Fact Checking The Sunday Shows - September 26, 2010

September 27, 2010 10:02 am ET

Sunday's political talk shows didn't feature anything new as GOP Pledge Week wrapped up. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Tea Party Senate favorite Ken Buck (R-CO) each suggested in separate appearances that cutting rich people's taxes helps the economy by spurring investment (it does not). Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) misled Face the Nation viewers about the impact of the Recovery Act (which helped the economy start growing again, despite what he says). Meanwhile, Senate hopeful Marco Rubio (R-FL) exaggerated the effect of the Arizona legislature's follow-on legislation that supposedly prevents racial profiling in the hunt for illegal immigrants. In reality, however, the add-on legislation was a cosmetic measure designed to expand profiling opportunities to include municipal ordinance violations.

CLAIM: Senate Candidate Ken Buck (R-CO) Falsely Suggested That Cutting Taxes For The Rich Will Create Jobs

KEN BUCK (R-CO): Well it's interesting language. I don't see it as tax cuts. They talk about extending the Bush tax cuts. We have a tax rate right now. Increasing that tax rate to me is a tax increase. I also think you have to look at, where do families cut? If we don't maintain our tax rates where they are right now, what do families have to give up in order to pay for the government spending, the overspending that's going on in the federal government? I come down on the side of low taxes because I think it's gonna generate jobs in this economy.

BOB SCHIEFFER (host): So would you agree if there were no other alternative to extend the tax cuts for the lower-income Americans if the bill did not include tax cuts for the upper-income Americans?

BUCK: I think we have to extend tax cuts for all, and I'm gonna work towards that end. Obviously any tax cuts that we, or any— maintaining our current tax rates for any group is better than nothing, but I'm in favor of maintaining our current tax rates for all Americans. [Face the Nation, 9/26/10]

CLAIM: Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) Repeated The False Claim That Cutting Taxes For The Rich Causes Them To Spend More Money

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (I-CT): I think that, um, y'know, it's easy enough to say that people who make a lot of money don't, don't deserve a tax cut now, but the truth is if you have more money, you spend more money, you invest more money. That's what we need to happen now to grow jobs in our economy. [State of the Union, 9/26/10]

FACT: Wealthy Americans Save, Rather Than Spend, Money From Tax Cuts

Bloomberg: "Give The Wealthiest Americans A Tax Cut And History Suggests They Will Save The Money Rather Than Spend It." According to Bloomberg News: "Give the wealthiest Americans a tax cut and history suggests they will save the money rather than spend it. Tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 under President George W. Bush were followed by increases in the saving rate among the rich, according to data from Moody's Analytics Inc. When taxes were raised under Bill Clinton, the saving rate fell. The findings may weaken arguments by Republicans and some Democrats in Congress who say allowing the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans to lapse will prompt them to reduce their spending, harming the economy. President Barack Obama wants to extend the cuts for individuals earning less than $200,000 and couples earning less than $250,000 while ending them for those who earn more." [Bloomberg9/14/10]

New York Times: "Research Suggests That Tax Cuts...Have Limited Ability To Bolster The Flagging Economy." According to the New York Times: "The concept of lower taxes is so appealing to voters that many embrace them as an economic cure-all.  But economic research suggests that tax cuts, though difficult for politicians to resist in election season, have limited ability to bolster the flagging economy because they are essentially a supply-side remedy for a problem caused by lack of demand. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office this year analyzed the short-term effects of 11 policy options and found that extending the tax cuts would be the least effective way to spur the economy and reduce unemployment. The report added that tax cuts for high earners would have the smallest 'bang for the buck,' because wealthy Americans were more likely to save their money than spend it." [New York Times9/10/10]

FACT: Cutting Business Taxes Alone Does Not Incentivize Them To Hire

CBO: Cutting Business Taxes "Does Not Create Much Incentive For Them To Hire More Workers." According to the Congressional Budget Office: "Deferring the scheduled increases in tax rates in 2011 would help some businesses as well as households. In particular, it would keep lower tax rates in place in that year for businesses that do not pay the corporate income tax (the pass-through entities such as sole proprietorships, partnerships, S corporations, and limited liability companies). However, increasing the after-tax income of businesses typically does not create much incentive for them to hire more workers in order to produce more, because production depends principally on their ability to sell their products." [Congressional Budget Office, 2/23/10]

