Hillary Clinton Smeared By Fox News For Correctly Analyzing Trickle-Down Economics

During the 2012 presidential campaign President Obama gave a speech wherein he paid tribute to the American people who collectively created an environment for business to prosper. That environment included paying for the roads, bridges, water and electricity facilities, and other infrastructure necessities without which the economy would whither.

However, one sentence fragment was lifted out of context from that speech by Mitt Romney’s campaign, and his friendly media cohorts, and used to unfairly clobber the President. That sound bite, you may recall, was when Obama reminded the proprietor class that “You didn’t build that,” meaning that every business has benefited from the investments made by our society and government.

Well, here we go again. Yesterday on Fox News the curvy-couch potatoes of Fox & Friends hosted a segment that focused solely on a sentence fragment that was part of a speech by Hillary Clinton.

Fox News Trickle Down

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Clinton was speaking at a rally in support of Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Martha Coakley. The comment in its sliced-up form was “Don’t let anybody tell you, that, you know, it’s corporations and businesses that create jobs.” In essence it is barely different than Obama’s comment two years ago. But it is just as deceitfully excised from its original context. Here is what Clinton actually said:

“Don’t let anybody tell you that raising the minimum wage will kill jobs. They always say that. I’ve been through this. My husband gave working families a raise in the 1990s. I voted to raise the minimum wage and guess what? Millions of jobs were created or paid better and more families were more secure. That’s what we want to see here, and that’s what we want to see across the country.

“And don’t let anybody tell you, that, you know, it’s corporations and businesses that create jobs. You know, that old theory, trickle-down economics. That has been tried. That has failed. That has failed rather spectacularly.

“One of the things my husband says, when people say, what did you bring to Washington? He says, well I brought arithmetic. And part of it was he demonstrated why trickle down should be consigned to the trash bin of history. More tax cuts for the top and for companies that ship jobs over seas while taxpayers and voters are stuck paying the freight just doesn’t add up.”

It’s plain as day that Clinton was referring to the discredited sham known as trickle-down economics. She also hammered Republicans for opposing a pay raise for America’s workers while simultaneously pushing for a tax cut for America’s wealthy. That is exactly the reverse of what is needed to stimulate the economy. When the middle class has more money in their pockets they spend it, increasing profits for businesses and creating the demand that spurs employers to hire. Conversely, when the rich get more money it is typically directed to Wall Street or retirement accounts which have no productive impact on job growth.

Particularly disturbing were the comments by Fox’s business maven, Maria Bartiromo. For someone who should know better, she offered an ignorant appraisal of how the job market works. She accused Clinton of calling business evil, which never happened, and turned the whole debate into a political drama saying…

“Everybody knows that businesses create jobs. I mean, this is not brain surgery. We know that businesses, people that run business actually create the jobs. And I think Hillary knows that as well. [...] Here we are a week away from the midterms, she’s gearing up for 2016, she’s firing up the base.”

Apparently Bartiromo knows even less about economics than she does about brain surgery. Businesses do not create jobs. They create products and services. But there are no jobs until there is consumer demand. That means people have to want the products and have the funds to pay for them. If a company has such demand for their product they will hire new employees. If there is no demand they will not hire anyone, no matter how many tax breaks they get.

[For a deeper look into who the "Real Job Creators" are, see this article and infographic]

The big fallacy about business is that it focused on creating jobs. But that isn’t true and the proof is that no business sits around trying to figure out ways to increase its expenditures on staff. To the contrary, they spend a great deal of time trying to find staff they can cut. Since their mission is to increase profits, their goal is to reduce expenses, and personnel are generally first on the list of cost-cutting measures. That’s one of the reasons that businesses are so drawn to outsourcing to foreign labor.

So businesses, rather than being job creators, are more often job destroyers, trying to operate with the fewest number of employees possible. And when Clinton says not to let anyone tell you that corporations and businesses that create jobs, she is spot on. It is, and has always been, consumers that create the demand that creates jobs. Trickle-down economics was a fat-cat scam from its inception. Fox News and other right-wing deceivers will perpetually mislead their ill-informed flock, but the truth is available for those clear-eyed enough to want to see it (which means no Fox News viewers or Tea Partiers).

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Stupid On Purpose: Fox News Demonstrates Willful Ignorance Of Economics

There is a very good reason why Fox News viewers have been shown in numerous studies to be less informed than consumers of other media, or even those who consume no media at all. The reason is that Fox News deliberately misreports and distorts facts in order to advance their right-wing ideology. A perfect example of this was demonstrated in an article that Fox posted today on their community website, the lie-riddled Fox Nation. The article was titled “OBAMANOMICS IN ACTION: Typical US household Worth One-Third Less Than Under Bush.”

Fox Nation

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The source for the highly inaccurate assertion in the headline was a study performed by the Russel Sage Foundation (RSF) and published by the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality: Wealth Levels, Wealth Inequality, and the Great Recession (pdf). The RSF describes itself as “the principal American foundation devoted exclusively to research in the social sciences.” The study itself is a well-researched and scholarly examination of the effects of the Great Recession on wealth inequality in the U.S. It took a fair degree of determination and willful ignorance for Fox to twist the report’s well-founded and non-partisan conclusions into a criticism of President Obama’s economic policies. And yet, Fox managed to do so, and they began by proving that they don’t know the difference between “median” households and “typical” households.

For the record, median, in this context, is referring to the dollar value of the subject’s net worth. It has nothing to do with the number of subjects in that value range. In fact, there are many more people on the lower end of the wealth spectrum than the upper end. Therefore, median does not translate to typical. As an example, if Bill Gates (net worth approx. $50 billion) were in a room with ten people whose net worth were $1 million each, the average net worth of the people in that room would be about $4.5 billion. Obviously, that is not the typical net worth of those people.

What the study shows is that wealth increased among the richest Americans throughout most of the Bush years, beginning with the GOP tax cut for the rich in 2001. That cut, along with two off-budget wars, also produced the massive deficits that sprung from the budget surplus Clinton left for Bush. During the same time period the rest of the country languished. Those in the 25th percentile actually began to decline in 2005, before the Great Recession hit. Following the Bush Debacle at the end of 2008 everyone lost money, but those at the bottom lost a far greater percentage of their net worth than those at the top.

Also, the characterization by Fox that things were so much better while Bush was president is based on measuring the difference from the beginning of the Bush term in 2001. But by using that as the starting point it diminishes his responsibility for the economic collapse over which he presided in 2008, and places more of the consequences of it on Obama. A more significant measure would start with the Great Recession in late 2008. From that point on there has been steady progress. The RSF report stated that…

“The housing, stock and job markets have all improved since 2009, but at very different rates. The stock market rebounded relatively quickly and returned to prerecession levels by the middle of 2013. The July 2013 unemployment rate of 7.4 percent was below the recession peak of 10.0 percent, but was still substantially higher than the 4.7 percent rate of mid-2007. However, the most important source of wealth for most Americans is their home, and by mid-2013 home prices were still 20 percent below their mid-2007 values.”

Indeed, it was home ownership that had the biggest impact on the wealth of the middle class because it is such a larger portion of their net worth. For the wealthy their homes represent only a portion of their total worth, and it may not even be the largest portion. They may also have millions in investments, retirement funds, and other financial assets. And since the Great Recession resulted in millions of foreclosures on the middle and lower classes, many of which were unwarranted, or even fraudulent, those on the bottom of the scale were hurt the most. This had the effect of making an already historically prominent level of wealth inequality even worse. This was also noted in the conclusions of the RSF report:

“While large absolute amounts of wealth were destroyed at the top of the wealth distribution, households at the bottom of the wealth distribution lost the largest share of their total wealth. As a result, wealth inequality increased significantly from 2007 through 2013; by some metrics inequality roughly doubled.”

Anyone giving this report a fair reading would come away with the impression that wealth inequality has risen to dangerous levels, and that much of the reason is the Bush recession. But the folks at the falsely named “fair and balanced” network brought their own biases to the table and delivered a preposterous mutation of the study’s findings. Their intention is clearly to deceive the public by persuading them of the fiction that Obama’s economic policies have failed, and that Bush’s were superior. However, you would have to be pretty stupid to buy that argument. Therefore, there are at least a couple of million Fox News viewers who will eat up with relish.

