Tom Blumer has written for several national online publications  primarily on business, economics, politics and media bias. He has had his own blog, BizzyBlog.com, since 2005, and has been with NewsBusters since December 2005. Along the way, he's had a decades-long career in accounting, finance, training and development.

Latest from Tom Blumer
December 21, 2013, 9:32 PM EST

In January 2010, Robert Rector at the Heritage Foundation studied the draft language in what ultimately turned into the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or what came to be known as Obamacare. His two most important findings: 1) Obamacare would encourage divorce while discouraging marriage; 2) Individuals and couples earning what most would consider to be nice but certainly not opulent incomes — especially those aged 50 and above — would pay disproportionately high premiums, while those making just a few thousand dollars less per year would, after subsidies, pay far less. Yours truly has made these points subsequently on several occassions (examples here, here, and here).

Well glory be, almost four years later, acting as if they're breaking some kind of new ground, Katie Thomas, Reed Abelson and Jo Craven McGinty at the New York Times have discovered that "the cost of premiums for people who just miss qualifying for subsidies varies widely across the country and rises rapidly for people in their 50s and 60s." Imagine that. Even then, the Times trio pegged the suffering Obamacare is inflicting to gross income and not net — and the difference is stark. Excerpts, beginning with a weak headline, follow the jump (bolds are mine):

December 21, 2013, 10:24 AM EST

Friday morning, CBS News's Sharyl Attkisson reported that Teresa Fryer, the chief information security officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), "told Congress there have been two, serious high-risk findings since the website’s launch." Further, Fryer "told congressional interviewers that she explicitly recommended denial of the website’s Authority to Operate (ATO)" in late September, "but was overruled by her superiors." Fryer's statements make sworn assertions by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that "no senior official reporting to me ever advised me that we should delay" at best difficult to believe.

While the press properly devotes attention to serious security breaches at leading retailer Target, the arguably more serious problems at HealthCare.gov continue to get scant attention. Searches on Fryer's name (not in quotes) at the Associated Press, the New York Times, and Politico all return nothing relevant. Excerpts from Attkisson's startling, read-the-whole-thing report follow the jump (bolds are mine):

December 19, 2013, 11:25 PM EST

As would be expected, Associated Press reporter Martin Crutsinger Wednesday treated Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's announcement that the nation's central bank will reduce the amount of money it creates out of thin air from $1.02 trillion per year to $900 billion, i.e., from $85 a month to $75 billion, as "its strongest signal of confidence in the U.S. economy since the Great Recession." As will be shown, it's a sign of continued serious weakness.

The pretense inherent in all of this is comparable to teaching a child how to ride a bike, raising the training wheels by one-eighth of an inch, and pronouncing him or her ready to roll. What should be troubling is that the tiny reduction means that the Fed will be financing a much higher percentage of next year's projected deficit and increase in the national debt than it has in previous years. That would seem to indicate that the nation is running out of other buyers who might be interested in purchasing Treasury securities, and that Bernanke's own words in July, namely that "the economy would tank" if he wasn't so obviously and artificially propping it up, are truer than ever.

December 19, 2013, 8:32 PM EST

Poor guy.

Barack Obama gets to jet around on Air Force One, golfs every once in a while (/sarc), and has all the trappings and perks of the highest office in the land. But according to a headline in Monday's Washington Post, he is the one person in the whole USA above everyone else — not those who have lost health insurance plans with which they were happy, not those who are paying outrageious amounts for far skimpier coverage than they formerly had, not the millions of potential workers so discouraged that they are no longer looking for work or considered to be workers, not the increasing ranks of the homeless — who has taken it on the chin this year (bolds are mine throughout this post):

December 19, 2013, 12:31 PM EST

Bringing on yet another appearance of the dreaded "U-word" — "unexpectedly" (via Bloomberg) — the Labor Department reported today that initial claims for unemployment benefits rose to a seasonally adjusted 379,000. That's a nine-month high, and an increase from last week's also unexpected 369,000. This week's and last week's results were far above the 332,000 and 320,000, respectively, analysts had predicted.

The Department of Labor's excuse for the past two dismal weeks has been "holiday volatility." Though they mostly had a point last week, this week they don't. Last week was the week after Thanksgiving, while that holiday took place six days earlier in 2012. But the week ended December 14, 2013 and the comparable week from last year (12/15/12) are both sufficiently removed from Thanksgiving's influence on the numbers that the holiday has no meaningful impact. The business press is pretending that DOL is right.

December 19, 2013, 8:24 AM EST

So here's the "logic" Michelle Price at the Associated Press relayed from Democratic circles in Utah in her Tuesday report on eight-term Democratic Congressman Jim Matheson's decision to leave Congress: He would have had a tough time defeating Mia Love in next year's congressional race rematch, but he's now in a better position to take on an incumbent Republican in a 2016 statewide race — either U.S. Senator Mike Lee or Governor Gary Herbert.

Price either chose not to find or couldn't find a Republican to comment on Matheson's statewide prospects, nor could she locate anyone close to Matheson to comment on whether or not the congressman even has any statewide ambitions. Thus, she spent several paragraphs on mere speculation. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine):

December 18, 2013, 10:04 PM EST

Earlier today, Matt Hadro at NewsBusters refuted a ridiculous assertion Tuesday evening by CNN's Don Lemon who, in reaction to guest Larry Klayman's criticism, insisted that he is not "a big supporter of Obama" or an "ultra leftist." Horse manure, Don.

Lemon and CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin also acted like immature children in Klayman's presence. They were clearly mortified that — ugh — Larry Klayman had to be the guy who brought suit against the National Security Administration arguing against the constitutionality of its metadata collection efforts. Apparently even worse for Lemon and Toobin, Klayman won a tentative legal victory when a judge ruled that NSA's "bulk collection of millions of Americans' telephone records is likely unconstitutional." Tal Kopan recounted Klayman's CNN appearance early this morning at the Politico:

December 17, 2013, 1:14 PM EST

Earlier this morning (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), in a post primarily about the Associated Press's whitewashing of President Barack Obama's quote of the year acknowledging that his multi-year guarantee — "If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health clinic care plan, period" — was, ahem, "not ... accurate" (Obama's words), I noted that the related web page for NBC's "Today" show followed the AP's lead by claiming that Obama's original promise and not the admission was the quote of the year.

The video clip present at that same web page is both funny and sad. It's funny, because Tamron Hall began her report by ignorantly asserting that Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is "everyone's favorite mayor from the Northeast." It's sad, because like the AP, NBC's video truncated Obama's actual November 14 admission and let it slide without further comment, effectively giving what Ford said about his drinking and use of drugs more weight than Obama's admission that he lied to the American people for years. The clip follows the jump:

December 17, 2013, 9:18 AM EST

In what appears to be a deliberate watering down of the significance of the statement a Yale University librarian has identified as the year's top quote in his eighth annual list, the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, used the following headline in its Sunday morning "Big Story" coverage: "OBAMA'S HEALTH CARE PROMISE IS 2013 TOP QUOTE."

Uh, no. The statement tagged as 2013's top quote is Obama's admission that the guarantee he made dozens of times over a several-year period — "If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan, period" — was, ahem, "not ... accurate" (Obama's words). The wire service also truncated what Obama actually said in his November 14 admission, yet didn't employ an ellipsis in doing so.

 

December 16, 2013, 1:26 PM EST

An Associated Press-GfK poll has found that 11 percent of an admittedly small sample of Americans insured through their employer or a family member's employer are losing their coverage in 2014. The related AP report relays that point and even has a graphic supporting it.

But reporters Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Jennifer Agiesta failed to make the drop-dead obvious connection. According President Barack Obama and his White House spinmeisters, nothing is changing as a result of Obamacare if you're employed, and Obama's false guarantee that "if you like your plan, you can keep your plan" only applies to those in the private individual insurance market. Tell that to the 11 percent.

December 16, 2013, 9:15 AM EST

Earlier this morning, Joe Newby at NewsBusters posted on the Denver Post's scrubbing of the word "socialist" from a fellow student's description of Karl Pierson, who police say shot two other students and then took his own life at Arapahoe High School on Friday. The Post story originally said that classmate Thomas Conrad described him as "a very opinionated Socialist." Sometime later, the Post watered the description down to "very opinionated" without telling readers what it had done.

Wait until you see the lame, condescending attempt at a defense offered by Post Senior Editor for News Lee Ann Colacioppo in a tweeted response to a reader's challenge on Saturday afternoon:

December 14, 2013, 9:27 AM EST

The nation's press has long since stopped paying any attention to what has actually happened in the wake of the outrageous Kelo vs. New London Supreme Court ruling in June 2005.

The court's majority wrote that "The city has carefully formulated a development plan that it believes will provide appreciable benefits to the community, including, but not limited to, new jobs and increased tax revenue." The quite newsworthy but virtually ignored fact flying in the face of the Supremes' certitude is that nothing has happened in the affected area for 8-1/2 years. The latest idea for removing the "stain" of Kelo proposed by New London, Connecticut Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio is to place a "green" parking garage and "micro lots" (with micro homes) in the affected Fort Trumbull neighborhood where perfectly acceptable century-old housing used to stand. Excerpts from a New London Day editorial reporting on that paper's meeting with the mayor follow the jump.

December 13, 2013, 11:57 PM EST

In mid-November, Americans for Tax Reform compiled a list of federal spending on state Obamacare exchanges totaling a breathtaking $4.5 billion.

One number on the list stands out from the rest — and it's not California's, though its $910 million amout is awful, disproportionate, and surely highly wasteful (before considering scalability concerns, the fixed costs of building a web site should be close to the same regardless of a state's population). The big eye-catcher is tiny Vermont's staggering $208 million. The nation's second-least populous state (626,000 as of 2012) has 0.2 percent of the U.S. population, but has received 4.6 percent of grants from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Though the Green Mountain State's enrollment numbers have been among the country's least embarrassing on percentage of the population, its exchange's rollout has in many ways been as bad, if not worse, than HealthCare.gov's, according to a December 10 Vermont Public Radio report which has garnered very little attention (HT Megan McArdle at Bloomberg News; bolds are mine):

December 13, 2013, 9:44 PM EST

Searches on "Connecticut" at the Associated Press's national site and at the Politico indicate that there's plenty of news about the Nutmeg State which the two web sites believe merit national attention.

But somehow, the fact that the state's Obamacare exchange, Access Health CT, "had incorrect information online about deductibles and co-insurance impacting all 19 individual health plans from the three insurance companies that offer those plans" doesn't merit attention. Further indicating the development's national significance, as David Steinberg at PJ Media has noted, President Barack Obama himself cited Access Health CT as a success story in supposedly getting one-third of its enrollees from people who are 35 and younger (also not true) back on October 21. More verbiage from the story, as reported in the Hartford Courant by Fox Connecticut's Louisa Moller, follows the jump:

December 13, 2013, 9:44 AM EST

Earlier this week, NBC Sports announced that "Moscow-based TV journalist Vladimir Posner (also frequently spelled "Pozner") will be a correspondent for NBC Olympics’ late-night show with Bob Costas during the Sochi Games."

To call Posner's background "problematic" is like saying that Bob Filner, former Democratic Mayor of San Diego, has a bit of a problem with how he treats members of the opposite sex. Posner is an old hand at defending and dissembling the worst excesses of the Soviet Union, including but not limited to the following exchange from 1980 cited by Lisa de Moraes at Deadline.com on Wednesday (bolds are mine throughout this post):

December 12, 2013, 9:38 AM EST

The due diligence at the intractably liberal Huffington Post is apparently far, far less than perfect.

The following correction currently appears at a HuffPo puff piece (HT Twitchy) by Hillary Miller about actor Bill Murray and actress Emma Stone paying a surprise visit to U.S. troops in Hawaii: "CORRECTION: A previous version of this article referred incorrectly to Hawaii as an independent country." The original text, as carried at another web site, follows the jump:

December 11, 2013, 7:24 PM EST

Well, it's not perfect, but it's a start — and it's certainly a far cry from what President Obama is now willing to admit.

In his report Tuesday on the congressional hearing for John Koskinen, Obama's nominee to be the next IRS Commissioner, Stephen Ohlemacher of the Associated Press wrote that Koskinen "told senators Tuesday he will work to restore public trust in the agency in the wake of the tea party scandal even as the IRS takes on new responsibilities administering the president's health care law." That's a remarkable admission, given that the word "scandal" does not appear in Koskinen's prepared remarks, and of course given that Obama's current opinion of what is better described as the "IRS conservative targeting scandal" is that it isn't one ("they’ve got a list, and suddenly everybody’s outraged"). As nice as it is that he used the "S-word," Ohlemacher's dispatch still contained serious oversights, including his failure to cite the change in Obama's public stance since May and his contention that no one outside the IRS knew of its targeting efforts until then.

December 10, 2013, 2:14 PM EST

Monday evening at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, Hope Yen, with the help of lead AP pollster Jennifer Agiesta and three other reporters, tagged 20 percent of Americans as "rich."

To do so, she reinvented what it is to be "rich" or "affluent." It apparently has nothing to do with how it is normally defined, i.e., based on current net worth (assets owned minus debts owed). Ms. Yen's and AP's yearning is apparently to base it on whether you're in a household which has had annual earnings above $250,000 — ever. Really. The purpose of the piece appears to be to go after this segment of the population, such as it is, because they aren't knee-jerk supporters of limitless government spending, and won't spend money on consumption to improve the economy like Keynesians think they're supposed to. Be on the lookout for a clearly misused word (HT to emailer Alfred Lemire; bolds are mine throughout this post):

December 10, 2013, 9:03 AM EST

This month, the Boston Globe and the New York Times have published items on the growth of homelessness in the state of Massachusetts and New York City, respectively. Based on the content of each, it's clear that the topic was ripe for coverage in 2012, but received little if any. I wonder why? (/sarcasm)

The Globe's regular-length news story by Megan Woolhouse and David Abel cited the state's "record numbers of homeless families" as "another example of an uneven recovery" from a recession which officially ended almost 4-1/2 years ago. The Times published the first of what will ultimately five parts on the plight of one homeless family, with special emphasis on Dasani, their 11 year-old daughter. The Globe cites "federal budget cuts" and "a legacy of the Great Recession" as negative factors. The Times's Andrea Elliott needlessly marred her otherwise compelling profile by hyping newly elected Mayor Bill de Blasio while taking swipes at "the wealthy" and "Reagan-era cutbacks," as excerpts after the jump will demonstrate (bolds and italicized comments are mine):

December 9, 2013, 9:01 PM EST

As a reminder, the Washington Post's Ezra Klein was the founder of the secretive JournoList group late last decade. Their objective was to put left-wing writers, perhaps with input from the Democratic Party itself and certain of its candidates for national office, on the same page in their coverage of the news.

That's useful to know, as on Saturday Klein published a column which might as well have been called "Obama administration talking points meant to convince readers that the President's 'If you like your health insurance plan, you can keep your health insurance plan, PERIOD' promise really wasn't that important" (Alternative title: "As the Goalposts Move"). Almost four weeks after Barack Obama owned up to the fact that his guarantee wasn't true for millions of private individual health insurance policyholders (he has yet to acknowledge the current impact on certain small employer group plans or the impending impact on large employer-sponsored plans), and given the fact that his broken guarantee is already an established fact in the historical record — no less than the Associated Press acknowledged this on September 30 — Klein's topic choice is odd indeed. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine throughout this post; numbered tags are mine):