The trick in campaigning is to get voters to look suspiciously at your opponent. When you make a campaign statement and all the subsequent talk is about you, it almost always means you failed. I've covered the Bain game. Second case in point: on the official White House web page, under the title "Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Jay Carney" we find the following.
I just wanted to read something that I read this morning that caught my attention. This is from Market Watch's Rex Nutting. He says, "Of all the falsehoods told about President Obama, the biggest whopper is the one about his reckless spending spree. Almost everyone believes that Obama has presided over a massive increase in federal spending, but it didn't happen. Although there was a big stimulus bill under President Obama, federal spending is rising at its slowest pace since Dwight Eisenhower brought the Korean War to an end in the 1950s. Even hapless Herbert Hoover managed to increase spending more than Obama has."
That means that the rate of spending -- federal spending increase is lower under President Obama than all of his predecessors since Dwight Eisenhower, including all of his Republican predecessors. That is a fact not often noted in the press and certainly never mentioned by the Republicans.
"Press Gaggle"? Leaving that aside, Carney was actually claiming that Obama has not "presided over a massive increase in federal spending." Fact checker Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post awards Carney three Pinocchios.
In the post-war era, federal spending as a percentage of the U.S. economy has hovered around 20 percent, give or take a couple of percentage points. Under Obama, it has hit highs not seen since the end of World War II — completely the opposite of the point asserted by Carney. Part of this, of course, is a consequence of the recession, but it is also the result of a sustained higher level of spending.
What is striking about Carney's statement is not that it is a bald face lie, which surely it was. What is striking is that it is the kind of lie that a Welsh Pembroke Corgi could see through. It is like a guy in a fur coat with snow piling up on his shoulders claiming that it is unusually warm for July in Dallas. If there is one thing that is perfectly obvious to anyone who is paying the slightest bit of attention, it is that federal spending has increased dramatically under this administration.
Carney's whopper is not just transparent; it is the worst sort of thing that the Obama campaign needs right now. It focuses attention on the President's greatest weakness. It isn't really the increase in federal spending that is the problem, but the increase in federal deficits. The one necessarily involves the other. Is this really what the Administration wants to be talking about?
Somebody in the Obama operation gave Jay Carney Rex Nutting's absurd column and told him to run with it. What were they thinking? I suspect that the answer is in this passage from Kessler's column.
Nutting basically takes much of 2009 out of Obama's column, saying it was the "the last [year] of George W. Bush's presidency." Of course, with the recession crashing down, that's when federal spending ramped up. The federal fiscal year starts on Oct. 1, so the 2009 fiscal year accounts for about four months of Bush's presidency and eight of Obama's.
In theory, one could claim that the budget was already locked in when Obama took office, but that's not really the case. Most of the appropriations bills had not been passed, and certainly the stimulus bill was only signed into law after Obama took office.
After four years in office, the Administration still wants to evade responsibility for the nation's business and put it all on his predecessor. That in itself is a grave moral and political weakness. The whole point of the presidency is to put one person in a position of responsibility. Barack Obama has never been able to accept that responsibility. This is not what one looks for in a Chief Executive.