Republicans have continually decried the Obama Administration’s “runaway spending” since he took office, blaming him for growing deficits and a mounting national debt. But a quick glance at the facts show that, compared to George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, Obama is actually embracing fiscal conservatism more than any other president in recent history, with the exception of fellow Democrat Bill Clinton.
The Atlantic crunches the numbers:
For all the talk you hear about Obama’s historic spree, government spending actually hasn’t increased so dramatically under this president. The stimulus was big, but it’s over. It’s been replaced by, if not austerity (which has struck our states and cities) then a hard correction to the center.
Evidence of the cost-cutting measures employed by Obama can be found in the last several jobs reports. While the overall number of jobs created has steadily increased for the last several months, those advances have all come entirely in the private sector. Public sector jobs have actually been on the decline for much of the last year as government spending on some agencies and programs have been cut.
Economics Professor Mark Thoma provides a helpful chart on his blog that puts President Obama’s per capita spending into context, comparing it with the spending of every president in the last 40 years.
That?s likely a hard pill to swallow for Obama?s critics, who have spent years hammering his administration for record spending and fiscal irresponsibility. The Atlantic?s Derek Thompson put it best: ?Going by federal expenditures…it would seem that if Obama’s a socialist, Ronald Reagan is Karl Marx with an ICBM.?
As the Supreme Court prepares to consider the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, opponents of the law continue to lie about its consequences.
Just last week, Republicans misrepresented a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report which said that the Affordable Care Act was expected to cost $50 billion less than they anticipated a year ago while extending coverage to 30 million Americans. In spite of what the report actually found, many Republicans have claimed that the cost of the bill would double. As FactCheck.org points out, Republicans appear to have reached their conclusion by distorting the math:
So, where did Republicans get their $1.76 trillion cost figure? That?s the gross cost for 11 years ending in 2022. Republicans inappropriately compare that figure to the original estimate of $938 billion for the 10-year period ending in 2019.
The 11-year figure is much higher because it includes three additional years of full implementation of the coverage provisions of the law. The federal subsidies and expansion of Medicaid, which are by far the most costly elements of the coverage provisions, don?t go into effect until 2014. So, that 2010-2019 estimate includes four years of very low coverage costs (relatively speaking), and the 11-year estimate only includes two years of very low costs, plus three extra years of full implementation costs.
It is worth noting that Republican attempts to repeal either the whole bill or parts of it are projected to increase the budget deficit, suggesting that Republicans are more interested in delivering a blow to President Obama than lowering the national debt. At least one conservative justice has also noted the potential for “economic chaos” if the law was struck down and health care costs rose as a result.
More to the point, however, this is not the first time that a CBO report on the health care law has been misrepresented by its opponents to make it seem like they reached a different conclusion. Nor is it the first time that claims about the law have turned out to be inaccurate. Even the suggestion that millions of Americans will lose workplace health insurance ignores the reality: While employer coverage will vacillate — as it has before the ACA was enacted — the vast majority of businesses say they will continue to offer coverage to employees when the law?s insurance exchanges start up. In fact, if Massachusetts’ health reform is any indication, employers are highly unlikely to dump employees into the exchanges.
With most legal observers believing the Court will ultimately uphold the Affordable Care Act, and few compelling legal arguments available for its opponents, it appears the only way they see fit to attack the law is to lie about it.
Since his tragic death on February 26, Trayvon Martin — an unarmed 17-year-old African-American shot by “neighborhood watch volunteer” George Zimmerman — has become national news. Martin, a good student with no criminal record, was killed by Zimmerman on his way home from the 7-11. Zimmerman was carrying a 9 millimeter handgun. Martin was carrying a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea. (If you are unfamilar with the story, check out our primer on what everyone should know about Trayvon Martin.)
Martin has merited coverage by the New York Times, the Washington Post, and USA Today. The story has been covered by all three broadcast networks and extensively on cable. But there is one outlet that has barely mentioned Trayvon Martin — Fox News.
Here’s a breakdown of the coverage of Trayvon Martin on the three major cable networks from the day of his death through today at noon:
Since its beginning, Occupy Wall Street and the protests it spawned across the country have faced critics who say it has no goals and wouldn’t achieve any substantial accomplishments. “In fact, the sum total of what Occupy Wall Street has accomplished is zero,” a New York Post columnist wrote in November. “Inspiring chat around the national watercooler is not an achievement.”
