7 Nasty Liberal Lies about 8 Nasty Conservative Lies

This is a response to the Alternet article 8 Nasty Conservative Lies About the Democrats and Obama That Must Be Debunked Before the Election which is about as unbiased as one would expect from the title.

Oh, this is so boring. But smart people I know have been suckered in by it, so I suppose it needs to be rebutted. How tedious.

1) President Obama actually reduced the deficit since George Bush’s last deficit was $1.416 trillion.

In a sleight of hand worthy of a 7-year-old magician wannabe, he notes that, since Bush signed the 2009 budget, he is therefore responsible for all the debt in 2009, which was $1.416 trillion. He does not, however, explain that the stimulus was passed that year and added drastically to the deficit for 2009. Why is there no mention this? Because the author is interested only in political point-scoring, not the truth.

2) Obama actually cut taxes

This one is actually true. President Obama did cut taxes as a part of the stimulus. But apparently those tax cuts had no effect on the deficit described above, being replaced by money from the happiness rainbow tree that the author believes Obama keeps in the back yard. It is entertaining that the author says these tax cuts were “wasted” since he will soon cite the CBO report on the stimulus, which claims that the tax cuts helped stimulate growth. Consistency is apparently not as much fun as throwing poo.

3) President Obama didn’t bail out the banks, George Bush did.

True, but Obama did vote for the bailout, as did John McCain. Perhaps he is claiming that Senators aren’t important and shouldn’t be held responsible for their own actions and that Congress has virtually nothing to do with governing the nation, in which case the whole article seems irrelevant since it’s not a presidential election and changing Congress won’t actually have an effect on anything. It’s hard to tell, he’s short on details.

4) The stimulus totally worked

He cites the CBO report on the stimulus. Whoop-de-do. The CBO report is an estimate based on an algorithm. When the Obama administration went to the CBO before the stimulus, the CBO plugged the numbers into a computer and said “If you spend X money, you will get Y jobs”. Nearly 2 years later, the Obama administration asked the CBO to plug the numbers in again and – surprise! – they got the same result. It is not based on any actual measurement of the job market, it’s based on a model.

A better way of determining if the stimulus worked would be to ask “Did we follow the unemployment curve the administration said we would?” The answer is “hell no”. Unemployment is far worse than the administration predicted with the stimulus. This is a point which the author explains at length. I’m just kidding; he totally ignores it, perhaps imagining that he had addressed it but could no longer make out the words from behind the spittle covering his laptop screen.

5) Businesses don’t hire based on tax cuts

Young, small businesses hire more than big businesses. They will usually work the people they have as much as possible until it becomes clear that they cannot pull in any more business without new people. Fewer taxes means more money. More money could simply mean more profit (as it has recently with larger companies), or it could mean more growth, more employees, even more money. It varies from business to business. But saying “it’s complicated” does not give the author the intellectual political anger management outlet he clearly needs, so I guess we should be glad he’s not biting anyone’s fingers off.

6) Health care reform reduces gov’t deficits

Here, he cites an article from before the health care reform bill was passed. Since then, the estimate has jumped up as things like the 21% cut in Medicare reimbursement was postponed, then postponed again and large companies like McDonald’s got permission to ignore the law when they told the government that they would drop coverage for their employees if they didn’t get a waiver.

Thus, the various cost-savings of the bill have been shown implausible or manipulative (which is exactly what I said would happen to those absurd estimates nearly a year ago). They were nothing but projection manipulation devices and anyone who wasn’t drunk could see that was the case.

7) Social Security is fine. It’s not a Ponzi scheme.

Yes, Social Security has run a surplus… up to this year when it ran a decifit. Projections have it pushing back into surplus for a couple years until, in 2016, it dips back into deficit forever. “No problem,” the increasingly dense author of the article says, “There’s a trust fund”. Yeah… a trust fund held in US debt. The SS trust fund buys up US debt, which the government pays back regularly, so it’s a pretty safe asset. That trust fund should last for a while, but eventually we will be paying Social Security returns to older investors (the elderly) from their own money or money paid by newer investors (the younger generation).

That is the definition of a Ponzi scheme.

8 ) Government spending is good for the economy

Here the author talks about how the government spends so much on infrastructure, roads, airports, schools (in an ideal world these things are all good for the economy) but only a “small part of the government’s budget” is for welfare and foreign aid. I’m kind of funny inasmuch as I think that 60% of our budget is not a “small part”. (I’m counting SS, Medicare/Medicaid, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and “other” mandatory programs. But not interest on the debt.)

Roads and schools? (Transportation and Education) They account for 3.3% of the budget. Since welfare and foreign aid are such a “small part” of the budget, the author won’t mind if we get rid of it. I’d be delighted if we reduced the other parts of the budget so that Transportation and Education made the bulk of it.

