With the economy still lagging, Mitt Romney is only neck in neck (47-47) with incumbent Barack Obama according to a WaPo/ABC poll taken May 17. This fact stunned Fox and Friends, with a scornful, cold-hearted Gretchen Carlson declaring that the reason people support President Obama on the economy is because they are taking “handouts”.
What programs exactly is Gretchen taking aim at? Safety net spending actually decreased in 2010 and 2011 under President Obama, but those programs went to feed poor children, help abused and neglected children, and offer assistance to families struggling with high energy and food costs.
Watch here courtesy of Media Matters:
Carlson said, “Here is why that is not shocking. Because we are at a tipping point in our country right now, and this is what the election will be all about — whether or not people want to have a handout and we’re reaching almost 50% of the country that is in that position, or you don’t, and if you do, that’s why you think President Obama is doing a good job with the economy, because you are getting what you need.”
Unless Fox is taking aim at their viewers’ Social Security and Medicare, spending on social safety net “handouts” actually declined in 2010 and 2011. The Center on Policy and Budget explained,”About 13 percent of the federal budget in 2011, or $466 billion, went to support programs that provide aid (other than health insurance or Social Security benefits) to individuals and families facing hardship. Spending on safety programs declined in both nominal and real terms between 2010 and 2011 as the economy continued to improve and initiatives funded by the 2009 Recovery Act began to expire.”
These programs prevented millions of Americans from entering poverty by giving assistance via food stamps and help with home energy costs, helping abused children and paid for school meals. If feeding children or keeping them warm in winter is what Gretchen means by “getting what you need” then yes, actually, many Americans will proudly stand by those values even if they are not actually benefiting from them directly.
I will agree with Gretchen that it’s stunning that the two candidates are tied. After all, Romney’s plan for the economy is the same Bush plan that got us into this mess, a plan that real fiscal conservatives still have nightmares about and distance themselves from to this day.
But Romney doesn’t plan to stop at the Bush debacle of wars left off of the budget while borrowing money to hand out tax giveaways to the rich. Oh, no. Romney has embraced the Randian Republican Paul Ryan budget. Now, one might think this is a matter of ideology; government spending versus alleged fiscal conservatism – but if one thought that, one would be in denial. For the Rand budget leaves us more in debt, as does the similar Romney budget.
Why is that, you ask? Well, see, if the US Government were a business, like Republicans say it is, then they would understand that said business needs to make revenue. Our largest source of revenue comes from taxes. Or rather, it used to under the heady days of Ronald Reagan.
But after alleged fiscal conservatives got a hold of our tax code, we are struggling to generate revenue. Under the Ryan budget, our revenue would be a low 15% of our GDP. As it is right now, we do not generate enough revenue to pay off of our spending, and this is due to the extension of the Bush tax cuts as well as our corporate tax code that allows many corporations to pay no taxes at all, legally, due to loopholes.
While there isn’t a one size fits all solution, we can’t cure debt with more debt. We need growth.
It’s easy to see why even if one buys into the frame that government should run like a business (in spite of the fact that our government was set up as a non-profit entity to protect the common good), the current Republican model of “business” is unsustainable.
Mitt Romney’s ideas for business are to starve the wages of the average American, give huge tax breaks to the wealthy, and make promises about trickles downward. We have been waiting for those trickles for over 40 years and it hasn’t worked. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.
Fox and Friends are puppets for the corporations, disdainfully looking down upon the good people of this country for their circumstances, when their circumstances are the direct result of policies championed by Fox News.
We might wonder what the average poor Republican voter thinks as they listen to their aunts and uncles at Fox mock them, but have no fear. They are conditioned to think that while THEY deserve handouts, much like their corporate masters, other Americans, even children, do not. See, other Americans are lazy.
Yes, the people fired after Mitt Romney came to town and bankrupted the company where they were gainfully employed are lazy. It’s all their fault that no other manufacturing plant came to town, that mom and pop businesses shut down as a result of the Bain destruction, and that their pensions were stolen from them. Their fault.
Things like that never happen to hard-working Americans. In Fox world, bad things don’t happen to good people who work hard. Bad things only happen to those who deserve it. This is the equivalent of blaming someone for getting cancer after they work around asbestos for 40 years.
In the real world, we know all too well that bad things happen to good people all of the time. Good people lose their jobs, they get sick, their kids get a life-threatening illness, and brave veterans are homeless. These things do happen, and they aren’t explained by a simple blame the victim narrative. There isn’t an omnipotent God sitting up in Heaven only doling out rewards to the good. When hard-working families are hit by a bad economy, sometimes their kids go hungry and freeze. It bothers some Americans to think of families and children going hungry here in America, some of us even imagine “There but for the grace of God, go I.” So we put into place these emergency measures that Gretchen is so outraged by.
That is why a long time ago, when our country was founded, we made a government to look after the common good. We planned to use the common wealth for the common good — for things like education, infrastructure, taking care of our veterans, and scientific research. These services are valuable to the ongoing success of our country, and they are paid for via tax revenue.
Yes, it’s shocking that Mitt Romney is polling even with the President on the economy, given Romney’s Bushian economic plan coupled with the fact that his experience as a venture capitalist gives him zero understanding of how to negotiate with other countries regarding economic solutions that will benefit the US. Will he buy them up and bankrupt them? But sadly the even polls are explained quite well by Fox News’ distortion of reality and the subsequent trickle down of their propaganda. Their reasoning is “You want to fix this broken economy? Double down on what got us here!”
And of course, they never utter a word about the House Republicans jihad on economic recovery, or the manner in which Republicans cling to austerity measures for the people as they give huge handouts to the wealthy even though economists from both sides of the aisle know that is not the solution.
Perhaps it’s a combination of simple-mindedness, lack of imagination, and way too much fear, but conservatives appear cruel in their simplistic attempts to blame the victims of the conservative economy for their fate, especially when those victims are defenseless children.
Blaming children for taking handouts is exactly what Gretchen did, though she may not be aware of that fact, given that she issues proclamations about “handouts” and “entitlements” without appearing to know or understand exactly what those programs do in reality. Still, she’s accountable for her ignorance if she’s going to infest our national dialogue with it.
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.