Give conservatives credit: They have a loud echo chamber. It usually begins with a lie or, at best, a clever distortion, and the rest of the right-wing crowd are immediately off to the races. The most recent example is the assertion that President Obama made the economy worse.
That point was advanced in a Wall Street Journal column by Peggy Noonan, a former speechwriter for Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and, briefly, George W. Bush. She is the author of 10 books, including When Character was King: A Story of Ronald Reagan and The Case Against Hillary Clinton.
In her attempt to make a case against Obama, Noonan wrote in the June 3 Wall Street Journal:
"Two years ago I wrote of Clare Booth Luce's observation that all presidents have a sentence: 'He fought to hold the union together and end slavery.' 'He brought America through economic collapse and a world war.' You didn't have to be told it was Lincoln or FDR. I said that Mr. Obama didn't understand his sentence. But Republicans think they know it. "Four words: He made it worse. "Obama inherited collapse, deficits and debt. He inherited a broken political culture. These things weren't his fault. But through his decisions, he made them all worse."
Fox, the network that likes to blame all bad things on Obama all the time, was quick to amplify what is certain to be a GOP campaign theme in 2012.
Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer said during a June 7 Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier, "…And I think you can argue strongly that the Obama administration made it worse. In the midterm election last year, the idea that Republicans ran on was that he's a left liberal. What they're going to run on in 2012 is he's at failure. He tried all of this stuff. He promised us we'd get improvement, and it hasn't worked. It was a huge Keynesian experiment, and it hasn't panned out."
Bill O'Reilly, host of The O'Reilly Factor on Fox, argued Peggy Noonan's point against resident liberal Alan Colmes [June 7].
O"REILLY: … For you to sit there and say the Obama administration has not made it worse --
COLMES: They made it better.
O'REILLY: -- is for you to just ignore the statistics.
Clearly, Bill O'Reilly is the one ignoring the statistics.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), in a report issued last month on the effectiveness of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, noted that President Obama's economic stimulus plan had helped local and state governments by raising federal matching funds under Medicaid and increased funding for transportation projects.
The stimulus program also provided tax relief for individuals and businesses, increased business write-offs and helped people in need by extending and expanding unemployment benefits as well as increasing benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as the Food Stamps program.
According to the CBO, the stimulus program had the following effects in the first quarter of 2011:
· Raised real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) between 1.1 percent and 3.1 percent
· Lowered the unemployment rate between 0.6 percentage points and 1.8 percentage points
· Increased the number of people employed between 1.2 million and 3.4 million
· Increased the number of full-time equivalent jobs by 1.6 million to 4.6 million compared with what would have happened otherwise
The Center on Policy and Budget Priorities, an independent think tank in Washington, D.C., noted that economic activity as measured by inflation-adjusted gross domestic product (GDP) was contracting when the financial stabilization bill known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act were enacted. Since then, however, the economy has grown for seven straight quarters.
Media Matters, the watchdog group, observed: "Economists also agreed that the stimulus was effective. A March 2010 study in the Wall Street Journal found that 70 percent of economists surveyed said the stimulus 'boosted growth and mitigated job losses.' ABC News reported on February 18, 2010, that most of the economists on its panel thought the economy 'would be worse today without the big aid package.' And a February 2010 survey of 203 members of the National Association for Business Economics (NABE) found that 'eighty-three percent believe that GDP is currently higher than it would have been without the 2009 stimulus package."
Those are the statistics that Bill O'Reilly chooses to ignore.
None of this campaign to blame Obama for everything wrong in America should be surprising. It is part of a pattern by conservatives: Make up an outrageous lie – such as the President was not born in the United States and is therefore unqualified to hold office – keep repeating that lie over and over until a large segment of ill-informed people believe it and even when the lie is proven to be a lie, continue claiming it is the truth while you make up yet another lie.
Perhaps we should send O'Reilly and the folks at Fox News the lyrics to Sunshine Anderson's 'Heard it all Before:' "Heard it all before. All of ya lies…But your lies ain't working now."
George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine and the NNPA News Service, is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach.