Thursday, May 24, 2012

Power Line: "Barack Obama, Fiscal Conservative!"

The latest smackdown of PolitiFact's unbelievably inept attempt to present Obama as a budget miser comes from John Hinderaker over at Power Line.

Hinderacker first delves into the problems with Rex Nutting's flawed analysis that started this meme off in the first place:
It started with the ridiculous column by one Rex Nutting that I dismantled last night. Nutting claims that the “Obama spending binge never happened.” He says Obama has presided over the slowest growth in federal spending in modern history. Nutting achieves this counter-intuitive feat by simply omitting the first year of the Obama administration, FY 2009, when federal spending jumped $535 billion, a massive increase that has been sustained and built upon in the succeeding years. Nutting blithely attributes this FY 2009 spending to President Bush, even though 1) Obama was president for more than two-thirds of FY 2009; 2) the Democratic Congress never submitted a budget to President Bush for FY 2009, instead waiting until after Obama was inaugurated; 3) Obama signed the FY 2009 budget in March of that year; 4) Obama and the Democratic Congress spent more than $400 billion more in FY 2009 than Bush had requested in his budget proposal, which was submitted in early 2008; and 5) the stimulus bill, which ballooned FY 2009 spending, was, as we all know, enacted by the Democratic Congress and signed into law by President Obama. So for Nutting to use FY 2010 as the first year of the Obama administration for fiscal purposes was absurd.
Hinderaker goes on to list several of Obama's big spending, deficit-boosting credentials before getting to PolitiFact. Hinderaker has some choice words for PolitiFact's determination that Obama is St. Skinflint, but more importantly notes a discrepancy with a past fact check:
PolitiFact arrived at this conclusion by swallowing the claim that President Bush is somehow responsible for the spending that Obama and the Democrats did in 2009 after he left office. This is doubly amusing because it contradicts the approach PolitiFact took when the shoe was on the other foot. In January 2010, PolitiFact purported to evaluate David Axelrod’s claim that “The day the Bush administration took over from President Bill Clinton in 2001, America enjoyed a $236 billion budget surplus….” PolitiFact found that claim to be true by referring to the FY 2000 budget:
When we asked for his sources, the White House pointed us to several documents. The first was a 2002 report from the Congressional Budget Office, an independent agency, that reported the 2000 federal budget ended with a $236 billion surplus. So Axelrod was right on that point.
So at that time, PolitiFact was clear: the Clinton administration’s responsibility ended in FY 2000, the year before President Bush took office. But, now that the partisan position is reversed, PolitiFact says the opposite. Obama isn’t responsible for anything until he had been in office for eight-plus months, even though, in that time, he had signed nine spending bills plus the stimulus.
PolitiFact's assertion that "Obama has indeed presided over the slowest growth in spending of any president" is absurd. The sheer level of incompetence demanded for a rating like this makes it easy to believe that PolitiFact overlooked the problems deliberately. It's simply implausible that PolitiFact overlooked such obvious flaws accidentally.

It takes a special kind of hubris to call yourself non-partisan when dispensing this type of deceitful gimmickry.

Hinderaker's article goes into more detail pointing out the problems from Nutting and PolitiFact.  Do visit Power Line and read the whole thing.

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