12:25 PM, Sep 25, 2014 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
Rep. Tom Cotton, the Republican nominee in the Arkansas Senate race, is running an ad highlighting his leadership in trying to fix Washington's broken farm bill legislation. The ad isn't particularly controversial ormaking false claims, in any discernible way and yet "fact checkers" at the Washington Post and PolitiFact have pretty savagely attacked it. Once again, the fact checkers are wrong on the merits. But more than that, there's something very fishy about their Cotton critique.
You can watch the whole ad, but here's the supposedly objectionable claim Cotton makes:
“When President Obama hijacked the farm bill, turned it into a food stamp bill, with billions more in spending, I voted no. Career politicians love attaching bad ideas to good ones. Then the bad ideas become law, and you pay for it.”
As far as legislative sausage-making goes, there are few spectacles more off-putting than Capitol Hill's periodic farm bill extravaganza. The farm subsidies are bad enough on their own, but for decades the bill has also included funding for the unrelated Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), aka food stamps. The result is the worst kind of bipartisanship—rural Republicans compromise on bloating the cost of food stamp funding in exchange for Democratic votes to get their farm subsidies.
This unholy union has been in place for decades, and it's getting out of control. The farm subsidies are clearly excessive, and whereas foodstamps were 55 percent of the cost of the farm bill in 2002, they made up 80 percent of the cost of the bill this year. Furthermore, every time Republicans vote for a pork-filled farm bill they get called hypocrites for claiming to oppose unnecessary handouts.
In 2013, Tom Cotton was among a number of House Republicans who tried to change this sorry state of affairs. They broke the farm bill up into two bills—one for farm subisdies and one for food stamps. Republicans would have to own the cost of their farm subsidies, and Democrats would have to justify the ever-increasing cost of the food stamp program. And taken on their own, there would be no perverse incentive to buy votes to pass a comprehensive farm bill. The House passed a farm bill without the food stamp component in July 2013.
Alas, the Democratic-controlled Senate and the White House did not like the idea of having to justify their out-of-control spending and exerted a great deal of pressure to make sure the sorry farm bill status quo continued. President Obama released a statement condemning the House breaking up the farm bill the day after the House passed a stripped-down version. The White House further released a report in November 2013 titled “The Economic Importance of Passing a Comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill.” The farm bill that eventually passed in January recombined the food stamps and farm subsidies, and Cotton was one of 63 Republicans who voted against it. As Dan Holler at the Heritage Foundation tells THE WEEKLY STANDARD, "It should come as no surprise that the food stamp reforms are failing and the new farm programs appear to be more costly than projected."
So what is wrong with Cotton's ad? Here's the crux of Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler's argument:
Look at the dictionary definition of hijacking: “to steal or rob…to subject to extortion or swindling.” Is that what Obama did when he said that Congress should continue to do what it did in the past? Or was breaking up the farm bill the more radical step?
The most problematic aspect of Cotton’s ad is that he suggests that attaching food stamps to the farm bill was a new idea—something that he was fighting against. But that’s invented history. As we have shown, this “bad idea” has been in place since before Cotton, 37, was born.
10:16 AM, Oct 17, 2013 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
The fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy is nearly upon us, so one would expect America's public intellectuals to be gearing up to present a series of sober and illuminating reflections about the tragedy's cultural and political legacy.
Of course, that's not going to happen. Any misty-eyed resonance that can be wrung out of JFK's death is already being exploited by our elite media gatekeepers to advance a political agenda.
1:03 PM, Sep 16, 2013 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
A new USA Today/Pew poll on Obamacare is out today. According to the fine print on the poll, "Three years after President Obama signed his signature health care overhaul, Americans are as negative toward it as they have ever been, and disapproval of the president on the issue has reached a new high."
What inferences can we draw from this poll result? Well, here's the first paragraph of USA Today's write-up on the poll:
9:23 AM, Aug 12, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
The Republican National Committee says it's putting its money where its mouth is by running paid ads against CNN and NBC over the networks' plans to run a documentary (CNN) and mini-series (NBC) on Hillary Clinton ahead of the 2016 presidential election, a spokesman for the RNC says.
It’s only a matter of time before the media are back in the tank. Jun 3, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 36 • By PETER WEHNER
Some conservatives think that the elite media are finally turning on Barack Obama and his administration.
Will the press ever give Obama tough coverage?Jan 14, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 17 • By FRED BARNES
President Obama never disappoints. When the monthly unemployment rate fails to drop, forget it. What’s important is the number of jobs created. But when the rate actually does drop, forget the growth (or lack of it) in jobs. It’s the rate that matters. And don’t blame Obama for the persistence of slow economic growth and high joblessness. That’s the “new normal.” As for the millions of dropouts from the job market, that’s no big deal, hardly worth more than a passing mention.
The left’s long twilight struggle against imaginary bigotry Oct 22, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 06 • By NOEMIE EMERY
Slowly but surely, the toxin of bias is being leached out of American culture, if incrementally and by degrees. A Catholic was elected president in 1960, and since then Catholic nominees and candidates have become commonplace. A Jew was nominated in 2000 for vice president, and was a help to his ticket. In 2004 and 2008 respectively, Joe Lieberman and Rudy Giuliani ran for president, and their names and religions did not become issues.
The media pull out all the stops to reelect the president.
Oct 15, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 05 • By FRED BARNES
The Time cover story last week was headlined “The Mormon Identity.” The cover, featuring Mitt Romney in a stained-glass window, said in smaller type, “What Mitt Romney’s faith tells us about his vision and values.” Newsweek had President Obama on the cover, identifying him as “The Democrats’ Reagan” and heralding the story inside as “What Obama Will Achieve in His Second Term.”
How media fact checkers made themselves of service to the president in the welfare reform debateOct 1, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 03 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
Bill Clinton’s address to the Democratic convention is widely seen as a pivotal moment in President Obama’s reelection campaign. It was an undeniably powerful speech, but particularly noteworthy were his remarks about the popular and bipartisan 1996 welfare reform Clinton himself signed into law. As a result of the law, Americans were required to work as a condition of receiving welfare benefits, and could not receive benefits indefinitely. The reform shrank welfare rolls dramatically and remains wildly popular to this day.
11:42 AM, Jul 24, 2012 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
Last week, reports emerged that Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy had condemned gay marriage. It's no secret that the company is run by devout Christians, but this still caused an uproar.
12:15 PM, Jul 18, 2012 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
Here's how the Los Angeles Times handled the Romney campaign's critique of Obama's suggestion that business owners "didn't build" their companies:
Romney campaign's attacks on Obama play on 'birther' fears
6:00 AM, Jul 16, 2012 • By JAY COST
Most journalists will swear that, despite the fact they vote Democratic, they treat both sides fairly. Indeed, it is a rare event to read a news article that directly attacks the Republican party or one that praises the Democratic party.
But that does not mean media bias does not exist. It does – its exercise is just subtler than this. And the last two weeks have been a great example of how it operates.