By February 3, 2012 9 Comments Read More →

A Deficit of Truth

 

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The Great Deceiver

 

On the campaign trail Willard Romney often brings a large clock made by his staff. This device purports to show President Obama’s economic failures and the rampaging deficit. Romney assures the crowds that he will do a better job of slowing down the clock when he is elected president.

As visually striking as the clock is, however, it does not answer a key question and presents a misleading message. When President Obama took office, the deficit was roughly $10.5 trillion. Today the deficit is roughly $15.2 trillion. Thus, simple subtraction indicates $4.7 trillion has been added to the deficit under President Obama. Republicans love this simple and simplistic answer.  It is mathematically accurate, but fundamentally false. While the deficit increased during the three years of President Obama’s first term, most of the increase is attributable directly to policies  and programs  that originated in the Bush administration.

The chart found at this link gives the details of what actually gave rise to the deficit rather than what the president’s attackers contend gave rise to it.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/adding-to-the-deficit-bush-vs-obama/2012/01/31/gIQAQ0kFgQ_graphic.html

The federal deficit is not something to be ignored. Neither is it fodder for demagoguery.  Furthermore, deficit spending is not always equivalent. In times of economic stagnation, deficit spending is the strongest and most constructive response. This is often referred to as counter-cyclical spending. When spending by households and businesses decline and thus diminish demand, government spending can increase and raise demand.  Often this has a beneficial impact and facilitates economic recovery.  Deficit spending during an economic boom, however, could trigger inflation and thus be harmful overall.

Regardless of the merits of deficit spending, however, the routine bemoaning of the deficit and relentless blaming of President Obama are simply more instances of Republican candidates and incumbents lying to the electorate. A careful study of the deficit and its origins conducted by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities demonstrates that policies and programs directly tied to the Bush administration from 2001 to 2009 added more than $5 trillion to the deficit. Policies and programs directly tied to the Obama administration from 2009 projected to 2017 will add less than $1 trillion to the deficit.  The policies of the last Republican administration add five times as much to the deficit as President Obama’s policies! The Republican attack on President Obama is not merely a lie; it is a big lie.

Willard often paraphrases the words of an 1895 newspaper column by saying, “Politics ain’t beanbags.”  He may be right even if his words are inaccurate*, but America is also not  Oceania. 2012 is not 1984 and the Republican Party and its candidates should not function like the Ministry of Truth in Orwell’s dystopian novel. Although the Greedy Obstructionist Party [GOP] may aspire to be an oligarchic dictatorship, rather than a democratic political party.  Whatever their secret longings, Republicans cannot be both truly patriotic and fundamentally deceptive.  These are mutually exclusive.

*http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2012/01/romney-cant-quote-bean-bag-aphorism-correctly.html

The government of a Republic derives its just powers from the consent of the governed. If candidates for office and those in office seek and hold power by knowingly deceiving the electorate, the possibility of true consent is negated. Any person sworn into office takes an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. Those who seek office should make the same pledge voluntarily.  Lying to the electorate may gain votes, but it does secure informed consent.  This undercuts the entire basis of government in a Republic. Thus, diligent practitioners of deception in pursuit of office sabotage and subvert the Constitution and the Republic.

We, the people, must be eternally vigilant in defense of our liberty under a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. We must ensure that all office seekers and office holders get this message – campaign honestly and fairly or fold your tents and return to private life and a richly deserved obscurity.

 

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Posted in: Larry Conley, Politics, USA
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  • The sad thing is that the average Americn has no clue about these details. It is so difficult to stay on top of things. Kudos to you for researching and writing this informative article.

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    • Larry Conley

      Dani,

      You are so right. The lack of knowledge among the electorate is the true danger. Somehow, someway, the truth must out. I remain optimistic that if given light, the people will find the right way.

      Thanks,

      Larry

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  • Larry Conley

    Just found this article: What Caused this Year’s Deficit?

    “The narrative that an ‘Obama spending spree’ caused our deficit problem is utterly false.”

    http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2012/01/deficit_blame.html

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  • Cher Duncombe

    Well-written article, Larry. I think we have reached a point where Obama can no longer lay complete blame for our deficit at the feet of George Bush. The reality is that the country needed to be fixed after Bush and that required painful measures by this Administration. What Obama can give, however, is a higher expectation as we begin the slow but steady climb upward.

    You are right to call politicians out for disregarding their duty to represent their constituents. It is done too often, as Washington and its corrupt game-board ‘happen’ to elected officials. It is part of the DNA that probably will not change. Still, the calling-out is warranted.

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    • Larry Conley

      Cher,

      The blame if blame it is does not all go back to Bush, but as the study documents more $5 trillion does. Also, in the Great Recession, deficits are almost obligatory. FDR almost tanked the recovery from the Great Depression by prematurely trying to balance the budget. In one sense the economy was fortunate that WWII broke out and massive government spending ensued.

      There is a mutuality involving the officials and the constituents. Voters are adults and should exercise the franchise responsibly. People in office should serve honorably. All any of us can do is do right in our sphere and encourage others to do likewise.

      Thanks for your thought provoking comments.

      As ever,

      Larry

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  • With Willard and the Republicans, Everything is fodder for demagoguery. I loved your illustration and it shows him as he really is, a man possessed with the idea of becoming president and willing to say and do Whatever it takes to get there. I don’t understand how he thinks he can continue to get away with it, with all the tape out there showing him lying through his teeth!

    Larry, the only way to make people notice is to keep writing about it and getting it out there. In a country where only half the people vote, it would behoove those of us have information like this to keep sharing it!

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    • Melody,

      You are precisely correct. We must keep finding the truth and making it known.

      The truth will keep us free!

      Thanks as always.

      Larry

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  • It’s so hard for me to keep up with the deficit. Depending on whether the left or right is talking about it, the infographic accompanied will look differently. I think it’s one of those things that is so overwhelming and seemingly out of our control that the American people stopped being interested it.

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    • Jen,

      If the American people have stopped being interested, and they may well have, they had better shake off the doldrums and get their head in the game so to speak. People are so comfortable complaining but so reluctant to look for valid information and act upon it that they bring about the things they claim to abhor.

      As to the info-graphic, the one presented was developed by competent people using sound methods. I would say, it is neither left nor right, but centered on the facts. It should not take much recollection to remember that during the Bush administration there were massive tax cuts that reduced revenues, there were two unfunded wars that were kept off the books to obscure the costs, and their was a prescription drug program initiated that did more for Big-Pharma [who were the main intended beneficiaries] than Medicare recipients. Last, but not least, the economic crash happened before President Obama took office, but he still has the duty to respond to it.

      We, the people, are sovereign, but if we decline to do the work to do the job responsibly, then our sovereignty will be a cruel joke.

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