Stupid GOP Tricks: Slash The IRS Budget As Revenge For Phony Tea Party Scandal

Anyone looking for idiotic ideas from the Tea Party Republican Congress wouldn’t have far to travel before stumbling over a mountain of them. Some of the more obvious examples include denying reproductive health care, cutting taxes for the rich, suppressing the vote, shutting down the government, and promoting creationism. But wait, there’s more.

Ayn Rand Wet Dream Act

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Since the do-nothing GOP-run House isn’t doing anything else, they have had plenty of time to come up with ever more asinine initiatives in a committed effort to advance the cause of stupidity. The latest step forward in that regard is their bill to cut the budget of the IRS by 25 percent:

“The GOP-controlled House has voted to slash the budget for the Internal Revenue Service’s tax enforcement division by $1.2 billion, a 25 percent cut that would mean fewer audits of taxpayers and make it more likely that people who cheat on their taxes will get away with it.”

Brilliant! This is a win-win for Tea-publicans who hate government in general and the IRS in particular. This bill would make it harder for the IRS to carry out its responsibility for collecting revenue that the nation needs in order to function. Thus, it would open up the agency to criticism for inefficiency that was created by this budget cut. It would also create inefficiencies in every other branch of government that is starved for revenue by the reduced tax receipts which, in turn, would make them subject to criticism. It would increase the federal deficit by leaving untold billions of legitimately owed taxes uncollected. This, of course, would incite additional fury by the pseudo-deficit hawks of the GOP who would ignore the fact that they created this problem in the first place.

At the same time, a crippled IRS would be unable to audit the corporations and millionaires who routinely practice – shall we say “creative” accounting. Consequently, these folks, who are the benefactors of the Republican Party, would have free rein to rob the American people of billions of dollars necessary to run critical federal programs including Social Security, the military, public safety (food, water, consumer products, etc.), transportation and infrastructure, medical research, criminal prosecution and prevention, and so much more.

The severity of these cuts will disrupt detection and prevention of criminal activity such as fraud and identity theft, leaving average Americans more vulnerable to victimization. They would also hamper the agency’s ability to provide service to every taxpayer seeking assistance with common filing questions.

So these cuts would have the triple purpose of weakening vital services upon which every American relies, granting amnesty to tax cheats everywhere, and artificially creating excuses to lash out at Big Government. They should call it the Ayn Rand Wet Dream Enhancement Act of 2014.

For the record, these Wet Dreamers are proposing cuts that have a demonstrably negative impact on the nation’s finances. And they come on top of previous cuts that have already impeded the IRS from performing its duties. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) in a detailed and enlightening analysis

“[P]olicymakers should not ignore the damaging effects of the significant cuts that have occurred in IRS funding, which remains well below its 2010 level even before adjusting for inflation. The cuts have led the IRS to reduce its workforce, severely scale back employee training, and delay much-needed upgrades to information technology systems. These steps, in turn, have weakened the IRS’s ability to enforce the nation’s tax laws and serve taxpayers efficiently”

Even worse is the impact on the federal deficit caused by an understaffed, underfunded IRS. The CBPP report also reveals that…

“…from a fiscal perspective, starving the IRS makes no sense, as the return on the investment is high. Each additional $1 spent on IRS enforcement yields $6 of additional revenue from collecting taxes owed.”

Where else in the federal government can the allocation of funds generate that kind of return on investment? It is an act of profound folly to kill such a productive and beneficial pathway to economic sustainability that doesn’t rely on new taxes or program cuts. So what would inspire House Republicans to behave so foolishly?

“The cuts reflect GOP outrage over the agency’s scrutiny of tea party groups seeking tax-exempt status and frustration over the agency’s failure to produce thousands of emails by Lois Lerner, the official formerly in charge of the IRS division that processes applications for tax-exempt status.”

That’s right. A trumped up scandal that has elicited nothing but partisan animus and lie-riddled accusations is the impetus for choking off funds that would protect and benefit every citizen. It is the height of petty politicking that comes at the expense of the nation’s economic viability. It is transparent pandering to wealthy special interests.

In the end, it is law abiding Americans who will have to shoulder the burden for these deadbeats. So the question is: Are the GOP really stupid, or they shrewdly executing their mission to starve the government, crush the middle-class, and enrich their benefactors?

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While Suppressing Good Jobs Data, Fox News Slams Obama For Trying To Create More Jobs

This morning the new unemployment report was released showing that 288,000 jobs were added during the month of June and the unemployment rate went down to 6.1%, the lowest since September of 2008. Not surprisingly, Fox News virtually ignored this report as they do with anything that might reflect positively on this administration. And in their abbreviated coverage they made sure to focus on whatever negative spin they could muster.

Making matters worse, Fox Nation chose this day of uplifting economic news to criticize President Obama for paying too much attention to improving the economy. Yes, you read that right. Fox is very upset that Obama has made economic renewal a key part of his agenda. It’s just another reason for them to commence impeachment hearings.

Fox Nation

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The Fox Nationalists posted an article from the Washington Examiner that took the President to task for raising the issue of our nation’s crumbling infrastructure and urging Congress to act on his proposals to fund the repair of roads, bridges, and other public works projects. The Examiner’s story began sarcastically by saying…

“When the going gets tough, and it seems like everything is falling apart, everyone likes to retreat to their safe place. Some find comfort in their faith. Others find comfort in family. For President Obama, it’s a ‘pivot’ to jobs and the economy.”

Setting aside the clumsy backhand at Obama’s commitment to faith and family, the charge that he is seeking to exploit the issue of jobs and the economy as a refuge from other more pressing matters couldn’t be more ridiculous. It would require one to be so dense and/or dishonest that they fail to recognize that jobs and the economy are consistently the most important issues to the American people in poll after poll, including the latest Fox News poll. And Obama addressed this in his latest speech highlighting what he called “Economic Patriotism.”

“It’s not crazy, it’s not socialism. It’s not the imperial presidency — no laws are broken. We’re just building roads and bridges like we’ve been doing for the last, I don’t know, 50, 100 years. But so far, House Republicans have refused to act on this idea. I haven’t heard a good reason why they haven’t acted — it’s not like they’ve been busy with other stuff.”

Obama and Do-Nothing Congress

The fact that Fox regards jobs and the economy as distractions, and downplays positive economic news, tells us that they have a weak grasp of what’s important to the American people. And instead of taking these issues seriously, Fox obsesses over IRS emails, and Hillary Clinton’s book tour. The result is that Fox and their mush-brained viewers will be caught off-guard again, just as they were in 2012 when they were certain that Romney would crush Obama in a landslide.

When you construct a fantasy dream world of heroes and villains and contrived realities, it will always end badly when you wake up and learn that you were lied to by the media storytellers in whom you put your faith. So thank you, Fox News, for keeping your audience mired in myths and irrelevancies while the rest of the country tries to move forward. And in November, if the Democrats make unexpected gains in the congressional midterm elections, you can console yourselves with the knowledge that you built that.

What’s The Difference Between Wealthy (Koch) Republicans And (Soros) Democrats?

The billionaire Koch brothers have been corrupting democracy for decades. Their labyrinthine web of front groups toil 24/7 to distort the facts on issues like climate change, voter suppression, gun control, and taxes. And if that collection of topics sounds familiar, it’s because the Kochs almost single-handedly created the Tea Party (with PR help from Fox News) to push their views on those subjects unto a gullible sector of the American populace.

Koch Bros. Fatcat

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One of the right’s favorite knee-jerk responses to criticisms of the Kochs is to point to wealthy Democrats who contribute to candidates and causes that lean more to the liberal side of the political spectrum and claim that the Koch’s critics are hypocrites. However, there have always been some obvious distinctions between the right and left wing upper-crusters. The false argument of equivalency falls flat when given scrutiny.

For one thing, the Republican rich can usually be found bankrolling people and projects that benefit them personally or professionally. Thus the Kochs’ fixation on opposing unions and denying climate change is closely aligned with their exploitative and polluting business interests. Well-off Dems, on the other hand, commonly finance more philanthropic endeavors (civil rights, environment, aid to the poor) that aim to improve the quality of life without necessarily enriching themselves.

