Fun fact: The “MS” in “MSNBC” actually stands for Microsoft.
When the network was launched back in 1996, it was billed as an unprecedented convergence of old news and new information trends.
This convergence was more faddish futurism than anything that added value to content, however, and Microsoft has been totally out of any vestige of the MSNBC business since 2012. It was questionable to what extent they were ever really in it, but that’s for another day.
I only mention that fact because after the past few weeks, you might start to believe it stood for “math stinks.”
Fresh off of an incident where a guest stated that Michael Bloomberg’s $500-plus million campaign spending meant he could have given $1 million to each of America’s 300-plus million citizens, MSNBC now has a host who thinks that an $800-plus billion COVID-19 relief bill means we can afford the $93 trillion Green New Deal.
“BREAKING: We can, of course, afford a Green New Deal. That’s been true all along,” host Chris Hayes tweeted Tuesday.
This was along with this retweet from Fox News’ (!) John Roberts which said his network “has learned that @realDonaldTrump will ask Congress for more than $800 billion in economic stimulus: $500 bil in payroll tax cut, $250 bil in Small Business Association loans, $58 billion for the airlines, and a smattering of other items.”
BREAKING: We can, of course, afford a Green New Deal. That’s been true all along. https://t.co/NRsOLF87H1
— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) March 17, 2020
There was some, erm, fact-checking on Twitter:
Chris Hayes says the $800 billion stimulus plan is proof we could afford the Green New Deal, which will cost around $94 trillion.
— Brent Scher (@BrentScher) March 17, 2020
$800 billion is not equal to $93 trillion. Even on MSNBC. https://t.co/fYaszofqnR
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) March 17, 2020
Chris, this is dishonest and you know it is
— Peter J. Hasson (@peterjhasson) March 17, 2020
That $93 trillion number comes from the upper limit of an analysis of Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal from 2019, which admittedly was done by a right-leaning organization.
The stimulus, at least in the package Hayes was quoting, was 0.86 percent of Ocasio-Cortez’s sweeping plan to tackle cow flatulence.
As David Rutz pointed out over at the Washington Free Beacon, this isn’t the only Green New Deal floating out there.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ proposed Green New Deal would cost $16.3 trillion — although it should be mentioned that one of the components of AOC’s Green New Deal was health care, which Sanders has rather expensively provided for elsewhere in his platform.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, has a climate action plan that would only cost $1.7 trillion. Given that Biden isn’t at all a favorite of AOC’s (or Sanders’, for that matter), I’m going to assume that probably wasn’t something the popularizer of the term would endorse.
I’m also going to assume that wasn’t what Hayes was referring to either.
The $800-plus billion plan Trump is asking for, meanwhile, deals with the unprecedented shutdown of American society and the economy as we know it.
This is basically an economy on wartime footing because we are fighting something closely akin to a war — a metaphor AOC tried to use without success to pitch her Green New Deal.
Even with a larger price tag — the stimulus legislation could actually cost over $1 trillion, according to Politico — this is still a proposed bill that would provide loans, temporary tax cuts, payments and other measures which will help those affected survive the downturn.
It has the chance of having a more significant return, given that it’s injecting money into an otherwise strong economy halted by a pandemic. Furthermore, this is a situation being treated on the same level as the 1918 influenza pandemic, except playing out in a modern, globalized economy that’s been locked down.
There’s absolutely no comparison with AOC’s proposal, which would have us paying well more than $1 trillion a year for a plan that mostly dealt with social factors and would act as a millstone around the neck of economic growth.
Of course, it always possible Hayes also doesn’t get the difference between trillion, billion and million. Even if he does, the idea that we can spend this kind of money on a yearly basis shows a desperate misunderstanding when it comes to math and economics.
Hayes tweet, in isolation, wouldn’t be such an issue.
It’d be a bit of entertainment for those of us keyed into political Twitter in the middle of unprecedented cultural lockdown.
But consider that Hayes’ tweet came less than two weeks after this viral clip:
While leaving open the possibility that Brian Williams got the problem and was just lying about it, I take it as a matter of faith that New York Times editorial board member Mara Gay isn’t a prevaricator and therefore just couldn’t get the numbers right.
I get that math hasn’t played much into liberalism since LBJ’s Great Society (and arguably the non-verdant version of the New Deal, but we won’t go there). However, they at least used to try.
This isn’t trying. You’re better than this, MSNBC. Only slightly, but better.
Remember, math tutors are readily available by Skype these days, given what we’re going through — and those who only focus on basic skills are cheapest.
Do your thing for the gig economy during this dire time of need and inject a little stimulus into their lives, won’t you, MSNBC?
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