On Tuesday Fox News broadcast an episode of their “Entitlement Nation” series that made some startling claims about the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (aka food stamps). What was not startling was that they got it all wrong (as reported here on News Corpse). Fox & Friends co-host, Abby Huntsman, asserted that “$70 million of taxpayer money was wasted on food stamp fraud.” Then she asked “Is it time to end the program altogether?” Because eliminating a program that keeps millions of kids and seniors from starving is preferable to looking for ways to reduce a minuscule amount of alleged fraud.
Now the U.S. Department of Agriculture has weighed in to chastise Fox for their “mistakes.” They wrote to the network asking them “to correct a report from Tuesday morning’s edition of ‘Fox & Friends’ alleging new heights for food-stamp fraud in the United States.” They stated that the agency had not issued any data for 2016 and that they didn’t know where Fox was getting their info. Except to say that “We saw that there was a story on Breitbart.”
So Huntsman aired a retraction of her dangerously false food stamp story Friday, saying that the data she cited was incorrect. However, she went on to assert another falsehood saying that the “correct” number for food stamp fraud was $853 million for the three years from 2009 to 2011. In fact, that number refers to any errors (i.e. under/over payments), not just fraud. And it’s still an uncommonly low error rate. What’s more, Fox removed the original story from their website, leaving only a correction but no indication of what they corrected. That is not how ethical journalists operate.
So now that Fox has apologized for reporting false information, will they also retract their suggestion that the SNAP program be eliminated? Not likely. Fox News and the Republican Party have opposed virtually every social welfare program, including Social Security and Medicare. And they are currently obsessed with repealing ObamaCare. They are devoted to making life more difficult for people who are already undergoing hardship. While simultaneously they strive to make life easier for the wealthy by reducing taxes and regulations that benefit the population at large. So merry Christmas and happy new year from Fox News.
Peace on Earth, goodwill toward men. That’s the spirit of Christmas and the crass marketing slogan so fiercely defended by the Christmas Warriors at Fox News. Which makes the Fox & Friends segment Tuesday morning all the more shocking for its cruel indifference to human suffering.
Co-host Abby Huntsman introduced the segment as part their recurring “Entitlement Nation” series. These are generally excuses to attack the less fortunate among our American family. Past episodes have explored such nonsense as ObamaPhones and the lazy moochers on welfare with their extravagant microwave ovens.
Tuesday’s cheery holiday discussion was about whether SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, aka food stamps) ought to be discontinued. Because what’s more Christmasy than depriving poor families of lavish indulgences like food? To that end Huntsman raised the issue with her guests, Republican Joe Borelli and Democrat Jehmu Greene. And she framed the “fair and balanced” debate saying:
“Food stamp fraud is at an all-time high […] This year it is estimated that $70 million of taxpayer money was wasted on food stamp fraud. Is it time to end the program altogether?”
Good question, Ms. Scrooge. Don’t bother trying to reduce the alleged waste, just eliminate critical funding for food that keeps working families from starving. Not surprisingly, her Republican guest answered the question in the affirmative:
Borelli: “The Republican Party can’t be either in perception or in practice as the party that is seen as throwing people to the curb and cutting off benefits when they really need it. That said said, this program, the SNAP program, the reincarnation of the food stamp program, has been rife with problems since almost its inception.”
So Borelli’s position is that the GOP must avoid looking insensitive, while still being insensitive. It’s an admittedly tricky political maneuver. But one that Republicans have many decades of experience with. The Democrat actually offered some substance in her rebuttal:
Greene: “We certainly have to have this conversation by looking at the facts. And the facts are that 45 percent of the recipients of SNAP programs are under the age of eighteen. Nine percent of them are over the age of sixty. This is a program that keeps young people and elderly people out of poverty.
Greene also pointed out that the SNAP program helps the economy. That’s because for every five dollars that’s spent, nine dollars goes right back into the local economy. Meanwhile, Borelli incorrectly said that one percent of the spending on SNAP was lost to fraud. It’s actually only one-tenth of one percent (Republicans don’t do math). That’s an uncommonly low rate of loss for any program or even for commercial businesses.
Borelli went on to complain that the cost of the program doubled in the past eight years. What he didn’t say is that the costs went up because more people needed assistance due to the Bush Recession. Also, inflation has required the benefits to increase. If the minimum wage increased at the same rate there would be far fewer families who need this to supplement their income. But Republicans oppose that as well.
