Fox & Friends baselessly suggests Obama exacerbated decline in personal income
Echoing a Washington Times article, Fox & Friends reported that personal income “has fallen 3.2 percent during President Obama’s term” and suggested Obama’s policies exacerbated the decline. In fact, this trend began in 2008 and has largely leveled off in the past year. Moreover, the figure they cite excludes “transfer” payments, including Social Security, Medicaid, food stamps, and unemployment insurance, which, if included, mean that personal income has increased by 1.2 percent since January 2009.
Fox & Friends: “Pay falls under president: Numbers reveal 3.2% decline”
Kilmeade: “Compare that” decline “to when President Bush took over, which was also a recession.” Fox News’ Peter Johnson Jr. stated during Fox & Friends: “There’s more disturbing news on the horizon now. Income in America has fallen 3.2 percent during President Obama’s term.” Co-host Brian Kilmeade said of the numbers, “Compare that to when President Bush took over, which was also a recession, income did fall but just .4 percent.” During the segment, Fox & Friends aired on-screen text stating, “Pay falls under president: Numbers reveal 3.2% decline.” From the April 13 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:
JOHNSON: There’s more disturbing news on the horizon now. Income in America has fallen 3.2 percent during President Obama’s term.
KILMEADE: So since 2008, since he took over, income has fallen that much. Compare that to when President Bush took over, which was also a recession, income did fall but just .4 percent. So income falling and tax could be increasing, and we also know President Bush’s tax cuts are sunsetting.
JOHNSON: Income has dropped in 47 of the 50 states, and the two most affected states are New York and California, almost 4 percent each.
KILMEADE: We have 57 states.
GRETCHEN CARLSON (co-host): I don’t think anyone’s surprised with that, and so a lot of people are saying — including somebody who was on our show yesterday who was the former director of the Congressional Budget Office, Douglas Holtz-Eakin. He was on our show yesterday to talk about how the health care numbers, in his mind, don’t seem to add up.
And he’s now quoted as saying that the government cannot spend its way to prosperity, talking about the fact that income continues to drop while spending in this country continues to go up. He says that those two things don’t mean prosperity. You can’t have incomes going down and spending going up, which seems like simple math, and yet so many people disagree on that.
Personal income excluding transfer payments has been declining since 2008 and has largely leveled off in the past year
NBER: “Personal income less transfers peaked in December 2007″ and has “generally declined since June” 2008. In December 2008, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) announced that the recession began in December 2007. At that time, NBER stated, “Our measure of real personal income less transfers peaked in December 2007, displayed a zig-zag pattern from then until June 2008 at levels slightly below the December 2007 peak, and has generally declined since June.” NBER noted that “[t]o adjust personal income less transfer payments from nominal to real terms (that is, to remove the effects of price changes), the committee uses the deflator for gross domestic product.”
Personal income excluding transfer payments dropped during Bush’s last year in office. Fox & Friends and The Washington Times compared personal income excluding transfer payments under Obama to data for President Bush’s first year in office, while ignoring that the current recession began during Bush’s final year in office. BEA data show that personal income excluding current transfer payments fell from $9.614 trillion in January 2008 to $9.302 trillion in January 2009, a decrease of 3.2 percent. While Fox & Friends and The Washington Times did not provide this context, the following chart shows that the fall in personal income excluding transfer payments began around January 2008 — long before Obama took office — and has essentially leveled off since mid-2009:
Personal income including transfer payments has increased 1.2 percent from January 2009 to February 2010
Wash. Times: “Real personal income for Americans — excluding government payouts such as Social Security — has fallen by 3.2 percent since President Obama took office.” An April 13 Drudge Report headline stated, “Personal income drops 3.2% since Obama.” Drudge linked to an April 13 Washington Times report with the headline, “Income falls 3.2% during Obama’s term.” Fox Nation also linked to The Washington Times article under the headline, “Incomes Fall 3.2% During Obama’s Term.” The Fox & Friends segment strongly echoed The Washington Times article, which reported that “[r]eal personal income for Americans — excluding government payouts such as Social Security — has fallen by 3.2 percent since President Obama took office in January 2009, according to the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis.” However, Fox & Friends did not note that the 3.2 percent decrease in personal income excludes government transfer payments including unemployment benefits and refundable tax credits from the stimulus package.
BEA measurement of “personal income” includes transfer payments from government. The Bureau of Economic Analysis defines “Personal income” as “[i]ncome received by persons from all sources. It includes income received from participation in production as well as from government and business transfer payments.”
Wash. Times: “Personal income with government ‘transfers’ … has grown during Mr. Obama’s time in office, up 1.2 percent from January 2009 to February 2010.” The Washington Times article noted: “Personal income with government ‘transfers’ — which include such federal money as Social Security, unemployment insurance, Medicare and food stamps — has grown during Mr. Obama’s time in office, up 1.2 percent from January 2009 to February 2010.”
BEA data states that personal income in February 2010 was $12.179 trillion, up from $12.038 trillion in January 2009. From BEA data complied by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis:
Commerce Department credits government recovery efforts with supporting spending, income. On March 29, U.S. Commerce Under Secretary for Economic Affairs Rebecca Blank said of the most recent personal income and outlays data: “Today’s data indicate that, as the Administration’s economic recovery efforts have pulled us back from the brink and taken hold, American families have been able to save more and improve their financial positions.” Commerce Department chief economist Mark Doms stated on February 1 that “[r]eal disposable income also increased in the fourth quarter, partly reflecting growth in government benefits. Further stimulus expenditures will support the ongoing expansion in consumer spending and income.”
Fox & Friends has repeatedly downplayed impact of economic stimulus
On anniversary of bill’s passage, Fox & Friends repeatedly attacked and misinformed about stimulus. On the one-year anniversary of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Fox & Friends purported to analyze the results of the bill and repeatedly shed doubt on the impact of the stimulus on the employment situation. But Fox & Friends ignored independent analyses of the stimulus, including those conducted by Moody’s Economy.com and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that said the measure raised employment by 1 million to 2.4 million jobs by the end of 2009.
Fox & Friends promoted GOP attack over job losses since stimulus, ignoring estimates that it saved jobs. The hosts of Fox & Friends and Fox Business’ Dave Ramsey aired a graphic sourced to House Republicans that highlighted “Job Losses Since The ‘Stimulus’ ” to support the claim that the stimulus “didn’t work.” But economic analysts have estimated that employment has increased by as many as 2 million jobs relative to where the economy would be without the stimulus.
Bolling falsely claimed only 595,000 jobs have been created by the stimulus. On the February 16 edition of Fox and Friends, guest host Eric Bolling claimed of stimulus money: “$272 billion has been spent,” but only “595,000 jobs [have been] created,” adding, “that’s $450,000 per job.” In fact, the Recovery.gov employment numbers Bolling cited only represents jobs funded from October 1-December 31, 2009, which make up a small part of the total number of jobs that the White House and other economists estimate have been funded by the stimulus.
Fox & Friends recited misleading GOP press release on stimulus. Fox & Friends hosts parroted a House Republican press release and repeated its claim that the stimulus impact is “6 million jobs shy of what the administration promised us” since the administration stated “that 3.5 million jobs would be created. And, in fact, the United States has lost 2.7 million since the stimulus plan.” However, the administration estimated that by 2011 — not September 2009, when the 2.7 million job losses since February were recorded — 3.5 million jobs would be created or saved by the stimulus compared to the number of jobs that would have existed at the end of 2010 had the government not passed the legislation.