Mar
04
2009

Fox Extends GOP's Fantasyland Railway

Noting that "Republicans and their adjunct outlets have been touting one specific lie above all others lately"–that of a fictitious "$8 billion earmark in the stimulus package to build a high-speed rail connector between Las Vegas and Disneyland"–Political Animal blogger Steve Benen reports (WashingtonMonthly.com, 3/3/09) that "yesterday, Fox News gave the story a twist, changing the details of the already-bogus claim to make a brand new lie": Check out this exchange between Fox News's Megyn Kelly and Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) on the omnibus spending bill pending in the Senate: Kelly: It's a super railroad, of sorts–a line that will […]

Mar
02
2009

More Critter Economics From Big Media

Having already caught "the infamous GOP talking point that the stimulus package contains gobs of cash for saving marsh mice" having "found its way into a New York Times story, without the paper mentioning that the claim is untrue," blogger Greg Sargent (Plum Line, 2/24/09) now finds that "earlier drafts of the story did describe the claim as 'misleading'–but Times editors removed that description from the copy": A reader tells me that he emailed the author of the story, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, to discuss the omission. Here is part of her reply to him in her email, which I obtained: […]

Feb
18
2009

Stimulus Law Requires Neutrality for (Some of) Net

Free Press has some good news (2/17/09) about the "$7.2 billion to expand broadband access" contained in President Obama's new American Reinvestment and Recovery Act: The law attaches open Internet conditions to broadband funds and directs the Federal Communications Commission to produce a national broadband plan. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration will distribute the majority of the funds, $4.35 billion, through a temporary grant program. NTIA broadband projects must be completed within two years of the award, provide the greatest broadband speed possible, and adhere to Internet nondiscrimination and openness principles established by the FCC. The law also funds […]

Feb
13
2009

The 60-Vote Myth

You see it all the time: You need 60 votes to pass a bill in the Senate. Not exactly. Under Senate rules–which can be changed by a majority vote–you need the consent of 3/5ths of the Senate to close debate on an issue; that's 60 votes. To pass a bill, you need a majority of those present. Since Ted Kennedy is sick and Al Franken has not yet been seated, that's 49 votes. Is that an academic distinction? No, not really. Politically, voting against an emergency stimulus bill is very different from voting to block a vote on an emergency […]

Feb
13
2009

WPost: Stimulus Is Pork

There's been a corporate media trope lately that the stimulus bill, despite Barack Obama's assurances, contains "pork." It's not always clear what "pork" means, but the Washington Post today (2/13/09) had an example of the genre–headlined "Despite Pledges, Stimulus Has Some Pork"–that opens with a definition of what it means by the term. Unfortunately, it's a definition that would seem to turn virtually any government spending into an instance of "pork." Reporters Dan Eggen and Ellen Nakashima lead off: The compromise stimulus bill adopted by House and Senate negotiators this week is not free of spending that benefits specific communities, […]

Feb
04
2009

Media: What's This Spending Doing in My Stimulus?

There's a trope that you often see in corporate media discussions of the stimulus plan: Yeah, but do you really want to spend money on that? It may have started with the misrepresented contraceptive plan–which seemed to be grounded in a traditional media fascination/embarrassment at anything involving sex–but now it's moved on to anything that…well, it's hard to say exactly what's objectionable about some of the programs media are objecting to. Take this confused passage from an L.A. Times editorial (2/2/09): But too many of the items have little apparent connection with economic growth–witness the nearly $5 billion for prevention, […]

Jan
28
2009

Limbaugh: The 'Kineesians' Are Coming!

Attacking the White House's proposed economic stimulus plan (1/26/09), Rush Limbaugh explained that the issue pits his favored "supply-siders," who see the holy grail in tax cuts, against what he repeatedly referred to as, at least what sounded like "kineesian economists," who he described as partial to "government spending on shovel-ready projects of all kinds." ("Kineesian"–rhymes with "artesian"–is my phonetic version of what Limbaugh said, but listen for yourself.) As you might have guessed, what Limbaugh meant to say was "Keynesian" (this is confirmed by the corrected transcript at his site), a well-worn adjective derived from the name of John […]

Jan
26
2009

Krugman Debunks Bogus Stimulus Critics

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman helpfully debunks (1/26/09) some of the more tendentious and misleading criticisms of the White House's economic stimulus package. Here's one such trope: First, thereâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s the bogus talking point that the Obama plan will cost $275,000 per job created. Why is it bogus? Because it involves taking the cost of a plan that will extend over several years, creating millions of jobs each year, and dividing it by the jobs created in just one of those years. Itâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s as if an opponent of the school lunch program were to take an estimate of the cost […]