The SNAP program has proven to be an essential benefit that keeps children, seniors, and other low-income Americans from going hungry. It helps the economy, and is effective and cost efficient. In fact, the overall cost of the program is falling as the economy improves. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities reports that:
“In fiscal year 2015, the federal government spent about $75 billion on SNAP. About 93 percent went directly to benefits that households used to purchase food. About 6 percent went to state administrative costs.”
Given the success of the program, it makes no sense to consider discontinuing it. But to suggest doing so during the Christmas holiday is downright cold-hearted. Fox News and the Republican Party have opposed virtually every social welfare program, including Social Security and Medicare. They are currently obsessed with repealing ObamaCare and cancelling the health insurance of 20 million people. But you might think they would withhold their most callous tendencies until after the Season of Joy. Sadly, you would be wrong.
Apparently America is going to suffer through four years of deranged ranting by an infantile tweetaholic pretending to be president. Donald Trump’s skin is just as rice paper thin as ever. Despite having claimed an Electoral College victory and promising to “act presidential,” such behavior continues to evade him.
On the day after Christmas Trump, who still doesn’t have time to attend national security briefings, managed to keep his Twitter followers entertained. And true to form, he had nothing to say other than to disparage his foes and glorify himself. The first Xmas exaltation was directed at President Obama’s recent assertion that he would have beaten Trump in a rematch:
President Obama said that he thinks he would have won against me. He should say that but I say NO WAY! – jobs leaving, ISIS, OCare, etc.
It’s cute that the issues Trump chose to feature in his rebuttal were all examples of Obama successes. He presided over the creation of 22 million jobs in the longest period of private sector job growth in history. The unemployment rate was cut by more than half, from 10.1 percent to 4.9 percent. As for ISIS, under Obama’s command the terrorist organization lost tens of thousands of fighters. According to the general in charge we have killed 45,000 in just the last two years. And that includes many of their top leaders. We have also substantially reduced the territory that ISIS controlled and their ability to raise revenue. And ObamaCare just completed the sign up period for 2017 with record numbers (6.4 million) of newly insured citizens.
Trump’s blatantly wrong commentary on Obama’s record was not his only glaring mistake. He also made the ludicrous assertion that there is “NO WAY” that Obama would have beaten him. He doesn’t explain his reasoning, but since he is the most unpopular president-elect in history it seems like a difficult argument to make. Especially when Obama is enjoying sky high favorability ratings.
Not content to embarrass himself with that tweet, Trump let loose again with one that may be even more absurd:
The world was gloomy before I won – there was no hope. Now the market is up nearly 10% and Christmas spending is over a trillion dollars!
You will have to use your imagination to figure out what “gloomy” world Trump is living in. Although he spoke of it often during his campaign. To hear it from him, America is hell hole on the scale of something out of Mad Max. Never mind the employment and economic advances that occurred over the past eight years. Trump touts the 10 percent increase in the stock market since the beginning of November. Of course, he isn’t president and couldn’t have had anything to do with it. And he doesn’t mention the 150 percent increase since the beginning of Obama’s presidency. Pretty gloomy, huh?
What’s more, Trump thinks that somehow he is responsible for people buying their loved ones Christmas presents. So now Trump is Santa Claus too? How appropriate that he would exhibit his messiah complex on the anniversary of the birth of his messiah. Perhaps he is also responsible for everyone who was healed of an illness in the past month.
Continuing late into the evening, Trump posted a tweet lauding his philanthropy:
I gave millions of dollars to DJT Foundation, raised or recieved millions more, ALL of which is given to charity, and media won't report!
Now he’s just flat out lying, which for him is a natural state of being. IRS records show that Trump has not donated anything to his foundation since 2008. And his disbursements mainly benefited himself. He gave $25,000 to a Florida Attorney General who then dropped the investigation on him that her office was conducting. He gave another $250,000 to settle the terms of a lawsuit he lost. Those are both illegal uses for charitable funds.
And then there were the portraits of himself that he purchased as well as some sports memorabilia. Again, that’s misuse of foundation funds. Last week he announced that he’s shutting down his foundation, which he can’t do while the New York Attorney General is investigating it for fraud.
