Fox News, which has spent the day promoting conspiracy theories about the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is now trumpeting the fact that BLS economists have donated to the Democrats and President Obama to reinforce their theory that BLS data is biased toward Obama. But one of the economists Fox identified is no longer a BLS employee, and only a tiny fraction of BLS workers have even made campaign donations.
This morning, BLS released the September jobs report showing that the unemployment rate has dropped to 7.8 percent. It was the first time in nearly four years that the rate has fallen below 8 percent. Media conservatives -- who have a history of attempting to negate positive jobs data -- rushed to discredit the data, claiming the jobs numbers were "total pro-Obama propaganda."
During a segment in which he stressed that Fox News had done its "homework," Your World guest host Eric Bolling named two economists he said work for BLS currently "who've both been donors to the Obama campaign," asking, "Should I make any assumptions from that?"
From the September 28 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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Conservative media outlets are claiming that the military is purchasing more electric vehicles in an attempt to "prop up the Obama administration's green agenda." But military leaders across the political spectrum say that the Pentagon's green initiatives will enhance military effectiveness and strengthen national security.
Last month, Stars and Stripes reported that the Defense Department plans to add about 1,500 "road-capable" electric cars to its fleet over the next few years. So far, the military has purchased 168 plug-in electric vehicles -- including some Chevy Volts. Thomas Hicks, the Navy's Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy, recently told Scientific American that the goal of the military's green initiatives is "improving our combat capability, improving our mission effectiveness, and reducing our vulnerabilities to foreign sources of fossil fuel."
But conservative media outlets have conjured up another motive, accusing the Obama administration of using taxpayer dollars to boost GM's sales numbers -- even though the military is buying several types of electric vehicles. A Breitbart post said: "The Obama administration is helping General Motors again by buying up its struggling line of electric cars." And a Washington Free Beacon article stated: "The Pentagon's massive car-buying scheme is the latest example of government trying to help GM raise its sales volumes."
Other conservative outlets are calling the purchases a "political statement," and an attempt to "prop up the Obama administration's green agenda." And Fox News, which never misses an opportunity to lambast the Volt, issued the self-fulfilling prophecy that the military's purchase will become "the latest controversy in the Volt's short life."
Several conservative outlets cited a Reuters report that GM is losing up to $49,000 on every Volt sold to suggest that electric vehicles are a waste of taxpayer money. But as the International Business Times pointed out, this figure does not take into account future Volt sales or the application of its technology to other products, which will lower per-vehicle costs. GM called the Reuters figure "grossly wrong," and said that it expects to break even by the time the second-generation Volt is introduced in a few years. Former GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz wrote in Forbes that "[m]aybe the Volt, a first-generation technology masterpiece and the most-awarded car in automotive history, will never make a really decent profit. But succeeding generations of the same technology will."
International Business Times noted that the Volt is a forward-looking investment by GM, which "should be reassuring to investors and the market." Likewise, the military's investment in electric vehicles is part of a long-term strategy to reduce its dependence on oil, mitigate the risks of climate change and enhance national security.
In a blog promoted by conservative media, The Heritage Foundation's Lachlan Markay criticized a report finding that a federal solar tax credit can more than pay for itself. Heritage claimed the study "assumes that solar companies that enjoy the tax breaks in question will survive." Pointing to failed solar-panel makers like Solyndra, Heritage said "a number of the recipients of the solar tax credit may not be around to produce the returns projected " in the study. But in fact, the report analyzed a tax credit for consumers of solar panels, not tax credits for manufacturers.
The report, conducted by the U.S. Partnership on Renewable Energy Finance (a coalition of financiers who support renewable energy) found that the Investment Tax Credit for solar photovoltaic installations can deliver a return on investment over a 30-year period under an increasingly popular investment arrangement in which developers lease solar power systems to businesses and homeowners, who then make taxable payments over several years for the system or pay for the electricity generated. These and other taxes directly related to the installation and operation of the solar systems would more than offset the initial cost to the federal government over the study period, according to the analysis.
The report shows that renewable energy can be a fiscally sound investment for the government -- contrary to claims made by some in the conservative media who attack any and all efforts to encourage renewable energy use. Tax credits for renewable energy have been supported by Republicans in the past. The tax credit in question was initially signed into law by George W. Bush.
