Craig Harrington

Author ››› Craig Harrington
  • Paul Ryan Parrots Right-Wing Media Talking Points To Smear DC’s Minimum Wage Increase

    Ryan’s Agenda To Lift Americans Out Of Poverty Skips Over Raising Sub-Poverty Minimum Wages

    Blog ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) concluded a June 7 press conference meant to highlight his recent proposals to reform federal anti-poverty programs by confirming that he remains opposed to initiatives aimed at raising local, state, and federal minimum wages. Ryan’s stated opposition to the minimum wage recycles easily debunked right-wing media myths about the supposed negative side-effects of living wages.

    On June 7, the speaker released a report from the Task Force on Poverty, Opportunity, and Upward Mobility. The plan outlines a number of standard conservative proposals to “reform” anti-poverty programs in the United States, but one thing it almost completely ignores is the minimum wage. In fact, the lone mention of the word “minimum wage” appears as part of an argument pushing the debunked “Welfare Cliff” myth, the claim that low-income, single moms are so heavily subsidized by government benefits that they have no incentive to pursue professional advancement.

    At the conclusion of his press conference, Ryan was asked by two reporters to comment on a plan in Washington, D.C. to raise the municipal minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2020 and then index it to inflation. In just over a minute, Ryan proceeded to parrot numerous debunked charges commonly leveled against the minimum wage by right-wing antagonists. From CNN Newsroom:

    Ryan’s anti-minimum wage talking points are either misleading, or outright false. Ryan also missed basic facts of D.C.’s minimum wage initiative, which the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) estimates will result in increased wages for one-fifth of the city’s private sector workers.

    Increasing The Minimum Wage Does Not Hurt Entry-Level Workers

    Ryan claimed that raising the minimum wage “prices entry-level jobs away from people” before engaging in the common right-wing media tactic of reciting a story of his own youthful experiences working in the fast-food industry.

    Right-wing media frequently claim that minimum wage positions are meant to be entry-level jobs (usually just for teenagers), but the fact is that the majority of minimum wage workers are adults over the age of 25 and less than one-quarter of minimum wage workers are aged 16 to 19. Women make up a disproportionate number of minimum wage workers, and according to July 2015 research from EPI, stand to benefit considerably from an increased minimum wage.

    Fast-Food Jobs Were Never The First Rung On A Ladder Of Upward Mobility

    Ryan claimed that working at McDonald’s was “a great way to learn skills,” a wage and job mobility myth about fast food workers frequently parroted by right-wing media. But according to a July 2013 report by the National Employment Law Project (NELP), the fast-food industry is particularly bad at providing actual opportunities for advancement to low-wage workers. Entry-level workers account for 89 percent of fast food industry workers, and only a tiny fraction move on to management or ownership positions.

    Economic Growth And Job Creation Is Not Enough To Curb Poverty

    Ryan concluded his remarks by saying that he does not want to “cap” wages, he wants to “unleash[]” them, and institute policies that create “the kind of economy, and economic growth … that help get people better jobs, in a better economy, that has a more promising future for them.” Those claims echo a common right-wing media myth, that economic growth can indirectly lift millions of Americans out of poverty without the need for targeted programs.

    But the budget, economic, and tax proposals Ryan and his fellow Republicans repeatedly support do not generate the economic growth they promise. The trickle-down economic principles he has spent a career endorsing are a proven failure.

    If economic growth alone was the key to solving poverty and reducing economic inequality, both would have been wiped out decades ago. According to a January 29 report from the Brookings Institution, the relationship between economic growth and improved economic inclusion is “relatively weak” across the United States. The Brookings research seems to support a hypothesis endorsed by economists Jared Bernstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) and Elise Gould of the EPI, who argue that economic growth alone is not enough to reduce economic insecurity in the face of persistent inequality.

  • Are Paul Ryan’s Poverty Reforms Still Trump-Endorsed?

    Media Should Question The Speaker And Presumptive GOP Nominee About The Compatibility Of Their Poverty Proposals

    Blog ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) have engaged in a war of words regarding Trump’s racist attack on the federal judge presiding over two class action lawsuits against Trump University. Despite the recent infighting, Trump and Ryan seem to agree in principle on the latter’s vision for a complete overhaul of federal anti-poverty programs. Reporters need to ask the Republican nominee, and the speaker, if the Ryan reform agenda is truly Trump-endorsed.