Finally, one Twitter response to Trump’s brag-fest offered a poll to gauge who would really have won in an Obama/Trump match-up. At the time of this writing, Obama was ahead by three to one. Of course, this is not a scientific poll. However it is posted on Trump’s Twitter feed where he might be expected to have an advantage:
So even on his home turf, Trump is a loser. And that’s after losing the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by a historic margin (over 2.8 million votes). And Clinton’s favorables aren’t anywhere near as high as Obama’s. So let that sink in, Mr. Trump. And I’m sure we can expect some thin-skinned, half-baked tweets to follow as soon as you get your tiny hands on your phone.
The 2016 presidential race has been most notable for the Republican candidate’s utter refusal to bring anything of substance to the debate. Donald Trump pointedly avoids nearly all policy details in favor of childish insults, empty sloganeering, and lately, deranged outbursts. In the past week alone he called President Obama “the founder of ISIS,” and suggested that “the Second Amendment people” were the only ones who could stop Hillary Clinton.
That’s what makes it so surprising when a prominent spokesman for the right-wing agenda says something that actually makes sense. This happened Friday on the Fox Business Network during a discussion on the “Dueling Economic Visions” of Trump and Hillary Clinton. Host Charles Payne introduced the segment and turned to economist Ben Stein to give his opinion of the Trump economic plan. What happened next was completely unexpected:
Stein: Well I don’t think Mr. Trump’s plan is going to work very well. I don’t think we need that tax cut when we’re running deficits the size we are running. I think the evidence that tax cuts stimulate business in any kind of meaningful way, at least not sufficient to overcome the tax revenue loss, is extremely poor to put it mildly. I think the idea of cutting taxes on the rich in a time when there is so much concern about inequality is not a good idea. I do think his idea of greatly lessening environmental regulation is absolutely necessary and even brilliant and very brave of him.
Exempting that anti-environment nonsense at the end, Stein delivered a coherent explanation for why giving the wealthy a tax cut makes no sense. In fact he argued that such favoritism for the rich was never a stimulant to the economy and would only exacerbate deficits. Add to that his expression of concern for income inequality and you have a truly astonishing display of wisdom from a right-wing economist.
Fox of course would not be satisfied with that blasphemy. Therefore, Payne turned to Betsy McCaughey, the woman who coined the term “death panels,” for rebuttal. McCaughey was just named to Trump’s team of wingnut economic advisers. She ranted:
McCaughey: First of all, Donald Trump’s tax plan will produce an enormous amount of economic growth. The key factor is slashing the corporate tax rate, currently the highest in the world, down to fifteen percent. Companies in the United States are being taxed to death. And that’s why so many of them are leaving or retrenching their business investments.
There is so much wrong with that it’s hard to know where to begin. Let’s start with the fact that there is no evidence that Trump’s plan would produce any economic growth. In fact. Moody’s scored his plan and concluded that it would result in a “lengthy recession,” 3.5 million job losses, and “very large deficits and a much higher debt load.” Plus, every independent analysis of Trump’s plan has affirmed that it benefits the rich far more than the lower and middle classes.
Then there is McCaughey’s assertion that U.S. corporate tax rates are “the highest in the world.” That is patently and provably false. It’s a recurring right-wing trope that has been debunked innumerable times by non-partisan analysts. McCaughey and other conservatives deceptively cite the statutory corporate tax rate rather than the effective tax rate (what is actually paid after deductions). When reviewed with real numbers the U.S. corporate rate is actually slightly lower than the average of our international competitors. Often it is zero, or close to it.
[Note: These facts make it even more important for Trump to release his tax returns so that we can see just where in the range his tax rate lies.]
The truth is that American companies are not leaving the the U.S. for lower taxes. They are leaving for lower wages, cheaper distribution in foreign markets, evasion of fair labor and environmental regulations, and other reasons unrelated to taxes. McCaughey also claimed that the U.S. is on the brink of a “business recession” despite this being one of the longest periods of growth in decades. But then she trotted out a real whopper:
McCaughey: And let me just point out in response to Ben’s comments about the poor and tax reductions for the rich – slashing the corporate tax rate and producing growth will benefit the poor the most.
