Despite claiming that he “went and checked” the source of the figure, Joe Scarborough again advanced the falsehood that the total cost of TARP is $23 trillion.
On July 23, MSNBC's Morning Joe co-host Joe Scarborough continued to advance the falsehood that the “bailouts” have a price tag of $23 trillion, claiming that he “went and checked” the source of the figure, and the source was "[t]he United States Congress. That's their number." In fact, the source of the figure Scarborough cited, a report by Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Plan (SIGTARP) Neil Barofsky, itself said, "[T]he actual potential for losses is likely to be lower." The SIGTARP report added, “In certain cases, programs included have been canceled or repaid; however, they are still included in this table (SIGTARP's intent is to represent all support programs created).” Moreover, Scarborough had been informed the previous day that the $23 trillion figure is a “meaningless nonsense number.”
The SIGTARP report also stated: "[S]ome of the programs have been discontinued or even, in some cases, not utilized. As such, these total potential support figures do not represent a current total, but the sum total of all support programs announced since the onset of the financial crisis in 2007."
Additionally, New York Times reporter Floyd Norris reported that in an interview, Barofsky said:
“We're not suggesting that we're are looking at a potential loss to the government of $23 trillion,” he said. “Our goal is to bring transparency, to put things in context.”
Asked what he thought the maximum total cost could be, he replied that it was not his job to estimate that, and declined to give a figure.
In its quarterly report, SIGTARP -- an independent agency within the Treasury Department -- used Congressional Budget Office numbers and cited other congressional sources to calculate some but not all of the components that went into the $23 trillion figure.
On July 22, Scarborough stated that he “read yesterday somewhere that the bailouts are now coming in at a price tag of around $23 trillion.” Washington Post columnist Steven Pearlstein later told Scarborough that $23 trillion is a “meaningless nonsense number.” Scarborough responded, “So, Steven, there's nothing to worry about then. ... [Y]ou know what I'm going to do? I'm going to go to the beach for the next week and not worry about anything. Don't worry, be happy, right?”
During the July 23 segment, Scarborough said, “And also, one other follow-up. I went and checked that $23 trillion number because I felt badly because Steven said that I was being cynical by putting that out there. So I was wondering what hyper-charged, right-wing birther site came up with that number. You know who did it? The United States Congress. That's their number.” Later, after co-host Mika Brzezinski said, “Steven Pearlstein was really debunking some of your concerns,” Scarborough said, "[A]gain, I found out last night, looking back at the number, the $23 trillion, that was Congress' estimate."
From the July 23 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:
SCARBOROUGH: Forty percent of the GDP this year is going to be spent on the government, the most since World War II. And also, one other follow-up. I went and checked that $23 trillion number --
BRZEZINSKI: Oh, with Steven Pearlstein yesterday.
SCARBOROUGH: -- because I felt badly because Steven said that I was being cynical by putting that out there. So I was wondering what hyper-charged, right-wing birther site came up with that number.
SCARBOROUGH: You know who did it? The United States Congress. That's their number.
WILLIE GEIST (co-host): They're whack jobs.
BRZEZINSKI: All righty.
SCARBOROUGH: They are. They're cynical. They're cynical.
BRZEZINSKI: This is The Wall Street Journal, “Obama needs a to move to the middle,” Michael Boskin: “The administration and Congress are exploiting a crisis atmosphere to promote a breathtakingly expensive big-government spending agenda, mostly to be paid for later. The trillions of dollars of deficits will eventually force much higher income or payroll taxes or national value-added tax similar to those in Europe, or severe inflation.”
Which is something, I mean, we've been talking about here in terms of deficits; and it was interesting, our guest yesterday Steven Pearlstein was really debunking some of your concerns, saying the numbers --
SCARBOROUGH: Well, I -- my concerns, you know, it was -- again, I found out last night, looking back at the number, the $23 trillion, that was Congress' estimate.
SCARBOROUGH: David Walker, there is, and there has been, this effort over the past six months to pass stimulus packages and huge budget-busting budgets and now health care by -- what do they say? -- exploiting a crisis atmosphere.