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.