By MERRILL MATTHEWS
“Why do they want to cut anything? The debt is going down.”
Democratic strategist and former Clinton advisor James Carville.
Since total federal debt in 2009, President Obama’s first year in office, was $11.9 trillion and it’s nearly $16.7 trillion today—and rising quickly—one has to wonder where Carville is getting his numbers.
He may have confused the total federal debt with the annual federal deficit—the difference between federal revenues and outlays in a fiscal year, which the Congressional Budget Office predicts will decline slightly.
But it’s impossible to tell because nearly every statement coming from the White House and its defenders cannot be taken at face value. You have to parse everything.
For example, on the campaign trail last year Obama claimed, “Federal spending since I took office has risen at the slowest pace of any president in almost 60 years.”
But the Associated Press found a 9.7 percent increase in spending in 2009 and a 7.8 percent increase in 2010 and concluded, “All told, government spending now appears to be growing at an annual rate of roughly 3 percent over the 2010-2013 period, rather than the 0.4 percent claimed by Obama.”
And then there was Obama’s February 2011 interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly wherein the president claimed, “I didn’t raise taxes once. I lowered taxes over the last two years.”
Mind you, that’s after he pushed through his health care bill, which has more than 20 new or increased taxes, including taxes on the middle class.
But the president’s most common truth mangling is to claim current achievements for actions that are supposed be taken in the future.
For example, in the State of the Union Address Obama claimed “We have doubled the distance our cars will go on a gallon of gas.” But those fuel standards don’t go into effect until 2025—eight years after he leaves office.
And then there is Organizing for America’s latest email, which implies that the government could help millions of people, including homeless people, pregnant women and children, and teachers if only Congress would eliminate the tax break for corporate jets. The cost for helping all of those people would be $3.175 billion; the lost revenue from the corporate jet tax break is $3.2 billion. The deception is that the estimate for the corporate jet tax break is over 10 years, while the cost for helping people is for one year only. The note making that distinction is tucked down at the very bottom of the graph.
Fortunately, the media seem to be catching on—finally—and some are trying to press the administration a little harder. That includes Washington Post editor Bob Woodward.
The media and the public may be realizing what many of us who crunch economic numbers for a living learned years ago: this is the most truth-challenged white house in history.