MSNBC’s Morning Joe: We Don’t Know Much About Economic Recovery

Over the last two weeks on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski and their regular guests have repeated a number of significant falsehoods about the economic recovery package. The cumulative result has been to turn MSNBC’s morning talk block into an echo chamber for false and misleading right-wing talking points about the stimulus bill currently before the Senate.

This morning, for example, Brzezinski said that she spent last weekend doing “research” trying to find a good reason to support the recovery bill. “There isn’t one,” she concluded. “There’s a lot of welfare in there. There’s a lot of spending. It’s not stimulus,” she said. When asked about his and Mika’s critiques of the bill, Scarborough said simply, “We’re on the side of good Americans. … We want a stimulus bill.”

Scarborough, Brzezinski, and other regular Morning Joe contributors have made similarly flawed arguments in recent days:

Brzezinski: “I’m confused as to why we’re being tricked into thinking this is a stimulus bill, when it’s packed with welfare programs.”

Pat Buchanan: “This is just a big Democratic bill with all this pork and slop.”

Jim Cramer: “I have it maybe that there’s 142 people who really will get a job.”

Dylan Ratigan: “[T]he Democrats would do themselves a tremendous favor to not put spending programs in when we’re dealing with a stimulus bill.”

Scarborough: “This is a streaming pile of garbage.”

In place of “welfare” and “spending,” Morning Joe’s cast of commentators propose what they falsely argue is a more effective form of economic stimulus: tax cuts. Watch a compilation of the Morning Joe’s economic stimulus coverage:

Brzezinski’s “research” notwithstanding, Morning Joe’s cast of commentators couldn’t be more mistaken when it comes to what constitutes “stimulus.” Government spending is not “welfare;” it’s good stimulative policy — in fact, it’s the best stimulative policy. As Nobel laureate Paul Krugman quipped, “[W]rite off anyone who asserts that it’s always better to cut taxes than to increase government spending.”

Further, in arguing that tax cuts for businesses and high-earners are a more effective means of economic stimulus than government spending, Scarborough and company are exactly wrong. Indeed, as the Wonk Room’s Pat Garofalo explains, “For each dollar spent on a capital gains tax cut, there is only a 37 cent boost to GDP, while for each dollar spent on a corporate tax cut, the return is an even more paltry 30 cents. Compared to the $1.64 return on a dollar invested in extending unemployment benefits or the $1.73 return from a temporary increase in food stamps, this is chump change.”

Finally, the bill and a detailed summary of its contents is available for anyone to read online. If Mika Brzezinski feels she’s being “tricked” about its contents, perhaps she just needs to pay closer attention.


Media Matters flags several other economic recovery falsehoods from Morning Joe.

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