    During an appearance on the June 5 edition of CBS’ Face the Nation, host John Dickerson asked Trump to comment on Ryan’s June 2 endorsement of his presidential candidacy. Trump responded that he found Ryan “appealing” because “he’s a good man” who “wants good things for the country.” Trump said that he expected to “agree on many things” with the highest-ranking elected Republican in the country, specifically citing Ryan’s positions on poverty:

    Trump’s decision to bring up Ryan’s supposed zeal to “take people out of poverty” was no accident, as it had been widely reported that the speaker planned to roll out his renewed poverty reform agenda in the coming days. On June 7, Ryan released a report from the so-called Task Force on Poverty, Opportunity, and Upward Mobility.

    The report was nothing new for Ryan, closely echoing the positions espoused during the speaker’s sham poverty forum in January and his appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in March. It struck a softer tone than the overt poor-shaming Ryan has promoted in the past, but it still pushed the same kinds of policies that MSNBC’s Steve Benen previously slammed as “brutal” for the poor.

    During Ryan’s June 7 press conference announcing the proposed poverty program reforms, he repeatedly stated that his plan would have “a better likelihood of passing” if Trump were president of the United States. From the June 7 edition of CNN Newsroom:

    Media outlets are notorious for stumbling into the role of Ryan’s public relations outfit, frequently portraying his budget, economic, and tax reform policies as serious proposals rather than right-wing agenda items. The instinct to treat Ryan as a voice of reason has been particularly pronounced since the speaker decided to zero in on poverty.

    Ryan has now formally endorsed Trump for president, and Trump has tacitly endorsed Ryan’s proposed reforms. Now that the final plan has been made public, reporters need to ask Trump if he actually endorses Ryan’s plan. And they should ask Ryan if he can accept the endorsement of a man whom he just accused of engaging in “the textbook definition of a racist comment” with his attacks on a Hispanic federal judge.

  • Conservatives Spark Attack On Latino Civil Rights Organization For Helping Hispanic Homeowners

    Right-Wing Media Falsely Claim That Settlement Payments From Institutions Responsible For The Financial Crisis Create “Liberal Slush Fund” For Progressive Groups

    ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    Right-wing media have spent years attacking the Department of Justice’s handling of multi-billion dollar settlements from financial institutions partly responsible for the housing and financial crisis in 2008 and 2009. Conservative outlets falsely allege that the DOJ used settlement payments to create a “liberal slush fund” to disburse millions of dollars to nonprofit organizations like the nonpartisan National Council of La Raza (NCLR), even though these groups are certified housing counseling agencies.

  • STUDY: Sunday Shows Less Likely Than Weekday Competitors To Discuss Poverty

    Fox News Talks A Lot About Inequality And Poverty, But Promotes Policies That Would Make The Problems Worse

    ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    In the first quarter of 2016, prime-time and evening weekday news programs on the largest cable and broadcast outlets mentioned poverty during roughly 55 percent of their discussions of economic inequality in the United States. During the same time period, Sunday political talk shows mentioned poverty in only 33 percent of discussions of economic inequality.

  • Right-Wing Media Assail Expansion Of Overtime Pay Protections To Millions Of Workers

    ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON & ALEX MORASH

    Right-wing media assailed new overtime rules released by the Department of Labor (DOL) on May 17, which expand overtime pay protections to 4.2 million American workers previously exempt from compensation under outdated provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The new rule updates the minimum salary threshold to qualify for guaranteed overtime pay from $23,660 per year to $47,476 per year, and pegs the threshold to inflation going forward.

  • What Media Need To Know About Trump Economic Policy Advisers Steve Moore And Larry Kudlow

    ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON & ALEX MORASH

    Politico reported that Donald Trump is tapping conservative economic pundits Stephen Moore and Larry Kudlow to assist in remaking the presumptive Republican nominee’s tax plan, which has been lambasted as a budget-busting giveaway to high-income earners and corporations. Media should be aware that both Moore and Kudlow have long histories of playing fast and loose with the facts while making outlandish and incorrect claims about the economy.

  • Media Slam Trump’s “Insane” Plan To Default On U.S. Debt

    Analysts Explain That Real Estate Gimmicks Don’t Work For The American Economy

    ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON & ALEX MORASH

    During a lengthy phone interview with CNBC, presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump outlined a plan to partially default on the United States’ outstanding sovereign debt obligations in hopes of eventually negotiating lower rates of repayment. The tactic is common in the types of commercial real estate dealings Trump is familiar with, but journalists and financial analysts stressed that employing such a strategy with American debt would undermine global financial stability and potentially drive the American economy into a deep recession.

