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Don’t Blindly Accept Propaganda. Do Your Own Research.

02.07.09

There are a lot of people who aren’t sure about this Stimulus Bill that is going through the Senate right now.  A lot of good can come from being skeptical or concerned.  Voicing a differing opinion brings on debate and with debate comes either the reaffirmation of the original ideas or new possibilities emerge.  The conversation should ideally strengthen the concepts, producing the best bill possible.  That’s the idea of our government.

What won’t help is blindly attacking a bill and spreading scare propaganda to those who aren’t well informed on the issues.

I received a mass email that was initiated by the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, which seems to be much more interested in badmouthing than offering any real ideas.  The email goes on to disparage the “phony stimulus bill” as it calls it, yet offers NO footnotes or annotations for all of its stated “facts.”  I’m not saying that everything in the email is false or misleading, but that it’s impossible to discern which is which without any proper attribution to sources.  Unless, of course, you do your homework, which those behind this email don’t want you do to because then you’ll find out that a lot of their fears are unfounded, at best.

The email bases everything on the proposed House bill, which will not be what gets enacted.  Just yesterday the Senate passed their own version of the stimulus package so some of the items may be much different or amended since this email went out.

I will point out some of the email’s claims and show how they are misleading or downright false.  I will cite sources.

Claim #1:

The Phony Stimulus Plan could open billions of taxpayer dollars to left-wing groups like the Association of Community Organization for Reform Now (ACORN), which has been accused of voter fraud, is reportedly under federal investigation; and played a key role in the housing meltdown. (NOTE: we have discovered that ACORN will recieve over 4 billion dollars!)

I’d like to point out two specific words here:  “could” and “accused.”  ACORN has been accused of voter fraud.  Accused does not mean guilty.  And the money could go to ACORN but it is not getting a direct influx of money, as evidenced by this article on FactCheck.org:

The bill does include funds for which ACORN would be eligible to compete – against hundreds of other groups. But most is for a housing rehabilitation program ACORN says it never applied for in the past and won’t in the future.

If you’ll notice that at the end of the article on FactCheck, they site numerous sources for their information.  Something you won’t find in the email from CDFE.

Claim #2:

$825 billion is enough to give every person living in poverty in the United States $22,000.

This is simple and pointless math.  While we’re at it, let’s figure out how many Ford Explorers could be donated to families of five with that $825 billion.  It’d be just as arbitrary since that’s not an option just like giving $22,000 to everyone living under the poverty level isn’t an option.

Claim #3:

The $850 billion Phony Stimulus Plan slated for a House vote later this week will exceed more than $1.1 trillion when adding in the interest ($300 plus billion) between 2009-2019 to pay for it.

Again, based on a bill that will not actually be enacted.  Also, no sources for this math. Clearly this will cost us in the future; but, what isn’t acknowledged is how much we’ll pay without this stimulus.

Claim #4:

The Capitol Hill Democrats’ plan includes funding for contraceptives, regardless of where anyone stands on taxpayer funded contraception, there is no question that it has NOTHING to do with the economy. (Since Monday this idiocy has been removed — due to bi-partisan outcry!)

This is made to sound like Democrats are doing something unprecedented and idiotic in putting unrelated items into the bill.  Every bill has items in them, called “pork,” that is self-serving to the side that initiates the bill.  The Republicans are not innocent in this action as evidenced by a simple Google query that gave me this article.  A lot of the time these items are placed into a bill to provide bargaining chips and sometimes they get removed, sometimes they make it through.  It offers something that one side can get rid of in order to please the dissenting side.

Claim #5:

We are being told that the $850 billion so-called “stimulus” plan being discussed in Congress would be to prop up our failing economy? Do not forget for a moment the fact that this “phony economic stimulus” can never work or that it’s unconstitutional. But isn’t the intent of any economic stimulus plan to stimulate the failing economy? Borrowing money will not stimulate the Economy.

No explanation whatsoever that the bill would be unconstitutional so I have no idea what the basis is for that claim.  Also, the claim that this stimulus “can never work” is an absolute and requires clairvoyance to make it true since no one can finitely say that it can’t work.  Only time will tell.  Yes, it’s possible that whatever bill gets enacted may not pull us out of the recession but to bluntly announce that it CANNOT work is ignorant and blatant fear-mongering.

Claim #6:

Even 11 Democrats sided with Republicans. Obama had engaged in an all-out lobbying effort and failed to land a single GOP vote in the first major test of President Obama’s ability to push his ambitious agenda through Congress. His personal salesmanship effort failed to secure a single GOP supporter.

This is true in that no Republicans in the House voted for that version of the stimulus bill.  And as of Friday, the Senate bill passed with only 3 GOP votes.  Although stating that this lack of bi-partisan support rests solely on the shoulders of Obama and his inability to merge the two parties is extremely unfair and inappropriate.  The rift between the two parties has been expanding for years, much longer than Obama has been in office. This Time.com article explains:

Senator Susan Collins, the lead Republican negotiator said that the miniscule [sic] support from her party proved how hard it will be for Obama to overcome deep political divisions. “It’s really unfortunate as I think the American people really want us to work together and really are sick and tired of all the partisanship,” she said.

Obama has been extremely committed to getting as much bi-partisan support for the bill as possible and those to blame really are both parties within Congress.

Not everything in the email I received was blatantly false.  Programs that fund the renovation of the National Mall, for instance, were in the House bill, but have been removed in the Senate version.  The issue is that because a lot of these items are taken out of context and not given sources, you could easily be misled as to why you should find these “facts” so appalling.

I’m not an economist.  Nor have I been able to read either version of the stimulus bill.  I’m not a political science major.  I’m clearly not an expert on any of this.  What I do have is a background in journalism that forces me to question claims that aren’t supported by reliable sources.  In this era of instant information on the Internet, we must be even more skeptical and aware of all of the “news” and “facts” that we read and be careful and mindful of the propaganda that spreads quickly and asserts itself as truth.

It doesn’t take much to find reputable news sources to clarify most of what you hear or read.  Take the time to do so.

(If you want the aforementioned email, let me know I’ll forward it on to you.)

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One comment

  1. One of the best blog entries i’ve read in a very long time. I’ll be reading more from you from now on.



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