We live in the age of the “fact checker” now, so it really didn’t make sense for President Obama to throw out so many completely debunked talking points last night. He might have been looking for some momentary advantage by bamboozling the audience, but he didn’t really get that, because Romney slapped most of them down in real-time. The rest would not survive the rising of the sun on the following day.
First of all, there was Obama’s risible claim to have “proposed a specific $4 trillion deficit reduction plan.” Later he tried to conflate this with “spending cuts,” but there aren’t any actual spending cuts involved here. It’s entirely a discussion of slowing the rate of spending increase. The national debt will still skyrocket, year after year.
In fact, one of the most important deceptions to pull out of this Obama claim is his failure to mention that he means $4 trillion in deficit reduction over ten years. (Which is not a misdirection unique to him, by any means. Washington generally loves to talk about “spending reductions” in terms of 10-year numbers, because ten years is a lot of time for them to not happen.)
$400 billion out of annual deficits that exceed a trillion dollars, even if it were true, is nothing to get excited about when the national debt is scheduled to hit $20 trillion during a prospective second Obama term, and every credit agency in the world has the United States on notice for a downgrade.
But it’s not true, and there’s nothing complicated about why: Obama’s $4 trillion “deficit cut” includes a trillion in spending reductions already negotiated by Congress a year ago, and a trillion in military spending that was due to end anyway. Under the best-case CBO analysis, Obama’s plans would actually increase the deficit by “well over $2 trillion over that time period,” as related by National Journal. And that includes a lot of dubious assumptions and baseline budgeting adjustments.
Obama’s claim that he advocates a slightly “adjusted” version of the Simpson-Bowles commission’s recommendations was a breathtakingly foolish ploy, since both Simpson and Bowles are still around, and will testify that he did no such thing.
Obama repeatedly referenced a thoroughly discredited Tax Policy Center study to claim Romney would raise taxes on the middle class. Worse, he actually dragged out an even more threadbare analysis – not of Romney’s actual proposals, but a two-year-old version of Paul Ryan’s proposals – to claim Romney’s Medicare plan would cost seniors an extra $6000 per year. That’s comically amateurish – the behavior of a far-left blogger, not a presidential candidate.
Obama was flat-out wrong when he claimed “health care premiums have gone up, it’s true, but they have gone up slower than any time in the last 50 years.” Health care spending is growing more slowly, but it’s mostly because of rising unemployment and the general economic slowdown. Actual insurance premiums are way up, and the full implementation of the ObamaCare debacle won’t change that by offering subsidies. Subsidies don’t lower the cost of a product; they just change who pays for it.
And even if Obama had been correct about health insurance premiums, “the slowest growth in the last 50 years” is most certainly not what he promised when he forced ObamaCare down our throats. He loudly claimed that it would reduce premiums, not slightly retard the rate of growth, at titanic public expense.
Finally, it was hair-raisingly dangerous, to the point of jeopardizing our national future, for Obama to claim “Social Security is structurally sound.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Social Security is structurally unsustainable. It relies on a dwindling number of workers to support a growing number of retirees. The program has solvency issues now, and it will become unable to continue in its present form within 20 years. The size of the active workforce has a lot to do with the doomsday calculations… and the workforce has contracted to 30-year lows under Obama’s policies.
Constantly “tweaking” the retirement age is one way to shift the actuarial formula, but it’s obviously not a very good deal for young people who pay into the program for a lifetime, only to watch the goalposts for collecting benefits move further away. Obama himself repeatedly suggested, during the last debt crisis, that if the federal government was not allowed to go further into debt, it would have trouble issuing Social Security checks. That is not the mark of a “structurally sound” program.
There are other fact-checking issues being raised with Obama’s performance… and a few with Romney’s, such as challenges to his figure for the decline of median family income under Obama. But these Obama whoppers were huge and indefensible – fundamental misrepresentations of vital issues, not a few rounding errors in big fiscal numbers, or debatable interpretations of solid data.