Rush Limbaugh's Wingnut Welfare

As numerous members of the conservative movement flee from the Heritage Foundation's flawed immigration study, conservative talker Rush Limbaugh has maintained a stalwart defense of the organization.

Not a surprise considering Rush Limbaugh's syndicator, Premiere Radio Networks, is the single largest independent contractor to the Heritage Foundation according to their latest 990 filing with the IRS, receiving $2,236,555 from the think tank.

With advertisers fleeing his show, and as a result radio companies suffering major losses, the fiscal sponsorship of the conservative movement is now fiscally critical. A “very high ranking” official at Cumulus, the owner of Rush and Sean Hannity's flagship station WABC, told Radio Ink, “Forty-eight of the top 50 network advertisers have 'excluded Rush and Hannity' orders. Every major national ad agency has the same dictate.

Without wingnut welfare, which has also included sponsorships from FreedomWorks, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity's shows would not be financially viable.

The financial relationship between the conservative movement and its radio hosts has existed for years -- Heritage has been a major sponsor of Premiere Radio talent, specifically Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, according to a 2011 report by Ken Vogel of Politico -- however with Limbaugh and Hannity's recent well publicized problems attracting sponsorship to their programs the role of the conservative movement is not rightwing radios key sponsor. (Vogel also tweeted about Heritage's 990 disclosure.)

Now with Heritage under attack from many on the right including the libertarian Cato Institute for a widely panned and publicized study of the costs of the Gang of Eight immigration proposal is it any surprise where Limbaugh came down in this conservative kerfuffle?

Limbaugh defended the Heritage study when it first came under attack.

Then later this week, he began a segment by promoting the think tanks website, telling listeners if they “go to the Heritage Foundation website . . . they were giving you the report free” as if this were a benefit and not standard for ideological organizations to want their work shared broadly with the public.

Rush then proceeded to defend an author of the study, who was roundly criticized for a college thesis that suggested immigration policy decisions should be based on racial IQ disparities.

Most notable was a throwaway line in which Limbaugh attacked dynamic scoring, saying it “doesn't quite wash.” Kevin Drum points out that the wonky methodology is “critical to the conservative movement because it's the way they can claim that tax cuts produce higher tax revenue.”

Limbaugh, in defense of his sponsor, was willing to toss aside the underpinning of thirty years of conservative arguments on the economic benefits of tax cuts.

We won't know, until the organization's 2012 990s are filed later this year, how much the organization spent to bolster right-wing talk radio in the wake of the advertiser boycott, but listening to the frequent on-air promotion of the Heritage Foundation, it is unlikely this significant level of support waned. And why not? They are clearly getting what they paid for.