The movement turned six months old last Saturday, and a closer look at its record of achievement reveals that it has done more than spark conversation around Wall Street’s watercoolers. Occupy groups have shifted the national debate on taxes and inequality, helped homeowners stay in their homes, forced major policy issues to the forefront of debate at the state and federal level, and gotten the attention of the institutions they’ve challenged most forcefully. With that in mind, ThinkProgress compiled a brief list of Occupy Wall Street’s accomplishments over its first six months:
Income Inequality: The 99 Percent movement refocused America’s political debate, forcing news outlets and eventually politicians to focus on rising income inequality. While debt and deficits were the primary focus of the media before the movement started, their attention after the movement began shifted to jobs, Wall Street, and unemployment. By the end of October, even Republicans were talking about income inequality, and a week later, Time Magazine devoted its cover to the topic, asking, “Can you still move up in America?”
Occupy Our Homes: The movement has drawn attention to many of the predatory, discriminatory, and fraudulent practices perpetrated by banks during the foreclosure crisis, and across the country, Occupy groups, religious leaders, and community organizations have helped homeowners prevent wrongful foreclosures on their homes. Activists in Detroit are working to save their fifth home, and similar actions have taken place in cities like Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Cleveland, and Atlanta. The movement has drawn so much attention that local political leaders and even members of Congress have stepped in to help homeowners facing foreclosure.
Move Your Money: On Bank Transfer Day, activists help more than 40,000 Americans move their money from large banks to credit unions, and more than 650,000 switched to credit unions last October. Religious groups have taken up the cause as well, moving $55 million before Thanksgiving. This year, a San Francisco interfaith group moved $10 million from Wells Fargo and other groups marked Lent by moving more money from Wall Street. As a result, analysts say the nation’s 10 biggest banks could lose $185 billion in customer deposits this year “due to customer defections.”
Fighting For Positive Policies: Occupy groups have pushed for positive policy outcomes at both the state and federal levels. Occupy The SEC submitted a 325-page comment letter on the Volcker Rule, a regulation to rein in big banks. Pressure from protesters forced New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) to reverse his opposition to a millionaire’s tax, fought Indiana Republicans’ union-busting “right-to-work” law, and have pushed big banks to stop financing destructive environmental practices like mountaintop removal mining in coal states.
Though many of the camps across the country have been disbanded, the 99 Percent Movement isn’t going away. Organizers have continued fighting at the state level, pushing back against banks on fraudulent foreclosures and other issues, and have now turned their attention to the 2012 presidential elections. Movement leaders in New York, meanwhile, are developing high-tech ways to organize protests and keep the movement going. Occupy is starting to assert a political influence, pushing multiple candidates and even running for office themselves — in both Maine and Pennsylvania, former Occupy activists are running for public office.
“It’s changed the language,” one protester told the Wall Street Journal. “It’s brought out a lot of issues that people are talking about. … And that’s the start of change.”
Wall Street strategists try way too hard to deliver a precise forecast of where the market is headed. They look at price-to-earnings (P/E) ratios, projected sales and profit growth rates, dividend yields and other measures to come up with a target price for stocks.
They're wasting their time.
The actual price of a stock is determined far more simply. You only need to focus on the supply and demand for stocks.
For example, the investment firm Liquidity Trim Tabs looks at how much money investors have poured into mutual funds on a daily basis. On days when funds come into the market, the market typically goes up. The reverse is also true.
Yet as we've seen . . . → Read More: These Companies Are Buying Back a Total of $75 BILLION in Stock
Read The Full Article:
If there was one song I didn't expect to hear during the hipster-convention that is the South by Southwest Music Festival, it was "This Land is Your Land." And while I didn't expect to hear it, I sure as hell didn't expect to sing. Let alone sing it twice on the same day.But then again, I'd forgotten that this year would have marked Woody Guthrie's 100th birthday. The SXSW organizers had not?and the folk legend's memory was in the air for quite a bit of the festival. The twangy Okie and migrant worker, who chronicled fights for social and economic justice, died in 1967, but he influenced everyone from Bob Dylan to Joe Strummer to Bruce Springsteen. Springsteen, it turned out, was keynoting the festival Thursday, and prior to his address, a Guthrie tribute was in order. Eliza Gilkyson and Jimmy LeFave took the stage to sing Guthrie standards. Joining them for the second half of their set was Colombian pop star Juanes. Juanes, who rarely sings in English, spoke of his own love for the folk legend. "Woody's such a critical experience," he said, noting that the songs illustrate "how our stories?even if we are apart one from the others?are mostly the same." As the head of the Woody Guthrie Foundation, Guthrie's daughter Nora has done much to foster that understanding. She's invited everyone from Billy Bragg to East German musician