In anticipation of CNBC's presentation of the third GOP debate, Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina attacked the economic policy priorities of Hillary Clinton, President Obama, and the Democratic Party in a recent op-ed for The Wall Street Journal that was filled with inaccurate and misleading information. It was more of the same of what she did during the second GOP debate hosted by CNN, when the network's moderators let her use the stage to make baseless allegations about Planned Parenthood, which provides vital, affordable health care to millions of Americans. Will CNBC moderators let her be just as careless with economic policy facts?
Fiorina Used Flawed Data To Attack Democratic Economic Policies In WSJ Op-Ed
Fiorina Parroted Several Debunked Claims To Attack Hillary Clinton, Democratic Priorities. In an October 26 op-ed for The Wall Street Journal titled “Hillary Clinton Flunks Economics,” Republican presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina attacked Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton for her statement that “the economy does better when you have a Democrat in the White House” by citing several cherry-picked, outdated, or long-debunked data points in an attempt to discredit Democratic economic policies. Fiorina wrote, “America needs someone in the White House who actually knows how the economy works,” and called for a return to rote Republican policies like “simplifying the tax code,” reducing the size of the federal government, and rolling back regulations:
The middle class has shrunk under the Obama administration. According to government figures and industry analyses, median-income households have lost nearly $1,300 after inflation, while the prices of food, health care and college tuition have risen almost twice as fast as inflation.
While Mrs. Clinton touts her gender to bolster her campaign, 92% of the jobs lost during Mr. Obama's first term--when Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state--belonged to women, according to the BLS. The National Women's Law Center reports that the poverty rate among women is 16.1%--the highest level in 20 years--and the extreme poverty rate among women the highest ever recorded. African-American unemployment is almost twice as high as the national average.
That's because big government only works for big business, the powerful, the wealthy and the well-connected. Consider the 2010 Dodd-Frank law: Under that legislation passed by a Democrat-led Congress, “too big to fail” banks got even bigger, while 1,500 community banks--the source of half of all loans to local businesses--reportedly have been destroyed. The remaining community banks have had to hire 50% more compliance staff just to keep up with the regulations. [The Wall Street Journal, 10/26/15]
Most Of Fiorina's Claims Are Either Old, Debunked, Or Misleading
Median Household Income Started Declining Eight Years Before Obama's Presidency. According to Census Bureau data compiled by the Federal Reserve of St. Louis, median household incomes have trended downward since 1999 after adjusting for inflation. Real median incomes increased through the end of the Reagan administration (1988) before falling throughout the first Bush administration, which included a recession in his final year in office, 1992. Incomes began climbing again during the Clinton administration, before peaking in 1999. Real median incomes rebounded temporarily during the second Bush administration, but declined overall as the result of two recessions, and have yet to fully recover under President Obama:
[Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, accessed 10/27/15]
The Middle-Class Is Shrinking And Median Incomes Are Flatlining Because Of Economic Inequality, Not Democratic Policies. According to a September 2015 report by the Center for American Progress, declining median incomes are a direct result of widening economic inequality. According to the report, the share of U.S. incomes going to middle-class workers peaked in 1968 and has declined steadily ever since, but if middle-class families “were still receiving the same share of income as families did in 1968, their annual incomes would be more than $9,400 higher, on average”:
While middle-class incomes have flatlined, the economy has certainly grown since the recession ended. Unfortunately, not all families are seeing this economic growth make its way into their paychecks, even though the losses during the recession were shared among all levels of income. In 2014, the top 20 percent of households took home a majority of U.S. income, 51.2 percent. And a large share of that income was concentrated among the richest 5 percent of households, which received 21.9 percent of the nation's income in 2014. That means that the middle class and those living in poverty took home less than half of the economic pie, despite constituting the vast majority of the population. Unless further action is taken to ensure that all Americans benefit from the growing economy, these long-term trends all point to increasing economic inequality and a shrinking middle class. [Center for American Progress, 9/16/15]
The Claim That Women Have Suffered Disproportionate Job Losses Under Obama Was Roundly Debunked In 2012. Fiorina's misleading WSJ op-ed claim that “92% of the jobs lost during Mr. Obama's first term--when Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state--belonged to women” directly mirrors a debunked and now outdated claim made by 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. In April 2012, PolitiFact rated Romney's claim that “women account for 92.3 percent of the jobs lost under Obama” as “mostly false,” noting that his campaign was intentionally cherry-picking data and that if it had calculated jobs lost over the course of the entire recession “women account for just 39.7 percent of the total.” Romney's false claim was debunked twice by The Washington Post, drew criticism from mainstream political reporters, and was even refuted by the right-wing Daily Caller:
Romney's website said that women account for 92.3 percent of jobs lost under Obama.
By comparing job figures with January 2009 and March 2012 and weighing them against women's job figures from the same periods, [Romney press secretary Andrea] Saul came up with 92.3 percent. The numbers are accurate but quite misleading. First, Obama cannot be held entirely accountable for the employment picture on the day he took office, just as he could not be given credit if times had been booming. Second, by choosing figures from January 2009, months into the recession, the statement ignored the millions of jobs lost before then, when most of the job loss fell on men. In every recession, men are the first to take the hit, followed by women. It's a historical pattern, Stevenson told us, not an effect of Obama's policies.
There is a small amount of truth to the claim, but it ignores critical facts that would give a different impression. We rate it Mostly False. [PolitiFact, 4/10/12; The Daily Caller, 4/10/12; The Washington Post, 4/10/12; Politico, 4/11/12; The Washington Post, 4/11/12]
The Poverty Rate For Women Is 14.7 Percent, Not 16.1. In her op-ed, Fiorina cited data she said was from the National Women's Law Center (NWLC) to falsely claim that “the poverty rate among women is 16.1%.” It is unclear where Fiorina obtained that data because the average poverty rate for American women in 2014 was 14.7 percent, according to the most recent NWLC numbers. [National Women's Law Center, Poverty Rates By State, September 2015]
African-American Unemployment Rates Have Always Been Higher Than The National Average. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data compiled by the Federal Reserve of St. Louis, unemployment rates for African-Americans have exceeded the national average every month since the dataset was introduced in 1972. However, under President Obama, the gap between African-American and national unemployment rates has narrowed from 4.9 percentage points in January 2009 to 4.1 percentage points in September 2015:
[Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, accessed 10/27/15]
Claim That Dodd-Frank Destroyed Community Banking Has Been Repeatedly Debunked. Fiorina's claim that supposed “big government” regulatory policies like the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 have “destroyed” up to 1,500 community banks parrots debunked anti-regulatory attack lines from current and former Republican presidential candidates. In November 2011, PolitiFact rated GOP hopeful Newt Gingrich's claim that “community banks... are being destroyed by Dodd-Frank” as “false,” noting that community banks were actually “healthier than a year ago” before the law went into effect. In August 2015, PolitiFact rated a similar statement from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) as “mostly false,” citing research from the Harvard Kennedy School that concluded that the law simply “exacerbated the pre-existing trend of banking consolidation.” [PolitiFact, 11/21/11; 8/12/15]
CNN Didn't Challenge Fiorina's Fabricated Story About Planned Parenthood In Sept. 16 Debate
Media Praised Fiorina's Fabricated Charges Of Fetal Organ Harvesting By Planned Parenthood. During the September 16 Republican presidential debate hosted by CNN, Carly Fiorina cited a video that she said showed “a fully formed fetus on the table... while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain” as justification to eliminate federal reimbursements for Medicaid patients treated by Planned Parenthood. CNN moderators did not question the veracity of Fiorina's statements during the debate. Later, some media outlets called Fiorina's sensationalist claim one of the highlights of the debate, ignoring the fact that the video she cited does not actually exist. CNN's post-debate fact-check called Fiorina's fabricated claim “true, but misleading,” despite independent and expert evidence to the contrary. [Media Matters, 9/17/15; 9/17/15; 9/17/15]