On Sunday, Fox News pundit Brit Hume suggested that the economic recovery from the Great Recession had already begun by the time that President Obama was elected president, when in fact the country was in the deepest part of the recession just as Obama took the reins.
“There’s a lot of things wrong with the idea that Barack Obama dug us out,” Hume argued, saying that Obama should be held accountable for the sustained economic difficulties following the crash under former President George W. Bush:
The truth is, the worst of the recession was over by the time Barack Obama took office, the economy began to grow again in June of 2009 before the stimulus spending had really begun to take effect. So, these are arguments that are available to the Republicans. Oddly, though, we haven’t heard them made effectively.
In fact, the two worst months of job losses during the Great Recession were January of 2009, the month that Obama took office, and March of that year. Layoffs in the private sector peaked in February of 2009, but were back to pre-recession levels by the time the stimulus had been in place for a year.
And while it is true that the bleeding of jobs slowed slightly before the stimulus took hold, major improvements in the United States’ GDP didn’t come until one quarter after the stimulus had hit the economy. Overall, the stimulus created or saved 3.3 million jobs:
This morning on Fox News Sunday, conservative panelists did their best to smear and discredit the 99 Percent Movement. Pundit Bill Kristol called the protests “un-American” and “fundamentally undemocratic,” despite the fact that recent polls show that they are supported by a majority of Americans. Kristol even complained that the world “occupy” was itself Marxist.
Fox anchor Brit Hume called Democrats’ support of the movement “toxic” to centrist voters who decide elections:
HUME: To most middle-of-the-road voters, those who decide elections, Occupy Wall Street is toxic…She [Nancy Pelosi] said it’s focused, and I guess it’s brought some attention to the issue of income inequality, which will be a big Democratic talking point in this election cycle, but I think they need to get away from these Occupy Wall Street protesters as fast as they can.
Hume’s claim flies in the face of most polling about public support for the protests. For instance, according to the CBS/New York Times poll taken just one month after the start of the first encampment in New York, 43 percent of Americans said they agree with the movement. Another poll for the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found a similar level of support. Most importantly, in both polls, support for the movement was stronger among independent voters.
In short, the goals of Occupy Wall Street have already captured the support of the voters in the middle of the political spectrum, and its themes of income inequality, unemployment, and corporate corruption have already begun to change the discussion.
Hume: The Surge Made The Iraq War Worth It |
As the Iraq war comes to close, its boosters on the right are trying everything they can to convince anyone that will listen that it was somehow the right thing to do. But that might be tough because a recent poll found that 62 percent of Americans said the war wasn’t worth fighting in the first place. Even Bill O’Reilly falls in that camp. “Americans agree with me that it really wasn’t worth the blood and treasure,” he said last night. However, Fox News’s Brit Hume told O’Reilly that he shouldn’t focus on the disastrous strategic blunder that was the decision to invade Iraq. “But Bill,” Hume jumped in, “You’re skipping around the fact that the surge succeeded.” Watch the clip:
It seems that Hume is skipping the fact that if there was no war, there would be no surge. But thousands of lives and hundreds of billions dollars later, for folks like Hume, the surge made it all worth it.
After ThinkProgress Green publicized Mitt Romney’s latest flip into global warming denial, his comments were a hot topic of discussion over the weekend. “My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet,” Romney said on Thursday in Pittsburgh, just months after telling New Hampshire voters, “I believe that humans contribute to that.”
On Fox News Sunday, after host Chris Wallace played the clip of Romney’s remarks from ThinkProgress, conservative commentator Brit Hume slammed Romney for his flip-flopping behavior, saying the presidential candidate and former Massachusetts governor has “exhausted his quota” of changed positions:
I think that it’s his single biggest problem, really. Because of the flips and positions that he’s flipping from is positions from the left to where the core of the Republican party is, people don’t trust him as a conservative. People usually like it if you change positions and come towards your position. You are only allowed a certain number of flips before people doubt your character. Romney exhausted his quota sometime back. And these fresh ones I think are over the limit, and I think they hurt, and I don’t think the fact that he’s flipping in the direction that Republicans like will help very much, because I think they don’t trust him.
Hume did not comment on the fact that man-made global warming is real.
This week, after continually claiming that they wouldn’t hold disaster aid hostage for budget cuts, the House GOP did just that, voting down a continuing resolution that included the aid, and only approving it after $100 million more in cuts were added to the package.
House Republicans then turned around and blamed Senate Democrats for holding disaster aid hostage, with a spokesman for Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) saying “any political games from Senate Dems will only delay FEMA money that disaster victims desperately need.” Fox pundit Brit Hume picked up on this theme today on Fox News Sunday:
HUME: Let’s just take look at this latest skirmish. You need a continuing resolution to keep the government open and there’s a need for some relief funding because it’s almost been exhausted. So the Republicans pass a bill that has the disaster relief funding in it, to the tune of several billion dollars and they pay for it with cuts in green jobs funding. Well, green job funding ought to be by now a very low priority given the history of it and the fact that its utterly failed to produce meaningful jobs.