Wenzel to re-interpret her father's work?and emphasize his focus on bringing social change. Gilkyson and LeFave's rendition of "This Train is Bound for Glory" held the crowd spellbound, while Gilkyson's rendition of "Pastures of Plenty" was slow and, to me, especially sad. By the time, the three sang "This Land is Your Land," they didn't even need to ask for participation. The audience was already clapping and singing along. But the tribute's beautiful and bittersweet quality stood in contrast to Guthrie's recordings. Woody Guthrie's voice always sounds strangely upbeat, despite the horribly tragic conditions most of his lyrics describe. Unlike the many interpretations of his music, Guthrie's songs don't sound so sad when he sings them. To my surprise, The Boss offered a more articulate view of the same feeling. While most of his talk offered a personal take on the major popular music movements in the second half of the twentieth century, he saved his highest praise for the legend whose music seems both so much older?and so timely. "Woody's fatalism was tempered by a practical idealism," Springsteen told the crowd. "Speaking truth to power wasn't futile no matter what the outcome." As the New Jersey Star Ledger points out, Springsteen's own music has taken on a lot of Guthrie lately:
On albums like "Devils and Dust," "The Ghost of Tom Joad," and especially the recent "Wrecking Ball," the Boss' Guthrie influence is profoundly felt. Springsteen echoes Guthrie's cadences, finishes many of his arguments, and returns, often, to his favorite themes: predatory bankers ("Death to My Hometown"), the plight of migrant workers ("The New Timer"), the cruelty of deportation and immigration policy ("Matamoros Banks"), and our shared and interconnected humanity (just about the entire "Rising" album). Springsteen has even adopted Guthrie's fascination with the desert.It turns out, the star gives a great speech?and great tributes. He gave his own personal account of music history, beginning with his discovery of Elvis and going through Dylan, the Animals, and Motown. Much of the talk sounded a lot like his lyrics?like his description of du-wop as "the sound of raw sex ... the sound of bras upping across the USA ... the sound of smeared lipstick and untucked shirts." He called for a guitar, which seemed to appear out of thin air, and would, at moments, begin to play riffs of the songs he was talking about. (He sang almost all of "We Gotta Get Out of This Place" before saying, to cheers, "that's every song I've ever written.") The Boss began his talk by listing just about every genre you could think of?and many you couldn't?everything from lo-fi and punk rock to Nintendo-core, Swamp Pop, Jangle Pop, and Paisley Underground. And at the end of his list was folk music. Folk music returned at the end of his talk. After describing his easy affinities for so many genres, Springsteen described trying to appreciate country music, listening to Hank Williams. "I wanted an answer to Hank Williams' question, 'Why does my bucket have a hole in it?'" said the singer. It was Woody Guthrie's music that pushed back, questioning the status quo. And like so many others, Springsteen felt a quick affinity. There's something surprisingly honest and self-effacing about Springsteen. "I was never going to be Woody Guthrie," he readily admitted to the crowd. "In my own way, I like the luxuries and the comforts of being a star." But he offered Guthrie's music as a rare means of connection, one of those things that "have come from the outside, and make their way in to become a part of the beating heart of the nation." He too began to sing "This Land is Your Land." It was a great tribute, but I'm not sure it was the greatest of the week. Two days before, protestors gathered to fight Texas' defunding of Planned Parenthood and women's health programs. Before the speeches, Jimmy Dale Gilmore arrived with his guitar, explaining that he hadn't known what to play?except obviously it would have to be Woody Guthrie. He broke into "Do Re Mi," with the crowd clapping and singing, protesting policies made across the street. I think even Bruce Springsteen would say a protest is the best place for the folk legend's music to be played.
Fox's Stuart Varney dismissed the federal food stamp program as an "entitlement" that "make[s] you feel good" and attacked an outreach program intended to ensure that people know whether they are eligible for benefits, suggesting it was being used by the Obama administration to "buy votes." But the food stamp program -- the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) -- is effective and necessary as the number of hungry Americans has reached elevated levels, and the SNAP outreach program goes back at least to President George W. Bush.
Varney:Informing People Of SNAP Eligibility Creates "An Entitlement Nation" And"Make[s] You Feel Good." On theMarch 15 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Fox Business hostStuart Varney attacked an outreach program for SNAP, asking "can we afford" to"reach out and give people food" and claiming that expanding SNAP coverage leads to "an entitlement nation" bymaking people "feel good." From Fox & Friends:
VARNEY: [C]an weafford this? We've got a trillion dollar deficit every year as far as the eyecan see. But we want to reach out and give people food.
ALISYN CAMEROTA (guest co-host):I wasn't actually going to challenge you about starving seniors.
VARNEY: You willnow.
CAMEROTA: No, I wasgoing to ask you about whether or not this is considered educational. Are theytrying to tell people, "Look we don't give up just government blocks ofcheese, we give out fruits and vegetables."Is that what they're trying to do?
VARNEY: No, no, no,they are saying you are eligible --
BRIAN KILMEADE (co-host):For free asparagus.
