Conservative Media Revive "Class Warfare" Talking Point To Attack Obama's Budget Proposal


Conservative media responded to President Obama's budget speech by attacking it as a "class warfare debacle." Conservatives have repeatedly dredged up the same tired "class warfare" talking point to attack progressives on tax policy or other matters.

Conservative Media: Obama's Budget Speech Was A "Class Warfare Debacle"

Mike Gallagher: Obama Gave A "Class Warfare Debacle Of A Speech." From April 14 edition of Fox News' America Live:

MARTHA MACCALLUM (guest host): We are awaiting a House vote any moment now on the bill to fund the federal government for the rest of this year, 2011, is the budget that they're working on right now. That budget proposal is up for final approval. It is the deal that President Obama struck with the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner. It was hashed out over some very tense 48 hours. But Boehner's facing some very tough criticism now -- really from his own party -- after the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, also known as the CBO -- they ran the numbers on this $39 billion deal and the report that they came out with says that it will not cut spending anywhere near the amount that was advertised.

Mike Gallagher, radio talk show host and a Fox News contributor joins me now with some more on this. Mike, disappointing, about $382 million is what the CBO says is what will actually be cut from the deficit in this case.

MIKE GALLAGHER (Fox contributor): Yeah, but that's in the short term. I really am frustrated at the sort of discontent from folks on my side of the aisle who don't seem to be able to see big picture. Here's big picture. Barack Obama and the Democrats wanted to increase spending. John Boehner set out to decrease spending and avert a government shutdown. He accomplished that. And the fact of the matter is, this has changed the whole tone of Washington whether we like it or not.

Now, Speaker Boehner was a guest on my radio show today and he admitted to me that this is not perfect. He said from the get-go this wasn't perfect. He said that at the outset that the next battles have to be about trillions of spending not billions or hundreds of millions.

So, I just think that after hearing the president's class warfare debacle of a speech yesterday afternoon and watching him declare war against job creators and small and medium business owners and entrepreneurs, Republicans need to remember that Democrats are the political opponent, not fellow Republicans. [Fox News, America Live, 4/14/11]

Hannity: Obama And Ryan Budget Plans Are Like "Class Warfare Versus Responsible Governing." On the April 14 edition of Fox News' Hannity, former Republican National Committee chairman and Republican strategist Ed Gillespie stated of Obama's budget proposal: "this class warfare is not going to work." Later, Sean Hannity stated:

HANNITY: It seems like we are on a major collision course. I mean, the Ryan plan, the lack of specifics in the president's plan, class warfare versus responsible governing. I don't know how you reconcile these things." [Fox News, Hannity, 4/14/11]

Erickson: Obama "Is Not Offering Up A Real Plan"; "He's Offering Instead More Class Warfare." In an April 13 post RedState post, CNN's Erick Erickson wrote:

Only after Paul Ryan came up with a detailed plan did Barack Obama have to respond. More the follower of the free world than leader of the free world, Obama will yet again follow someone else's idea and explain how his is better.

What we know from the plan is that it will not be better. It will be more of the same backfilled with wishes, dreams, and unicorns. It will also include massive tax hikes and finally embrace the deficit commission while, no doubt, Obama works furiously behind the scenes to undermine it.


Only a few weeks ago, Barack Obama praised the tax deal Republicans and Democrats entered into in December. Remember that deal? It extended the Bush tax cuts. Obama was perfectly happy to attribute that tax deal to job growth in this country.

But now Obama wants to demagogue the rich and demand scrapping the Bush tax cuts. What he is doing is not offering up a real plan -- a plan that can be agreed to on Capitol Hill. He's offering instead more class warfare.

In Barack Obama's zeal to punish the successful, he will ignore that Americans of all incomes have less and less disposable income. He will ignore high gas prices. He will ignore inflation in food and basic commodities. He will instead demagogue.

And he will embrace plans made under compromise in Washington that leave Washington in charge. In fact, the compromises Obama will embrace are the same types of compromises that have gotten us to the verge of bankruptcy. [RedState, 4/13/11]

Erickson: Obama's Speech Had "Enough Class Warfare Rhetoric To Make Karl Marx Blush." From an April 14 RedState post by Erickson:

Republicans who vote for this compromise are lying to the American people that they get how serious the problem is. The one silver lining is that this will hopefully radicalize freshman Republicans against anymore leadership deals.

But it's not just Republican mendacity the republic must be worried about. Barack Obama spoke yesterday in a speech filled with lies, half-truths, and enough class warfare rhetoric to make Karl Marx blush. The mendacity of Obama's class warfare is designed to distract from the fact that under Obama, gas prices have risen more than 100% from when he took office, food prices have gone up, and every dollar every American brings home buys less and less.