That foolishness hardly merits a response. At this point host Charles Payne steers the conversation to “the debate over whether trickle-down economics really work.” He asked Harvard Kennedy School Professor Leah Wright Rigueur “If the same tide lifts all ships, wouldn’t that include the poor?” She responded that “You would think, but history has shown us that that doesn’t include the poor.” When Stein was asked to comment he poignantly noted that a rising tide “does not lift those boats that are under water.” Which led to this epic exchange:
Stein: And if I may say to my friend the Lt. Governor, there simply is no evidence that slashing the corporate tax rate produces growth. There’s a lot of allegations, but…
McCaughey: [interrupting] That’s ridiculous.
Stein: Did you say ‘That’s ridiculous’?
McCaughey: I said ‘That’s ridiculous’!
Stein: With all due respect, I’m the one that’s studied this. You’re the politician. You can say whatever you want as a politician. There simply is no evidence of that. […] You don’t know that. You have no idea of that. You can say it but there’s never been any data connecting those two.
Watching a devoutly conservative economic expert smack down the right’s sacred trickle-down doctrine on Fox’s own business network is both shocking and satisfying. But watching him also humiliate a Trump adviser, and one of the most extreme GOP partisans, at the same time is an event more rare than Halley’s Comet. It will be interesting to see if Stein is invited back to Fox News any time soon.
Once again, America’s fake news programs are proving to be more beneficial to the nation than their allegedly “real” counterparts. This weekend John Oliver delivered another of his unique, long-form routines that addressed a national travesty that burdens medical patients and their families: The predatory collectors from debt buying operations.
Oliver used facts and humor to describe the rapacious practices of a growing business sector that preys on the most vulnerable members of society. The debt buying industry is known for employing brutal, and often unlawful, methods of collecting money through the use of threats, intimidation, and legal harassment. He then announced his initiative in response to the problem:
“It is pretty clear by now that debt buying is a grimy business and badly needs more oversight. Because, as it stands, any idiot can get into it. And I can prove that because I’m an idiot and we started a debt buying company. And it was disturbingly easy.” […however…] “Instead of collecting the money, why not forgive it? Because, on the one hand, it’s obviously the right thing to do, but much more importantly, we’d be staging the largest one-time giveaway in television show history.”
Oliver and his team actually launched a debt buying company called Central Asset Recovery Professionals (CARP). It wasn’t long before they were given the opportunity to buy nearly $15 million of medical debt classified as “out-of-statute,” which is debt that is so old that the debtor can no longer be sued for it. Oliver/CARP paid a mere $60,000 (about half a cent on the dollar) for a portfolio of some 9,000 people with outstanding medical bills.
Next, Oliver sent the receivables to a non-profit organization that specializes in forgiving medical debt with no tax consequences for the debtor. Oliver noted that the largest previous TV giveaway was likely the infamous episode of Oprah Winfrey where she gave everyone in her studio audience a car. This giveaway is nearly twice the value of Oprah’s generosity.
Oliver reminded his audience that his historical gesture would only help the 9,000 people whose debt his company had bought, and that legal reforms and oversight were still needed to protect all consumers from predatory collectors. And with that, Oliver executed his debt forgiveness giveaway with a celebratory cry that “It’s done. I am the new queen of daytime talk.”
All kidding aside, thousands of people will benefit from Oliver’s little comedy show. But as he said, the work isn’t done to fix this horribly broken system. In the meantime, there are other organizations who have been working to achieve the same goals. The one that Oliver used to retire the debt of those on the list he bought is RIP Medical Debt. Another group that does the same thing is Rolling Jubilee, which was created during, and by members of, Occupy Wall Street. These groups have abolished tens of millions of dollars of student and medical debts and deserve our support.
One of the most consistent fallacies presented by Fox News on a daily basis is the assignment of blame for for anything that goes wrong exclusively to President Obama. If it can be cast as negative, Obama did it. Some of the laughable liabilities attributed to the President include the riots in Ferguson, MO, California’s drought, Ebola, and even Hurricane Katrina (which happened three years before he was elected. They have blamed him for high gas prices that hurt consumers, as well as for low gas prices that hurt oil companies. There is simply no way Obama can win with these partisan hacks.
