- 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.
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.
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.