They sent it to the Senate. What does the Senate do? The Senate blocks it and then does, so far, nothing. Now, it may be that with the media coverage and the political statements that will be made about this, that if the government shuts down the Republicans will get the blame. But I ask you in this: who’s being responsible? And who’s playing politics?
The only problem with this storyline developed by the GOP and its friends at Fox News? On September 15, the Senate passed a bill containing $7 billion in disaster aid. The bipartisan 62-37 vote took place days before the House ever got around to advancing its own package.
The government’s funding runs out on Friday, so the prospect of another government shutdown is looming. But at the moment, the right seems more interested in trying to pretend that the Senate has not passed something that it most certainly has.
In his post-election press conference this afternoon, President Barack Obama strongly rejected the idea that Republicans received a mandate to enforce their policies, despite their electoral gains, saying that “no person, no party has a monopoly on wisdom. … No one party will be able to dictate where we go from here. We must find common ground in order to make progress on some uncommonly difficult challenges.”
The idea that Republicans did not receive a mandate isn’t just held by the president — it was a theme echoed throughout the night by Republican politicians and conservative pundits:
– Senator-elect Marco Rubio (R-FL): “We make a grave mistake if we believe that tonight these results are somehow an embrace of the Republican Party.”
– Fox News pundit Brit Hume: “The Republican Party is not the beneficiary of some mandate this time around.”
– Former chief economic policy adviser to John McCain’s presidential campaign Douglas Holtz-Eakin: “This isn’t a pro-Republican vote. This is a repudiation of what we’ve seen the past two years, it’s not an endorsement of Republican agendas.”
– RNC head Michael Steele: “There’s still the people who say, ‘well we’re not sure. We’re not sure about Republican leadership, we’re not sure about the direction.’”
– Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI): “This is not necessarily ‘we love Republicans.’ This is, ‘change course, the country’s on the wrong track.’”
Watch a compilation:
Unfortunately, some Republican leaders have signaled they are on an uncompromising mission to enforce what they believe to be their mandate. Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) said bluntly before the election that “there will be no compromise.” Presumptive Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) has said that “to the extent that [Obama] wants to work with us in terms of where we’re going, I would certainly welcome it.” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) believes “the word ‘compromise’ has been misunderstood” and that his job will be “getting America back to the center right where it exists.”
If one were to look to public opinion, it’s also clear that no mandate for Republican policy prescriptions exists, as today’s Progress Report notes. The vast majority of voters — 64 percent — continue to blame either Wall Street (35 percent) or George W. Bush (29 percent) for the troubled economy. Fully 78 percent of all voters support comprehensive immigration reform, with a path to legal status by far the most popular. And voters from Connecticut to California and Michigan to Florida are more likely to support candidates who support an energy bill that cuts climate change pollution, polling shows. Voters clearly voiced frustration with the government yesterday — but they did not endorse a Republican policy mandate.
Yesterday on Fox News Sunday’s online-only “Panel Plus” segment, Juan Williams noted that in the previous segment that aired on television, Brit Hume was giving “the Republican narrative” on the Recovery Act — that it was “a huge blunder and it has come back to bite the Democrats and is so unpopular with the voters.” When Williams noted that “you never hear” about the successes, like the fact that unemployment would currently be much higher without the stimulus, Hume chimed in with another misleading Republican narrative — that the stimulus did nothing to get the country out of recession:
HUME: For one thing we know that there recession ended now according to the National Bureau of Economic Research [NBER] in June of 2009. Almost none of the stimulus money had gone out the door so the recession ended more or less on its own than by virtue of the actions of the fed which are always more potent than anything Congress does.
The NBER did indeed announce its findings recently that the recession officially ended in June 2009, but Hume’s claim that “almost none of the stimulus money had gone out the door” by then is simply not true. According to the Council of Economic Advisers, in its second quarterly report on the stimulus, by the end of June 2009, the federal government spent $93 billion of Recovery Act monies on tax relief to individuals and small businesses, state relief and government contracts.
Moody’s chief economist Mark Zandi told the Los Angeles Times that it “was during that month [June 2009] that the spending from the Recovery Act stimulus was at its maximum.” Indeed, in a report out in July 2010, Zandi and former Fed Vice Chairman Alan Blinder found that “the stimulus has done what it was supposed to do: end the Great Recession and spur recovery”:
We do not believe it a coincidence that the turnaround from recession to recovery occurred last summer, just as the ARRA was providing its maximum economic benefit. [...] What matters for economic growth is the pace of stimulus spending, which surged from nothing at the start of 2009 to over $100 billion (over $400 billion at an annual rate) in the second quarter. That is a big change in a short period, and it is one major reason why the Great Recession ended and recovery began last summer.
And like Williams noted, the Congressional Budget Office found recently that the Recovery Act “increased the number of full-time-equivalent jobs by 2.0 million to 4.8 million compared with what would have occurred otherwise.”
