The State Of The Union Deceptions


Washington Post Factchecker Glenn Kessler has become increasingly non-partisan in his assessment of political decsption since the sheen fell off of Barack Obama. He’s not there yet, but increasingly Kessler has refused to pull his punches regarding the President’s habitual dissembling. Although he did not give out any of his trademark “Pinocchios” for the biggest whoppers in Tuesday’s State of the Union message (ah, for the days when a blunt President Ford had the integrity to  say, “The State of the Union is not good!”) because, well, he just doesn’t on the State of the Union, okay?—Kessler did point out six significant examples of deceit, dishonesty, or misrepresentation:

 I.   “The more than eight million new jobs our businesses have created over the past four years.”

Classic deceit. Kessler notes, “since the start of his Presidency, about 3.2 million jobs have been created (not “more than 8 million”), and the number of jobs in the economy still is about 1.2 million lower than when the recession began in December 2007.”  There has been a gain of about 8 million private sector jobs since the low point in 2009, though adding government jobs to the total reduces it to 7.6 million. Notice that the President is doing exactly what his pro-climate change supporters correctly accuse the anti-climate change skeptics of doing with global warming statistics: cherry picking a starting point that misrepresents the nature of the whole. In global warming wars, this means picking the hottest year within memory and arguing that it hasn’t gotten hotter in the 15 years since then. Obama picked his  jobs year low point to make his jobs record look artificially good.

II.   “A manufacturing sector that’s adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s.”

Same trick here! Kessler explains,

“The low point for manufacturing jobs was reached in January 2010, and there has been a gain of 570,000 jobs since then. But BLS data show that the number of manufacturing jobs is still 500,000 fewer than when Obama took office in the depths of the recession — and 1.7 million fewer than when the recession began in December 2007.  The gain in manufacturing actually has begun to stall a bit in the past year.  The only reason Obama can tout a gain in manufacturing jobs “for the first time since the 1990s”  is because, before the recession, manufacturing had been on a slow decline for many years.”

III  “Our deficits — cut by more than half.”

ARRRGH!!!!  This one again!  Kessler:The United States still has a deficit higher than it was in nominal terms and as a percentage of gross domestic product than it was in 2008 and a debt much greater as a percentage of the overall economy than it was prior to the recession.”

IV.   “Inequality has deepened. Upward mobility has stalled.”

Oops! Kessler notes that Obama pulled back from the talking point that  economic mobility  was “declining” in the United States. Why? Renowned economists Raj Chetty, Emmanuel Saez and colleagues published a paper based on tens of millions of tax records that proved fairly conclusively that upward mobility in the U.S. is essentially is the same  as it was 20 years ago. This is still deceit, as the President wants everyone to think it has “stalled” recently, “stalled” being obviously worse than “getting better every year.”  I guess he should get some credit for not lying outright.

V. “Today, women make up about half our workforce. But they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment.”

There’s an embarrassment all right: the embarrassment is that the President of the United States is still pushing this phony, old, misleading and invalid figure decades after it has been thoroughly debunked as a junk stat. Doing his part to kill a NOW enabled lie that is harder to kill than Dracula, Kessler writes:

“Economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis surveyed economic literature and concluded that “research suggests that the actual gender wage gap (when female workers are compared with male workers who have similar characteristics) is much lower than the raw wage gap.” They cited one survey, prepared for the Labor Department, which concluded that when such differences are accounted for, much of the hourly wage gap dwindled, to about 5 cents on the dollar.”

VI. “More than nine million Americans have signed up for private health insurance or Medicaid coverage.”

We all knew that there would be an Obamacare lie, right? “Obama carefully does not say these numbers are the result of the Affordable Care Act, but he certainly leaves that impression, ” says Kessler….

“But the Medicaid part of this number — 6.3 million from October through December — is very fuzzy and once earned a rating of Three Pinocchios. The ACA expanded Medicaid to those who earn less than 133 percent of the poverty line — about $15,000 for an individual — to 26 states (and the District) that decided to embrace that element of the law. But no one really knows how many of the 6.3 million are in this expansion pool — or whether they are simply renewing or would have qualified for Medicaid before the new law. Indeed, the number also includes people joining Medicaid in states that chose not accept the expansion.The private insurance numbers — about 3 million — are also open to question. The troubled federal exchange counts people as enrolled if an individual has selected a plan, but it does not know if a person enrolled and paid a premium because that part of the system has yet to be built.”

These are substantial misrepresentations. Did the network TV coverage inform viewers about them—that the President of the United States, giving his one traditional overview of the nation’s status and progress, intentionally misled them? No. Why does the public tolerate that?


