CNN's Roberts did not challenge McCain adviser's claim that McCain understands the economy by noting numerous dubious economic statements

CNN's Roberts did not challenge McCain adviser's claim that McCain understands the economy by noting numerous dubious economic statements

››› ››› BRIAN LEVY

On CNN's The Situation Room, Carly Fiorina asserted that Sen. John McCain is "extremely well qualified" on the economy and that he "understands how the economy works." John Roberts did not challenge Fiorina's assertion, and he concluded the interview without noting numerous statements by McCain on the economy that were false or disputed by economists -- including McCain's own economic adviser -- or that McCain has repeatedly acknowledged weakness on economic issues.

On the July 2 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, guest host John Roberts asked Sen. John McCain senior adviser and Republican National Committee victory chairwoman Carly Fiorina, "[A]s a business person, a former CEO, do you consider John McCain to be an expert on the economy?" Fiorina responded in part: "[D]o I think he's a leader who understands how the economy works, who understands the importance of job creation, who understands the importance of government and the role it can play to either accelerate job creation or to destroy jobs, yes, I think he is extremely well qualified." Roberts did not challenge Fiorina's response, and he concluded the interview without noting numerous statements by McCain on the economy that were false or disputed by economists -- including McCain's own economic adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin -- or that McCain has repeatedly acknowledged weakness on economic issues.

Roberts mentioned none of the following:

  • As Media Matters for America noted, during an interview with National Review senior editor Ramesh Ponnuru in March 2007, McCain asserted: "Tax cuts, starting with [President John F.] Kennedy, as we all know, increase revenues. So what's the argument for increasing taxes? If you get the opposite effect out of tax cuts?" And, in a December 7, 2007, Boston Globe column, Scot Lehigh reported that at a meeting two days earlier, McCain had said of President Bush's tax cuts, "I would suggest that most economists agree that there was an increase in revenues ... associated with the tax cuts."

But, in a December 13, 2007, post on the washingtonpost.com blog The Fact Checker, Michael Dobbs highlighted McCain's statement to Ponnuru as McCain's "Most Revealing Fib[]" and wrote: "Asked to explain the candidate's position, the McCain campaign sent me an e-mailed statement from Holtz-Eakin claiming that the senator 'has never supported the idea that tax cuts pay for themselves.' " Dobbs asserted, "It looks as if the master of the 'Straight Talk Express' is trying to have it both ways."

  • On the specific issue of capital gains tax cuts, McCain asserted on the April 20 edition of ABC's This Week that "history shows every time you have cut capital gains taxes, revenues have increased -- going back to Jack Kennedy." However, as Media Matters documented, notwithstanding a potential short-term revenue increase, many economists have challenged the suggestion that revenue goes up over the long term as a result of capital gains tax rates being cut. Indeed, the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation estimated in June 2006 that the 2006 extension of the 2003 cuts on capital gains taxes would result in decreased revenues of $20 billion over 10 years.
  • As Media Matters noted, on the June 10 edition of The Situation Room, host Wolf Blitzer also did not challenge Fiorina's assertion that McCain "will balance his budget by the end of 2013," echoing McCain's claim, reported by the Associated Press on February 16, that he "would propose a balanced budget in his first term if he is elected president -- but not necessarily in his first year."

However, in an April 15 article, Reuters reported that Holtz-Eakin "said McCain believes he can balance the budget in eight years." Also, prior reports on McCain's economic plan have noted that economists and nonpartisan analysts say that McCain's proposals will require massive spending cuts or will increase the deficit. On April 18, Bloomberg reported that McCain's "plan to cut taxes and balance the budget wins praise from fellow Republicans," but that "[e]conomists and nonpartisan analysts say his numbers don't add up."

  • As Media Matters noted, in a June 10 speech, McCain falsely suggested that Obama plans to raise taxes on 21.6 million sole proprietorships that file taxes under the individual income tax. In fact, Obama has proposed rolling back the Bush tax cuts only on "people who are making 250,000 dollars a year or more," and according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center's table of 2007 tax returns that reported small-business income, only 481,000 -- not 21.6 million -- of those returns are in the top two income tax brackets -- which include all filers with taxable incomes of more than $250,000.
  • McCain is in favor of a gas tax holiday "from Memorial Day to Labor Day." But, as The Washington Post noted on May 5, "More than 230 economists -- Democrats, Republicans, advisers to past presidents and four Nobel laureates" signed a letter opposing the suspension of the federal gas tax for summer. The letter said, "Put simply, suspending the federal tax on gasoline this summer is a bad idea and we oppose it. There are several reasons for this opposition. First, research shows that waiving the gas tax would generate major profits for oil companies rather than significantly lowering prices for consumers. ... Third, a tax holiday would provide very little relief to families feeling squeezed."

From the July 2 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:

ROBERTS: Well, let's get into an area where you were very valued -- very, very familiar, and that's the economy. A new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll finds that the economy continues to be issue number one, even more so than in the past.

FIORINA: Yes.

ROBERTS: Fifty-eight percent of respondents now saying it's the number one issue. That compares with 45 percent back in January. And I'm wondering, as a business person, a former CEO, do you consider John McCain to be an expert on the economy?

FIORINA: Oh, I think John McCain is very well qualified on the economy. He wouldn't call himself an expert. I wouldn't call myself an expert on the economy. But if you're talking about, do I think he's a leader who understands how the economy works, who understands the importance of job creation, who understands the importance of government and the role it can play to either accelerate job creation or to destroy jobs, yes, I think he is extremely well qualified.

He'll be talking about the economy all next week, and he will focus very heavily on what it takes to create jobs and what role government can play to accelerate the creation of jobs. The American dream starts with a job, and so, a good economic plan -- which John McCain has and will be talking to the American people about next week -- a good economic plan creates jobs.

ROBERTS: Carly Fiorina from the McCain campaign. It's good to talk to you. Thanks very much.

FIORINA: Nice to talk to you.

ROBERTS: We look forward to further news on the economy from the McCain campaign next week. Appreciate your time.

Network/Outlet
CNN
Person
John Roberts
Show/Publication
The Situation Room
Stories/Interests
John McCain, 2008 Elections
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