VARNEY: -- therefore you are entitled. Now, do you want anentitlement nation? Newt Gingrich said" thisis the food stamp president." Is this anentitlement nation? Where the government goes out and says "Hey, you're entitled to this. You should have it.It will make you feel good. And by the way, when we give you this, maybe you'llvote for us because we're giving you something."
VARNEY: I don't wishto be harsh, but we do have 46 millionAmericans on food stamps right now. That was as of December of last year. Twenty-two million households. That's up by halfsince President Obama came to office in January of'09.
STEVE DOOCY (co-host): Showsyou how bad the economy is.
VARNEY: I mean, areyou happy with this? I mean, do you want this vast expansion of anotherentitlement program? Do you want the government to outreach and say, "Come on in,we got the money. We got the food. You're entitled. Go get it." [Fox News,Fox & Friends, 3/15/12, via Media Matters]
Varney Suggests Obama Is "Buying Votes" With SNAP Outreach Program. During the same segment,Varney suggested that the Obamaadministration was "buying votes" by using SNAP outreach programs, includingradio advertisements. From Fox & Friends:
VARNEY: [Point]number one: Is this administration outreach on foodstamps actually buying votes?
VARNEY:[T]he government goes outand says, "Hey,you're entitled to this. You should have it. It will make you feel good. And bythe way, when we give you this, maybe you'll vote for us because we're givingyou something."
DOOCY: Soyou see it as a re-election thing.
VARNEY: Ido. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/15/12, via MediaMatters]
USDA:14.5% Of American Households Do Not Have "Access At All Times To EnoughFood For An Active, Healthy Life." A September 2011 report by the Department of Agriculture (USDA)found that 17.2 million households were food insecure, while 6.4 millionhouseholds had "very low food security." From theUSDA:
Anestimated 85.5 percent of American households were food secure throughoutthe entire year in 2010, meaning that they had access at all times toenough food for an active, healthy life for all household members. Theremaining households (14.5 percent) were food insecure at least some timeduring the year, including 5.4 percent with very low food security -- meaning that the food intake of one or more household members wasreduced and their eating patterns were disrupted at times during the yearbecause the household lacked money and other resources for food. [USDA,"Household Food Security in the United States in 2010," September 2011]
USDA: In2010, 16.2 Million Children Lived In Food-Insecure Households. The USDA further found:
In 2010,48.8 million people lived in food-insecure households (see table 1A). Theyconstituted 16.1 percent of the U.S. civilian noninstitutionalized populationand included 32.6 million adults and 16.2 million children (see table 1B).About 8.5 million children (11.3 percent) lived in households in which one ormore child was food insecure, 11.3 million adults (4.9 percent) lived inhouseholds with very low food security (see table 1A), and 976,000 children(1.3 percent) lived in households with very low food security among children(see table 1B). [USDA,"Household Food Security in the United States in 2010," September 2011]
FoodResearch and Action Center: "18.6Percent Of Respondents Reported Food Hardship" In 2011. A February 27 report by the Food Research and ActionCenter (FRAC) analyzed Gallup polling data and found that"18.6 percent of respondents reported food hardship." From the report:
FRAC'sanalysis for the nation as a whole in 2011 shows that 18.6 percent ofrespondents reported food hardship that year -- up modestly from the 2010 level (18 percent).
Foodhardship rates are too high in every corner of the nation, and the national2011 rate was higher than the 2010 rate, even though economic growth waspicking up. It is crucial that the nation rebuild its economy, strengthenemployment and wages, and develop public supports that will dramaticallydecrease these food hardship numbers and do so quickly. Essential stepsinclude: a growing economy that provides full-time jobs at decent wages, sharesprosperity and pulls households out of hunger and poverty; strengthened incomesupports (e.g., unemployment insurance, TANF, refundable tax credits) that helpstruggling workers and families; and strengthened -- not reduced, as some in Congress are proposing -- federal nutrition programs (SNAP/Food Stamps, school meals, WIC,summer, afterschool, and child care food) that reach more households -- seniors, children, and working-age adults alike -- in need and do so with more robust benefits. [FRAC, February 2012]
USA Today: "More Than 1.4 Million Families Live On $2A Day Per Person." From aFebruary 24 USA Today article:
Thenumber of families living on $2 or less per person per day for at least a monthin the USA has more than doubled in 15 years to 1.46 million.
That's upfrom 636,000 households in 1996, says a new study released by researchers atthe University of Michigan and Harvard University.
Governmentbenefits blunt the impact of such extreme poverty, but not completely, says oneof the researchers, Luke Shaefer, a professor of social work at Michigan.
