Posted by: AZBlueMeanie
How many readers actually watch the monthly "Face Off" segment between John Munger and Vince Rabago on Arizona Illustrated on KUAT? Yeah, that's what I thought. Just a handful of political junkies. In case you missed the April segment, you can catch it on line at http://tv.azpm.org/kuat/segments/2008/4/14/kuat-the-face-off/
I feel oddly compelled to watch Arizona Illustrated just to see how my tax dollars are at work at PBS. I am also curious to see what the legendary host Bill Buckmaster deems to be the most important political topics of the day. I am often disappointed.
It has become difficult to watch the "Face Off" segment because of the disingenuous responses of John Munger and the physically hyperactive antics he engages in while ticking off the GOP talking points of the day that he has barely memorized well enough to do the segment. Sometimes it looks as if his head is going to explode when he really gets agitated. Calm down and take a deep breath, John. You are demonstrating to the viewers that you lack the right temperament and emotional stability to serve as our next governor.
Munger habitually ticks off the GOP talking points of the day and self-proclaims them to be "just the facts." Since no one knows in advance what wild-eyed craziness Munger is going to say before he actually says it, both Bill Buckmaster and Vince Rabago are at a disadvantage to challenge him on his alleged "facts" in real time. Munger's antics have undermined the intended purpose of the "Face Off" segment, i.e., a thoughtful and intelligent discussion of the political issues of the day. The viewers are left misled or confused by the bogus "facts" cited in the disingenuous responses of Munger.
So as a public service to the political junkies who actually watch the "Face Off" segment, I will endeavor to provide you with a fact check of John Munger after each monthly segment.
Let's go to the video...
The first question Buckmaster asked was about the recent school district lobbyist group that recently aired a love letter to Tim Bee television ad. (Which has been addressed at length at other postings on this site). Vince Rabago explained some of the arcane legal issues involved in the DCCC complaint with the FEC regarding the ad. John Munger, who is a lawyer by profession, rather than respond to the legal issues like any lawyer is hard wired to do, instead deflected the question with a refrain that "Democrats are all into the process stuff" and are litigious, then pivoted to his GOP talking points like any cable talking head would:
1. Gabriel Giffords is a big spender as rated by the National Taxpayers Association (sic).
2. Gabriel Giffords does not oppose "earmarks."
3. Gabriel Giffords is against union members having the sanctity of the secret ballot and secret vote (what the hell was that all about you ask? I will explain later).
First, it is not the National Taxpayers Association but the National Taxpayers Union. The report Munger repeatedly misidentified can be found at http://www.ntu.org/misc_items/rating/VS_2007.pdf. Rep. Jake Flake, Arizona's anti-earmarks gadfly, received the top rating of 96%. Rep. Harry Mitchell received a rating of 18%, Rep. Gabriel Giffords received a rating of 9%, Raul Grijalva received a rating of 3%, and Ed Pastor received the lowest rating of 2%. (Indicted Rep. Rick Renzi received a rating of 42%). Hmmm... see a pattern here?
Who is the National Taxpayers Union you ask? It is the anti-tax zealot organization that has supported such fiscally reckless and irresponsible proposals as the Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR), the flat tax or fair tax national sales tax, opposition to the estate tax, and support for a line-item veto for the president (Republicans only). So Munger's source for disparaging Rep. Giffords is a highly partisan anti-tax zealot group.
Second, Rep. Giffords was recently quoted in the Arizona Daily Star as saying "If I had the chance to vote on a complete abolishment of earmarks . . . I would," she said. "The earmarking process has been out of control." Rep. Gabrielle Giffords believes federal earmarks should be banned by Congress, but until that time comes, she will continue to request them. Giffords asks for earmarks, though she's against them | www.azstarnet.com ® Tim Bee did not respond to the reporter's request regarding his position on the earmark process. The Arizona Daily Star published a thoughtful opinion on earmarks on April 7, 2008. Earmarks OK if they benefit common good | www.azstarnet.com ®
In March, a bipartisan coalition of Senate Republicans and Democrats defeated a one year moratorium on earmarks by a vote of 71-29. Rep. Giffords may not get the chance to vote for the moratorium on earmarks as a result.
Third, Munger was referring to the Employee Free Choice Act which would authorize the "card check" procedure for union votes. The Act would allow the NLRB to certify a union as the exclusive bargaining representative of employees based on a majority of valid signed authorizations obtained by union organizers. Current law allows an employer to demand a secret ballot election administered by the NLRB when a union requests recognition based on signed authorization cards or petitions. Employers routinely harass, threaten, intimidate and coerce (and even fire) employees to effect the outcome of the vote against union representation. The Act would impose stronger sanctions against employers for engaging in these tactics.
Munger was defending the right of employers to continue engaging in these abusive tactics. His concern was not for the workers desiring to unionize.
Buckmaster then asked about campaign fundraising by the congressional candidates, and an early poll in Arizona for the presidential race. This "horse race" stuff is the purview of cable TV talking heads, not PBS, Bill. This is just idle speculation that is inconsequential at this point in the election.
Ditto for Buckmaster's next question regarding Barack Obama and his "bitter" comment that is only a controversy among media types. Geez, throw Munger a softball to segue into his GOP talking points why don't ya, Bill? Munger hit his fat pitch with a gleam in his eye, falsely asserting that Obama criticizes and disdains people of faith and those who support the Second Amendment, and demonstrates an elitist attitude. (See my earlier post, "Bittergate: What's the Matter with Pennsylvania?" for an analysis)
Vince Rabago explained that Obama was addressing the economic hardships faced by small town America and that politicians of both parties have made promises on which they have failed to deliver. Rabago explained that the greatest transfer of wealth in history to the wealthiest of Americans has occurred over the past 14 years.
Munger responded that the greatest transfer of wealth occurred during the last half of the 1990s with the "huge Clinton bubble." I'm not sure exactly what Munger meant, but I can offer an economic analysis. In 1993, Democrats passed the Deficit Reduction Act of 1993 (every Republican voted against the bill). The Act both raised taxes on upper-income Americans and cut federal spending, and has been credited as the major cause behind the deficit reduction and eventual surpluses beginning in 1999 by sources such as the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. In addition, the so-called "dot com bubble" brought in hundreds of millions in unanticipated tax revenues - the rich got richer but also paid more in taxes.
The "transfer of wealth" to which Munger was referring was the higher taxes being paid by upper-income Americans, even as their wealth increased, which led to a balanced federal budget and eventually surpluses. The Bush tax policies reversed all this:
The Economic Policy Institute recently released its report "Pulling Apart - A state-by-state analysis of income trends" (April 2008) which documents that the gap between the richest families and poorest families, as well as between the richest families and middle-income families, grew significantly in most states over the past two decades. The nation's long-standing trend of economic inequality has only accelerated in the last several years. Pulling apart: A state-by-state analysis of income trends (2008)
Most Americans have not shared in the growth and prosperity they have been helping to create. Economy's Gains Fail to Reach Most Workers' Paychecks (Economic Policy Institute).