What is a perfect lie in politics? It is a lie that gives strength to one’s defenders, cast’s blame on one’s enemies, and yet the victims of the lie would rather let people believe it is true than correct it, because the truth will hurt even worse. These lies are rare, but when you have one, it is a wonderful thing to behold. There is only one problem with perfect lies.
They are still lies.
As Reason’s Matt Welch points out in devastating fashion, President Obama has found such a lie, and repeats it often, though it has no basis in fact whatsoever, and Obama has to know it has no basis in fact whatsoever. Here is the latest version, from a speech this week:
“Between 2001 and 2009 […] a very specific philosophy reigned in Washington: You cut taxes, especially for millionaires and billionaires; you cut regulations for special interests; you cut back on investments in education and clean energy, in research and technology. The idea was if we put blind faith in the market, if we let corporations play by their own rules, if we left everybody to fend for themselves, America would grow and America would prosper. That was the philosophy that was put forward. For eight years, we tried that. And that experiment failed miserably.”
It’s just not true.
“Between 2001 and 2009 George W. Bush did not “cut back on investments in education,” he increased them by 58 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars. Regulations? “The Bush team has spent more taxpayer money on issuing and enforcing regulations than any previous administration in U.S. history,” Reason columnist Veronique de Rugy wrote in January 2009, in a piece that should be distributed to every audience member before an Obama speech.”
He goes on to quote the data summary from de Rugy:
“Of the new rules, 159 are “economically significant,” meaning they will cost at least $100 million a year. That’s a 10 percent increase in the number of high-cost rules since 2006, and a 70 percent increase since 2001. And at the end of 2007, another 3,882 rules were already at different stages of implementation, 757 of them targeting small businesses. Overall, the final outcome of this Republican regulation has been a significant increase in regulatory activity and cost since 2001. The number of pages added to the Federal Register, which lists all new regulations, reached an all-time high of 78,090 in 2007, up from 64,438 in 2001….Between fiscal year 2001 and fiscal year 2009, outlays on regulatory activities, adjusted for inflation, increased from $26.4 billion to an estimated $42.7 billion, or 62 percent. By contrast, President Clinton increased real spending on regulatory activities by 31 percent, from $20.1 billion in 1993 to $26.4 billion in 2001….The data also show that, adjusted for inflation, expenditures for the category of finance and banking were cut by 3 percent during the Clinton years and rose 29 percent from 2001 to 2009, making it hard to argue that Bush deregulated the financial sector….In eight years, Bush increased the federal government’s regulatory staff by 91,196 employees. Clinton cut it by 969.”
There is no way to spin this or justify it. President Obama–you know, that inspiring guy who was going to be honest and transparent and restore integrity and trust to government?—is lying his figurative head off, because he knows that the Republicans, arguing as they are for less regulation and smaller government, will never correct him by saying, “Wait a minute! We went out-regulated you Democrats last time we were in power!”
I don’t care whether you support Obama or loathe him. Presidents should not knowingly misinform the public, or lie to those who trust them to tell the truth.
Even when the lie is perfect.