Following President Obama’s speech on the economy on Thursday, the PBS NewsHour offered a 48-second news brief on the subject, in which co-anchor Gwen Ifill offered no opposing viewpoint to the President’s claim in his speech that “by every measure, the country is better off than when he took office.”
The show then played a soundbite of the President, in which he lamented that “millions of Americans don't yet feel enough of the benefits of a growing economy where it matters most, and that’s in their own lives and these truths aren't incompatible. Our broader economy, in the aggregate, has come a long way, but the gains of recovery are not yet broadly shared.” [MP3 audio here; Video below]
Ifill then concluded by continuing to pass along the liberal talking points: "In fact, the President said, income inequality is the worst it's been in decades and he said, 'I find that hard to swallow.'"
In contrast to that, Lou Dobbs aired some of what the President said as well during his Fox Business Network (FBN) program on Thursday night, but he also provided plenty of facts that take the President’s claims that the economy is better thanks to him to task.
First, Dobbs pointed to the country’s national debt, which stood at $10.6 trillion when Obama took office, now stands at $17.8 trillion and “is crushing in size and its impact on our government and taxpayers alike.”
Next, despite the President’s proclamation that the economy is growing and thriving, Dobbs mentioned that the same can’t be said about incomes, as median incomes have fallen from $57,000 since the President was inaugurated in 2009 to $54,000 now. As an addendum to that, an article on the website FiveThirtyEight reported that median incomes have fallen 8 percent since 2007.
The FBN host then went on fire off three more troubling statistical comparisons between when Obama became President and now:
The labor participation rate back then was nearly 66 percent. It’s now 63 percent. The home ownership rate back then: 67 and a half percent. Today under 65 percent. The number of Americans on food stamps, then: 32 million. Now: 46 million and the President wants to talk economy? Because he doesn't have a clear strategy to destroy the Islamic State and thinned off the pesky Republicans at the polls?
Dobbs suggested, instead, the President focus on “securing our borders or protecting Americans from Ebola” and called on voters to consider these numbers when voting in the midterm elections next month since “[t]he President often reminds us elections have consequences.”
A column from Joseph Curl in The Washington Times on Wednesday elaborated on these grim numbers:
Slashing the workforce participation rate means dropping millions of unemployed people from the pool of workers. Once eliminated, the unemployment rate calculated by the federal government is lowered (we call it “cooking the books”). Nice work if you can get it.
With millions unemployed, millions more “underemployed” (Gallup puts that number at 15.3 percent), millions forced to work just part time so employers can avoid the burdensome “Affordable” Care Act, and millions of 18- to 30-year-olds moving back in with their parents, the president still insists the economy is going great guns.
On Thursday’s Special Report with Bret Baier on the Fox News Channel (FNC), both anchor Bret Baier and senior White House correspondent Ed Henry pointed to two questions in the most recent Fox News poll that point to a lack of support on the President’s side. On the question of the state of the economy, Baier told viewers that “43 percent saying things are getting better and 43 percent saying they are getting worse.”
Later, Henry mentioned during his report how those polled thought there are doing now compared to 2008 and whether they wish ObamaCare had been passed or not:
[O]n the economy, the President is not getting a ringing endorsement either in the latest Fox poll. Asked if they are better off today than in 2008, 24 percent say better. 28 percent say worse. 47 percent say the same. As for the President's signature healthcare law: 54 percent say they wish it never passed. 37 percent are glad it passed.
The complete transcript from the news brief that aired on the PBS NewsHour on October 2 is transcribed below.
October 2, 2014
7:10 p.m. Eastern
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: Economy]
GWEN IFILL: Back in this country, President Obama returned his focus to the economy, with the mid-term elections a month away. He spoke at Northwestern University and said that, by every economic measure, the country is better off than when he took office, but, he acknowledged, that's not enough.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: It is also indisputable that millions of Americans don't yet feel enough of the benefits of a growing economy where it matters most, and that’s in their own lives and these truths aren't incompatible. Our broader economy, in the aggregate, has come a long way, but the gains of recovery are not yet broadly shared.
IFILL: In fact, the President said, income inequality is the worst it's been in decades and he said, “I find that hard to swallow.”
The relevant portions of the transcript from October 2's Special Report with Bret Baier on FNC can be found below.
Special Report with Bret Baier
October 2, 2014
6:04 p.m. Eastern
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: Changing the Subject]
BRET BAIER: Now to the President's effort to try to turn the page. Guarded by a Secret Service under new emergency management, burdened by ongoing upheaval in Asia and the Middle East and, of course, the developing Ebola spread, President Obama is trying to get back to the issue he wants to talk about: The economy, but there is a direct split in the country on that topic with 43 percent saying things are getting better and 43 percent saying they are getting worse. That could be good news for congressional Republicans with about a month to go before election day. Likely voters favor the Republican candidate 47 to 40 in our latest poll. We’ll talk about the Senate a bit later. The President made his economic pitch today in his adopted home state. Chief White House correspondent Ed Henry reports tonight on whether it's working.
ED HENRY: For President Obama, yet another pivot back to the economy, except this time with a twist. The president tried to leverage the crises piling up on his watch from ISIS to Ebola to say that, when alarm bells go off, it's the strength of the economy that allows America to play a leadership role.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This is who the world calls. America. They don't call it Moscow. They don't call it Beijing. They call us.
6:07 p.m. Eastern
HENRY: And on the economy, the President is not getting a ringing endorsement either in the latest Fox poll. Asked if they are better off today than in 2008, 24 percent say better. 28 percent say worse. 47 percent say the same. As for the President's signature healthcare law: 54 percent say they wish it never passed. 37 percent are glad it passed, though, today, at Northwestern, the President took a shot at Fox News as he noted the law is here to stay.
OBAMA: While good, affordable healthcare might seen like a fanged threat to the freedom of the American people on Fox News, it turns out it's working pretty well in the real world.
HENRY: Now, the President also noted that, while he will not be on the ballot, his policies will be, a realization his legacy is on the line in November, but Republicans say he just nationalized the elections and now there will be a referendum on him.
The full transcript of the commentary from Lou Dobbs on FBN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight on October 2 is transcribed below.
Lou Dobbs Tonight
October 2, 2014
7:27 p.m. Eastern
LOU DOBBS: First, a few comments on what I said yesterday would not be an October surprise, but rather an October of more presidential denials, deflections, and diversions. An easy forecast because that's how the Obama administration has conducted itself over the past five and a half years. Remember, back in March, when Russia annexed all of Crimea and President Obama immediately responded with a pivot to shift the world's focus.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Russia's actions are a problem, they don't pose the number one national security threat to the United States. I continue to be much more concerned when it comes to our security with the prospect of a nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan.
DOBBS: Of course, if that's the number one problem, why isn't he concerned enough to tighten security in the airports or along our borders? Mr. Obama, as usual, does what he does. He just moves on, counting on the public and the press to lose interest or lose their notes. They nearly always do. Just as most will forget that he told us only two weeks ago, there was low probability of Ebola outbreak here. You might think the President would today be reassuring the American people that his administration is successfully handling, resolving, dealing with the threat from the Islamic State and the arrival of Ebola in America, but no. Our President went to Northwestern University to insist to the American people that he deserves credit for what he sees to be a much improved economy.
OBAMA: So it is indisputable that our economy is stronger today than when I took office. By every economic measure, we are better off now than we were when I took office.
DOBBS: Indisputable by every measure? Well, there he goes again. The President has misspoken, and he's just plain wrong. A new Fox News poll, by the way, out today, reveals the mood of the country on the issue of are you better off? It finds just 24 percent of voters saying we are, in fact, better off. 28 percent say worse. 47 percent say just about the same as 2008. Indisputable, Mr. President? No, here we go, here we go. The national debt, when Mr. Obama came into office: $10.6 trillion. Today: $17.8 trillion. The debt is crushing in size and its impact on our government and taxpayers alike. Median household income, back then, was nearly $57,000. Now it's down to $54,000. Indisputable, Mr. President? The labor participation rate back then was nearly 66 percent. It’s now 63 percent. The home ownership rate back then: 67 and a half percent. Today under 65 percent. The number of Americans on food stamps, then: 32 million. Now: 46 million and the President wants to talk economy? Because he doesn't have a clear strategy to destroy the Islamic State and thinned off the pesky Republicans at the polls? How about securing our borders or protecting Americans from Ebola? We're in the midst of a global health emergency and the federal government still hasn't revoked the visas of some 13,000 people from west Africa who have visas to visit the United States. He has not established screening programs at our ports of entry. The President often reminds us elections have consequences. I hope voters do remember that next month when we all go to the polls.