Poor Rachel Maddow just can’t seem to cut a break! First she gets duped into reporting a satirical article as fact. Then she does a spot on late night TV where she accuses rival FOX News of making a statement no one on the network ever made. Now she has given utterance to a claim so egregiously false that even the left-leaning Politifact takes her to task for it.
Reporting last Thursday on the battle over the budget in Wisconsin, Maddow devoted a hefty portion of her show to advancing the liberal myth that the state is not only not facing a budget deficit but, if anything, is running a budget surplus. She begins the segment (which can be viewed in the accompanying video) by asserting:
I am here to report there is nothing wrong in the state of Wisconsin. Wisconsin is fine. Wisconsin is great, actually. Despite what you may have heard about Wisconsin’s finances, Wisconsin is on track to have a budget surplus this year.
So what is behind Governor Scott Walker’s emergency budget bill, which if passed would strip unions of the power of collective bargaining? It’s nothing more, Maddow tells us, than an “assault” on hard-working people.
In support of this rather serious allegation, Maddow cites a January 31, 2011 memo prepared by Robert Lang, the director of the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, which includes the line:
Our analysis indicates a general fund gross balance of $121.4 million and a net balance of $56.4 million.
It sounds damning, except for the fact that Maddow took the statement out of context. Writes Politifact:
The confusion, it appears, stems from a section in Lang’s memo that—read on its own—does project a $121 million surplus in the state’s general fund as of June 30, 2011.
But the remainder of the routine memo—consider it the fine print—outlines $258 million in unpaid bills or expected shortfalls in programs such as Medicaid services for the needy ($174 million alone), the public defender’s office and corrections. Additionally, the state owes Minnesota $58.7 million under a discontinued tax reciprocity deal.
The result, by our math and Lang’s, is the $137 million shortfall.
It would be closer to the $340 million figure if the figure included the $200 million owed to the state’s patient compensation fund, a debt courts have declared resulted from an illegal raid on the fund under former Gov. Jim Doyle.
Politifact also lays to rest another liberal lie that Maddow repeats—namely that GOP tax breaks are the reason for the deficit.
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