Fox News’ Stolen Honor
Now, in addition to making Obama shoulder the responsibility for the failures of incompetent Republicans, Fox News is also stealing the credit for anything good that happens during any Democratic administration. This week alone has provided two glaring examples of this stolen honor by Fox pundits who can’t seem find anything that Republicans have done that actually helped the nation.
First we have Eric Bolling, a co-host of Fox’s The Five. During a segment devoted to bashing Hillary Clinton’s campaign, Bolling sought to diminish her husband’s success in orchestrating what was at the time the longest period of non-wartime economic growth in the nation’s history. Since he couldn’t plausibly deny that it was an era of unprecedented prosperity, Bolling served up this pretzel logic: “The reason why Bill [Clinton] did so well is because of Ronald Reagan.”
Of course it was. Never mind that Reagan was followed by four years of his vice-president George H.W. Bush who ran the economy into the ground and was summarily booted out of office. And perish the thought that Bolling would provide any substantive argument to support his made up theory. According to Bolling Reagan deserves the praise simply for being Reagan.
Following that, Fox’s senior political analyst, Brit Hume, made an appearance on Special Report to deliver his explanation for the political successes of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. Eventually the discussion diverted to the state of the economy under President Obama. Hume began by asserting that the economy isn’t really in very good shape, but then shifted to proclaim that whatever was good about it wasn’t Obama’s doing, saying that “The credit for rescuing the economy, if it belongs with government, has got to be shared, at least [with George W. Bush].”
And why not? After all, Bush merely presided over the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression. And his response was a basket of bailouts for the banks that were instrumental in the market’s downfall. It wasn’t until Obama came into office that efforts were made to stimulate the economy, and even that was opposed and obstructed by the Republicans in Congress.
It’s Hillary’s Fault Too
In both of the cases above the inspiration for these self-serving assumptions of economic glory stemmed from a comment Hillary Clinton made on the campaign trail. She said that if elected president she would put her husband Bill in charge of revitalizing the economy, something he is demonstrably good at. That comment sent the conservative pundits into a frenzy. They couldn’t abide her reminding people about the boom-time economy over which Clinton presided. So they endeavored to clumsily steal the credit for themselves.
This is just more proof that if Republicans had anything to be proud of they wouldn’t be trying to take credit for things they didn’t do – for things they affirmatively tried to prevent. They are, in effect, admitting that there are no accomplishments attributable to GOP administrations, so by necessity they have to swipe them from Democrats. It’s dishonest and unethical, but that’s never stopped them before.
The Republican News Network (aka Fox News) is taking a hard turn away from domestic issues in advance of the 2016 election cycle. For the past several years Fox and the rest of the Right-Wing Media Circus has focused heavily on matters that hit close to home like the economy, unemployment, immigration, marriage equality, education, and relentlessly, healthcare – or more accurately, opposition to it.
Unfortunately for the GOP, every one of those issues has been trending favorably for the Obama administration and the Democratic Party. The economy has grown by historic rates. The stock market has hit record highs. The deficit has declined by two-thirds. Unemployment dropped from 10.1 to 5.7 percent and wages are beginning to rise. The majority of the public support the President’s positions on immigration. Marriage equality is being affirmed by courts across the country. Both academic and financial education reforms proposed by Obama are hugely popular. And ObamaCare reached new plateaus of success signing up more than 11 million new people this year.
Also influencing the right is a Gallup poll released this week showing that terrorism has jumped in importance to the electorate. Fox News immediately began promoting this poll as evidence that Americans are convulsed with worry about being blown up in a cafe on Main Street. What they don’t mention is that terrorism in the poll shot up to a mere 8% and is still in fifth place behind four domestic issues. Also not mentioned is that another Gallup poll released the same day shows the President’s standing is on the rise. The poll shows him making significant gains with independents and even Republicans. And those gains are seen both personally and for his stance on issues.
So what is an obsessively hostile cable TV “news” network with a mission to promote conservative policies and Republican candidates to do? Of course, they have to pivot to foreign policy in a desperate bid to find a narrative that will advance their political goals. That is what’s happening now as this exchange from Fox News yesterday demonstrates:
Charles Krauthammer: This is going to be be one of those rare presidential runs in which foreign affairs is one of the dominant issues […] That is a very ripe field for the Republicans. Ron Fournier: Charles is right. This is going to be a foreign policy election. I think that’s going to be really tough for Hillary given her last job.
