It wasn’t just Politifraud’s “fact”-check of that Crossroads GPS ad that drew my ire this week as I looked at their latest analyses. It was also this whopper that purported to show that the same president who’s presided over the addition of $5 trillion to the national debt in less than five years—and would’ve spent even more had the GOP not taken control of the House in 2010—is also a tightwad.
Obama has indeed presided over the slowest growth in spending of any president using raw dollars, and it was the second-slowest if you adjust for inflation. The math simultaneously backs up Nutting’s calculations and demolishes Romney’s contention. The only significant shortcoming of the graphic is that it fails to note that some of the restraint in spending was fueled by demands from congressional Republicans. On balance, we rate the claim Mostly True.
Not even Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler was so gullible as Politifraud.
The data in the article are flawed, and the analysis lacks context — context that could easily could be found in the budget documents released by the White House.
But that’s not even the worst of it. Take a look at that graph of total spending in Rule 5. See that huge surge at the end of Bush’s second term? That spending binge was a bunch of one-time “emergency” spending like the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) to bailout banks. It was monies allocated (illegally) to keep Chrysler and GM afloat.
That spending was never sold to the American public, nor anticipated by many in Congress, to be the new baseline. After the impending complete collapse of the financial system had been averted, the Obama portion of that chart should’ve dropped below the spending level of much of Bush’s term. After all, with the war in Iraq over and Afghanistan winding down, Obama would be working on keeping his promise of cutting the deficit in half by the end of his first term.
Over at Powerline, John Hinderaker also notes a serious lapse in Politifraud’s methodology for assigning responsibility for budgets to various presidents.
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. Poor George W. Bush! He is, according to PolitiFact, the only president in American history (other than FDR) to be responsible for nine fiscal years!
Politifraud is afflicted with the cocooning that many in the elite Washington-beltway media suffer from. I think it’s pretty safe to say that there isn’t a single libertarian or conservative in that operation who can save them from themselves.