Fox's chief Washington correspondent James Rosen hyped a Washington Free Beacon report alleging the Obama campaign employed call centers in Canada and the Philippines. But neither the Fox segment nor the Free Beacon article provided any substantial evidence to support such a claim.
The Obama campaign has been attacking Mitt Romney for his history of moving jobs overseas as a businessman at Bain Capital. After mentioning these reports on Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier, Rosen touted the Beacon's claims, stating: "The Romney campaign, in turn, circulated a report in the Washington Free Beacon" which Rosen uncritically said "found the Obama-Biden campaign has paid companies headquartered in Canada and the Philippines more than $80,000 for telemarketing services."
However, ABC reporter Devin Dwyer pointed out that "the Beacon's claims are not fully substantiated" after looking at the actual facts. Dwyer first explained that Pacific East is based in Canada but has a division headquarters in Oregon. He went on to explain that the FEC filings provided no indication as to which Pacific East call centers were used by the Obama campaign or where they may have been based:
Closer examination of the facts, however, finds the Beacon's claims are not fully substantiated.
First, Pacific East, while based in Canada, has a division headquartered Beaverton, Ore., to oversee U.S. business operations. There is also no indication from FEC filings of where Pacific East call centers possibly employed by Obama's campaign may have been based. The Beacon does not cite any evidence.
Dwyer then said that the Beacon "points to expenditures in the Obama campaign's most recent Federal Election Commission filing that showed" money spent on telemarketing services from "the Los Angeles-based Donor Services Group (DSG)." Dwyer found that the Beacon's reporting on DSG also lacks convincing evidence:
As for DSG, the picture is much the same. The U.S.-based company specializes in call centers and donor outreach, according to its website. However, there is no mention of foreign operations there, or in FEC filings.
So where does "Manila" come from?
The bit appears in a 2009 services contract between DSG and a Maryland charity (Foundation Fighting Blindness, Inc.) that was obtained and posted by the Weekly Standard. The document outlines four different types of DSG call centers -- one of which was based in Manila "to make inexpensive calls designed to reinstate older lapsed donors more affordably."
It's unclear whether those call centers still exist or whether the Obama campaign benefited from their services. The FEC filing, again, shows no direct evidence to support the Beacon's claim that Team Obama "paid a call center in Manila."
The Washington Free Beacon is claiming that Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) voted for "massive new regulations on the coal industry" that will raise electric bills in her state by "as much as 23 percent." But this figure overstates even a questionable analysis that looked at several EPA rules, not just the mercury and air toxics rule that Sen. McCaskill voted on.
Free Beacon claimed that "the cost of compliance" with the first national standards limiting the emissions of mercury and several air toxics from power plants "could raise consumer electricity bills by as much as 23 percent" in Sen. McCaskill's state of Misssouri, linking to an op-ed that cites a report by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative organization that works with corporations and state politicians to promote legislation. The ALEC report claims that electric rates in Missouri will rise 11.1 to 23 percent due to several proposed and finalized EPA rules, not just the mercury rule. It is completely opaque in its methodology, but cites two sources that it says partially formed the basis of its utility rate claims. The first source it cites is an estimate from electric utilities themselves; ALEC cites a document from coal giant American Electric Power, which does not contain any information on Missouri's electric rates.
The second source is a 2011 report prepared for a coal industry group, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, by NERA Consulting. The ACCCE report studied the combined effects of the aforementioned mercury rule (which at the time of the report was proposed but not finalized), the finalized Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, the proposed coal ash rule and the proposed cooling water intake rule. According to the report, together these rules would increase the average retail electric price by 6.5%, and would increase electric prices in West Missouri by 8% and East Missouri by 11.1%. An expert from Andover Technology, a consulting company for the air pollution control industry, wrote that the ACCCE report "makes several assumptions that are inconsistent with actual practice" and "lead to overestimation of the cost of regulations." The chief economist at the Natural Resources Defense Council agreed.