When foodstamps are included as income, the number of households in extreme poverty,defined as living on $2 a day, drops to 800,000, Shaefer says. That's up from475,000 in 1996. [USA Today, 2/24/12]
UrbanInstitute: SNAP "Is Meeting Its Key Goal Of Reducing Food-Related Hardship." According to a March 2010, report bythe Urban Institute, SNAP "is meeting its key goal of reducing food-relatedhardship." From the report:
In acountry as wealthy and prosperous as the United States, one would think thathaving enough to eat is not an issue. However, nearly 15 percent of allhouseholds and 39 percent of near-poor households were food insecure in 2008.The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly called the FoodStamp Program) is the cornerstone of federal food assistance programs andserves as the first line of defense against food-related hardship, such as foodinsecurity. Using the 1996, 2001, and 2004 Survey of Income and ProgramParticipation (SIPP) panels, this paper measures SNAP's effectiveness inreducing food insecurity using a dummy endogenous variable model withinstrumental variables to control for selection bias. Recent changes in stateSNAP policies and rules provide exogenous variation, which we use to controlfor selection into the program. Results from naïve models that do not controlfor the endogeneity of SNAP receipt show that SNAP receipt is associatedwith higher food insecurity. However, instrumental variable models thatcontrol for the endogeneity of SNAP receipt suggest that SNAP receipt reducesthe likelihood of being food insecure by roughly 30 percent and reduces thelikelihood of being very food insecure by 20 percent. These findings provideevidence that SNAP is meeting its key goal of reducing food-related hardship. [Urban Institute, March 2010]
CBPP:Snap Lifted 3.9 Million People Out Of Poverty In 2010. According to a September 13, 2011, report bythe Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), SNAPreduced poverty in 2010 by 3.9 million. From CBPP:
Unemployment insurance kept 3.2 million people above thepoverty line in 2010. The official poverty measure doesn't count the EITCor SNAP (food stamp) benefits as income, but the Census Bureau reported that ifthey were counted, as many analysts favor, theywould be shown to lift out of poverty 5.4 million and 3.9 million people,respectively. [CBPP, 9/13/11]
CBPP: SNAP Aids "Low-Income Families, The Elderly, And PeopleWith Disabilities." From a February 2 CBPP brief on SNAP:
Nearly 75 percent of SNAP participants are in families withchildren; more than one-quarter of participants are in households with seniorsor people with disabilities.
After unemployment insurance, SNAP is the most responsivefederal program providing additional assistance during economic downturns. It also is an important nutritional support for low-wage working familiesand low-income seniors and people with disabilities with fixed incomes. [CBPP, 2/2/12]
Children's Health Watch: SNAP "Significantly DecreasesFamilies' And Children's Food Insecurity." A February 12 reportby Children's Health Watch showed that SNAP "significantly decreases families'and children's food insecurity." From the report:
Children'sHealthWatch demonstrated that SNAP, like an effective immunization,significantly decreases families' and children's food insecurity, which areestablished child health hazards. Children's HealthWatch also found thatcompared to young children in families that were likely eligible but notreceiving SNAP, young children in families receiving SNAP were less likely tobe underweight or at risk for developmental delays.
When wespecifically examined the impact of SNAP among young citizen children fromimmigrant families, those whose families received SNAP were more likely to befood secure and in better health than similar children whose immigrant families did not receive SNAP.
Thereport further found that families receiving SNAP had a lower incidence ofunderweight children, developmental delays, and were "significantly less likelyto have had to make trade-offs between paying for healthcare costs and payingfor other basic needs, like food, housing, heating and electricity."[Children's Health Watch, February 2012]
USDA: SNAP OutreachPage Has PSAs And Advertisements Listed From Bush Administration. The USDA page, whichincludes scripts and audio files for SNAP outreach publicservice announcements and advertisements,has examples listed from December 2008, including three English PSAs, twoSpanish PSAs, and 10"Radio Novelas." [USDA, 2/16/12]
In 2006, USDA LedOutreach Program To "Reach Key Target Populations" Such As "Seniors" And"Working Poor." A 2007 SNAP "FactSheet" from the USDA's Food Nutrition Services (FNS) outlined the efforts theagency was taking to "ensure that all eligible people, particularly seniors,legal immigrants and the working poor, are aware of and have access to thebenefits they need and deserve." From FNS:
There are manyreasons that eligible people do not participate in the FSP, including lack ofinformation, lack of accessibility, language barriers, and the stigma that someassociate with food stamps. FNS is making great efforts to ensure that alleligible people, particularly seniors, legal immigrants and the working poor,are aware of and have access to the benefits they need and deserve.
FNS supports itspartners and has developed many targeted resources to improve awareness of andaccess to critical nutrition benefits.
- "Food Stamps Make America Stronger" is an FNS ongoingnational educational campaign to reach key target populations - the workingpoor, seniors, and legal immigrants. The campaign includes radio advertising;National and State toll-free numbers; and posters, flyers, brochures and othermaterials. Resources are available in English and Spanish.