It is also notable that conservatives advocate for less regulation of money in politics, creating an environment where the rich get ever more power to bend society to their will. Liberals, conversely, spend more of their cash on trying to remove money from politics. As an example, it was conservatives, including the Kochs, who pushed for Citizens United so that they could fund their self-serving projects without restrictions or even identification. But Jonathan Soros, the son of the right’s favorite wealthy liberal George Soros, created the Friends of Democracy PAC, a SuperPAC aimed at ending the influence of SuperPACs.

A new survey was just published that affirms these distinctions between the rightist rich and the lefty leisure class. Conducted by the Spectrem Group for CNBC (Wall Street’s cable news network) the Millionaire Survey “polled 514 people with investable assets of $1 million or more, which represents the top 8 percent of American households.” Among the sometimes surprising findings was that more than half of the respondents agreed that “inequality of wealth in our nation is a major problem.” Also, 64% favored higher taxes on the rich. A similar number (63%) support an increase in the minimum wage. And only 13% said that unemployment benefits should be reduced. Remember, these are all millionaires in this survey.

Digging a little deeper into these numbers, another interesting trend takes shape. It turns out that there is a marked difference in the views expressed by the millionaire class depending on their political affiliation.

“Democratic millionaires are far more supportive of taxing the rich and raising the minimum wage. Among Democratic millionaires, 78 percent support higher taxes on the wealthy, and 77 percent back a higher minimum wage. That compares with 31 percent and 38 percent, respectively, for Republicans.”

CNBC Millionaire Survey

So the breakdown reveals that it is the Democratic wealthy who are the most conscientious and concerned about their country and their fellow citizens. While the Republican rich are selfishly and characteristically concerned mainly with themselves. It’s the difference between Patriotic Millionaires and Ayn Rand sociopaths. That’s not a particularly surprising revelation, but it is nevertheless useful to see it validated by hard data.

The ‘Fundamental Flaw’ In The Republican Brand According To Fox News

Always on the lookout for ways to help the Republican Party, Fox News published an editorial by Maggie Gallagher, a founder of the anti-marriage equality group, National Organization for Marriage, entitled “Hey, GOP, want to win in 2016? Fix fundamental flaw in Republican brand.”

GOP Rebranding

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Indeed, the Republican brand has suffered of late with even the Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, conceding that the problem is so serious it required an “autopsy” following the 2012 election to address the party’s tendency to drive away critical constituencies. The RNC’s “Growth and Opportunity” report identified several areas of concern that included poor outreach to minority voters, alienating the youth demo, and too many candidate debates (an admission that the more people see their candidates, the less they like them).

Now Fox News is weighing in with an opinion as to what the “fundamental” flaw holding back the GOP is. The article begins with a premise with which it is difficult to disagree:

“America’s economic problem isn’t just unemployment, it’s the deadly combination of steady mild inflation and stagnant wages that is leading to pervasive declines in middle class working families’ standard of living.”

Setting aside the curious assertion that “mild inflation” contributes to a “deadly” situation, Gallagher’s recognition that stagnant wages lead to a decline in the living standard of middle class working families is spot on – and something that Democrats have been focused on intensely. Republicans, in the meantime, have been staunch opponents of raising the minimum wage; they have drafted legislation to eliminate overtime pay; they support corporate policies that encourage sending American jobs to other countries; and they favor mergers that result in massive layoffs.

The Democratic agenda is squarely aimed at improving the economic status of America’s middle class, while the Republicans drive headlong into crushing it in favor of the wealthy business elites whom the right mistakenly regard as job creators. [This graphic illustrates who the Real Job Creators are] While Gallagher acknowledges that GOP rhetoric is overly focused on the needs of voters’ bosses, she also dismisses the notion of raising the minimum wage as “feeble.” So what is Gallagher talking about when she refers to the fundamental flaw in the Republican brand?

“One obvious place Republicans could show they “get it” is relentlessly focusing on the pay cut ObamaCare means for many middle class working families.”

Of course! It’s ObamaCare. The cause of the entire world’s descent into a dystopic cataclysm that threatens to devour liberty and thrust the planet into eternal depression and tyranny. Never mind that ObamaCare is actually reducing the financial burdens that have plagued middle class families who have suffered either exorbitant and ever-increasing insurance premiums, or worse, devastating medical bills that drive them into bankruptcy. With ObamaCare the middle class no longer needs to worry about being denied coverage or having their policy canceled should they have the audacity to file a claim. Nor do they need to remain shackled to a low-paying and unfulfilling job just to stay insured.

Gallagher’s retreat to ObamaCare as the universal thorn in whatever right-wingers are complaining about at the moment is absurd in the extreme. But her contention that this is the fundamental flaw that the Republican Party needs to fix makes even less sense. Where has she been the last four years? Undoing ObamaCare has been the single most prominent obsession of the GOP since it was introduced. If she thinks that the Republican brand is suffering because they haven’t done enough to oppose ObamaCare, she may need to take advantage of the mental health care benefits the new law has made possible.

Finally, Fox News frequently does stories about how the GOP can improve their electoral prospects. However, they never do stories with similar advice for Democrats. That may not be particularly fair and balanced, but judging by the advice that Fox is giving to the GOP, perhaps the best thing they can do for Democrats is to keep giving advice to Republicans.

Lose/Lose: The GOP Hates You If You Don’t Work, And They Hate You If You Work Too Much

For most of the past century, and especially the past five years, Republicans have stood forthrightly against every initiative aimed at relieving the suffering of low-income Americans. From opposition to extending unemployment benefits to slashing the SNAP (food stamps) budget to blocking an increase of the minimum wage, the GOP has exhibited stark insensitivity to the hardships of working families. And their determination to advance the interests of the rich is consistently at the top of their agenda.

Today President Obama signed an executive memorandum expanding the availability of overtime pay to millions of workers whose employers have been exploiting their labor by classifying them as management, despite the fact that they earn less than $24,000 a year. That classification enables the employer to forgo paying these employees when they work more than forty hours per week.

Republicans came out swinging as soon as the White House made the announcement of the change in policy. All of the typical right-wing complaints about stifling economic growth, killing job creation, big government intrusion, and executive branch overreach, gushed from the mouths of GOP politicians and Fox News pundits.

GOP on Overtime Pay

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What none of these partisans bothered to mention is that putting more money in the pockets of working class citizens is one of the most effective methods of stimulating the economy. These are people who, by necessity, recirculate their funds by spending them on goods and services, thus producing more growth and creating more jobs. Also not mentioned is how this policy will reduce expenditures on entitlement programs due to recipients being raised out of poverty and no longer requiring assistance.

Nevertheless, the conservative knee-jerk response to Obama’s directive predictably ignores the benefits while inventing problems that they cannot support with facts. Their determination to advocate on behalf of the ruling class and the wealthy corporations who oppose these measures is paramount to the Republican hierarchy.

What’s more, the GOP is engaging in blatant hypocrisy by making disingenuous arguments against the changes proposed by Obama, although they never had any such complaint when George W. Bush did the same thing in 2004 when he updated the overtime rules raising the minimum threshold from $250.00 per week to $455.00. That was ten years ago and it’s time to revisit the situation taking into account current economic conditions, inflation, and cost of living increases.

However, what was good enough for Bush and the GOP a decade ago, is seen by Republicans as the destruction of the economy by a radical tyrant bent on crippling the nation today. For some reason, when the Bush administration unilaterally expanded overtime rules with the stroke of his pen it was appropriate and beneficial, but when Obama does it, it is treasonous and unconstitutional.

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That’s the level of logic that this President has had to face for the last five years. And if he is finally getting around to recognizing the futility of reasoning with the obstructionist Tea-publicans in Congress, it is about damn time.

Dumb Fox (News): Phony Think Tank’s Irrational Argument Against Minimum Wage Increase

By now no one should be surprised that Fox News, and the congregation of Tea Party conservatives they represent, would oppose legislation intended to benefit America’s working class. Fox has consistently fought against reforms that make it possible for people to take care of themselves and their families and to advance economically. Any policy that is viewed by their corporate benefactors as negative to their profit margins, or that might adversely impact their multimillion dollar compensation, is attacked by Fox News, and the rest of the rightist press, as anti-business or even socialist.