And while Free Beacon called the mercury regulation "harsh," most power plants are already meeting the rule, which will bring the oldest, dirtiest plants into line. And it's not as if the rule is a surprise. The executives of major energy companies have noted that "for over a decade, companies have recognized that the industry would need to install controls to comply with the [Clean Air] act's air toxicity requirements, and the technology exists to cost effectively control such emissions."
Conservative media outlets are misrepresenting job estimates to suggest that a stimulus grant program for renewable energy projects has been a waste of taxpayer money. In fact, in just two years the program has supported up to 75,000 jobs and has propelled growth in the renewable energy industry.
Earlier this week, Congressional Research Service analyst Molly Sherlock testified before Congress on the jobs impact of the Sec. 1603 grant program, which was established by the Recovery Act to provide grants in-lieu of existing tax credits for renewable energy projects. Sherlock cited a recent analysis by the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) which found that the projects that benefitted from the grant program have supported up to 75,000 direct and indirect jobs per year since it began in 2009, including construction jobs and long-term operations and maintenance jobs.
Based on NREL's figures, she estimated that the program itself has created 4,021 direct jobs per year, including 3,666 construction jobs and 355 ongoing operational jobs. Including indirect jobs, that number rises to as many as 31,000 jobs per year. Sherlock noted that these rough estimates "may understate actual job creation" because they don't factor in how many of the projects that received grants were motivated by the 1603 program.
But that didn't stop the right-wing media from cherry-picking data from her testimony to distort the success of the program. The Washington Free Beacon reported that the "Obama administration spent $10 billion to create 355 renewable energy jobs per year." Meanwhile, CNS News reported:
The Obama administration distributed $9 billion in economic "stimulus" funds to solar and wind projects in 2009-11 that created, as the end result, 910 "direct" jobs -- annual operation and maintenance positions -- meaning that it cost about $9.8 million to establish each of those long-term jobs.
This faulty math discounts thousands of direct construction jobs, let alone the tens of thousands of jobs created in supporting industries.
The Washington Free Beacon reported today that President Obama "has decided to seek deeper cuts in deployed strategic nuclear weapons to as few as 1,000 warheads, sharply below the target of 1,550 warheads required under a 2010 U.S.-Russia arms treaty." The Free Beacon quoted critics who argue that deeper cuts will undermine U.S. strategic deterrence, but ignored that many experts, including senior national security figures, actually support large nuclear reductions.
From the Free Beacon's article, headlined: "A Cut Too Far: Obama Set To Seek Deeper Cuts In Nuclear Arsenal":
President Obama has decided to seek deeper cuts in deployed strategic nuclear weapons to as few as 1,000 warheads, sharply below the target of 1,550 warheads required under a 2010 U.S.-Russia arms treaty, U.S. officials said Monday.
Critics say the steep cuts, which the administration will seek in new talks with a growing anti-U.S. government in Moscow, would undermine U.S. strategic deterrence for the United States and its allies in Asia and Europe.
The lower warhead levels also would be contrary to recent congressional testimony from a strategic forces commander who said further cuts would weaken the ability to deter nuclear states like Russia and China.
A U.S. strategic nuclear force posture of 1,000 strategic warheads has not been seen since the early 1950s. At the height of the Cold War, both the United States and the Soviet Union had as many as 30,000 nuclear weapons.
The Free Beacon went on to quote Fox News contributor and former Bush administration official John Bolton as saying that deeper cuts "[reflect] blind ideology, not strategic analysis of U.S. defense needs," and The Washington Times columnist and former Reagan administration official Frank Gaffney as saying that the potential cuts are a "matter of ideology and not national security." The Free Beacon also quoted retired Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, a Fox News military analyst who has expressed doubts that Obama is a natural born citizen of the U.S., as saying that the Obama administration is trying for unilateral nuclear disarmament, "the most dangerous thing I have ever seen an American President attempt to do."
But what didn't make it into the Free Beacon's reporting is that many experts, including senior national security figures, have said that the United States should significantly reduce its nuclear arsenal, which was built up to fight the Cold War.
Right-wing media have attacked the Obama administration's policy change allowing some young undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States as "amnesty." In fact, the policy change is not amnesty, a term shown to produce negative reactions, but deferred action that only lasts for up to two years, subject to renewal.