Huh? Fournier didn’t elaborate on why Hillary Clinton’s last job as Secretary of State would make things harder for her if foreign policy were to take precedence. Running the State Department for four years would ordinarily be seen as a prime resume enhancement in an environment that prized international experience. Presumably the right is hankering for an opportunity to beat the Benghazi drum some more, but since they have failed to produce any evidence of wrongdoing after three years and dozens of investigations (including findings that exonerate Clinton and Obama by the GOP led House Intelligence Committee), it seems rather far-fetched that they can make an issue of it now. And when the election heats up Clinton will have a strong record of achievement about which to brag.
More to the point, the effort by Fox to divert attention away from the positive domestic news is bound to fail for three reasons. First, whatever plausible case they have to make against Obama and/or Clinton on foreign policy, they aren’t making it. Instead, they are wasting breath on such ludicrous trivialities as whether or not the word “Islamic” is appended to every mention of terrorism. Their mantra on this is that you have to “call it what it is” in order to win. They seem to believe that just changing the rhetoric all by itself would cause the bad guys to throw in the towel. That, of course, is absurd. The truth is that tarring all Muslims with an association to terrorism would only alienate the Islamic allies we need to prevail. The only parties who insist on this language are GOP/Fox News conservatives and the terrorists themselves. So why is Fox taking their side? That’s a question that Fox News will answer by shouting as loudly as possible, “Benghazi!”
The second reason that latching unto a foreign affairs campaign theme would fail is that, in addition to not making a negative case against Clinton, Republicans are also not making an affirmative case for themselves. Their fierce condemnations of Obama as being weak and incompetent (besides being somewhat unpatriotic by their own definition) imply that their alternative would be to recklessly leap back into a war footing around the world with fronts ranging from Iraq to Iran to Syria to Afghanistan to Ukraine, and even to Russia and North Korea. That would be a hard sell to the American people. What’s more, Republicans are already leaning on the same people that so profoundly wrecked the nation’s international relations as the would-be architects of the next GOP administration’s foreign policy.
Finally, after failing to make a foreign policy case against Clinton or for themselves, Fox and the GOP are forgetting the universal truth about presidential campaigns. As immortalized by James Carville, “It’s the economy, stupid.” No matter how much the right wants to avoid the domestic progress the nation has made in the years since George W. Bush and his cronies cratered the economy, that will always be the primary driver in voting for a national leader. And on that subject Republicans have nothing but failure to point to, while Democrats under Obama have an increasingly prosperous country and an agenda advocating on behalf of the middle-class. In addition, Clinton happens to be married to the last president to balance the budget while producing strong economic growth and job creation.
It’s no wonder that Republicans don’t want to run on domestic issues. And as their PR division, Fox News is valiantly striving to help them to change the subject. But no matter how hard they pray their wishes will not be realized. 2016 will be decided by an economic debate, just like every other presidential election. That fact, however, won’t deter the right from trying to elevate foreign policy because it’s all they have. And in a presidential election year, when turnout is higher, demographics favor Democrats, and the GOP has more at-risk seats than their foes, the outlook for Republicans is filled with the gloom that they have been trying to project on Democrats ever since the black guy moved into the White House.
Once again Glenn Beck has used his unique ability to see through the clandestine schemes being perpetrated by nefarious government conspirators. It’s a vision that only he possesses. And this time the plan he’s uncovered is so insidious that it exploits some of the most benign projects to beget national catastrophe.
The devious design is one that Beck describes as “really dark” and is associated with historical figures like Woodrow Wilson and the nineteenth century European band of Fabian Socialists. On his Internt blog yesterday (video below), he reveals that Obama’s initiatives to raise the minimum wage and send more kids to college are really a backdoor tactic to produce civil unrest and revolution. Let’s let Beck explain it himself…
“All revolutions need the youth. You need an unrest in the minority populace and in the youth. So if you get everybody to go to college, you promise them all kinds of stuff, go to college, and they are mired in debt that they cannot get out from under. Then they can’t even get a part-time job because they’ve been priced out of a part-time job.”