That is precisely the case with the current debate over whether to increase the minimum wage, which has not been done in seven long years. Raising the minimum wage is generally seen as politically popular, so in order to derail it, opponents have to pitch tortured arguments that have very little backing by knowledgeable, non-partisan economists. But the tactic being used by Fox today is particularly devoid of reason and is wholly unethical, even by the standards of Fox News.

Minimum Wage vs. Interns

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In an effort to manufacture a false claim of hypocrisy, Fox News is presenting an absurd comparison. Their story asserts that “Most sponsors of minimum wage hike bill don’t pay interns.” So F**king What? Internships are temporary positions made available to students so that they can get some real-world experience in their field of study and credit for school. They are not intended to be employment for personal gain. They serve the same purpose as the classroom at their school, and they don’t get paid for that either. Internships generally have a fixed term of a few weeks during the summer or other school hiatus. To compare that to jobs where people are working in order to support themselves and their families makes no sense whatsoever.

That said, there may be some good arguments for compensating interns, particularly in business where the enterprise has sufficient resources to do so. But to assert that members of Congress who support raising the minimum wage are being hypocritical for allowing students to get an up-close look at how government operates is simply a wild and irresponsible attempt to obstruct progress on policies that bring tangible relief to struggling Americans, as well as a substantial boost to the economy.

What makes this story even more repulsive is that Fox is citing data from a disreputable source with a vested interest in the welfare of the corporations it exists to serve. According to Source Watch

“The Employment Policies Institute (EPI) is one of several front groups created by Berman & Co., a Washington, DC public affairs firm owned by Rick Berman, who lobbies for the restaurant, hotel, alcoholic beverage and tobacco industries.”

So this organization is directly tied to the industries who are the most virulently opposed to a minimum wage increase. That should cause a legitimate news agency to steer shy of them if they are interested in unbiased information. But it doesn’t dissuade Fox, and a bevy of other wingnut “news” outlets, from eating up the self-serving tripe.

As if that weren’t bad enough, Berman & Company is also notorious for feathering its own nest. The bulk of the funds received by the organizations under its control goes right back into Berman’s pocket. For instance, the Employment Policies Institute reported $1,629,930 in total revenue for 2011, and $2,103,896 in total expenses. But despite running a half million dollar deficit, it paid Berman more than a million dollars that year. That alone should cast doubt on the quality of the economic advice they might dispense.

What we have here is a lobbyist who created a fake think tank so that he could raise funds from corporations to advocate on their behalf – and against the interests of average Americans. Then this fake think tank gets fake news enterprises (like Fox) to disseminate their tendentious opinions. That’s how the right-wing media machine poisons the public debate on important issues. And this particular article got spread to the the Wall Street Journal, the Daily Caller, Newsmax and other conservative mouthpieces.

To counter that, here is some more information on the benefits of raising the minimum wage. These articles explain in more detail why the nation should move forward with this legislation:

Economic Policy Institute: Low-wage Workers Are Older Than You Think

5 Right-Wing Myths About Raising the Minimum Wage, Debunked

SERIOUSLY? Fox News Thinks The U.S. Should Be More Like Rwanda

When it comes to America-hating rhetoric and bashing the values held by the majority of the citizens of the United States, Fox News takes a back seat to no one. Despite the diversity and tolerance of American society, Fox has made it their mission to inject bitter animus into the national family in order to create division and contempt. That’s why, in the Fox mindset, reproductive choice is murder, tax fairness for the wealthy is class warfare, affordable health insurance is communism, and an African-American president is a Marxist dictator who is unfit – even ineligible – to hold the office.

Nevertheless, it still comes as some surprise to find out what Fox regards as the utopian business model for the United States. In their feverish obsession for unfettered, free-market capitalism (which even the Pope recently condemned), Fox has long advocated the repeal of virtually every regulation they stumbled over. The Fox/Tea Party economic environment would be a chaotic anarchy where multinational corporations would rule with loyalty to nothing but their bottom line. It is that philosophy that is represented in their article that promotes, and distorts, a survey by the World Bank that ranked countries for their business friendliness.

Fox News

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The critical lesson from the data as analyzed by Fox, is expressed in their headline that laments that the “US ranks behind Rwanda, Belarus, Azerbaijan in ease of creating new business.” The inescapable conclusion is that the U.S. would be better off if it were more like Rwanda and the other third-world nations whose governments are too weak to provide any order or law or protection for its citizens who engage in business.

Setting aside the ludicrous notion that the U.S. should look to Rwanda for inspiration, the real problem with the analysis of the data is that it is comparing the U.S. to 189 other countries with which it has little in common. A more rational analysis would limit the comparison to other nations with large populations and high GDP. The World Bank’s website conveniently allows just such a comparison by filtering the list to include only those first-world countries in the Organization for Co-operation and Economic Development (OCED).

In the unfiltered list of all 189 countries, the U.S. comes in at 20th for “starting a business,” which isn’t really that bad out of 189. But when filtering the list to remove countries like Rwanda that tell us nothing about our place internationally, the U.S. jumps to number six. In fact, in the aggregate results for all eleven of the categories that the World Bank ranked (i.e. construction permits, credit, taxes, etc.), the U.S. is number two, behind New Zealand.

The question is: Why would Fox News want to deliberately misconstrue the survey to portray America as a third-rate loser in the world community? For the same reason they disparage everything else about this country that they despise. Contrary to Fox’s incessant whining about freedom and liberty, these are principles that they believe should only be available to corporations and the wealthy. It is in the interest of Fox conservatism to rebuke America as unfriendly to business in order to lobby for the elimination of the regulatory structure that they regard as impeding the liberty of the industrial class.

By misrepresenting the World Bank’s data, Fox has proven once again that they are more interested in advancing a rightist agenda than in informing their audience. And the direction in which they want to push America is one that will be distinctly unpleasant for most Americans, as demonstrated in this brilliant travelogue for the Tea Party vacation paradise of Somalia:

Hooray For Income Inequality! Or As Fox News Calls It ‘Income Opportunity’

Whenever Fox News encounters a progressive concept that they have difficulty refuting, they resort to redefining the terms of the debate. This was illustrated recently when they took to calling the government shutdown a “government slimdown,” as if it was a benign weight-loss program rather than a $24 billion boondoggle. It’s what turns free-market health insurance reform into socialized medicine. It’s tactic that is inbred into their political playbook, even going so far as to hire a “word doctor” to create an alternative language for their propaganda.

Now Fox News is pitching a new phrase to replace “income inequality,” which describes the gap between America’s ultra-wealthy and the average citizen. The current gap is greater than it has ever been, and the consequences are starkly negative for the nation’s economic health. The public is acutely aware of this problem and supports reforms aimed at resolving it. Therefore, unable to come up with a rational counter argument, Fox has introduced a new way of dressing up the problem that makes it seem all warm and fuzzy. They now call it “income opportunity.”

The new phrase debuted today when Fox News reporter, Doug McKelway, filed a story on the subject and noted that some amorphous congregation of anonymous critics are seeing the bright side of the loss of America’s middle class:

McKelway: Some critics say there is another side to income inequality. That’s income opportunity. For instance, as economic inequality between rich and poor has grown, women’s economic status has increased.

Really? So Fox News is now spinning this as a women’s rights issue. That makes sense because Fox has been such a stalwart defender of women’s rights. Like the right to be subjected to involuntary vaginal probes, or the right to be forced to carry a pregnancy to term, even if the father was a rapist. McKelway then deferred to an academic from Chicago (one of those rare times when Fox regards academics as credible sources), who took this reasoning even further saying that…

“Inequality, in terms of the gap between low and high wage people was creating opportunities for everyone, but women were especially able to leverage them. And that’s why you have so many women breaking the glass ceiling in recent years.”

Indeed. Opportunities for everyone have been gushing from the severe division between the rich and the poor. Never mind that this assertion was not supported by any facts, it must be obvious because, well, he said so. And who could have failed to notice that women have been crashing through the glass ceiling in unprecedented numbers. That’s why today “women currently hold 4.2 percent of Fortune 500 CEO roles.” And it also explains why, as of 2012, women are still paid only about 76.5 percent of what men are paid. And that’s actually a decline from 2010.