- In FY 2006, FNS awarded more than $1 million to 15 faith-and community-based organizations to conduct food stamp outreach. In FY 2007,FNS awarded an additional $1 million to another 14 organizations.
- In 2006, FNS awarded a total of $5 million to five Statesthrough the program to help increase access. The FSP also awarded $18 millionto States for improving access and increasing program participation throughperformance bonuses. [FNS, 5/31/07]
From 2001-2002, The Bush Administration Spent $8.5 Million OnCommunity-Level Food Stamp Outreach. According to the USDA, the Bushadministration spent at least $8.5 million on grants to "community andfaith-based organizations" to "reach underserved and hard-to-reachnon-participating eligible populations." From the USDA:
Publiceducation increases awareness of the program and its benefits. Outreach efforts to educate the publicoccur in offices covering three-fourths of the national caseload. Smalleroffices are somewhat more likely than larger ones to conduct outreach. In areaswhere a large number of outreach models are used, non-participants who areeligible for food stamps are more likely to perceive themselves as eligible.
FNS iscommitted to ensuring that all persons eligible for the FSP participate. FNS supports the efforts of State andcommunity organizations to reach those eligible for the program and toeducate the public about program benefits.
Infiscal years 2001 and 2002, FNS awarded $8.5 million in grants to 33 communityand faith-based organizations to educate the public about the program, reachunderserved and hard-to-reach non-participating eligible persons, and addressbarriers to participation. Grantees developed prescreening tools (such as paperforms, software, and Internet-based tools); disseminated information throughvarious media and hotlines; and provided application assistance,transportation, and alternative eligibility process options. [USDA, MakingAmerica Stronger: A Profile Of The Food Stamp Program, September 2005, emphasis in original]
Varney Calls Tax Credit For Working Families A "Welfare Scheme." On the June 15, 2011, edition of Fox News' Fox& Friends, Varney described the Earned Income Tax Credit, aprogram designed to lift working families out of poverty, a "welfare scheme"and "the most corrupt government program." From Fox & Friends:
VARNEY:Whenever you've got a cash welfare system you are going to have peoplegaming that system. What you have not got on the screen is the Earned IncomeTax Credit, which is by far the biggest cash -- I'm going tocall it a welfare scheme. That is known as the most corrupt government program.Billions of your dollars going out there when they should not be going outthere; same with the Supplemental Security Income program. It really is ascandal. At a point where we are running out of money, running a massivedeficit, and Social Security itself is in trouble. [Fox News, Fox &Friends, 6/15/11, via Media Matters]
Varney: StrugglingAmericansReceiving Support Are Part Of An "Entitlement Mentality." On the May 19, 2011, edition of FoxBusiness' Varney & Co., Varney cited a lottery winner who was stillon food stamps as evidence that "President Obama has led us towards anentitlement society." Later in the segment, Varney cited statistics on thenumber of food stamp enrollees and claimed "we have become [a] food stampnation, entitlement mentality nation." [Fox Business, Varney & Co., 5/19/11, via Media Matters]
Varney: Minimum Wage Increases Are "Not A Reason To Stand Up AndCheer." On theDecember 13, 2011, edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Varneyreacted to reports that San Francisco would be the first city in the nation toraise the minimum wage above $10/hour by claiming that "this is not a reason tostand up and cheer" and that it is "probably not" a "good deal" for workers.Varney also suggested that the "massive increase in labor costs"would not lead to "any more jobs" and concluded by complaining thatthe "state [is] dictating what [employers] are going to pay." [FoxNews, Fox & Friends, 12/13/11, via Media Matters]
Varney On The Poor: "Many Of Them Have Things -- What TheyLack Is The Richness Of Spirit." On the August 25, 2011, edition of Fox Business' Varney &Co., Varney claimed, "The image we have of poor people asstarving and living in squalor really is not accurate. Many of them havethings, what they lack is the richness of spirit." [Fox Business, Varney& Co., 8/25/12, via Media Matters]
Varney Hosts Author Of Poverty Report To Argue That Because ThePoor Have "Modern Conveniences," Official Poverty Figures AreInaccurate. On theJuly 19, 2011, edition of Fox Business' YourWorld, guest host Varney hosted Heritage Foundation senior research fellowRobert Rector to claim the "poverty report has not accurately reflected [thepoor's] living conditions" because many of them "have all these modernconveniences." From Your World:
VARNEY:A new report showing poor families in the United States are not what they usedto be. Now, many poor families have homes with cable TV, cell phones,computers, you name it -- much, much, more. My next guest is digging up all ofthis stuff. Robert Rector is with the Heritage Foundation.