The man started his speech praising the free market and the rugged individualism of the American people, while ignoring that under his Presidency more Americans are on food stamps than at any time in American history and it is the Obama administration, not the free market, that is picking winners and losers in the marketplace. [RedState, 4/14/11]

Wash. Times' Kuhner: "The President's Class Warfare Is A Smoke Screen" To "Distract Voters From His Immoral And Reckless Fiscal Record." In his April 14 Washington Times column, Jeffrey Kuhner criticized Obama's deficit reduction plan, calling it "a recipe for economic stagnation and national ruin." He continued:

Mr. Obama refuses to confront the seminal reality of American life: We are going broke. The only way to keep America from heading off a financial cliff is to dramatically reverse course - repeal Obamacare, implement deep across-the-board spending cuts and reform entitlements, especially Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Together these programs constitute nearly $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities; no nation, no matter how big and prosperous, can sustain that financially. America is being drowned in an ocean of red ink.

The president's class warfare is a smoke screen. He hopes to distract voters from his immoral and reckless fiscal record. He is the one who has compiled massive deficits, which this year alone are projected to be a record $1.6 trillion. He is the one who has accumulated more debt during his administration than it took for America to amass in the first 200 years of its history combined. He is the one who is proposing trillion-dollar deficits for years to come. [The Washington Times, 4/14/11]

O'Reilly Derides Obama's Budget Proposal As A "Class Warfare Game." From the April 13 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: Let's start with President Obama -- big speech today. I think it lasted 4 and a half hours, I'm not sure. It was almost like the movie the Ten Commandments -- you know, intermission, had to go, and the Red Sea parted. But the primary theme is, gotta tax the rich. And he does say we have to cut spending too.


O'REILLY: President Obama, according to Dick Morris, wants to continue expanding the federal government, even though he says he wants to cut back, and pretty much regulate the Fairness Doctrine. "You know, OK, here's what's fair. We'll decide it. And you, Miller and O'Reilly made a lot of money. So we're going to come in. We're going to take a little bit more of that. Shared sacrifice," da, da-da, da-da, da-da.

Are you buying that? Do you think that there is noble intent in the class warfare game?

DENNIS MILLER: No. I think it's -- I think it's horrible. When I -- and I thought that when I was 30 years old, pursuing a career in comedy and made $7,000 for the entire calendar year. I never looked around and thought, "That guy should give me some of his stack." It's just the way I work. I do believe in Darwin, in that I believe in the survival of the fittest to some degree. But here is how it plays out with liberals. If you mention Christ on this side of the aisle, they will bring up Darwin. If you then say, "Ok, I believe in Darwin's survival of the fittest," they will then say you should be more Christ-like in your giving. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 4/13/11]

Right-Wing Media Previously Accused Dems Of Engaging In "Class Warfare" With Their Fiscal Policy

Van Susteren And Carlson Agree That Not Extending The Top Bush Tax Cuts Is "Very Flatly And Plainly A Question Of Class Warfare." On the September 7, 2010, edition of Fox News' On the Record, Greta Van Susteren said of Obama's tax proposals, "I'm wondering how much of this is legitimate economic planning, that the president truly believes this, or even, you know, Peter Orszag truly believes it, and how much of it is political in the sense trying to create almost political warfare, trying to divide the upper 2 percent from the rest of the population." She also said that eliminating the tax cuts for the top 2 percent is "almost a class warfare political weapon." Fox News contributor Tucker Carlson responded:

CARLSON: Well, it's very flatly and plainly a question of class warfare. I mean, look, I'm hardly defending rich people. I'm not a rich person, unfortunately, though I aspire to that. They pay for everything in this country. The top 10 percent pays more than half of federal taxes. You take out rich people, and the country doesn't run. That's just a fact. That's not defense of a class or a social system, those are [...] numbers you can't debate. [Fox News, On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, 9/7/10]

Krauthammer: Obama's "Idea Is Class Warfare." On the September 1, 2010, edition of Fox News' Special Report, responding to a question on whether Obama would "veto in a recession the extension of all the current tax rates for the next year," Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer said, "I think he will because that's all he's got. He can't argue his economic policies have succeeded. That's not anything anybody would believe. What the idea is class warfare. The Republicans are in favor of the rich and we are in favor of the middle class. That's all they have and they're going to stick to it." [Fox News, Special Report, 9/1/10]

Hannity: What "Do You Say To Democrats Who Play The Class Warfare Card" And Are Willing To Let The Bush Tax Cuts Expire? During a July 30, 2010, interview with Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) on his Fox News show, Sean Hannity said of the Bush tax cuts:

HANNITY: Yes, look, it's going to be interesting because the president obviously wants them to expire, especially for the wealthy. What do you say to democrats who play the class warfare card and say, no we'll just let them expire for, quote, "the wealthiest Americans," those who are making over $200,000 or more which by the way the top ten percent pay over 70 percent of the income taxes in this country. Why would you argue that's a bad idea? [Fox News, Hannity, 7/30/10]

Doocy: Democrats Want To Raise Taxes On "Those Evil, Successful People," "The So-Called Rich." On the July 27, 2010, edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy claimed that Democrats say "those evil, successful people at the top 3 or 4 or 5 percent -- the so-called rich Americans -- we're going to continue to tax them at a higher rate." Doocy continued by suggesting that when you're talking about these "so-called rich Americans," "you're not talking about Donald Trump or a member of the Rockefeller family. You're talking about a lot of people who own and operate America's small businesses." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/27/10]

Right-Wing Media Have Also Cried "Class Warfare" In Other Attacks On Progressives

Fox & Friends Guest Suggested Obama Engaged In "Class Warfare" By Criticizing Banks Involved In Sub-Prime Crisis. On the February 25, 2009, edition of Fox & Friends, conservative commentator Steve Adubato claimed that Obama engaged in "class warfare" in a speech he gave to a joint session of Congress the previous night. Adubato suggested that Obama did not refer to people who took sub-prime mortgage loans knowing they could not afford them and instead claimed "banks have screwed up." In fact, Obama did refer to people who "bought homes they knew they couldn't afford from banks and lenders who pushed those bad loans anyway." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/25/09 via Media Matters]

Beck Guest Host Pagliarulo: Liberals "See Everything Through The Glasses Of Race," "Class Warfare," And "Economic Status." From the March 7 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Glenn Beck Program:

JOE PAGLIARULO: You know what there's a racial component in? The far-left. There is a racial component in liberals in this country. They see everything through the glasses of race, through the glasses of class warfare, of economic status. That's what they see. I see everybody as an American and I happen to be a conservative guy and I see that everybody has the same opportunities. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Glenn Beck Program, 3/7/11]

Newsmax's Ruddy: Obama, Like FDR, "Couldn't Improve The Economy So He Started This Class Warfare Thing." During an appearance on the March 17, 2009, edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto, Christopher Ruddy, the editor in chief of Newsmax, claimed that Obama was using "class warfare" rhetoric because "he couldn't improve the economy":

RUDDY: Look, Obama came to Washington and he said that he was going to change the old politics. He was going to be bipartisan. It's been a total sham. He rammed through the stimulus program which I hardly argue is a stimulus. It takes care of many of the government unions that backed him. Two-thirds of it goes to either direct payments to lower income people or to the people that backed him in the state and local unions, government unions. So I think --

CAVUTO: The preview of coming attractions you're saying, right?

RUDDY: Well, I think that FDR -- it's just history repeating itself. FDR did the same thing. He couldn't improve the economy so he started this class warfare thing and I'm afraid to see that. I had high hopes for Obama. As a Republican I wanted him to succeed. But when you see that he has gone down this path, I think it's not good for anyone. [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 3/17/09]

Hannity: Is "A Ton Of Class Warfare Rhetoric" Going To Be "All We See" From Democrats? On the July 19, 2010, edition of his Fox News show, Sean Hannity asked then-Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich: "So you're saying for the next 106 days we can expect a ton of class warfare rhetoric, demagoguery as you just pointed out, and demonization, et cetera, character assassination, maybe some supportive groups playing the race card because they can't run on their record? That's what's the next 106 days are going to be like? This is going to be all we see?" [Fox News, Hannity, 7/19/10]

Conservative Media Suggest Dems' Purported "Class Warfare" Might Have Led To Violence

Fox Guest Links Obama's Supposed "Class Warfare" To Holocaust Museum Shooting. In their reactions to the June 10, 2010, shooting at the Holocaust Museum, financial analyst and radio host Jim Lacamp said on Fox News that "we have an administration that's really done a lot of class warfare, a lot of class-baiting. And so, it sets the stage for social unrest." [Media Matters, 6/11/09]

Megyn Kelly Repeatedly Suggested Dems' "Class Warfare Narrative" Spurred Cape Cod Arson. During the December 13, 2010, edition of America Live, host Megyn Kelly repeatedly suggested that "class warfare" from Democrats spurred a suspected arsonist in Cape Cod. [Fox News, America Live, 12/13/10]

While Attacking Dems For Class Warfare, Right-Wing Media Attack The Unemployed

Right-Wing Media Attack Unemployed People, Lecturing Them To "Sober Up" And Get Jobs. Various right-wing media figures attacked proposals to extend unemployment benefits in the face of continued high long-term unemployment rates during and after the recession. For instance, Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade suggested that "maybe the [expiration of] unemployment benefits will get people to sober up and take some of your offers." [Media Matters, 7/28/10, 11/19/10]

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