Finally, when McKelway completed his report, Fox anchor Jenna Lee injected another angle of inquiry to refute the fact that income inequality is necessarily to blame for any ill effects on the economy. Once again the anonymous specter of “some argue” entered the discussion when Lee posited to McKelway that…

“Some argue that the issue is less about the economy and more, really, about family.”

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Of course it is. McKelway took the baton and ran down a series of reasons why the lack of opportunity is all due to poor people often being single mothers with less than college educations. And that state affairs couldn’t possibly be because they are poor to begin with, could it? No, they all started off well-to-do, then dropped out of Stanford and had babies, and that led to their eventual poverty. But don’t bring any of this up because, if you do, you’ll be accused of waging a class war.

Fox News

These are the sort of theories that go over well with the deceitful Fox News editors and their dimwitted viewers. And it’s all made possible by inventing language that is deliberately meant to mislead. Remember that the next time you find yourself in the midst of a government slimdown and some socialist tries to sell you health insurance that infringes on the income opportunity of being one of the 99% of Americans who isn’t a billionaire.

Oh The Stupidity: Sarah Palin Wants Obama Impeached For Both Solving/Not Solving The Debt Crisis

America’s own rogue GOPachyderm, Sarah Palin, is such a consistent source of hilarity it seems impossible that she could keep up the pace any longer. But just when you think she’s exhausted her supply of inanity, she posts another Facebook column and reestablishes her crackpot bona fides:

“Apparently the president thinks he can furlough reality when talking about the debt limit. To suggest that raising the debt limit doesn’t incur more debt is laughably absurd. The very reason why you raise the debt limit is so that you can incur more debt. Otherwise what’s the point?”

What Palin is mocking as “laughably absurd” is known to those who have advanced beyond remedial economics as “the truth.” The point of raising the debt ceiling, which Palin goes out of her way to misunderstand, is to pay for debt already incurred. It does not, and cannot, authorize new spending. Only Congress can do that. So if Palin has a problem with the outstanding debt, she needs to take it up with John Boehner.

Palin continues by declaring that “It’s also shameful to see [Obama] scaremongering the markets with his talk of default.” I wonder if she would castigate the sainted Tea Party icon, Ronald Reagan, for saying (video here)…

“Congress consistently brings the Government to the edge of default before facing its responsibility. This brinkmanship threatens the holders of government bonds and those who rely on Social Security and veterans benefits. Interest rates would skyrocket, instability would occur in financial markets, and the Federal deficit would soar.”

But Palin hasn’t even begun to showcase her Olympian idiocy. Her Facebook drivel proceeds with a self-contradictory passage that begins by stating that…

“There is no way we can default if we follow the Constitution. The Fourteenth Amendment, Section 4, requires that we service our debt first.”

Actually, what the Fourteenth Amendment (Section 4) says is that “The validity of the public debt of the United States [...] shall not be questioned.” It is a controversial clause that many interpret as authorization for the President to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling at will. So it appears that Palin is advising the President to take matters into his own hands. But her next paragraph puts an end to that sort of thinking.

“Defaulting on our national debt is an impeachable offense, and any attempt by President Obama to unilaterally raise the debt limit without Congress is also an impeachable offense.”

Huh? Palin just got finished arguing that the Constitution demands that the President take any and all measures to pay our debts. Now she says that if he does so he is guilty of an impeachable offense. And just to lock in the crazy, she also says that not doing so is likewise impeachable. In Palin’s twisted reality Obama cannot glance sideways without violating his oath of office.

Shameless self-promotion…
Get Fox Nation vs. Reality. Available now at Amazon.

What is abundantly clear is that Palin wants to believe that whatever this President does is a justification for impeachment. Her perspective is so irreparably warped that it has lost any semblance of rationality. This is something that has been noticeable for quite some time with Palin, but what stands out as utterly incomprehensible is that there are still people who hang on her every word – including in the media. It’s a sad state of affairs, but one that is not irreversible. We just need to provide the proper educational support. So let’s start with something that Palin might be able to grasp.

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Cletus on Debt Ceiling

Dumbass Doocy: Fox News Still Doesn’t Understand What The Debt Ceiling Is

As the nation approaches another showdown over the raising of the debt ceiling, Fox News continues to prove that either they don’t understand economics or they are dedicated to misinforming their gullible viewers – or more likely, both.

On Friday’s episode of Fox & Friends, Steve Doocy and his couch potato pals reacted with surprise to President Obama’s remarks about raising the debt ceiling. The President correctly described the function of this routine economic procedure by telling the Business Roundtable what it actually entails.

Obama: Raising the debt ceiling, which has been done over a hundred times, does not increase our debt; it does not somehow promote profligacy. All it does is it says you’ve got to pay the bills that you’ve already racked up, Congress. It’s a basic function of making sure that the full faith and credit of the United States is preserved.

Concerned that a succinct and coherent explanation might make Fox viewers aware of a small bit of reality (something Fox works diligently against), Doocy stepped up to make sure that his audience remained blissfully ignorant. He played two videos of Obama, one talking about the risks of high debt and the other advocating raising the debt ceiling. Doocy then said that Obama was talking about the same thing and had flipped his position. However, the debt is not the same thing as the debt ceiling. But this is a subject that is apparently way over Doocy’s head.

Doocy: So the first sound bite was from the president a couple of days ago at the Business Roundtable where he really got people thinking, “Did he just misspeak?” because he said essentially that raising the debt ceiling does not increase our debt. I know he studied law, and not economics, but increasing the debt ceiling indeed raises the debt.

Well, I know Doocy studied journalism at the University of Kansas and not economics, while Obama got a B.A. in political science from Columbia University and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard Law School, but Doocy clearly knows nothing about either economics or journalism. Raising the debt ceiling does not raise the debt one penny. Just as the President said, it merely authorizes the government to pay bills that Congress has already incurred.

Allow me to spell it out. Let’s say the national debt is $10 trillion and the debt ceiling is $9 trillion. If the ceiling is raised to $11 trillion so that it can accommodate the outstanding obligations, the debt is still $10 trillion. There is no change except for the fact that bills can now be paid which, ironically, would have the effect of lowering the debt. Failing to raise the debt ceiling would result in default which would cause the ratings services to lower the nation’s credit worthiness. That would increase the interest that we pay on the debt which, of course, increases the debt. Which is exactly what happened last year.

So Doocy, and most of the Tea Party right, have everything exactly backwards – as usual. There is only one real reason that Fox and the GOP are obstructing the debt ceiling increase, and that is to harm Obama by attempting to blame him for the economic debacle that would ensue following a default. And they regard the devastation that the American people would suffer as merely collateral damage. As evidence, take a look at this chart that I created a couple of years ago illustrating the Republican support for raising the debt ceiling until a certain event occurred:

Debt Ceiling

And the same dishonest, partisan, hackery is in full effect today.

Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Poor Have It Way Too Good

When Fox News isn’t bitching about how President Obama has fouled up the economy and caused severe hardship for the American people, they switch over to their completely contrary view that there isn’t really any hardship and that the poor in America are luxuriating in a virtual paradise.

Fox Nation

To hear Fox News tell it, the real problem with America is that the greedy poor have too much and the long-suffering rich have too little. Consequently, the poor should lose benefits that assist them with trivialities like food, housing and education, while the rich should get more tax cuts, subsidies, and relief from regulations that protect everyone’s air, water, and safety.

That’s the position taken today on Fox’s community web site, and truth mangling, Fox Nation. Their article on the state of Americans living in poverty suggests that being poor is like a pleasure cruise with all the amenities included. Their source is an article on CNSNews, a subsidiary of the uber-rightist Media Research Center. The article cites data from a 2011 census report showing that most households living below the poverty live have non-essential extravagances like phones and refrigerators. The presence of these opulent goods is evidence that poor people are enjoying prosperity at the expense of the hard-trodden wealthy.