  • El Wall Street Journal Pinta Erróneamente A Los Puertorriqueños Como "Refugiados" En Su Propio País

    Los Puertorriqueños Son Enteramente Ciudadanos Americanos

    Blog ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON English language version

    El Wall Street Journal advirtió que la crisis de deuda desplegada en Puerto Rico podría crear un "éxodo" de "refugiados puertorriqueños” a los Estados Unidos que votarían por los Demócratas y se aprovecharían de los beneficios públicos – completamente ignorando su estatus como ciudadanos americanos, con todo el derecho de vivir y trabajar en cualquier parte del país según deseen.

    El 2 de mayo, el New York Times informó que el gobierno de Puerto Rico no cumplió con el pago de $399 millones de dólares de una deuda total de $422 millones de dólares que tiene el país ante acreedores y tenedores de bonos. Según el Times, el gobierno de San Juan ya hizo cortes severos a los servicios públicos para millones de residentes de la isla, pero todavía no es capaz de reconciliar el déficit de los ingresos creado por una recesión prolongada que ha debilitado la economía puertorriqueña. Puerto Rico no será capaz de pagar sus obligaciones sin una intervención del Congreso que le permita reestructurar su deuda.

    En una columna del 2 de mayo, el Wall Street Journal hizo un llamado al Congreso a que ayude a Puerto Rico a cancelar y reestructurar su deuda, pero solo para evitar “una anarquía y un rescate financiero clandestino” que resultaría en “miles de puertorriqueños huyéndo a los Estados Unidos", donde dependerían de la "limosna de los servicios gubernamentales". El Journal dijo que la crisis de deuda podría resultar en un “éxodo” de “refugiados puertorriqueños” mudándose a otra parte de los EE. UU. y votando en las elecciones federales. El periódico especuló que si el Congreso actualmente controlado por los Republicanos no ayuda a la isla, se le otorgaría el voto puertorriqueño “a los Demócratas en los años venideros”. Traducido del Wall Street Journal (énfasis agregado):

    Un nuevo informe del Instituto de Estadísticas de Puerto Rico muestra que el éxodo de la población de la isla está acelerando con una cifra neta de 64,000 puertorriqueños mudándose a los EE. UU. en 2014. La mayoría son jóvenes – la media es 29 años y el sueldo $13,000 – buscando una vida mejor. Mientras muchos encontrarán empleo eventualmente en los EE. UU., sus sueldos inicialmente serán suficientemente bajos para calificar para Medicaid, vales de comida y vivienda pública. Sus hijos asistirán a escuelas públicas.

    Los refugiados puertorriqueños también podrán votar. En 2014, Florida (23,297) fue el destino más popular para los puertorriqueños seguido por Texas (5,019) y Pennsylvania (4,304). Virginia (1,664) y Ohio (1,553) se clasificaron como noveno y décimo. El Presidente Obama ganó Florida con un margen de aproximadamente 74,000 votos en 2012 – hay más de un millón de puertorriqueños viviendo en ese estado – y 537 votos decidieron la elección presidencial de 2000.

    Inactividad por parte del Congreso relegaría la isla a una parálisis económica, y le relegaría los votantes de Florida y Puerto Rico a los Demócratas en los años venideros. 

    La decisión de la junta editorial de desprestigiar a millones de ciudadanos americanos llamándoles "refugiados" es irresponsable.

    Puertorriqueños mudándose a otra parte de los Estados Unidos no son “refugiados”; son ciudadanos americanos, y se les otorgó de manera oficial la ciudadanía americana el 2 de marzo de 1917. Los derechos completos de ciudadanía se extendieron más tarde a “todas las personas que nacieron en Puerto Rico el día 11 de abril de 1899 o después de esta fecha.” Si algunos residentes de Puerto Rico eligen mudarse a través de los Estados Unidos en búsqueda de mejores oportunidades económicas, tienen todo el derecho de hacerlo.

    Millones de puertorriqueños están sufriendo de la confluencia entre la codicia corporativa y la mala gestión burocrática en la isla, como explica el Huffington Post. El programa de HBO Last Week Tonight también ha expuesto las circunstancias precarias creadas por el estatus de Puerto Rico como territorio estadounidense, en vez de un estado completamente incorporado, y destacó la importancia de ayudar a Puerto Rico a reestructurar su deuda.