Robert,I'm just going to give our viewers a quick run-through of what items poorfamilies in America have. Ninety-nine percent of them have a refrigerator.Eighty-one percent have a microwave. Seventy-eight percent have airconditioning. Sixty-three percent have cable TV. Fifty-four percent have cellphones. Forty-eight percent have a coffee maker -- I'm not surprised, they'reonly about 10 bucks. Thirty-eight percent have a computer. Thirty-two percenthave more than two TVs. Twenty-five percent have a dishwasher.
This,Sir, Mr. Rector, is very different what it was just a few years ago, isn't it?
RECTOR:Yes, part of the reason that when you look at the actual living conditions ofthe 43 million people that the Census says are poor, you see that in fact, theyhave all these modern conveniences. If you ask them, did your family haveenough food to eat at all times during the last year, the overwhelming majoritywill say yes. If you ask them were you able to meet any medical needs you mayhave had, they will say yes.
Thetypical poor family in the United States lives in a house or an apartment andactually has more living space than the average European. Not a poor European,but the average Frenchman or the average German.
So, infact, there really isn't any connection between the government's identificationof poor people and the actual living standards and the typical American -- whenan American hears the word "poverty," he's thinking about somebodythat doesn't have enough food to eat, someone that's possibly homeless. It'snot true. [Fox News, Your World, 7/19/11, via Media Matters]
Every four years, presidential candidates from both parties say, "This is the most important election of our lifetimes." Reporters predict that this will be the most negative campaign in history. Partisans say that if their side loses, the disaster will echo through decades, and we believe that our opponents are more dastardly than they've ever been. And over the last couple of years, we liberals have looked at conservatives and thought that they have reached levels of craziness unseen before.
So historian/author/smart guy Rick Perlstein, who knows more about the conservative movement of the last half-century than pretty much anyone, warns us that what we're seeing now is really nothing new:
Over fifteen years of studying the American right professionally ? especially in their communications with each other, in their own memos and media since the 1950s ? I have yet to find a truly novel development, a real innovation, in far-right "thought." Right-wing radio hosts fingering liberal billionaires like George Soros, who use their gigantic fortunes ? built by virtue of private enterprise under the Constitution ? out to "socialize" the United States? 1954: Here's a right-wing radio host fingering "gigantic fortunes, built by virtue of private enterprise under the Constitution ... being used to 'socialize' the United States." Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, "fed up with elitist judges" arrogantly imposing their "radically un-American views" ? including judges on the Supreme Court, whose rulings he's pledged to defy? 1958: Nine Men Against America: The Supreme Court and its Attack on American Liberties, still on sale at sovereignstates.org.
Although Perlstein acknowledges that "What's changed is that loony conservatives are now the Republican mainstream, the dominant force in the GOP," this is what makes all the difference. You can still make the case that conservatives are crazier now, because the key factor isn't the craziness of the craziest idea circulating among them?say, that Barack Obama was born in Kenya and successfully engineered a massive conspiracy to cover it up, as opposed to the idea that Dwight Eisenhower was a communist agent?it's how widely those ideas are held, and by whom. The conspiracy theories and hate-driven beliefs find purchase not just on the fringe, but among elected lawmakers, influential media figures, and in many cases, a majority of Republican voters.
So when they gain power, real people's lives are affected. For example, many conservatives never stopped believing that women who make their own sexual decisions are dirty sluts, but since so many Republicans won office in 2010, that belief translated into a torrent of legislation. In 2011, a record 92 pieces of state legislation restricting abortion rights were enacted, along with measures to restrict access to contraception and renew the failure that is abstinence-only sex education.
And in the Republican party of today, looniness practically operates on a ratchet, moving only in one direction. That's because there are almost no moderates left in the party to push back. In order for a party to undergo an ideological shift, it needs an internal force willing to champion that shift. Let's say the GOP suffers a big defeat in this year's elections. Who is going to successfully argue that the party needs to turn its back on its nuttiest elements? All the moderates who have retired in disgust or been purged in primaries? They're gone, and the Republicans who are left couldn't care less what they have to say. No, if the Republicans lose, everyone in the party will agree that they only lost because they weren't conservative enough, that they didn't take on the hated Barack Obama with sufficient venom and fury. And the center of gravity within the party will move even farther to the fringe.
(Caricature by donkeyhotey)Why it still takes the traditional media so long to assign reporters to certain subjects remains a mystery. Today's Boston Globe provides an example in coverage of Mitt Romney's proposal to spend 4 percent of gross domestic product on the Pentagon's "core" budget. For the uninitiated, that's the Pentagon budget without the money for nuclear weapons and, ahem, any wars we happen to be fighting, which add several tens of billions to the total.