A deeper look at the details of this alleged abundance reveals that, in most cases, appliances like refrigerators, stoves, washers, dryers, and air conditioners, come with apartment living and are owned by the landlords, not the tenants. Cell phones and microwaves are inexpensive items that hardly connote wealth. Yet the Fox Nationalists begrudge low-income working people for having access to things like televisions that they might have bought years ago, before the Bush meltdown.

This is typical of the Fox mindset. They regularly report this same fallacy with minor updates. Last April they hosted Robert Rector, a Heritage Foundation analyst, who whined to the addled-brained Fox & Friends crew that the poor “have no hardship whatsoever,” and that poverty measurements are just “an advertising tool for expanding the welfare state and for spreading the wealth by pretending there’s a massive amount of hardship that really doesn’t occur anymore in our society.” Well, I feel better already.

Rector has been spewing that nonsense for more than a decade, and Fox has been helping him to promote it. They generally leave out pertinent facts such as that the people they are disparaging are not the recipients of welfare who they routinely characterize as moochers. They are working people who are struggling to provide for themselves and their families in the face of adversity. And Fox ignores the obvious when they assume that just because you reside in an apartment that has a stove and a laundry room, that you also have enough money to buy groceries, clothes, medicine, and other necessities.

This is a perfect representation of the insensitivity of selfish elitists in the media and the GOP (Greedy One Percent) who recently removed food stamps from a draft of the Farm Bill, but retained the hundreds of millions of dollars that goes to wealthy agribusiness interests. In their world the rich are always unfairly put upon, and the poor are lazy scam artists. It’s a perverse and twisted version of reality that keeps good people down.

Bill O’Reilly And John Boehner: Brotherhood Of The Traveling Pants On Fire

In recent days, the resounding cry from the right-wing pundits and politicians regarding sequestration has been a demonstrably false yammering that President Obama has neglected to put forth a plan to cut spending. And it’s a pretty good talking point except for the fact that there isn’t a bit of truth to it.

Boehner/O'Reilly

This plaintive squeal was heard last Sunday when John Boehner appeared on Meet the Press to peddle his party line fiction. He told host David Gregory that “even today, there’s no plan from Senate Democrats or the White House to replace the sequester.” For that mangling of the truth, Boehner earned a “Pants On Fire” designation from PolitiFact who posted a detailed debunking of Boehner’s…well, bunk. Boehner went on to blame senate Democrats for not passing a bill that only failed due to senate Republicans filibustering it.

The howling further escalated last night when Bill O’Reilly nearly had an aneurism while debating the same subject with Alan Colmes (video below). O’Reilly almost immediately began shouting red-faced at Colmes for his having correctly stated that the President does have a plan. O’Reilly viciously called his fellow Fox News employee a liar seven times in rapid succession as Colmes calmly objected and tried to settle him down. But O’Reilly could not be assuaged. Here is a partial transcript of the exchange:

O’Reilly: The President’s willing to have Americans suffer for the greater good of trying to have Nancy Pelosi be the new Speaker of the House. [...] Give me one program he said he would cut.
Colmes: He would cut Medicare and Medicaid.
O’Reilly: That’s not a specific program.
Colmes: You asked me for a program – those are programs.
O’Reilly: You’re not telling me anything. It’s jack____ what you’re saying.
Colmes: There would be less money going to the states. There would be less money being reimbursed to doctors.
O’Reilly: You don’t know where. You don’t know how much. You don’t know to whom. And the reason you don’t know it is because the guy you revere refuses to say anything specific about anything.

O’Reilly’s high-pitched histrionics did nothing to make the substance of his ranting more truthful. Just as Boehner’s demurring failed to refute the factual evidence that the President’s plan does exist. It is available on the White House web site for anyone who is interested and honest – which obviously exempts Boehner and O’Reilly.

Watching trained circus clowns like O’Reilly and Boehner distort reality is bad enough, but what’s really troubling is the tendency of so much of the media to fail to set the record straight when there is no credible case to support the lies of these charlatans. And they will certainly not set the record straight themselves. O’Reilly in particular is notorious for digging in his heels even after he has been proven to be wrong. It’s a character trait common among egomaniacal sociopaths who regard themselves as infallible defenders of humanity’s virtue.

Sequestering The Truth: Fox News Misreports Their Own Polling Results

Unhappy with the data, Fox makes up their own.

It’s bad enough that Fox News is compulsively disposed to lying about President Obama and anyone else who challenges their hyper-conservative dogma, but when they resort to lying about the product of their own reporting it’s an indication of something gone terribly askew. This is the sort of brazen deceit that Fox usually reserves for their notorious Fib Factory, Fox Nation.

Fox News just published the results of their polling wherein they asked respondents whether they would prefer a budget deal that reduced the deficit with spending cuts or with tax increases. The question itself was grossly biased in that it implies that there are proposals to avert sequestration by raising taxes. However, neither party is proposing any tax increases in the current negotiations, only the closing of loopholes to which both sides had previously agreed. Setting that aside, Fox posted its account of the poll results with a headline reading “Voters Say Cuts Are ‘Only Way’ to Control Deficit.”

Fox News Poll

That’s an interesting (i.e. thoroughly dishonest) interpretation of the poll’s actual results which found that respondents preferred deficit reduction by focusing…

  • Only on cutting government spending: 33%
  • Mostly on cutting spending, and a small number of tax increases: 19%
  • On an equal mix of spending cuts and tax increases: 36%
  • Only on adding further tax increases 7%

It doesn’t take a master statistician to recognize that the choice of most respondents was the “equal mix.” How Fox concluded that they preferred cutting spending as the “only way” is mysterious and unexplained. Furthermore, if you total all the choices that included at least some tax increases there is a clear majority (67%) in favor of adding revenue rather than spending cuts alone. In other words, it’s the exact opposite of what Fox is reporting. If Fox doesn’t like what their own poll says, maybe they shouldn’t publish the results. Apparently, flagrantly lying in order to misrepresent the truth is more their style.

Some additional results from the survey include: Obama’s favorability is at 51%. His job approval is at 46%, compared to congress which is at 16%, with a jaw-dropping 77% disapproving. Digging deeper into those numbers reveals that the disapproval of congress cuts across party lines with Democrats registering a negative 72%. Republicans like congress even less with 79% disapproving. And at 82%, Independents really hate them.

Fox also measured the favorability of several other notable figures, all of whom scored lower than the President. Obama: 51%; Pope Benedict: 45%; John Kerry: 43%; Marco Rubio: 31%; John Boehner: 23%; And Chuck Hagel: 17%. Note that all of the Republicans in Fox’s poll sit at the bottom of the list.

Finally, for some reason Fox included a curious question not asked by many other pollsters:

“Former President George W. Bush stopped golfing after the start of the Iraq war. Do you think President Barack Obama should stop golfing until the unemployment rate improves and the economy is doing better?”

First of all, it’s somewhat grotesque to juxtapose a lackluster economy with the deadly consequences of war. That said, respondents apparently don’t care much whether Obama goes golfing or not. Forty-three percent answered that he should stow his clubs, but 45% say he should go ahead and play. And for the record, Bush did not stop golfing after the Iraq war began in March of 2003, so the question is misleading from the outset. But more to the point, reports documented that Bush continued to hit the links well into October. And even after he did quit golfing, he engaged in other leisurely pastimes like biking and his personal passion for clearing brush.

[Reprise] The REAL Job Creators: Share This Infographic To Undo GOP Fallacy

With the presidential election behind us, the public discourse turns once again to more substantive matters, first of which is the fearful prospect of the so-called “fiscal cliff.” Setting aside the fact that the cliff itself is a figment of media imagination, it is nevertheless necessary for congress to address tax policy.

As the debate heats up in advance of the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, conservatives are trotting out their tired rhetoric about the risk of allowing tax cuts for the rich to expire and the allegedly detrimental impact it would have on what they call job creators. However, they are deliberately distorting facts in order to benefit their wealthy patrons. Last year I published an analysis of the right-wing effort to confuse the issue along with an infographic that laid out the case for who the real job creators are. This seems like a good time to re-publish it and direct credit for creating jobs to those who actually deserve it.


Occupy Messaging: Who Are The Real Job Creators?

December 13, 2011

For too long now, right-wing propagandists like Frank Luntz have been manipulating language to distort the real issues that impact so many lives of American citizens. They engage in dishonest wordcraft that disguises their true meaning in order to shape public opinion and deceive voters. It’s time to counter that rhetorical offensive by restoring definitions that actually reflect reality.

One of the most recent and insidious examples of this practice is the conservative effort to replace references to “the rich” with the phrase “job creators.” It is of no interest to these hacks that no evidence exists to validate the claim. In fact, NPR’s congressional reporter, Tamara Keith, asked members of congress and representatives of conservative business groups to refer her to business people who could substantiate the assertion that tax cuts for the wealthy would induce them to increase hiring. They were unable to come up with a single name or example to affirm their half-baked theory. However, Keith found several examples of her own that utterly refuted it. This caused Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to note that “Millionaire job creators are like unicorns. They are impossible to find and don’t exist.”

The agenda that Republicans have adopted has literally no popular constituency. Every poll taken on the subject reveals that majorities of Americans (including majorities of Republicans) favor increasing taxes on the rich. Even polls of the rich show that they believe that they are not presently sharing the sacrifice required to restore the nation’s economic health. An independent group of Patriotic Millionaires released a video beseeching Congress to raise their taxes.

So the next time you hear some GOP flunky whining about the plight of the rich whose only desire is to be unburdened from the shackles of what are the lowest taxes in decades, remember that they have not, and cannot, certify any claim that lower taxes will spur hiring. In fact, the evidence is all to the contrary. And whenever possible, we need to recapture the phrase “job creators” and use it in a manner that is more in line with reality. Here is a handy, shareable chart that illustrates who the real job creators are:

(click to view larger)
Job Creators


Some conservatives are beginning to admit that lavishing benefits on those who are already wealthy does nothing to stimulate the economy. Bill Kristol recently said that “It won’t kill the country if Republicans raise taxes a little bit on millionaires.” Ben Stein, with some apparent reluctance, told Gretchen Carlson that “With all due respect to Fox…” “We’re going to have to raise taxes on very, very rich people.”

This is the beginning of the wall crumbling down. The right knows that they cannot continue to be seen as only fighting for the welfare of the rich. They know that they have already lost this argument and that now it is only a matter of finding a way to concede without losing face (or Tea Party support).

The Roots Of Romney’s Rage: Where His 47% Fiasco Came From

The Making of a Meme
Just in case anyone is wondering where Mitt Romney came up with the data behind the contemptuous affront he leveled at half of the population that he hopes to serve as president, it is a tenet of conservative philosophy that has been expressed repeatedly by pundits and politicians alike, although rarely with such disdain. Here is what Romney, a man who accuses President Obama of being divisive, told a roomful of wealthy donors:

“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax.”

The erroneous charge concerning an alleged 47% of American freeloaders is one that has been exciting right-wingers for more than two years and has been notably championed by Fox News. To fill in the background of this story, I am re-posting an article I wrote in August of 2011 that describes the length and breadth of this fictitious political assault on the middle and working class of America. It illustrates explicitly the themes that Romney articulated to his wealthy supporters.


Debt Wish XI: The GOP/Tea Party Plan To Tax The Poor
(August 24, 2011) America’s Republican/Tea Party contingent, who are defined by their dogmatic devotion to lower taxes as a panacea for everything, have finally found a sector of society that they can comfortably saddle with a higher tax burden: The Poor.

That’s right. These anti-tax zealots have concluded that fairness cannot be achieved in the country’s tax code as long as there are disadvantaged freeloaders who are allegedly not paying into the system. While they fight tooth and nail to protect wealthy individuals and corporations from contributing even modest amounts to the nation’s recovery, the rightist brigade is marching lock-step in favor of soaking the poor in order to heal the malaise on Wall Street and the misery of long-suffering bankers. Their battle cry goes something like this: “Half of the Country Doesn’t Pay Any Taxes At All.” Fox News has been pushing that theme for quite a while. For the past two years they headlined it on Fox Nation right at tax time.

Fox News Tax Payers

This movement is not some scruffy assemblage of disorganized trust-funders seeking to upgrade their yachts. It is a coordinated campaign that has pulled together high profile proponents from politics and the press. Here is a sampling of the breadth and unity of the movement and the message:

  • Rick Perry (R-TX): We’re dismayed at the injustice that nearly half of all Americans don’t even pay any income tax.
  • Michele Bachmann (R-MN): A system in which 47% of Americans don’t pay any tax is ruinous for a democracy.
  • Sarah Palin (R-AK): The problem is more than 40% pay no income taxes at all.
  • Orrin Hatch (R-UT): 51 percent don’t pay anything.
  • Jim DeMint (R-SC): Over half of Americans pay no federal income tax.
  • Mitch McConnell (R-KY): In fact, about half of Americans don’t pay any income taxes at all.
  • John Boehner (R-OH): Fifty-one percent — that is, a majority of American households — paid no income tax in 2009. Zero. Zip. Nada.
  • Eric Cantor (R-MD): We also have a situation in this country where you’re nearing 50 percent of people who don’t even pay income taxes.
  • Alan West (R-FL): Currently we have some 40-45% of Americans who are not paying any taxes.

We’re not through yet.

  • Donald Trump (R-HisOwnEgo): You do have a problem because half of the people don’t pay any tax.
  • Bill O’Reilly (Fox News): 50 percent of Americans don’t pay any federal income tax now.
  • Stuart Varney (Fox News): About half the people who work in America, half the households, actually, pay any federal income tax at all.
  • Dave Briggs (Fox News): [A]lmost half of this country pays no income tax whatsoever.
  • Gretchen Carlson (Fox News): But what does that mean when you factor in that 50 percent of the nation doesn’t even pay federal income tax? Is that fair?
  • [Idiot Award Winner] Steve Doocy (Fox News): With 47% of Americans not paying taxes – 47% – should those who don’t pay be allowed to vote?
  • Sean Hannity (Fox News): 50 percent of Americans no longer pay taxes.
  • Neil Cavuto (Fox News): I’ve discovered nearly half of this country’s households don’t pay any taxes at all.

Oh yes, there’s more.

  • Dave Ramsey (Fox News): This idea that 42% of Americans don’t pay anything…that’s just morally wrong.
  • Brian Kilmeade (Fox News): Fifty-one percent of the country isn’t paying any taxes at all.
  • Eric Bolling (Fox News): 43 percent of households don’t pay any federal tax.
  • Glenn Beck (Right-Wing Radio): There was like 48 percent say they pay their right amount of taxes and 49 percent don’t pay any tax.
  • Rush Limbaugh (Right-Wing Radio): Meanwhile, 45% of Americans pay nothing.
  • Gary Bauer (Right-Wing Evangelist): But the reality is that nearly half of Americans don’t pay any income tax.
  • Rick Warren (Right-Wing Evangelist): HALF of America pays NO taxes. Zero.
  • Ted Nugent (Right-Wing Douchebag): This, of course, will not apply to those 50 percent of Americans who pay no income taxes.

Is there anyone who could seriously argue that this is not a coordinated effort aimed at demonizing low-income and working class citizens? The conformity and ubiquity of the identical messaging from such a broad spectrum of players is audacious and disturbing. And what’s worse, it is deliberately misleading and/or false.

First of all, claims that half the population pay no taxes at all are factually wrong. (See the chart at the left from the Wall Street Journal). There are about 46% who do not pay federal income taxes, but most of them do pay many other taxes including Social Security, state and local, sales, property, gas, etc. Secondly, it should come as no surprise that those with little or no tax liability have little or no income. The majority of this group is comprised of senior citizens, students, the disabled, and the unemployed. Those are the folks that the right wants to tap for new revenue rather than the rich who they have taken to calling “job creators” despite the fact that they haven’t created any jobs since they got the Bush tax cuts a decade ago.

To put this into perspective, federal income taxes account for just 20% of all taxes. When you include all the other sources of tax revenue, people making $20,000 a year pay approximately the same effective tax rate as people making $500,000, give or take 5 percent. However, those earning a half-million have seen their rate decline almost 50% since 1980, while the rate for the 20K earners barely budged.