This morning, Fox News anchor Brit Hume scoffed at the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, wondering, “Where is the oil?” Hume followed the lead of Rush Limbaugh and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R), who have been aggressively downplaying the disaster and bristling at comparisons to the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill. During the Fox News Sunday roundtable, Hume dismissed the expert analysis that many times more oil have spilled already than the Exxon Valdez disaster, a point raised by fellow panelist Juan Williams:
WILLIAMS: First of all, don’t you think, this spill now is going to be in excess of what happened with Exxon Valdez.
HUME: Let’s see if that happens. There’s a good question today if you are standing on the Gulf, and that is: Where is the oil?
WILLIAMS: “Where is the oil?”
HUME: It’s not on — except for little of chunks of it, you’re not even seeing it on the shore yet.
Independent experts, using both surface and subsea estimates, believe the vast sea of oil gushing from multiple leaks on the seabed surpassed the Exxon Valdez weeks ago. “Scientists are finding enormous oil plumes in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, including one as large as 10 miles long, 3 miles wide and 300 feet thick in spots.” “The millions of gallons of crude, and the introduction of chemicals to disperse it, have thrown this underwater ecosystem into chaos, and scientists have no answer to the question of how this unintended and uncontrolled experiment in marine biology and chemistry will ultimately play out. ”
WILLIAMS: But I think it will damage the environment in the gulf and damage tourism and damage fishing. I don’t think there’s any question this is in excess of anything we’ve previously asked the ocean to absorb.
HUME: We’ll see if it is. We’ll see if it is. The ocean absorbs a lot, Juan, an awful lot. The ocean absorbs a lot.
WILLIAMS: I think Rush Limbaugh went down this road, “The ocean can handle it.” I think we have to take some responsibility for the environment and be responsible to people who live in the area, vacation in that area, fish in that area. It’s just wrong to think, “You know what? Dump it on the ocean and let the ocean handle it.”
HUME: Who said that? Who is saying that? No one’s making that argument.
Nearly two weeks ago, Gulf Coast marine scientists told ThinkProgress they “shudder to think” of the devastation this underwater apocalypse could entail, because “oil is bad for everything” that lives in the ocean.
Today’s Sunday morning news shows were dedicated, in large part, to the unfolding oil spill disaster in the Gulf Coast, as efforts continue to contain the 210,000 gallons of oil a day that are still leaking. The leak has reignited debate over offshore oil drilling, with the Obama administration saying that “further commitments for offshore drilling must await an investigation of the causes of the rig explosion and leak.” Even conservative darling and drilling proponent Marco Rubio said that the spill should make us “rethink” our drilling technologies.
Today, on Fox News Sunday, Fox’s Brit Hume said that, while his pro-drilling stance has not been changed by the disaster, the spill validates the concern of environmentalists who warned that such a disaster was inevitable:
Think about what the environmentalists have always said about this. Is it’s not a matter of if there’ll be a disaster of this kind resulting in this kind of offshore drilling, it’s only a matter of when. This verifies that argument, and becomes a powerful factor in the debate over what to do next. I don’t see any way around the political reality that this will set back the cause of offshore drilling in the United States.
The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol, though, showed no hesitation about continuing offshore drilling efforts, saying “I’m a drill, baby, drill person.” He made the case that we should actually undertake more drilling closer to the shore, because it’s “less dangerous, less treacherous than trying to drill fifty miles out from the coast.”
Admiral Thad Allen, Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, who is now in charge of the federal response to the disaster, said yesterday that “it’s logical to assume” that the coasts of Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida will be hit by the oil spill. As The Wonk Room’s Brad Johnson pointed out, if estimates about the flow of oil are accurate, this spill will be “on the scale of the largest oil spills in history.”
Soon after reports emerged that golfer Tiger Woods had engaged in extramarital affairs, Fox News’ Brit Hume declared that the only way for Woods — a Buddhist — to achieve “forgiveness and redemption” would be to convert to Christianity. “Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world,” he said.
After he received considerable criticism for the insensitive remarks, Hume refused to apologize and said again that Woods should convert. But in his public apology last week, Woods indicated that he was rejecting Hume’s advice, citing his faith’s guiding principles. “Buddhism teaches that a craving for things outside ourselves causes an unhappy and pointless search for security,” Woods said, adding, “Obviously, I lost track of what I was taught.”
“I believe that was in direct response to you,” Bill O’Reilly told Hume on Fox News last night. Hume continued his televangelism, expressing a patronizing disdain for Woods’ faith:
HUME: I thought Tiger Woods showed himself in that presentation to be a shaken, chastened, and contrite man. And gone was the swagger. Gone was all of the radiant self-confidence that we used to see in him. This was a pretty shaken guy up there.
Now look, I think, because I’m a Christian and I believe that Christianity is true, that Tiger Woods and his wife Elin would be a lot farther down the road toward forgiveness and redemption if they were both Christians, but they’re not. And I – they’re going to do the best they can with what they have. And I wish Tiger Woods well.
The Dalai Lama commented on Woods’ scandal shortly after his apology. Professing that he has not heard of the golf star, the Buddhist high cleric said when it comes to adultery, “all religions have the same idea.” “Whether you call it Buddhism or another religion, self-discipline, that’s important,” he said. “Self-discipline with awareness of consequences.”