Saturday, March 2, 2013

A fear-mongering liar

How else to say it? I don't like saying it, I'm really not happy about saying it, but at this point in time, there are no other options, there's just speaking the plain truth.

Yesterday, President Obama made a public statement on the consequences of the Sequester. Let's go through some of it and see what we find. First:
But Washington sure isn’t making it [the recovery] easy. At a time when our businesses have finally begun to get some traction -- hiring new workers, bringing jobs back to America -- we shouldn’t be making a series of dumb, arbitrary cuts to things that businesses depend on and workers depend on, like education, and research, and infrastructure and defense. It’s unnecessary. And at a time when too many Americans are still looking for work, it’s inexcusable.
He's right. It is inexcusable. And whose fault is it? Well, according to Obama:
It’s happening because of a choice that Republicans in Congress have made. They’ve allowed these cuts to happen because they refuse to budge on closing a single wasteful loophole to help reduce the deficit. As recently as yesterday, they decided to protect special interest tax breaks for the well-off and well-connected, and they think that that’s apparently more important than protecting our military or middle-class families from the pain of these cuts.
Lie! It's happening because of a choice the President is making, as well. He didn't really want any meaningful cuts. He wanted a deal like the one he got back in January: tax increases on the wealthy, cuts in future spending, and more actual current spending. And the Republicans wanted real, meaningful cuts alone. As to the special interests tax breaks, the January legislation--written by the Democrats--included the extension of all kinds if such tax breaks, but for wealthy people and industries who support the President like the Hollywood film industry. Double standards and hypocrisy.

But that's not the big whopper of the day. Really, it's just the kind of political posturing we expect from the rabidly partisan on both sides of the aisle and from the rabidly petty like the President. I'd be inclined to just shake my head at such nonsense, rather than detail the silliness of it all. However, the President surrounded this with more fear-mongering, like talk about the Sequester costing the country 750,000 jobs, and non-facts, like the imaginary $2.5 trillion cut from the deficit. He also went into some specifics in the fear-mongering realm during the Q&A. And that's where he really made it clear that truth is a foreign nation for him:
Starting tomorrow, everybody here, all the folks who are cleaning the floors at the Capitol -- now that Congress has left, somebody is going to be vacuuming and cleaning those floors and throwing out the garbage -- they're going to have less pay. The janitors, the security guards, they just got a pay cut, and they've got to figure out how to manage that. That’s real.
Got that? According to the President, janitors and security guards at the Capitol got a pay cut, as of today. According to the President, "that's real." But it's not real. It's a complete untruth; there's nothing real about it. Various media outlets have already made this determination and it's unassailable. WaPo's fact-checker--Glenn Kessler--breaks it all down here. He talked with the people in charge at the Capitol and they confirmed that no furloughs or pay reductions are taking place, today or in the future. An e-mail was even sent out to employees, warning them not to listen to the claims of a "high ranking official" being reported in the news. Kessler's conclusion:
Obama’s remarks continue the administration’s pattern of overstating the potential impact of the sequester, which we have explored this week. But this error is particularly bad--and nerve-wracking to the janitors and security guards who were misled by the president’s comments.  
We originally thought this was maybe a Two Pinocchio rating, but in light of the AOC memo and the confirmation that security guards will not face a pay cut, nothing in Obama’s statement came close to being correct.
One might say, I guess, that Obama was shooting from the hip and made an honest mistake, since he made the claim during the Q&A. But that doesn't fly, in my opinion. Obama didn't say they might get a pay cut, he said they absolutely did. There's no ambiguity in his statement. And obviously, it was part of a response package prepared ahead of time. It was an intentional lie--or "distortion," if one is feeling generous (I'm not)--disseminated to the American public as a means of stoking up fear over the consequences of the Sequester. That is the definition of fear-mongering, there's no way around it.

Obama also said yesterday that he was "not a dictator," but he sure likes to play one on TV.

Cheers, all.