Overall, the author targets builds up conservative strawmen of “lies” and then uses liberal strawmen (and selective data) to “prove” them wrong. This article is nothing more than red meat for people who already agree and don’t have time to do the research themselves. It’s sloppy, lazy, angry and impotent. And, worst of all, it spreads disinformation. Hopefully this post is something of an antidote.

(Note: There are few links here because this data is so easily available and I’m in a crunch time at work.)


  1. Dave Johnson says:

    #1 see Cato Institute, “Don’t Blame Obama for Bush’s 2009 Deficit,” http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/dont-blame-obama-for-bushs-2009-deficit/

    #4 The stimulus was clearly not enough, creating only 1.4-3.3 million jobs. Economists predicted a slack in demand of about 1.2 trillion, but the stimulus was under $900 billion. About 40% of that was tax cuts, which as less effective than direct hiring or infrastructure. A significant share of the stimulus was direct aid to states to keep people from being laid off.

    It clearly wasn’t enough, but your complaint seems to be that Obama didn’t clean up Bush’s mess fast enough, so we should throw out Obama and bring the Bush people back!

    #5 “Fewer taxes means more money.” Not really. Corporate taxes are primarily on the big corporations. If they pay less in taxes it means that the top 2% have even more money. The thing is, they’re rich, they already spend everything they want to spend. But cutting taxes on these top few does increase the government’s borrowing,. as we have seen since Reagan with another wave of it under Bush II. Remember what happened when Clinton raised taxes on the top 2%, the economy boomed and the government started paying off debt.

    #6 CBO August, 2010 says health care reform reduces deficits. http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20100825/NEWS/308259980

    #7 You are incorrect, Social Security did not run a deficit this year. It paid out more than it received from payroll taxes because so many people got laid off because of Bush, but that doesn’t count the trust fund or the interest the trust fund earns. Remember, it has a huge trust fund in the trillions. Compare this to military spending, which has no trust fund, and for which we borrow the money every year.

  2. Pablo says:

    Yo, Dave:

    Re: your critique of #1: From that article, “though Obama actually deserves a small share of the blame for Bush’s last deficit since earlier this year he pushed through both an “omnibus” spending bill and the so-called stimulus bill that increased FY2009 spending.” Ummm, yeah. The stimulus was $780 billion and the omnibus spending and $410 billion for the Omnibus. That’s $1.19 trillion that is Obama’s – taking the Bush component of the deficit down to about $200 billion. I’d say that’s more than a “small share of the blame.” (Kinda weird, actually. Cato’s usually more thorough than that.)

    Re: your critique of #4: folks who don’t understand economics shouldn’t practice it (them?). Your critique makes no sense, and doesn’t refute his main point, that the CBO are meaningless computer models. You are committing the broken window fallacy. Look it up.

    Re: your critique of #5: Corporations aren’t rich people – they’re not people at all. Corporations are owned by shareholders, largely in pension funds and mutual funds owned by moms and pops and union guys and gals, etc. Taxing corporations and taxing the rich are completely separate issues. Read Thomas Sowell “Brass Oldies” in National Review for a survey about increased revenues from lowered tax rates. Rates, not revenues.

    Re: your critique of #6: You’re kinda stuck on believing the CBO, aren’t you. They exist in La La land. No relation to reality at all. Further, they are given constraints on what they can score to ensure it bears no relation to reality. Think politicians want the real story out there? C’mon over here, I have a bridge for sale!

    Re: your critique of #7: Where is this “trust fund”? Where is it held? I’ll tell you. It’s in the vicinity of Gore’s lockbox. It’s fantasy. Doesn’t exist. The changing demographics are the real story. It was a ponzi scheme from the beginning. It’s just that they could hide it for a while. They can’t any longer.

  3. Nate says:

    “This article is nothing more than red meat for people who already agree and don’t have time to do the research themselves.”

    You are referring to your own article, correct?

    Firstly, the original posting was not wholly liberal as topics such as social security are bipartisan. The treatment and reform of such IS partisan and subject to politicking, but your rebuttal highlights what’s wrong with most of the American political mindset. That is you turn something that’s factual, no different from “The sky is blue” or “A water molecule has two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom,” into a hotly debated political item rather than focusing on actionable items that could make a difference.

    Secondly, if you truly want to make a statement about where improvements can be made please do so in the realms of reality. Fact is Bush completely screwed over the deficit with insane spending and it’ll take a decade’s worth of financial maneuvering to get out of mess he created. As Dave pointed out, you’re criticizing Obama for not cleaning up Bush’s mess fast enough. Instead, how about focusing on Obama’s lack of renewable energy legislation to create independence from foreign oil? The technology is there and it’d create tons of jobs, so what’s stopping this legislation?

    Please expand your thinking beyond crude political boundaries. This whole rebuttal sounds like Fox News fear-mongering – a crudely researched rebuttal bereft of original thought.

  4. Instead, how about focusing on Obama’s lack of renewable energy legislation to create independence from foreign oil?

    Renewable energy legislation is more lala talk from the clueless. The same bunch that touts “renewable energy” rips down hydro-electric dams and stops construction of nuke plants.