While such omissions may seem odd, the core budget (when adjusted for inflation) does provide a good comparison over the years. The core Pentagon budget for 2013 is $523 billion. In real (inflation-adjusted) dollars, that's 20 percent more than the average annual core defense budget for the entire Cold War period from 1948-1992. It's the same amount, in real dollars, as the Bush defense budget of 2003.
Romney says that's not enough. He wants to boost Pentagon core spending to 4 percent of the gross domestic product from its current level of about 3.4 percent.
An examination of Romney?s plan, however, shows how difficult it will be for him to achieve his goal. Even some of Romney?s advisers, while saying the Pentagon increases are essential, said in interviews that political and budgetary issues would probably make it impossible for Romney to increase defense spending to 4 percent of GDP in a first year?and tough even in a fourth year?of a presidency.
?No president in the next administration could take the defense budget to 4 percent in the next year,?? said Mackenzie Eaglen, a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute who has advised Romney on the issue. ?That?s not a hard number and anybody would be crazy to suggest it is. It would have to be a very slow ramp-up and they would be hard-pressed to even achieve a 4 percent base budget by the end of the first term.??
Why Pentagon increases beyond Cold War spending are "essential" now is a puzzler to anyone not familiar with how the military-industrial-congressional complex operates.
Increasing defense spending isn't a new theme with Romney. He's been making the 4 percent proposal for years. But until his speech at The Citadel last October, he hadn't been very specific. Then he said he would reverse the "hollowing out" of the Navy by increasing ship-building from nine ships a year to 15. In the January GOP debates in Tampa, he claimed the Navy now has fewer ships than at any time since 1917. Which turned out to be untrue. It had fewer ships than now during George W. Bush's whole second term. One could argue that a single aircraft carrier potentially has more firepower than the entire Navy in 1917, since we had no aircraft carriers in those days. But any such comparisons with nearly a century ago fall flat.
Since Romney didn't specify what kind of additional ships should be built, analysts had to guess the budgetary impact based on the Navy's wish-list (mostly destroyers and attack subs). That put it at $35 billion to $40 billion over five years (which is how the Navy figures its ship-building spending), a budget increase in a supposed time of austerity of 43-50 percent.
But back to that 4 percent overall figure for the Pentagon. Core defense spending for 2013 clocks in at about 3.37 percent of gross domestic product. Under Romney, the $523 billion core budget Obama has proposed would be $620 billion. (Plus, of course, the money for nukes and the money for actual shooting wars.)
If you figure it another way, if the Obama administration's current plans were to continue until 2022, the Pentagon core 10-year budget would be $5.7 trillion. Under Romney, based on GDP projections of the Office of Management and Budget, Pentagon spending would be $8.3 trillion for the decade.
There is another way to figure this, too. Under Romney's plans to keep overall spending from increasing the deficit, non-defense discretionary spending, which has averaged just over 3.7 percent of GDP over the past three decades and has never been below 3.2 percent, would have to be cut to 1.7 percent by 2022.
Romney is quite wrong to say his budget proposal can't be "scored." It rates a big fat zero.
Screenshot from Reuters' report.Rush Limbaugh's professional life just got a lot more complicated. Yes, he's still toxic to advertisers, but now advertisers?and radio stations?are being courted by a viable replacement for Rush: Mike Huckabee. A nationally syndicated radio show for Huckabee has been in the works for a couple of years, but it's now ready to debut next month, and to take on Limbaugh.
(Reuters) - Earlier this week, Cumulus Media sent out an email blast to fellow radio station owners with a photoshopped picture of former U.S. Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, promoting him as the conservative talk radio host of the future.With Huckabee, it's all of the conservatism, none of the hate. Well, none of the explicit hate, implied maybe, given Huckabee's extreme conservatism shielded under the nice-guy image. His show is going to debut on April 9th, going head-to-head with Limbaugh in the same time slot in every weekday. Not just giving Limbaugh a challenge, but giving his bosses at Clear Channel some competition, as well.
Though the email did not name Rush Limbaugh, the long-running, top-rated talk radio host whose program is nationally syndicated by Cumulus' rival, Clear Channel Communications, the intent was obvious to some recipients.
"They are going after Rush's affiliates," said one radio company executive who received Cumulus' email and spoke on condition of anonymity. "They are positioning Huckabee as the safe, non-dangerous alternative to Rush and saying to station owners, 'If you are looking for conservative content, we want you to consider our guy instead of theirs.'"
Whether this can make a huge dent in Clear Channel's dominance in talk radio remains to be seen. They've got 900 stations to Cumulus' 580. Limbaugh's show runs on 600 of Clear Channel's stations. So far, 140 stations have contracted to air Huckabee's show, but significantly "only about 45 of those stations are owned and operated by Cumulus, meaning that the other stations that agreed to carry Huckabee's show have no affiliation with the company."