FACT: Tax cuts are the least effective way to stimulate economic growth

CBO: Among Eleven Proposals To Spur Economic Growth, Cutting Income Taxes Ranks Last.  Below is a chart created by the Congressional Budget Office to show the "cumulative effects of policy options on employment in 2010 and 2011":

[Congressional Budget Office, 2/23/10]

This Week

CLAIM: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) Falsely Claimed That Democrats' Economic Policies Have Only Produced Bigger Government

SEN. MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY): Everything that's happened in the last year-and-a-half has been to pump up the government. We borrowed stimulus money. We spent it to hire new federal government workers. We sent it down to states so they would not have to lay off state workers. You have to get the economy going. That's the way you narrow the deficit.

FACT: The Private Sector Has Added 700,000 Jobs This Year While The Public Sector Shed Jobs

FactCheck.Org: "It's Not The Case That Only Government Is Growing." According to the non-partisan FactCheck.org: "And it's not the case that only government is growing. The opposite is true - the private sector has gained a net total of 763,000 jobs this year, according to the BLS. But at the same time, the total number of government jobs has declined by about 40,000, despite a transitory spike in hiring by the Census Bureau to conduct its decennial head count. That spike is now over. The decline in overall government employment is mostly due to public schools shedding 62,000 positions as local property tax rolls decline due to plunging real-estate values." [FactCheck.org, 9/24/10]

FACT: Economic Data Shows Stimulus Bill Saved Millions Of Jobs, Lowered Unemployment, And Significantly Raised GDP

CBO: The Recovery Act Created Jobs, Lowered Unemployment, And Boosted GDP.  According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, through the second quarter of 2010, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act:

  • Raised the level of real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) by between 1.7 percent and 4.5 percent,
  • Lowered the unemployment rate by between 0.7 percentage points and 1.8 percentage points,
  • Increased the number of people employed by between 1.4 million and 3.3 million, and
  • Increased the number of full-time-equivalent (FTE) jobs by 2.0 million to 4.8 million compared with what those amounts would have been otherwise. [CBO, 8/24/10]

Reuters: The Recovery Act May Have "Prevented The Sluggish Economy From Contracting" Between April And June.  According to Reuters

The massive U.S. stimulus package put millions of people to work and boosted national output by hundreds of billions of dollars in the second quarter, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said on Tuesday.

CBO's latest estimate indicates that the stimulus effort, which remains a political hot potato ahead of the November congressional elections, may have prevented the sluggish U.S. economy from contracting between April and June.

CBO said President Barack Obama's stimulus boosted real GDP in the quarter by between 1.7 percent and 4.5 percent, adding at least $200 billion in economic activity. [Reuters via ABC News, 8/24/10]

Princeton, Moody's Economists Say "Highly Effective" Government Response To Crisis Saved 8.5 Million Jobs.  According to the New York Times: "Like a mantra, officials from both the Bush and Obama administrations have trumpeted how the government's sweeping interventions to prop up the economy since 2008 helped avert a second Depression. Now, two leading economists wielding complex quantitative models say that assertion can be empirically proved. In a new paper, the economists argue that without the Wall Street bailout, the bank stress tests, the emergency lending and asset purchases by the Federal Reserve, and the Obama administration's fiscal stimulus program, the nation's gross domestic product would be about 6.5 percent lower this year. In addition, there would be about 8.5 million fewer jobs, on top of the more than 8 million already lost; and the economy would be experiencing deflation, instead of low inflation. The paper, by Alan S. Blinder, a Princeton professor and former vice chairman of the Fed, and Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, represents a first stab at comprehensively estimating the effects of the economic policy responses of the last few years. 'While the effectiveness of any individual element certainly can be debated, there is little doubt that in total, the policy response was highly effective,' they write." [New York Times7/27/10, emphasis added]

CLAIM: Republican Senate Candidate Marco Rubio Mistakenly Claimed That Changes To Arizona's Immigration Law Will Prevent Racial Profiling

BOB SCHIEFFER (host): I think when you first heard about this law passing, you said it would create a police state. What's your take on, on the immigration laws? Should we have something like the Arizona law?

MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): Well three things, number one, Arizona's legislature actually has changed the law since it passed, and it prohibited things such as stopping people because of ethnic profiling, and I think that was a positive change. Number two, I think we need to recognize that states like Arizona, California, Texas and a few others, New Mexico, are in a very unique situation. Arizona has a huge open border, basically, with a country in Mexico that has an all-out drug war. And Arizona is seeing not just the immigration challenges of that but the security challenges of that, the public safety challenges of that. So we have to understand why Arizona did this, and they have a Tenth Amendment right to have done it. I've continued to say that the Arizona law should not be a model for the rest of the country. It should be a wake up call to the federal government to once and for all take the issue of immigration seriously, particularly things like border security and the need for an e-Verify system. If the federal government had been doing its job on immigration, there never would have been an Arizona law.

FACT: Modifications To The Bill Maintain And Expand The "Reasonable Suspicion" Standard That Makes Profiling Possible

PolitiFact: Reasonable Suspicion "Leaves Open Several Possibilities" For Profiling. In a lengthy examination of a previous claim made by Arizona State Sen. John Huppenthal, PolitiFact.com consulted legal experts and concluded that the law does not prohibit profiling:

Perhaps the ambiguities of the law will one day be settled in the courts. But we think that a close reading of the statute and the views of the experts we contacted allow us to draw some conclusions.

Huppenthal's position - that the police must suspect that something illegal is being committed before asking someone for proof of legal status - is not correct. The law says the police officer just needs "reasonable suspicion'' that the person is an alien that is unlawfully present in the United States. The police are prohibited from using a profile based solely on racial or ethnic factors, but that standard can be sidestepped. In addition, some seemingly innocuous behaviors like getting in a car or making a gesture or nodding could be seen by a law officer as "reasonable suspicion" of the newly enacted prohibition against seeking work while in the U.S. illegally.

The passage in the law citing racial profiling does provide some protection, as does the difficulty of defining a profile for illegal immigrants that could pass legal muster, but the law leaves open several possibilities for police questioning individuals without seeing or suspecting a specific crime. So we rate Huppenthal's statement False.

[PolitiFact.com, 4/26/10, emphasis added]

AZ Gov. Brewer Signed Follow-On Legislation To "Quell Concerns" About Racial Profiling. According to the Associated Press: "Gov. Jan Brewer on Friday signed a follow-on bill approved by Arizona legislators that makes revisions to the state's sweeping law against illegal immigration. She said the changes should quell concerns that the measure will lead to racial profiling. The law requires local and state law enforcement officers to question people about their immigration status if there is reason to suspect they are in the country illegally, and it makes it a state crime to be in the United States illegally." [AP via New York Times4/30/10]

Follow-On Changes Do Not Include Definition Of What Constitutes "Reasonable Suspicion." According to the Arizona Capitol Times:

H2162 prescribes a few key changes to the new immigration law, clarifying both the definition of lawful contact and guidelines for municipalities, as well as lowering the minimum - not the maximum - fine that can be assessed to cities that have so-called "sanctuary city" policies. It also restructured some of the punitive actions that a court would apply to those charged under the new law.


One of the changes to S1070 removes the word "solely" from the description of the new law's lawful contact, when it comes to race. So, now race, color or ethnicity simply cannot be used as part of reasonable suspicion.


The last change outlined in H2162 concerned a phrase that said lawful contact can include an officer's use of the new immigration law "in the enforcement of any other law or ordinance of a county, city or town or this state.