    The same bunch that wants renewable energy legislation wants to apply OSHA to telecommuters hence providing a strong disincentive for telecommuting because they are part of the same political alliance as trial lawyers.

    The same bunch that wants renewable energy legislation wants to toll more roads to create more traffic snarls because they are part of the same political alliance as gov workers and gov worker unions.

    Independence from foreign oil? This from the crowd that won’t drill in ANWR LOL

    Have you actually figured out how much energy we use as a nation and how much energy solar and wind can generate as per the laws of physics? Have you wondered what would be needed to make up that difference?

    Do you realize that foreign oil has little to nothing to do with electricity production that renewable energy legislation seeks to address?

  5. politicalmath says:

    Dave, Nate,

    I’m making no policy prescriptions whatsoever here. I don’t say “so vote Republican because they’ll do better” anywhere. I don’t make any voting recommendations or party endorsements. It’s interesting that you’ve both read that into my post. Methinks I smell a hint of of projection. I think there’s plenty of blame to go around.

    What is strange is that you two seem to think that there *isn’t* plenty of blame to go around… that there is only a limited quantity of blame and that it all belongs to George W. Bush. Yes, George W. Bush increased spending, but he did so pretty much in line with historical norms. The Bush deficits were caused much more by a severe reduction in revenues than an increase in spending. By contrast, spending under President Obama increased drastically (driven mainly by the stimulus spending).

    There is also a funny bit of “I can *so* have my cake and eat it too” where you want President Obama to be responsible for the stimulus spending (predicated on accepting the CBO estimates at face value), but not responsible for the deficit. This is the fatal intellectual give-away. Taking one involves owning the other. If you’re not willing to admit this, then you’re not being intellectually honest with the data.

  6. David Not Dave says:

    @Dave: #7 When you pay out more than you receive, that is the definition of a deficit regardless of savings or “trust funds.”

  7. please see the website here. This is the epitome of the what the president is

  8. Bill says:

    @ David Not Dave It is a little more complicated than that. SS paid out more than they received due to payroll taxes, but they *also* received interest on that trust fund. Those receipts are still receipts. So the trust fund did grow in that year. Anytime you have more money in the bank at the end of the year than you did at the beginning, I think you didn’t run a deficit.

    The part of the situation where this gets dicey is that this was the first year in which treasury bills had to be sold to the public to pay into SS. Previously, SS was available as a purchaser of bonds to keep the interest rates low.


    1. Additionally, Obama signed a 2009 omnibus spending bill of $410 billion.

    2. Yes, the stimulus did include tax breaks, however, that is not the only thing that Obama pushed and signed. Obama increased tobacco taxes, the healthcare bill includes a trillion in new taxation, and his budget included hosts of new taxation items.

    In total, Obama increased overall taxation by $2 trillion in his first year. This goes against the 182 billion in taxation cuts from the stimulus bill.

    So, in net, he *has* increased taxes. A lot.

  9. David Not Dave says:

    @ Bill: It is dicey at best. If I had to rely on the interest my savings made to make ends meet, I would still consider that a deficit. I can see your point though, earnings are earnings. However, if I have to sell my TV to make ends meet, that is most certainly a deficit even if I wind up with more money in the bank in the end then I began with.

    What I am certain of is that in the world outside of Government, someone would go to jail for the SS scheme.

  10. [...] Shared 7 Nasty Liberal Lies about 8 Nasty Conservative Lies. [...]

  11. How about solutions says:

    It’s easy to find fallacies, faults, and findings that are questionable. However people, nothing gets fixed by sheer complaining and bickering. How about if in threads like this people came up with some ideas, perhaps such that can be passed onto legislatures. For years now it’s primarily the blame game. Anyone got a toe in for new ideas on making things better?

  12. Bill says:

    @How about solutions:
    I’d love to! But, I’d start by stripping out a bunch of the anti-business legislation like the minimum wage, most environmental protections, OSHA, most of the social welfare programs, bringing home the troops, starting with Germany, Japan, and all the other “nato” bases, and many other government reducing measures. This would start to bring the manufacturing jobs back to the US, tame the savage deficit, and get the US back on track for real prosperity.

    I am guessing tat you would do something different, and will be very unhappy if I do what I am proposing. I am pretty unhappy with the measures that Obama is taking, I think that they will make all our existent problems worse. They make me unhappy. So, we get what we have now, which is a lot of fault finding, because both sides believe that theirs is the right method and the other sides method will not work.

    What is unnecessary is the open lying. The points that Politicalmath is disputing in this post are out and out lies, and there is little excuse for those.

  13. adam says:

    Your an idiot. Where did you get this info? CNN, Obama?

  14. Ed Skinner says:

    Interesting chart at http://www.visualizingeconomics.com/2006/11/05/2005-us-income-distribution/ — looks credible but, then again, I agree with Samuel Clemens’ “three kinds of lies…” quote.

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