See? It’s so simple. Obama gets young people to seek higher education, which Beck and many conservatives regard as indoctrination into an evil cabal of intellectuals, and before you know it they are slaves to debt and ripe for radicalizing. Never mind that education is the pathway to full-time jobs that pay significantly more than minimum wage, and that the Obama administration has been fighting Republicans to ease the college debt problem by reducing interest rates on loans, offsetting tuition with public service, and making community colleges free. In Beck’s analysis better educated kids will only result in disaster. Beck continues…
“Then all of the unskilled labor force, the immigrant and everyone else, they come in. They can’t get part-time work because they’ve been priced out of it too because they don’t have skills, it’s not skilled labor.”
Exactly. And Beck’s proof for this is his ability to say it out loud. He offers no evidence that minimum wage increases have ever priced anyone out of the job market. In fact, it generally improves the prospects for employment that pays enough to bring workers closer to a living wage with which they can support themselves and their families. There have been plenty of minimum wage increases over the past several decades that show no harm to the economy or job availability. To the contrary, raising the minimum wage has proven to be a huge benefit. It pulls millions of American families out of poverty while injecting billions of dollars into the economy. But what only Beck is brave enough to tell us about it is that…
“Then you have a whole population that is ripe for unrest. You have a whole population ready for revolution. […] They’re only trying to raise this minimum wage, not because they believe it is going to help people, but because it will lead to unrest.”
And certainly everyone recalls all of the bloody revolutions that ensued following the minimum wage increases of the past. The civil unrest engaged in by people who were better paid is a notorious stain on our history. Although that recollection may be clouded by the actual data that shows economic growth and job creation was more pronounced in states that did raise wages.
Don’t let facts lull you into a false sense of security. That’s a trap that is made all the more dangerous by the sort of higher education that Beck has already warned us about. Right-wingers like Beck are correct to be worried about education because the more of it that people have, the fewer people that will follow grifters like Beck and vote Republican.
The only thing that is necessary for you to remember, according to Beck et al, is that Hillary Clinton loves Saul Alinsky and President Obama belonged to the church of Rev. Jeremiah Wright. If you stay focused on important matters like that you will be shielded from the inconveniences of reality as you stock up on survival seeds and gold bullion.
In the upcoming State Of the Union speech, President Obama is expected to call for a variety of tax reforms aimed at helping the middle-class to finally participate in the nation’s historic economic recovery. The proposals comprise a common sense approach that recognizes the harm caused by income equality and are supported by a majority of the American people. They include…
Closing the “Trust Fund” loophole that allows billions of dollars of the ultra wealthy to go untaxed.
Raising the capital-gains tax rate from 23.8% to 28% (the rate in effect during the Reagan administration) for couples with annual incomes above $500,000.
Imposing a new fee on financial firms that engage in high volume trading. Not only will this raise significant revenue, it will discourage the sort of trading that makes the stock market unnecessarily volatile.
The funds raised from these measures would be used to provide enhanced benefits for middle-class taxpayers. For instance, there would be a new $500 credit for working families, improved retirement savings plans, an increase of the tax credit for childcare to $3,000 per child, and free tuition at community colleges.
So how does Fox News present this plan to the readers of their Fox Nation website? They shamelessly spin it to portray the measure as exclusively tax hikes and ignore the tax cuts and other benefits that most citizens will receive: “Still Not Paying Your ‘Fair Share’? Obama To Seek Billions In New Tax Hikes”
Fox fails to point out that those who would pay more under this proposal are the few one-percenters who have benefited most for the last six years as the stock market has soared to record levels and corporate profits exceeded all previous highs. They can certainly afford these modest increases and they owe it to the country to let the other 99% enjoy some of the success for which we are partly (mostly) responsible.
Throughout most of the 2012 election season, Republicans, along with their PR allies at Fox, were quick to point to the one economic metric that has failed to keep pace with the rest of the recovery: middle-class wage growth. They tried to use this as as evidence that Obama’s policies were not working, despite all of the other evidence of unparalleled progress. And even as they made this disingenuous argument, they opposed any solutions that would actually address the problem. They obsessed over Benghazi and Ebola and gay marriage and repealing ObamaCare, rather than getting behind infrastructure funding to create jobs or raising the minimum wage, two obvious initiatives that would directly improve the lot of the middle-class.