The Washington Free Beacon today reported that "Senate Democrats pay female staffers less than male staffers" and are running afoul of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which provides women more legal room to file pay discrimination claims against employers. However, the Free Beacon story refutes its own attack.
From the Free Beacon article:
A group of Democratic female senators on Wednesday declared war on the so-called "gender pay gap," urging their colleagues to pass the aptly named Paycheck Fairness Act when Congress returns from recess next month. However, a substantial gender pay gap exists in their own offices, a Washington Free Beacon analysis of Senate salary data reveals.
Of the five senators who participated in Wednesday's press conference--Barbara Mikulski (D., Md.), Patty Murray (D., Wash.), Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.), Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) and Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.)--three pay their female staff members significantly less than male staffers.
After highlighting the gender pay gaps of several other Democratic Senators, the Free Beacon threw cold water on its own claims:
Women working for Senate Democrats in 2011 pulled in an average salary of $60,877. Men made about $6,500 more.
While the gap is significant, it is slightly smaller than that of the White House, which pays men about $10,000, or 13 percent, more on average, according to a previous Free Beacon analysis.
That previous analysis showed that the gender pay gap for the White House is smaller than in the overall economy. The Free Beacon is telling its readers that the gender pay gap among Senate Democratic staffers is even smaller than that.
The Free Beacon then went even further in undermining their own story:
After President Obama's historic announcement that he is in favor of marriage equality, many in the right-wing media are refusing to debate the substance of same-sex marriage. Instead, they are casting about for ways to attack Obama's position on marriage that ignore the actual debate.
A story bubbled up in the right-wing media suggesting that the White House requires "that unborn children get security clearance" if their parents want to tour the building. The reporting was based on an email from the White House that instructs potential visitors about "how to enter security information for a baby that has not yet been born."
The Daily Caller, Washington Free Beacon, Drudge Report, National Review Online, and Fox Nation all highlighted this story and presented it in the context of President Obama's support for abortion rights.
However, a closer reading of the email shows that expecting parents are required to fill out security information for a child who is not yet born only if they anticipate giving birth by the time they want to visit the White House. The email clearly refers to "newborns" and gives instructions for what to do once "the baby is born."
The Huffington Post spoke to a representative from the Secret Service who said that "all White House guests are required to provide information at the time of their request for the tour, including for children and infants, and those expected to be on the tour once born."
So, no, the White House does not require pregnant visitors to register their fetuses as people for security purposes.
Several media outlets have distorted comments by an EPA official, falsely suggesting that he said "oil companies should be crucified." In fact, the official was using an analogy, which he has since apologized for, to describe a common approach to regulatory enforcement: making examples out of those who break the law.
President Obama has proposed increasing tax rates on wealthier Americans -- including himself -- while conservatives have fought to defend the rich from any attempts to increase their taxes. But despite their fight to stop all proposals aimed at having the rich pay their fair share, the right-wing media have attacked Obama over the effective federal tax rate he and his wife Michelle paid on their 2011 income.
Andrea Tantaros, a co-host of Fox News' The Five, said that the problem isn't that Obama pays "what effectively is a tax rate of about 20 percent," but that "he begrudges everybody else for doing" the same thing. She suggested that Obama should "lead by example and simplify the tax code" because "he's using all these same loopholes."
In a post titled "Obama Family Tax Shelter: First Family Transfer Wealth, Avoids Taxes," The Washington Free Beacon wrote: "There is nothing illegal about the president's taking advantage of this tax shelter, but it does raise eyebrows given that he has lamented the myriad tax exemptions used by the wealthy -- 'millionaires and billionaires' like himself -- to pay less in taxes. He has yet to propose a comprehensive plan to reform the byzantine tax code."
When, in 2011, Obama released a jobs plan that would be paid for in part by limiting the deductions that could be claimed on wealthier taxpayers' tax returns, conservatives responded by shouting "class warfare" and accusing Obama of "soak[ing] the rich."
And when, in 2010, Obama sought the elimination of the Bush tax cuts for the highest earners, conservatives advanced several dubious claims to suggest that ending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy would hurt "many small businesses" and hinder job growth.