While we’re on the topic of misleading statements, as in lies, foisted on the American public by the President of the United States, I now have to bring up his boast in his State of the Union speech that “We’ve done all this while cutting our deficits by almost three-quarters.” [Don’t get me started with “all this.”]
I was going to leave this infuriating line alone, I really was, because when you get on the topic of deficits, the numbers-spinners have a field day. Then I saw Tom Toles’ cartoon, above, for the Washington Post.
Toles, if I haven’t made it clear before, is the worst of a breed that is itself a disgrace to journalism, a form of editorial content that is immune from the ethical restrictions that are supposed to govern journalism. It is the ultimate “clown nose on/ clown nose off” scam, and Toles exploits its license beyond the nauseating limits set by his over-rated predecessor, the equally biased but not quite as shameless Herb Block….you remember, the guy who drew all businessmen as obese, cigar-chomping robber barons out of the 1890s, and conservative Congress members as cavemen. Yeah, he was subtle and fair all right. Toles is much worse.
By what version of English and logic can anyone say that Obama reduced the deficit at all, much less by “almost three-quarters? Here is the chart of the deficits since 2005 in dollars:
What does “reduced the deficit” mean, when a President says “we”? OK, Obama’s deficit is smaller this fiscal year than last, that’s a reduction. It’s also the first year, out of seven , that was smaller than the last administration’s final year and largest budget deficit in 2008. Is that “cutting the deficit”? 2014 was the first year that Obama’s deficits dipped below a trillion dollars. Yes, 2015 was a lot better than the catastrophic 2009, which was shared between the Bush and Obama administrations, and thank heaven for that. But how can anyone look at the deficits above for the years 2005-2008 and the Obama years and argue that he “cut deficits”?
Somehow the intellectually dishonest PolitiFact found Obama’s boast “mostly true” (Translation: False), but its more objective, similarly left-biased but blessed with integrity nonetheless cousin at the Annenberg Foundation, FactCheck.org, properly described Obama’s claim this way*…
“As we’ve shown before, Obama’s early initiatives increased FY 2009 spending — and thus the deficit — by as much as $203 billion. So his claim to have reduced the deficit by three-quarters is akin to a merchant who raises his price one day and declares “75 percent off” the next.”
And emphasizing the deficit is itself deceitful. It’s the debt that matters, not the deficit, which only determines how quickly we are adding to an already dangerous and untenable debt. Even PolitiFact can’t spin the debt: it said,
“When Obama took office, the debt held by the public stood at $6.3 trillion. Since then, it has more than doubled to $13.6 trillion.”
That means Obama more than doubled the public debt that had been accumulating since 1833, in less than seven years. He promised, you may remember, to begin lowering the debt; he said it was a moral obligation to future generations. Now having failed at that goal beyond anyone’s most dismal nightmares, he has the unmitigated gall to boast that he has “cut the deficit.”
Tom Toles, meanwhile, had the unmitigated unmitigated gall to mock those who recognize the incompetence and dishonesty this boast involves.
I couldn’t let that pass.
*FactCheck.org does an excellent job examining other SOTU falsehoods too.