    El Journal inspirando temores sobre los llamados ““refugiados” puertorriqueños” se ajusta al discurso que los medios de derecha impulsan sobre la supuesta amenaza que representan inmigrantes y refugiados. Las cadenas noticiosas de derecha suelen preocuparse de que los refugiados absorberán los recursos del gobierno, y de que los Demócratas usarán programas de beneficios del gobierno para inclinar las preferencias de los inmigrantes hispanohablantes hacia su lado. Pero la decisión del Journal de pintar a los puertorriqueños como “refugiados” – en vez de los ciudadanos americanos que son – está estableciendo un nuevo estándar de bajeza para los conservadores.

  • WSJ Falsely Labels Puerto Ricans As “Refugees” In Their Own Country

    Puerto Ricans Are Full American Citizens

    Blog ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON Versión en español

    The Wall Street Journal issued a dire warning that the unfolding debt crisis in Puerto Rico could create an “exodus” of “Puerto Rican refugees” to the United States who would vote for Democrats and soak up public benefits -- completely ignoring their status as American citizens, with every right to live and work in whatever part of the country they wish.

    On May 2, The New York Times reported that the government of Puerto Rico defaulted on $399 million of a scheduled debt payment of $422 million owed to creditors and bondholders. According to the Times, the government in San Juan has already severely cut public services for millions of the island’s residents, but it is still unable to make up the revenue shortfall created by a prolonged recession that has sapped the Puerto Rican economy. Puerto Rico will be unable to repay its obligations without an act of Congress allowing the island to restructure its debt.

    In a May 2 editorial, The Wall Street Journal urged necessary congressional action to help Puerto Rico write-down and restructure its debt obligations, but it did so only to avoid “anarchy and a back-door bailout” that would result in “tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans flee[ing] to the mainland where they will land on the U.S. public dole.” The Journal said the debt crisis could result in an “exodus” of “Puerto Rican refugees” moving to another part of the United States and voting in federal elections. The paper speculated that if the Republican-controlled Congress did not assist the island, Puerto Rican votes would go “to the Democrats for years to come” (emphasis added):

    A new report by the Instituto de Estadísticas de Puerto Rico shows the island’s population exodus is accelerating with a net 64,000 Puerto Ricans moving to the U.S. in 2014. Most are young people—the median age is 29 and income is $13,000—seeking a better life. While many will eventually find jobs in the U.S., their incomes will at least initially be low enough to qualify for Medicaid, food stamps and public housing. Their kids will attend public schools.

    The Puerto Rican refugees will also be able to vote. In 2014, Florida (23,297) was the top destination for Puerto Ricans followed by Texas (5,019) and Pennsylvania (4,304). Virginia (1,664) and Ohio (1,553) ranked ninth and tenth. President Obama won Florida by about 74,000 votes in 2012—there are more than one million Puerto Ricans living in the state—and 537 votes decided the 2000 presidential election.

    A congressional default would relegate the island to economic paralysis, and Florida and Puerto Rican voters to the Democrats for years to come.

    The editorial board’s decision to slur millions of American citizens as “refugees” is irresponsible.

    Puerto Ricans moving to another part of the United States are not “refugees”; they are American citizens, and have been granted formal American citizenship since March 2, 1917. The full rights of citizenship were later extended to “All persons born in Puerto Rico on or after April 11, 1899.” If some residents of Puerto Rico choose to move throughout the United States in search of better economic opportunities for themselves and their families, they have every right to do so.

    Millions of Puerto Ricans are suffering from the island's confluence of corporate greed and bureaucratic mismanagement, as explained by the Huffington Post. HBO's Last Week Tonight has also exposed the precarious circumstances created by Puerto Rico’s status as a U.S. territory, rather than a fully incorporated state, and highlighted the importance of helping Puerto Rico restructure its debt.

    The Journal’s fearmongering about so-called “Puerto Rican refugees” fits the standard right-wing media trope about the supposed threat presented by immigrants and refugees. Right-wing outlets often worry that refugees will soak up government resources, and that Democrats will use government entitlement programs to curry favor with Spanish-speaking immigrants. But the Journal’s decision to paint Puerto Ricans as refugees -- rather than the American citizens they are -- may set a new low for conservatives.