Politifact: Obama Presided Over Slowest Federal Spending Growth of Any Recent President
Politifact is quite proud of its contextually-challenged fabrication built to ensure that whenever presumptive nominee Mitt Romney hits one of President Obama's primary weak spots -- his unprecedented, reckless, and failed federal spending binge -- the White House Palace Guards in the media can cry in unison: "Romney's lying." So proud is Politifact of this shill-o-rama, that it currently sits proudly in a feature spot at the top of their Web page:
The Facebook post said that Romney is wrong to claim that spending under Obama has "accelerated at a pace without precedent in recent history," because it's actually risen "slower than at any time in nearly 60 years."
We found that Obama has indeed presided over the slowest growth in spending of any president using raw dollars, and the growth on his watch 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 was that it failed to note that some of the restraint in spending was fueled by demands from congressional Republicans. On balance, we rated the claim Mostly True. …
Brace yourselves: [emphasis added]
So, using inflation-adjusted dollars, Obama had the second-lowest increase -- in fact, he actually presided over a decrease once inflation is taken into account.
Before I get to the facts, it's important to understand why Politifact is so willing to embarrass themselves like this.
As I mentioned late last week in my call to Twitter arms, Politifact (along with every other MSM fact-checking outlet) was conceived after the media watched in horror in 2004 as the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth used facts to undermine John Kerry's claims of war heroism; a crucial trait to have during an election based on national security:
The media cried "Never again!" and, as a result, birthed an unholy set of twins to back that cry up: Media Matters and a number of corrupt truth squads and fact checkers, like Politifact.
Both of these entities are what I call Inconvenient Narrative Zappers. Their job is to spot emerging and potential narratives damaging to the Left and, before they make their way into the mainstream media, to use lies, half-truths, rationalizations, shameless spin, and anything else they can think of to discredit those narratives and ensure they gain no traction. This allows the MSM to either completely ignore stories it doesn't want to amplify or to simply report on "an already discredited story" bubbling online. …
We all laughed in 2009 when Politifact fact-checked an "SNL" sketch critical of Obama, but there was a method to their madness. Leftists like those at Politifact understand the power of satire to define someone. Thus, in order to protect Obama, Politifact was willing to make of fools of themselves to undermine any traction the "SNL" sketch about Obama's broken promises might have received.
Obama's astounding deficits are a major liability for the President, especially since they have yielded anemic GDP and job growth. The crisis Obama inherited was not an either/or situation -- either spend us into oblivion or face a depression. Obama had many options, including the decisions President Reagan made during his inherited crisis. Instead, Obama chose a path that, in the opinion of many, likely did more harm than if he had simply done nothing. But no one in their right mind believes Obama's results have been worth the trillions upon trillions wasted.
So how do you go about upsetting and undermining commonly known facts that damage your candidate? Well, if you're Politifact, you brazenly and matter-of-factly report lies as truth -- as a nifty talking point that will now go out into the media and be repeated ad nauseum until it sticks. You know, in the same way the corrupt media turned presidential perjury into "it's only about sex."
Now to the facts, which I will turn over to the Enterprise Blog's indispensible Jim Pethokoukis. It should be noted that Pethokoukis is not taking on Politifact but rather the nonsense that Politifact laughably proclaimed as mostly true: [emphasis added]
Nutting arrives at that 1.4% number by assigning 2009—when spending surged nearly 20%—to George W. Bush: “The 2009 fiscal year, which Republicans count as part of Obama’s legacy, began four months before Obama moved into the White House. The major spending decisions in the 2009 fiscal year were made by George W. Bush and the previous Congress. Like a relief pitcher who comes into the game with the bases loaded, Obama came in with a budget in place that called for spending to increase by hundreds of billions of dollars in response to the worst economic and financial calamity in generations.”
Let me complete the metaphor for Nutting: “Then as those runners scored, Obama kept putting more on base.”
Obama chose not to reverse that elevated level of spending; thus he, along with congressional Democrats, are responsible for it. Only by establishing 2009 as the new baseline, something Republican budget hawks like Paul Ryan feared would happen, does Obama come off looking like a tightwad. Obama has turned a one-off surge in spending due to the Great Recession into his permanent New Normal through 2016 and beyond.
Nowhere, nowhere, nowhere, NOWHERE is this pertinent piece of context included in Politifact's 1300 word analysis.
Back to Pethokoukis (a mandatory follow on Twitter):
As I point out in my original post, if Obama wins another term, spending—according to his own budget—would never drop below 22.3% of GDP. If that forecast is right, spending during Obama’s eight years in office would average 23.6% of GDP. That average is higher than any single previous non-war year in American history. …
Did we also forget about the $2 trillion in Obamacare spending that doesn’t kick in until 2014? …
Bottom line: Obama has been president for the past 3 1/2 years, two of those years with huge Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress. Instead of cutting spending or putting Washington on a long-term, sustainable fiscal path, he’s seen the burst of spending around the Great Recession as an opportunity to make those levels a floor rather than a ceiling.
And let's not forget this from April of 2009:
The broad outlines of President Obama's budget moved through Congress on Thursday even as Republicans warned that Democrats are "leading the country off a leftward cliff" and Bay Area liberals insisted that Obama is not going far enough.
But for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the $3.5 trillion budget is the beginning of a new Democratic era. …
The budget marks a decisive shift from the Bush era, dramatically raising social spending and federal investments in green energy and education. It lays the groundwork for a major overhaul of the U.S. health-care system and for climate-change legislation.
Something else Politifact chooses to exclude from its shark-jumping is the fact that then-Senator Obama voted in favor of the very same 2009 budget he supposedly is in no way responsible for:
After all, on March 14, 2008, then Sen. Obama voted in favor of the 2009 budget which authorized $3.1 trillion in federal outlays along with a projected $400 billion deficit. The 51-44 vote that morning was strongly along party lines with only two Republicans saying "Yes."
Obama also praised the budget:
The budget passed by the Senate tonight makes significant progress in getting our nation's priorities back on track. After years of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, this year's budget helps restore fiscal responsibility in Washington, and provides tax relief for the middle class and low-income families who need help most. It includes an expansion in the Child Tax Credit that I have fought for and makes marriage penalty relief permanent. And it rejects the President's drastic cuts in important domestic programs.
Politifact has never had any credibility with me. Their agenda and partisan crusade has been obvious, at least to me, since day one.
This bit of partisan and journalistic hackery, however, is a new low. Intentionally and dishonestly, Politifact only reports on the context that backs up the pro-Obama sleight-of-hand while the only context that matters is completely ignored. What we have here is nothing short of lying through a deliberate act of omission. This from the same outlet that buried us in context to avoiding claiming as "true" the fact that Obama ate a dog.
This act of malpractice should forever-after define Politifact as a completely dishonest broker of all things involving "facts." Their shilling is now clownish and worthy only of contempt and derision.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC