Welfare Disaster Averted; Crediting Bush's Tax Hike; Elvis
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- NBC decided
that on welfare reform "not all of the predictions of
disaster have come true." And who made those predictions:
Fineman and the New York Times credit Bush's tax hike for leading
to a balanced budget. But the record shows otherwise.
- Would Elvis
be alive today if President Carter had said the right things to
him? Tuesday's Today actually considered the possibility.
1) Now that Bill Clinton has
decided that welfare reform works, so too have the media. On Tuesday
President Clinton flew to St. Louis for a photo-op showcasing a job
training program which prepares welfare recipients for jobs.
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian
Williams reported Tuesday: "He proudly pointed out that a year
after he signed welfare reform into law the rolls are down, way down
nationwide. And as NBC's Gwen Ifill reports, not all of the
predictions of disaster have come true."
Ifill began her August 12
story: "The homeless shelters were supposed to be overwhelmed.
The soup kitchens overflowing. But that nightmare hasn't materialized,
After a soundbite from an
aide worker who said she expected an onslaught of requests for help,
Ifill highlighted two women who moved from welfare to work, a symbol
of how welfare cases are down three million in three years. But Ifill
had to end on a down note, as she turned to Wendell Primus, a Clinton
official who quit in protest over Clinton signing the welfare bill. He
"What we don't know yet
is when they hit time limits in an inner city area like Detroit or New
York City or here in Washington, DC. When we have large numbers of
mothers with small children hitting the time limit what will
Ifill agreed, concluding her
piece: "Because, for all the good news about welfare reform,
everyone knows that somewhere someone is falling through the
So who made all those
"predictions of disaster" that Williams found had "not
all" come true? How about NBC News. Two examples:
-- When Clinton agreed to
sign the welfare bill, Tom Brokaw declared on the August 1, 1996 NBC
"So, who will be
effected by all of this? There were more than 13 million, six hundred
thousand people receiving assistance from the government's main
welfare program last year. That included five million families,
two-thirds of those families, of course, made up of children. When
federal assistance for these people runs out under the new rules,
states are going to have to pick up the tab. And there's another kind
of immediate impact in states like California that could be
Reporter Mike Boettcher
began: "Welfare reform could leave Los Angeles County as
penniless as the poor who line up each day for public assistance.
County officials were out early today warning that Los Angeles County
itself could become a welfare case" because "California law
requires its counties to pay for welfare programs not covered by the
state and federal governments."
-- Fast forward to this year.
On the April 10 NBC Nightly News, Brokaw ominously warned:
"In Southern California,
the welfare reform requirements could have a disastrous effect. That's
the conclusion of a university study out today. Too much expected too
soon of too many."
NBC's George Lewis relayed
the liberal line: "Today's USC study predicts that welfare reform
will push thousands of people deeper into a life of poverty and
overwhelming personal problems."
Lewis predicted that
homelessness would soar, just the kind of baseless charge that NBC
dismissed Tuesday night: "And homelessless could rise by as many
as 190,000 people." Lewis concluded: "Most everyone thought
that overhauling the welfare system would be a good idea. Now, there
are new concerns being raised about the human consequences of doing
2) Tax cuts are irresponsible
and tax hikes are always wise, or so goes the media line. The passage
of the budget bill has led some in the media to decide that George
Bush did at least one thing right: he raised taxes. By repudiating
supply-side economics he helped lead to a balanced budget:
-- The "Hall of
Fame" pick on CNN's Capital Gang on August 10, from Newsweek
Washington reporter Howard Fineman:
"You remember the guy:
hated broccoli and pronouns, played golf really fast. Well, let's
raise a glass tonight to George Herbert Walker Bush, not you, Jim
Glassman. A few years ago he agreed to cut spending and raise taxes;
in other words, he moved his lips and lost the presidency. Seven years
later we have a humming economy and a balanced budget in sight. In
1990, Bush's deal looked plain stupid. Now it looks selfless, prudent,
and almost wise."
-- The opening paragraph from
an August 8 New York Times story by reporter David Rosenbaum:
"While President Clinton
and Speaker Newt Gingrich are grandly congratulating themselves and
each other over the balanced budget deal they wrought, George Bush,
the man who risked the most and paid the biggest price for cutting the
deficit, is off in Maine, feeling unappreciated."
-- As recounted in the August
7 CyberAlert, on the August 1 Inside Politics Bill Schneider tagged
Bush as one of the "unsung heroes" of the budget deal.
"When he was faced with a deficit crisis, President Bush
delivered." (A fuller quote appears in the latest NQ which is
item #4 in this CyberAlert.)
Reality Check: After
citing the Rosenbaum and Schneider polemics, Boston Globe columnist
Jeff Jacoby pounced on the claims. In his August 12 column Jacoby
outlined what Bush's deal really set in motion:
"Not to put too fine a
point on it, this is revisionist nonsense. Raising taxes in 1990 not
only didn't balance the budget, it triggered three years of
record-high deficits. It slowed an already limping economy, helping
erase more than 1 million jobs. It sent the national debt streaking
upward, from $3.2 trillion in 1990 to $4.3 trillion in 1993. And far
from curbing federal spending, Bush's budget deal accelerated it by an
average of $52 billion a year."
To read Jacoby's full column,
go to the Globe's web site: http://www.boston.com/globe/columns/jacoby/
They normally get the columns
up the next day, that would be today, and leave them for a few days.
3) Could Jimmy Carter have
saved Elvis? Yes, this really was a subject MRC news analyst Geoffrey
Dickens noticed was raised on a network news program on Tuesday. Today
brought on history professor Douglas Brinkley who wrote a piece for
the New Yorker on how, as substitute co-host Ann Curry explained,
"just a few weeks before his death, 20 years ago this Saturday, a
stoned Elvis phoned President Carter."
After a couple of questions
about the call, Curry, apparently serious, inquired: "The call
came just a few weeks before Elvis died, and when you talked to
President Carter, he was sad when he talked about it. Do you think
that he wonders if he could have done something to save Elvis?"
If only Bill Clinton had been
elected President instead of Attorney General in 1976.
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