Right-Wing Media Attack Obama For Calling For A “Balanced” Approach To Default Crisis

Right-wing media have repeatedly attacked President Obama for calling for a “balanced” approach to solving the deficit crisis. In fact, polls have repeatedly shown that the majority of Americans favor such an approach to lowering the deficit, which would involve a combination of spending cuts and revenue increases.

Right-Wing Media: Obama's Call For “Balanced Approach” Is “Predictable Propaganda”

Hannity: Obama Used “Poll-Tested Line, 'Balanced Approach.' ... Will Enough Americans See Through His Predictable Propaganda And His Little Talking Points?” Immediately following President Obama's July 25 address on the default crisis, which was followed by House Speaker John Boehner's (R-OH) response, host Sean Hannity interviewed Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) on his Fox News program. He began by saying:

HANNITY: One thing I've learned about this president, and I'm not patting myself on the back, he's so predictable. Bumper stickers, slogans, he goes back to the 1970 playbook, class warfare, scaring old folks, no plan of his own. And of course they have his poll-tested line, “balanced approach.”

The question is, will enough Americans see through his predictable propaganda and his little talking points? [Fox News, Hannity, 7/25/11 via Nexis]

Drudge Hypes Word Count Of “Balanced Approach” And “Compromise” In Obama's Speech. On July 25, immediately after Obama's address and Boehner's response, the Drudge Report posted the following links and picture at the top of the site:


[Drudge Report Archives, 7/25/11]

Fox & Friends Follows Drudge's Lead With On-Screen Counting Graphic; Doocy Claims “It's All About The Re-Election.” The July 26 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends featured several segments on Obama's speech and Boehner's response. In three of these segments, parts of Obama's speech were played alongside a counter tracking the number of times he said the word “balanced.” Before the video was played, co-host Steve Doocy claimed that Obama's speech was “all about the re-election.” From the broadcast:

KILMEADE: We know that Charles Krauthammer just brought it up before, as we talked about, the balanced approach being a key word to win over independents, which is the fastest growing section of the voting public, and he feels the president wanted to come off once again like the adult in the room. But it also comes off, for me, somewhat condescending. I mean, he talked down to maybe a sixth-grade level in a way of which he felt as though we had to -- so we could understand it. Like this -- like the everyday person. And I'm saying to myself, wait a second, anyone who's even got a newspaper or walk [sic] by a flier understands the context of this argument and what is actually at stake. But the president thought, if in a remedial way, he had to frame it out again.

DOOCY: Sure. But, you know, he's got all these pollsters and all these campaign people. It's all about the re-election. So anyway, let's have a little -- let's have a -- it's not a drinking game. It's an eating game. Every time the president says balanced approach, let's get our peas and count.


DOOCY: Yeah, so there you've got balanced approach. One other word that he used six times, he used the word compromise. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/26/11]

Carlson Hypes Boehner's “Definition” Of “Balanced Approach” : “It Means We Spend More In Washington, You Pay More.” Later during the broadcast, after video from Obama's speech with the counting graphic was replayed, Carlson hyped the “definition” Boehner gave “balanced approach” during his rebuttal to Obama's speech:

CARLSON: So what does a balanced approach mean? Well, according to John Boehner, it means, “We spend more in Washington, you pay more.” That has a slightly different tone to it, doesn't it, when you actually give the definition to it? “We spend more, you pay more.” If you explained it that way, how many people would be in favor of a balanced approach? You might get a different response. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/26/11]

But Majority Of Americans Support A Mix Of Cuts And Revenues To Solving Default Crisis

Obama: A “Balanced Approach ” Involves Pairing Spending Cuts With Revenue Increases. From Obama's July 25primetime address:

OBAMA: Now, every family knows that a little credit card debt is manageable. But if we stay on the current path, our growing debt could cost us jobs and do serious damage to the economy. More of our tax dollars will go toward paying off the interest on our loans. Businesses will be less likely to open up shop and hire workers in a country that can't balance its books. Interest rates could climb for everyone who borrows money -- the homeowner with a mortgage, the student with a college loan, the corner store that wants to expand. And we won't have enough money to make job-creating investments in things like education and infrastructure, or pay for vital programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

Because neither party is blameless for the decisions that led to this problem, both parties have a responsibility to solve it. And over the last several months, that's what we've been trying to do. I won't bore you with the details of every plan or proposal, but basically, the debate has centered around two different approaches.

The first approach says, let's live within our means by making serious, historic cuts in government spending. Let's cut domestic spending to the lowest level it's been since Dwight Eisenhower was President. Let's cut defense spending at the Pentagon by hundreds of billions of dollars. Let's cut out waste and fraud in health care programs like Medicare -- and at the same time, let's make modest adjustments so that Medicare is still there for future generations. Finally, let's ask the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to give up some of their breaks in the tax code and special deductions.

This balanced approach asks everyone to give a little without requiring anyone to sacrifice too much. It would reduce the deficit by around $4 trillion and put us on a path to pay down our debt. And the cuts wouldn't happen so abruptly that they'd be a drag on our economy, or prevent us from helping small businesses and middle-class families get back on their feet right now.

This approach is also bipartisan. While many in my own party aren't happy with the painful cuts it makes, enough will be willing to accept them if the burden is fairly shared. While Republicans might like to see deeper cuts and no revenue at all, there are many in the Senate who have said, “Yes, I'm willing to put politics aside and consider this approach because I care about solving the problem.” And to his credit, this is the kind of approach the Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner, was working on with me over the last several weeks.


And keep in mind that under a balanced approach, the 98 percent of Americans who make under $250,000 would see no tax increases at all. None. In fact, I want to extend the payroll tax cut for working families. What we're talking about under a balanced approach is asking Americans whose incomes have gone up the most over the last decade -- millionaires and billionaires -- to share in the sacrifice everyone else has to make. And I think these patriotic Americans are willing to pitch in. In fact, over the last few decades, they've pitched in every time we passed a bipartisan deal to reduce the deficit. [WhiteHouse.gov, 7/25/11]

Gallup Poll Found 69 Percent Of Americans Support Reducing Deficit With A Mix Of “Spending Cuts And Tax Increases.” A July 7 -10 Gallup poll found that that 69 percent of Americans favor reducing the deficit either “mostly with spending cuts,” “equally with spending cuts and tax increases,” or “mostly with tax increases.” [Gallup, 7/13/11 via Media Matters]

Quinnipiac: “Voters Say 67 - 25 Percent That An Agreement To Raise The Debt Ceiling Should Include Tax Hikes ... Not Just Spending Cuts.” Quinnipiac released a poll on July 14 that found that "[v]oters say 67 - 25 percent that an agreement to raise the debt ceiling should include tax hikes for the wealthy and corporations, not just spending cuts." [Quinnipiac, 7/14/11 via Media Matters]