[Arizona Capitol Times4/27/10]

Immigration Law Expert: "Reasonable Suspicion" Is "Vague" And "Gives Institutional Cover For Selective Immigration Enforcement." According to UCLA School of Law professor and immigration law expert Hiroshi Motomura, writing in the New York Times: "In judging whether immigration enforcement adheres to the rule of law, it is most important to examine how laws are enforced. From this perspective, it is deeply troubling that Arizona's new law uses a vague 'reasonable suspicion' standard. This standard gives institutional cover for selective immigration enforcement through racial and ethnic profiling, and for this reason it will lead to constitutional violations if the statute goes into effect." [New York Times4/26/10, emphasis added]

American Immigration Lawyers Association Leader: "Reasonable Suspicion" In AZ Law "Effectively Requires" Racial Profiling. According to AILA President-elect David Leopold, writing for The Wonk Room:

Frankly, [the law's co-author Kris] Kobach is intellectually dishonest to claim that "reasonable suspicion" will not turn Arizona into a "show me your papers" state by effectively forcing the police to use racial profiling. What Kobach fails to point out is that law enforcement may question anyone under the Arizona law whom they suspect is an undocumented immigrant once they have made "lawful contact." Arizona law does not define what "lawful contact" means and, therefore, the phrase is open to very broad interpretation by the police. It does suggest some limit, but that limit is well short of the "reasonable suspicion" standard (articulable facts, along with rational inferences that arise from those facts) set forth by the U.S. Supreme Court in Terry v. Ohio. Why else would the drafters of the Arizona legislation have felt the need to use the term "legal contact" and as a pre-requisite to "reasonable suspicion" rather than "reasonable suspicion" of criminal activity? For example, if someone approaches a police officer on the street, there is "legal contact". If the person then speaks English with an accent or "looks Latino" that might raise "reasonable suspicion" that the person is not documented. While "reasonable suspicion" under Terry v. Ohio is based on criminal activity, "reasonable suspicion" under S.B. 1070 is based on a subjective notion of a person's status. The Arizona law not only doesn't prohibit racial profiling, it effectively requires it.

[The Wonk Room, 4/29/10, emphasis added]

The follow-on law expands the basis for "reasonable suspicion" to include municipal ordinance violations.

The Follow-On Legislation Allows Officers To Pursue Immigration Questions During Enforcement Of Local Ordinances. According to the Los Angeles Times: "Lawmakers on Thursday night also added a provision extending immigration enforcement to local ordinances, which critics warned could permit police to check the immigration status of people guilty of nothing more than a poorly tended lawn." [Los Angeles Times5/1/10]

"Cars On Blocks In The Yard" Could Lead To Immigration Inquiries. According to the Arizona Republic: "Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, said those two changes help clarify the bill, and lighten its impact somewhat. But she called a third change 'frightening.' That change clarifies that a police officer responding to city ordinance violations would also be required to determine the immigration status of an individual they have reasonable suspicion of being in the country illegally. City ordinance violations vary by municipality but could include things like loud parties, barking dogs, cars on blocks in the yard or too many renters." [The Arizona Republic4/29/10]

FACT: Marco Rubio's "Positive Change" Was Specifically Designed To Make Sure Police Could "Initiate Queries" Based On "Cars On Blocks In The Yard."

Kris Kobach: "We Need To...Allow Police To Use Violations Of Property Codes (e.g. Cars On Blocks In The Yard)...To Initiate Queries." According to The Wonk Room:

Wonk Room recently obtained an email written by Kris Kobach, a lawyer at the Immigration Reform Law Institute - the group which credits itself with writing the bill - to Arizona state Sen. Russell Pierce (R), urging him to include language that will allow police to use city ordinance violations such as "cars on blocks in the yard" as an excuse to "initiate queries" in light of the "lawful contact" deletion:


More importantly, Kobach is basically admitting to Pearce that by allowing police to use the violation of "any county or municipal ordinance" as a basis for inquiring about a person's immigration status, the bill will still cast a wide enough net to help offset the effect of omitting the "lawful contact" language which would've allowed police to ask just about anyone they encounter about their immigration status.

[Wonk Room, 4/30/10]

See our complete investigation of Kobach's record HERE.