacks on American soil during that period of time."
Media conservatives have done this before.
Candy Crowley made a clunker of a claim in her profile of Sarah Palin on the April 11 edition of CNN's State of the Union. After noting that, as part of her "safe and lucrative" role as a Fox News commentator, Palin has "put her brand" on the show Real American Stories, Crowley said of the show: "The normal Fox News audience is reported to have doubled in the time slot."
While coming in first in its time period -- beating the Total Viewer average of the 10pm programs on MSNBC, CNN and HLN combined -- FNC's "Real American Stories with Sarah Palin" was down substantially versus the performance of "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren" last Thursday as well as that program's Thursday average for the month of March. "Real American Stories" delivered 2.073 million Total Viewers and 472k A25-54 viewers, down 10% versus last Thursday among Total Viewers and down 28% in A25-54. For all Thursdays in March 2010, the "Stories" premiere was down 10% among Total Viewers and down 19% in A25-54.
Looking at quarter hour data, "Real American Stories" shed viewers from start to finish -- down 18% among Total Viewers (2.319mm vs. 1.895mm) and down 22% in A25-54 (533k vs. 418k) from the program's first to its final quarter hour.
Losing audience in the time slot is not the same as "doubling" it.
Lack of diversity on the all important Sunday morning political talk shows is nothing new. As Media Matters noted back in a 2007 report on the subject, "Not only are the Sunday morning talk shows on the broadcast networks dominated by conservative opinion and commentary, the four programs -- NBC's Meet the Press, ABC's This Week, CBS' Face the Nation, and Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday -- feature guest lists that are overwhelmingly white and overwhelmingly male."
At the time of the report's release, not one of the Sunday shows was helmed by a woman or ethnic minority. How did the guests stack up? Not well at all.
Keep in mind, these programs help shape beltway conventional wisdom for the week to come and wield a disproportionate amount of influence over the political chattering class. The lack of a seat at the table for women and ethnic minorities spoke directly to the old boys club that has long dominated Washington politics and media.
The 2007 report didn't take into account the less influential Sunday morning political talk shows on cable networks like CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC but the results -- at least when it comes to hosts -- would have been much the same. All white. All men.
This year things have changed a bit.
In February when it was announced that long-time senior political correspondent Candy Crowley would be taking over as host for John King on CNN's State of the Union it was hard to find a story that didn't make prominent mention of her recent post-campaign weight loss.
It is one thing to be critical of Crowley's past work, just as we have been from time to time. It is quite another to fixate on her physical appearance. Asked about the subject, Crowley was quoted as saying, "Would I have gotten the job without having lost the weight? I don't know. That's an X factor... Does the refrigerator light stay on when you close the door? We'll never know." She went on to say, "I readily admit I'm not the most obvious pick, from a purely cosmetic point of view... I'm not going to argue that when you turn on the TV, you basically get young, blonde, thin women. This is changing."
I certainly hope it is changing but only time will tell.
Similarly, earlier this month word came down that CNN's Christiane Amanpour would be leaving the cable network to helm ABC's This Week - the first woman ever with full-time hosting duties on a broadcast network Sunday show.
Cue the back-biting and second guessing, much of it anonymous.
As Mediaite's Steve Krakauer noted:
Then there's CNN's John King who felt the need to throw out some questions about Amanpour's selection during a recent interview stating, "There are a lot of questions. Christiane does not have a lot of experience covering American politics and so how does she fit in on ABC on Sunday morning? I'll leave that to them to figure out. It is an interesting pick, it is an unorthodox choice, I think that's just self-evident...I'll watch how it plays out with everyone else."
Get that? There are lots of questions. She's not experienced covering American politics. But I'll leave ABC News to answer these questions...questions I've just thrown out to you like red meat to the media circus lions in my best impersonation of a Fox News chyron.
Regardless of what you think of these recent hirings, they are a long overdue step in the right-direction. Women and ethnic minorities bring a different world of experience to the table. They need not be booked solely for the purpose of discussing issues important to women and ethnic minorities as is far too often the case.
The Washington press corps is change averse. It's a stodgy, self-perpetuating, conventional wisdom driven world. It could use a little more, dare I say a great deal more, change.
From the March 7 edition of CNN's State of the Union:
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From the February 28 edition of CNN's State of the Union with Candy Crowley:
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With Candy Crowley set to take over CNN's Sunday State of the Union broadcast, let's take a moment to review some of her most memorable moments.
And the time Crowley claimed Democrats "message" was "we don't support the troops and we're not tough on national security."
That's the kind of track record that gets you a high-profile gig hosting a Sunday political talk show on CNN.
News came down over the weekend that Candy Crowley will replace John King as host of CNN's Sunday political talk show, State of the Union.
Few in The Village have taken to bolstering conventional wisdom at the expense of real, truth-seeking journalism like Crowley. It looks like she'll fit right in on Sunday mornings. After all, the all-important network political chat shows could use another host with a penchant for allowing glaringly false misinformation to go unchallenged.
More on Crowley, here.
No doubt attempting to fan the flames of an imagined Clinton-Obama feud, the top story currently on the Drudge report screams: "What is she up to? Hillary Skips State of Union."
Answer: Attending two important national security related meetings in London--a trip that was sanctioned by the President. The Washington Post reported on January 27:
Seems there's an important international meeting Wednesday in London on battling radicalization in Yemen, and then another, long-planned conference there Thursday on development and security in Afghanistan.
Once the Wednesday meeting was "locked in," we were told, the State Department and National Security Council staffs agreed that Clinton had to be in London. These are both big administration priorities. Key allies will be gathering there to discuss Yemen, an uber-concern of late, especially since the Christmas Day airplane bombing attempt.
And everyone who's anyone -- including maybe the neo-Soviets and the Chicoms and possibly even the Iranians -- will be there to talk about Afghanistan.
Clinton laid out the situation in a meeting last week with Obama, and he agreed that she should go.
Nonetheless, some on the right have taken Drudge's bait and run with speculation that there's a riff between Clinton and Obama and that Clinton may be angling for a run at the Presidency in 2012. Case in point, on Fox News' America's Newsroom, after positing that Clinton could be considering a 2012 run, co-host Martha MacCallum echoed Drudge in reporting, "People who follow politics closely ... think that might be a little odd that she wasn't at the State of the Union address. Next thing you know she's saying she doesn't necessarily serve two terms as Secretary of State, and they wonder if everything's OK between Hillary Clinton and the president." Despite later noting the purpose of Clinton's trip and acknowledging that it seemed like a "legitimate" reason for Clinton to miss the State of the Union, MacCallum went on to say "it does raise some questions about how she'll sort of game out the political scene" and pushed her guest, Douglas Schoen, to speculate if there was "anything that would make her change her mind about the possibility of running against him?"
Fox Nation has also taken the bait by asking, "What's Hillary Plotting" and linking to an article on Clinton's absence from the State of the Union address:
And, just in case it wasn't obvious what Drudge was trying to suggest in trumpeting that Clinton missed the State of the Union, Drudge is now linking to Peter Roff's U.S. News & World Report blog post, which asks the question: "A Hillary Clinton Primary Challenge to Obama in 2012?" From Drudge:
From the January 28 broadcast of Fox & Friends:
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Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade falsely claimed that when president Obama took office, he found "50 plus months of economic growth" and "between 5 and 7 percent unemployment." In fact, the unemployment rate was 7.7 percent in January 2009 and both employment and GDP had been falling for months prior to Obama's inauguration.