What’s more, corporate taxes as a percentage of federal revenue dropped from 27.3% in 1955, to 8.9% in 2010. During that same time period individual income/payrolls as a percentage of federal revenue skyrocketed from 58% to 81.5%. Thus the burden of paying for our government shifted broadly from corporations to ordinary people (notwithstanding the Supreme Court ruling that corporations are people). These facts prove that the whole faux controversy over the tax liability of low income Americans is, in technical terms, a crazy zombie lie.

Also worthy of note is that one of the main reasons that many Americans owe no federal income tax is due to the earned-income tax credit that was introduced by Republican President Gerald Ford and expanded by Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. And now the GOP is threatening to impose a tax hike on working people by opposing the extension of President Obama’s Payroll Tax reduction. This relief was passed as a temporary measure and is set to expire at the end of this year. Obama has proposed extending it for another year, but House Republicans are balking, saying that “not all tax relief is created equal” (Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-TX), and that tax reductions, “no matter how well-intended,” will push the deficit higher (Rep. David Camp, R-MI). Camp is a member of the deficit reduction seeking Super Committee. A spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), says the legislator “has never believed that this type of temporary tax relief is the best way to grow the economy.”

Really? Is this the same Eric Cantor who fought so fiercely for the temporary tax relief produced by Bush’s tax cuts for the rich? Cantor, and the rest of the Tea-publicans, are putting their deficit cutting necks on the line to raise the 120 billion dollars that would be restored to the treasury by letting the Payroll tax relief expire, but they will take the fight to Hell and back before considering the recovery of 800 billion dollars from the expiration of Bush’s gift to taxpayers earning more $250,000 a year. Apparently Republicans are opposed to temporary tax relief when it benefits the middle and working classes, but they are wildly in favor of it when it benefits the wealthy.

How can the GOP get away with portraying themselves as tax-cutters while advancing an agenda that would increase taxes for most Americans who happen not to be rich? How can the Tea Party assert through their acronym that they have been “Taxed Enough Already” when they view seniors, and other low-income Americans as not taxed enough? And when will the media expose this brazen hypocrisy?


So it’s clear that Romney was not speaking off the cuff in this newly released video. He merely reiterated what has been a mainstay of the conservative agenda for some time. If he tries to explain this away as a mistake or a gaffe, he is going to have to provide explanations for all of the identical statements itemized above. There is nothing out of character in the remarks he gave at his fundraiser. He is, after all, the same guy who said “I’m not concerned about the very poor.” He’s the same guy who said “If you’re looking for free stuff you don’t have to pay for, vote for the other guy.” His denigration of Americans struggling during hard time is entirely on message, just as RNC chairman Reince Preibus said following the release of the video.

The condescending tone of Romney’s comments is what is likely to cause the most damage to his campaign. But let us not forget that the substance of his remarks is consistent with Republican ideology, and it is woven intricately into the fabric of the party’s structure. It reflects the views of their congressmen and senators and state officeholders. And it flows through the airwaves of their PR division, Fox News, and down the media food chain from there.

[Update] Romney may want to do some research into those 47 percenters he is writing off. Of the ten states with the highest percentage of residents who pay no federal income tax, ten are solid red, Republican states.

Fox Nation vs. Reality: Who’s To Blame For Bad Economy?

There have been numerous polls asking respondents to say who they hold responsible for the state of the American economy. In every one of them George W. Bush ranks at or near the top, with Congress and Wall Street following close behind. Usually President Obama is not the target of most of the blame.

Leave it to Fox News to come up with a poll that contradicts the others. And it should come as no surprise that the poll they’ve latched onto is the work of Rasmussen’s Pulse Opinion Research. However, even with a fixed pollster, and a rabidly partisan news outlet, Fox still finds it necessary to outright lie about the poll’s results:

Fox Nation Blames Obama

The headline of this article is blatantly false. In Rasmussen’s poll 34% said that Obama is the most to blame for the slow economic recovery. Most elementary school graduates know that that is not a majority. What’s more, if you add the responses of those who said that it was either Congress, Wall Street, or George W. Bush, it comes to a clear majority of 61% saying that Obama is not to blame. Some other significant results from the poll that Fox Nation declined to report are…

  • The poll found almost 6-in-10 are unhappy with the actions of Republicans in Congress who have challenged the president on an array of policy initiatives.
  • Fifty-seven percent of voters said congressional Republicans have impeded the recovery with their policies, and only 30 percent overall believe the GOP has done the right things to boost the economy.
  • Centrist voters, who may well decide the 2012 outcome, tend to blame Republicans in Congress more than the president for hindering a more robust recovery.
  • 53 percent of centrists said Obama has taken the right actions as president to boost the economy, compared with 38 percent who said he had taken the wrong steps.
  • Seventy-nine percent of centrist voters said Republicans had slowed the economy by taking wrong actions. Only 13 percent of centrists credited GOP lawmakers with policies that have helped the economy.

And that’s the poll that Fox Nation managed to feature on their website with a headline blaring that a “Majority Blame Obama For Bad Economy.” The Fox Nationalists must take great comfort in the knowledge that their audience is too stupid to actually look into anything themselves – or understand it if they did.

Fox News Can’t Stop Lying About Tax Cuts For The Middle Class

The announcement today that President Obama is committed to preserving the current tax rates for middle class Americans has been met by Fox News choosing to frame the issue in a more negative and dishonest manner.

Fox News

On the Fox News web site the story was featured with a headline reading, “Obama ‘100% Committed’ To Tax Hike.” Later, on Fox News as the President was speaking, the network displayed a caption reading, “Pres Urges Congress To Pass Tax Increase On Households Earning More Than $250,000.”

Both of those statements are false. The President is neither committed to, nor urging, a tax increase. The tax increasing was passed and signed into law by Republican president George W. Bush. The legislation implementing the Bush-era tax cuts included a sunset provision for when the cuts would expire. That was Bush’s doing, not Obama’s. What Obama is trying to do is to preserve the tax cuts for the vast majority of Americans who actually need them and will spend them to help the economy grow. It is flat out dishonest to say that, because Obama supports allowing the cuts to expire for a few people at the top of the economic scale, that he is proposing a tax increase as characterized by Fox News.

Deficit FactorsMost independent economists agree that lower taxes for the middle class is more likely to fuel economic growth because the middle class spends more of their money on cars, clothes, food, appliances, electronics, travel, etc. The rich, on the other hand, disperses more of their income to savings or retirement accounts that do nothing to stimulate the economy. And studies have proven that the Bush-era tax cuts are one of the biggest contributors to the deficit.

The President is making a rational proposal that Congress come together and agree to pass the middle class relief that both sides insist is necessary to spur growth. There is simply no reason not to do so. The question of whether to cut taxes further for the rich can be debated separately and need not put everyone else at risk. If Republicans refuse to do this because the wealthy are being left out, then they are effectively holding the majority of Americans hostage on behalf of helping millionaires become even richer. But then, that’s the mission of the GOP (Greedy One Percent).

These facts are available for everyone to see and factor into their appraisal of the current economic debate. Everyone except for Fox News viewers, that is. They will continue to be misinformed and subject to opinions that are contrary to reality and harmful to their own interests.

Fox Nation Panic: Run For The Hills, The World Is Ending

Sell! Sell! Sell! It’s all over. The stock market is collapsing. Wall Street is bankrupt. The economy is toast. Head for your bunker with your gold bullion, guns, and bibles. The End Times are here.

Fox Nation is feverishly reporting that “Stocks Tank, Nasdaq’s Worst Week Of 2012.” If this isn’t evidence of Armageddon, I don’t know what is.

Fox Nation - Stocks Tank

After this horrific market crash the NASDAQ will only be up 13.5% year-to-date – a mere nine times more than what the average bank savings account is earning for the whole year. If you listened to Fox you would have missed out on one of the most precipitous stock rallies in decades.

And when was the last time that Fox reported that the market was significantly higher in any week this year? Good luck finding that report. Fox is on a mission to make President Obama and his administration look bad. That requires trumpeting bad news about the economy and ignoring the good news.

The problem is that by doing that, Fox also exacerbates negativity that can have the effect of producing a self-fulfilling prophecy and frighten people out of the market. But Fox doesn’t care about that. Hurting Obama is more important to Fox than accurately reporting on the economy.