Now Republicans are already declaring Obama’s tax reforms to be “dead on arrival” in the newly fortified GOP Congress. They are just as obstructionist as ever when it comes to helping working Americans. And they are just as obstinate as ever when it comes to protecting the wealth of the corporations and individuals who shower them with campaign cash. Consequently, it is unlikely that these measures will pass any time soon, but they will become fodder for debate during the 2016 presidential election cycle.
So which side do you think the people will be on? Especially if the GOP nominee is the Original Bankster, Mitt Romney, or the next in line in the Bush Dynasty, Jeb Bush (whom the overlord of Fox News has already endorsed)? The remainder of the field aren’t any better on matters of economic fairness. They are a cabal of extremist Ayn Rand disciples who regard the less fortunate members of society as scum who deserve their lowly place. And with the way that the Fox Nationalists are characterizing the President’s proposals it’s clear that they mean to actively assist the GOP/Tea Party in misleading their flock and advancing the interests of the super-rich.
We have already seen the blockheads on Fox News wax idiotic about several political issues that they named in honor of our President Barack Obama. They must have thought it was funny or somehow disparaging to call everything Obama-Something. And each time it was characterized as some sort of raging controversy.
The Big Kahuna, of course, was ObamaCare. That was followed up with the ObamaPhone. Then they went totally Looney Tunes with my personal favorite, ObamaCars. And now, get ready for the coming horror of ObamaPay.
What is ObamaPay? Well, according to reporting that Fox News sourced to right-wing author Sean Higgins of the Washington Examiner, it is a proposal by Obama that will “try to force employers to pay their workers more overtime by limiting which workers can be called managers.” Higgins says that…
“The administration in February is set to announce a proposed new rule under the Fair Labor Standards Act that would designate who is an ‘exempt employee’ who cannot claim overtime for working more than 40 hours a week.
“The president and administration officials have indicated they plan to increase the $23,000 minimum amount a worker must make before his employer can opt to exempt him from federal overtime rules — also known as the ‘white-collar exemption.'”
In short, current regulations state that an employer can slap a “manager” tag on someone earning only $23,000 a year and then force them to work 50, 60, 70 hours a week or more without paying any overtime. For the record, the poverty level for 2014 is $23,850 per year for a family of four. So these rules can result in a warped definition of “white-collar” that includes living near or below the poverty line. What Fox News is calling ObamaPay is actually just adjusting federal limits so that people who work overtime actually get overtime pay, and employers cannot use loopholes to exploit low-wage workers.
The Fair Labor Standards Act gives the Labor Department the authority to set the definition of an exempt employee. And despite the fact that George W. Bush last raised the threshold to $23,000 in 2004, Obama is being portrayed as attempting “to enact his agenda by circumventing Congress.” That’s because it’s always OK for a Republican to do these sort of things, but if a Democrat tries it he is a dictator.
In the ten years that has transpired since the last increase, the current threshold has not kept up with inflation. What’s more, the Obama administration has advocated an increase in the minimum wage from the current $7.25 per hour to $10.10. For reference, it would need to be closer to $11.00 to match the buying power of the minimum wage fifty years ago. But Republicans in Congress have obstructed every effort to provide this long overdue relief.
The economy under Obama has skyrocket by most measures. The stock market is at new highs. Unemployment dropped from 10.1% to 5.7%. Corporations are reporting record profits. Home sales have rebounded from the devastating lows caused by the Bush economic collapse six years ago. One of the few areas that has not enjoyed the prosperity seen elsewhere in the economy is average wages. Republicans continue to point to that failure as being the fault of the President. But they are the ones denying Americans a higher wage, as well as refusing to fund needed infrastructure projects that would create thousands of jobs.
Now that the administration is exploring another option that would benefit some 3.5 million American workers, the GOP is predictably kneecapping the initiative and complaining that the tyrannical President won’t work with Congress. Having established that as the right’s response to this perfectly reasonable proposal, Fox News is jumping aboard with their PR machine and labeling it ObamaPay.
The funny thing is that every proposal that has had Obama’s name attached to it by wingnuts whose intention is to disparage it, has been something that genuinely sought to help average Americans to improve their lives during difficult times. They are policies that people will recall with gratitude and appreciation for something that government did right. In the end, Republicans and their PR division (aka Fox News) will regret naming all of these beneficial programs after the President because people will remember who it was that was looking out for them, and who was looking out for the wealthy, corporate, greedy one percent.