Fox & Friends hosted Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council and an advisor to President Obama on economic policy, to preview the president’s State of the Union address tonight. Although Sperling told them that the focus would be on jobs and strengthening the middle class, the Curvy Couch Crew responded by obsessing over cuts to “entitlements” and carping about spending. Boosting employment? Helping the middle class? They neatly avoided the whole subject.
Sperling, when asked for a “20-second preview” said the president would hone in on “what we can do, working together, bi-partisan way, to strengthen the middle class.” He added that “a stronger middle class, better educated, working, in manufacturing, innovation, entrepreneurship, small business, these are the things that drive further economic growth.” He said that the administration has made “a lot of progress since the deep recession of 2009” but that “we have a lot further to go on job creation, on bringing down the deficit, and investing in our people.”
The only discussion about jobs was Brian Kilmeade’s comment that unemployment has just gone up in “year five” of Obama’s presidency. Apparently, he and his co-hosts thought that was all the consideration the subject deserved. He moved on to cite a Fox News poll that found 83% of respondents think government has a “spending problem.” From there, he took a swipe at Nancy Pelosi for saying otherwise and “asked” if the White House agrees.
In my opinion, Sperling should have sidestepped and highlighted what was obviously a pre-planned gotcha question that had nothing to do with the State of the Union address. But, instead, Sperling fell right into the trap of framing cuts as the Big Issue and, even worse, threw Democratic Leader Pelosi under the bus by saying the Obama administration believes “you absolutely have to bring down spending” but “in a balanced way.” He touted how much has already been cut and that there are more cuts on the table.
But, of course, that wasn’t good enough. Steve Doocy griped, “You’ve had five years, why hasn’t this administration addressed fixing entitlements with the Republicans?”
When it was Gretchen Carlson’s turn, she said, “One of the big buzzwords” in the SOTU would be “investment, which is another word for 'stimulus.'” She sneered, “Is the president really going to ask this country for more stimulus money?” She didn’t seem to care about how the previous stimulus increased employment for millions of Americans.
Sperling brought it back to jobs. “Today, we have now created twice as many jobs in this recovery as happened under President Bush in the previous recovery, even though this recovery (sic) was far deeper. …The economy has created 500,000 manufacturing jobs, we haven’t seen that in over 20 years. So you are totally right to suggest we have a lot further to go. That’s why the president has a singular focus on the economy, on middle class jobs, and making more progress.”
Oops, time up. But even as the segment was closing, Kilmeade was changing the subject. “It’s just hard to believe that we’re gonna print more money in order to pull ourselves out of it.”
The hosts could have questioned whether President Obama’s policies would accomplish any of his job-creating, middle-class-strengthening goals. But they were so busy talking about spending, they never got there. Which suggests the Republicans have no plan for the middle class and that that’s what the hosts really didn’t want to talk about.