A New York Times essay by Jason DeParle highlighted a resurgence of the use of the word "welfare" among conservatives, this time to attack President Obama's economy recovery plan. Indeed, while economists agree that provisions in the legislation targeting needy people are among the most economically stimulative, Media Matters documents below the pervasiveness of what DeParle called the "weaponiz[ation]" of the "very word, welfare," in the media, particularly, but not exclusively on Fox News, to denounce the stimulus bill.
In his Wall Street Journal op-ed, Karl Rove wrote of the House-passed economic recovery bill: "And it should not shock Americans that Democratic appropriators would funnel tax dollars to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now." In fact, the recovery bill does not mention ACORN or otherwise single it out for funding; ACORN itself has said that it is ineligible for the funds and has no plans to apply for them.
The Wall Street Journal misleadingly claimed in an editorial that the U.S. corporate tax rate "is higher than in all of Europe." In fact, according to the Government Accountability Office, "Statutory tax rates do not provide a complete measure of the burden that a tax system imposes on business income." Additionally, World Bank and GAO data indicate that the U.S. effective corporate tax rate is lower than 35 percent and lower than several developed -- including some European -- economies.
Echoing a Republican talking point, Rush Limbaugh asserted in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that "[t]he average recession will last five to 11 months; the average recovery will last six years. Recessions will end on their own if they're left alone." But Limbaugh's claim misses the point and misrepresents the reason for the stimulus bill. Economists take the position that an economic stimulus package is necessary, both during the recession and after the economy begins to recover.
The Wall Street Journal uncritically reported congressional Republicans' criticism of the proposed economic stimulus bill on the grounds "that much of the money in the package wouldn't be spent until 2011 or later, when a recovery is likely to be already under way." The article did not mention that economists, including Congressional Budget Office director Douglas W. Elmendorf, have said that fiscal stimulus in 2011 or later would be effective in the current economic situation, in which economic output is projected to remain below its potential long after the technical beginning of the recovery.
The Wall Street Journal printed an op-ed that falsely claimed that the Army Field Manual "prohibits ... good-cop bad-cop routines" when interrogating detainees. The op-ed was criticizing President Barack Obama's executive order stating that a detainee in U.S. custody cannot be subjected to interrogation techniques not listed in the manual. In fact, the Army Field Manual explicitly permits good cop-bad cop interrogations under the name of "Mutt and Jeff" interrogations, which involve two interrogators "display[ing] opposing personalities and attitudes toward the source."
Several media figures have likened House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's comments defending a provision in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which would expand Medicaid funding for family planning services, to China's "one-child policy," eugenics, social engineering, and Nazism. In fact, the family planning provision does not mandate either limits to family size or eugenics but, rather, would expand "the number of states that can use Medicaid money, with a federal match, to help low-income women prevent unwanted pregnancies."
A Wall Street Journal editorial asserted that "[n]ot a single man, woman or child has been killed by terrorists on U.S. soil since the morning of September 11." In fact, shortly after September 11, 2001, letters laced with anthrax were mailed through the U.S. Postal Service, which, as the Journal previously reported, "killed five people, sickened 17 others and crippled mail delivery for months."
A Wall Street Journal editorial claimed that, in a recently released decision, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review affirmed the legality of the Bush administration's "warrantless wiretapping program" that "was exposed in 2005." In fact, the decision applies only to surveillance conducted pursuant to a 2007 congressional statute and does not say anything about the legality of the warrantless wiretapping program exposed in 2005.
The Wall Street Journal reported, "Following the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, the [Justice] department produced legal opinions that have been attacked by some members of Congress and civil libertarians for allowing harsh interrogation tactics." In fact, critics of the Justice Department's interrogation opinions also include Jack Goldsmith, who served as the head of the department's Office of Legal Counsel under Bush.
In his Wall Street Journal column, Karl Rove took quotes from President-elect Barack Obama out of context to falsely claim that Obama criticized the economic stimulus bill as "deficit spending" that represented "the 'disdain for pay-as-you-go budgeting' in Washington." In fact, Obama used those words in a March 2008 speech while discussing the "policies of the Bush Administration," which "threw the economy further out of balance."
Summary: A Wall Street Journal editorial opposing legislation to overturn the Supreme Court decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber ignored the effect of the Ledbetter decision on employees who were unaware for long periods of time that they had received lower pay due to discrimination. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg stated in her dissent in Ledbetter, a plaintiff's longtime lack of knowledge that discrimination has occurred is not unusual in pay discrimination cases, pointing out that in the case at hand, Goodyear "kept salaries confidential; [and] employees had only limited access to information regarding their colleagues' earnings."
Wall Street Journal editorial board member Kimberley A. Strassel claimed that Al Franken "has been manipulating the socks off the Minnesota system ... by litigating back to life absentee votes that had been rejected on Election Day." In fact, any rejected absentee ballot that was counted in the race was approved by the campaigns of both Franken and his opponent, Norm Coleman. Strassel also claimed the recount "took place behind the scenes"; in fact, the public was able to view the recounting of all ballots and attend all canvassing board meetings concerning the recount.
In his Wall Street Journal column, Karl Rove falsely claimed that Rep. Barney Frank "labeled" President George W. Bush's "proposals" for reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as "inane." In fact, Frank's remark came in response to Bush's assertion that "Congress needs to get [Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac] reformed" by passing Bush's "robust reform package" before Fannie and Freddie could expand their mortgage portfolios. The New York Times reported that in an interview, Frank "said that the president's comments were 'inane.' 'Tell the Republicans to stop blocking the bill,' Mr. Frank said.''
Numerous media figures have cited Japanese fiscal policy during the "lost decade" of the 1990s to criticize President-elect Barack Obama's plan to undertake a large-scale stimulus program. These media figures ignore evidence that, according to prominent economists, economic conditions were improving in Japan before the Japanese government temporarily abandoned stimulus spending in an attempt to reduce the deficit.