Facts: Washington Post

10 thoughts on “The State Of The Union Deceptions

  1. As I stated in another post the media focuses on pitting one talking point against another to generate controversy and then the pundits side with the known audience demographic. This reinforces the audience’s perceptions of the world and ensures the media outlet maintains its ratings.
    Quality journalism is not dead but it seems to be in hospice care.

  2. My own musings on these points…

    I – The President also doesn’t mention that the percentage of the population in the workforce (the base number they use for calculating the official unemployment stat they announce every money) is as low as it was in 1978 – we have shed over 12 million from the labor force, which is the only way we have a 7.0% unemployment rate.

    II – We’d have more, too, if Unions don’t make it stupid as fuck to make things in the US. That Ford or GM or anyone would make a car in a place where you have to pay what is essentially a UAW tax is a mystery to me – about half of the cost of a GM vehicle goes to paying pensions.

    III – The fact that we still overspend by close to a trillion dollars a year isn’t important, apparently.

    IV – He leaves out that “income inequality”, that much-loved cry of the Left, was pretty much unchanged over the Bush presidency, but is growing faster under Obama than at any point in my lifetime…

    For the record, I was born in July in 1978 (amazon wishlist available upon request).

    V – This ignores several key things. First, it is, largely, choices made by the women that cause differences in pay – early on, before kids and such, women earn just as much as men. I refuse to be blamed or talked down to because people make stupid choices. Second, if this were true – that women were paid 77 cents on the dollar, then no rational business would ever hire a man over a woman.

    Think about it – why the unholy monkey-fuck would you pay someone $100,000 a year when you can pay someone else $77,000 a year?

    VI – Not only is the government claiming people who probably never signed up, they won’t even give us a hint what their official internal numbers are. Plus, at least 5 million people lost their insurance due to the ACA – how many of the people who did sign up for one of the ACA plans would not have done so had their previous coverage not been canceled?

    And just wait, kids… Tens of millions (at the least) will lose their coverage when the employer mandate kick in.

    Honestly, my favorite part was when we got to the “pointless anecdote and appeal to emotion” portion of the speech.

    • ” I refuse to be blamed or talked down to because people make stupid choices”

      Do I take it from this that you believe choices made for continuance of the human race (not to mention better rounded children), are “stupid”?

    • I like the Scott Adams view on the wage gap. Essentially, you have to kiss a lot of ass to get ahead. If you take a man and a woman to an airplane hanger, and present each of them with a line of 100 portly middle aged businessmen with trou dropped and ass presented, and tell them that the first one to kiss all 100 asses gets to be a VP, the woman will still be looking at you in shock while the man is 40 asses down the line, having already applied chapstick and slipping a business card into every crack as he goes.

    • Second, if this were true – that women were paid 77 cents on the dollar, then no rational business would ever hire a man over a woman.

      From my experience, escrow officers are overwhelmingly women. Maybe this wage gap thing explains it.

  3. Ethics Quote of the Month:

    “[the president is] running around the country telling everyone that he’s going to keep acting on his own. … And he’s feeding more distrust about whether he’s committed to the rule of law.” -John Boehner

    Unethical Quote:

    “I think that there is a genuine recognition among leaders in the Republican Party that [immigration reform] is the right thing to do for our economy. It’s the right thing to do for our middle class. It’s the right thing to do for our businesses.” -Jay Carney

    What??? Either it’s right because it’s the right thing to do for human rights and citizenship or it’s wrong because it’s the wrong thing to do for human rights and citizenship.

    If “good for the economy” is the measure of whether or not non-economic policy is right, then by all means, we should pass legislation enslaving millions of people…because ultra cheap labor is *good for the economy.

    *only temporarily and in isolation.

  4. Proposed raise in minimum wage will cost jobs

    Duh. Could have told y’all that. When a market has a set # of dollars available to pay people, let’s say $10,000, and the labor force of that market has reached an equilibrium of the lowest they are willing to accept optimized with the highest the buyers are will to pay, let’s say $200, then the market can only support 50 workers.

    1) Arbitrarily raise the wage by law, because “$200 isn’t fair” to $250- well, that doesn’t increase the $10,000 available to pay that market (only the market can increase that). Well, now you can only pay 40 workers.
    1a) Which means either all 50 workers, switch to part-time and only work 4/5th their original time (and end up still only earning $200) but everyone works.
    1b) Lay off 10 workers, so the remaining 40 get $250, but each has to work extra unpaid time to meet the demand, AND 10 workers are now unemployed.

    • 2) Employers charge more of their clients. However, this reduces demand. Reduced demand means reduced revenue. Reduced revenue means can’t support the labor force. Can’t support the labor force means layoffs and back to option 1b above.

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