Predictable: Right-Wing Media Mislead On Obama's Budget

Since President Obama released his FY 2011 budget, right-wing media have covered the proposal by promoting false and misleading claims, such as that it creates $2 trillion in “new taxes” and “ignore[s] the deficit.”

Palin, Right-Wing Media Falsely Claim Budget Will Only Cut "$775 Million A Year"

Ross: “The President Has Proposed 'Tough Budget Cuts' That Total $775 Million. No, That's Not A Joke.” In a February 8 post, conservative blogger Doug Ross cited a February 6 Hill article to falsely claim that “the president has proposed 'tough budget cuts' that total $775 million. No, that's not a joke.” Ross further created a pie chart based on the numbers and magnified the chart twice to “illustrate the magnitude of Obama's cuts.” [Doug Ross, 02/08/11]

Michelle Malkin Refers To “Microscopic Cuts” And Links To Pie Chart Showing "$775 Million" In Cuts. In a February 14 post on her blog, Michelle Malkin discussed reports on Obama's proposed budget, writing “Flashback: Microscopic cuts depicted in Doug Ross's Chart of the Day last week.” Malkin linked to Ross' February 8 post which falsely claimed the budget would only cut $775 million a year. [Michelle Malkin, 2/14/11]

Palin Falsely Claims Obama “Proposed $775 Million-A-Year Budget 'Cuts.'” On February 14, Sarah Palin wrote a post on her Facebook page titled, “The Truth Behind the White House's Budget Spin.” Palin wrote:

The fine print reveals a White House proposal to increase taxes by at least $1.5 trillion over the next decade. If you want to know how minuscule their proposed $775 million-a-year budget “cuts” really are, please look at this chart. The proposed cuts are so insignificant - less than 1/10 of 1% of this year's $1.65 trillion budget deficit - that they are essentially invisible on the pie chart. That speaks volumes about today's budget.

Fox Nation promoted Palin's page, posting a link to her post on February 14. [Facebook, 2/14/11; Fox Nation, 2/14/11]

In Fact, $775 Million Figure is Distorted and “Incorrect”

Right-Wing Media Ignore Lew's Statement That $775 Million “Represent[s] Only A Small Fraction” Of The Cuts. In a February 5 New York Times op-ed, White House Budget Director Jacob Lew named several examples of cuts the president planned to propose in his budget. These proposed cuts totaled $775 million. But, Lew added that these “examples...represent only a small fraction of the scores of cuts the president had to choose.” In a report on Lew's op-ed, The Hill erroneously suggested that the cuts Lew discussed were the sole cuts being proposed, writing, “The cuts are relatively small, however, in the larger scheme of things. In total, the $775 million in detailed cuts fall far short of demands by congressional Republicans and will do little toward tackling the deficit, which is estimated to be $1.5 trillion this year by the Congressional Budget Office.” Later in the article, The Hill did report that Lew wrote that the cuts “represent only a small fraction of” the proposed cuts. [New York Times, 2/5/11 The Hill, 2/6/11]

CBS News: Palin “Is Using An Incorrect Figure As The Basis Of Her Critique” ; Actual Proposed Cuts Equal Around $75 Billion. A February 14 CBS News article, titled “Sarah Palin Gets Facts Wrong In Budget Critique,” noted that Palin's use of the "$775 million a year" statistic misrepresented Lew's op-ed. CBS News noted that Lew was only discussing “a small fraction of the cuts.” The CBS News article went on to add that “the proposed cuts, in total, add up to about $75 billion.” From the article:

Palin links in both places to a chart posted on The Blaze, Glenn Beck's website, five days ago - before the budget proposal came out. It uses an op-ed by White House Budget Director Jacob Lew to suggest that Mr. Obama was proposing to cut $775 million from the budget, and goes on to mock that amount as insignificant.

The problem? Lew wrote in his op-ed that he was only discussing “a small fraction of the scores of cuts” in the budget proposal, not the total proposed cuts, as a Democratic official pointed out to Ben Smith. Now, it's difficult to quantify the exact total of those first year cuts, and there is new spending that actually increases the deficit projection for 2012. But the cuts themselves are certainly more than Palin suggests: there are $2.5 billion in cuts to the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program alone, for example. Smith writes that the proposed cuts, in total, add up to about $75 billion.

There is no problem with Palin criticizing the cuts as too small, of course. But the simple fact is that she is using an incorrect figure as the basis of her critique. [, 2/14/11]

Fox & Friends Falsely Claims Obama's Budget Calls For $2 Trillion In New Taxes

F&F Text: "$2 Trillion In New Taxes!!!" On the February 15 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, the co-hosts invited Fox Business host Stuart Varney on the air to attack Obama's budget plan. On-screen text aired during the segment read: "$2 Trillion In New Taxes!!!" From the show:

Fox & Friends Chyron: $2 Trillion In New Taxes!!!

In Fact, Plan “Raises Taxes By $1.6 Trillion” Mainly By Allowing Tax Cuts For Wealthy To Expire. In a February 14 article, the Associated Press reported that the plan would raise taxes “by $1.6 trillion over the coming decade.” From the article:

But he also raises taxes by $1.6 trillion over the coming decade, much of it from allowing recently renewed tax cuts for families making more than $250,000 a year to expire in two years -- he signed a two-year extension of them into law just two months ago -- and from curbing their tax deductions for charitable contributions, mortgage interest and state and local tax payments. [AP, 2/14/11]

Varney: Proposal “Is A Reflection Of The Old President Obama...Ignore The Deficit.” Although on-screen text near the end of the segment noted that the budget “reduces deficit by $1.1 trillion over 10 years,” Varney also claimed that the proposal “is a reflection of the old President Obama: tax more, spend more, ignore the deficit.” At no point did Varney or the hosts mention that the president's proposal would reportedly reduce the deficit, though onscreen text noted that the budget “reduces deficit by $1.1 trillion over ten years.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/15/11]