Oh, the things the right will say to fool people!
First up, Robert J. Samuelson gave us his take on a new book detailing the perils of economic inequality by, of course, pretending like it isn’t a problem. Buried in his critique was this ridiculousness:
As for the power of the super-rich, they hardly control most democracies. In the United States, where about 70 percent of federal spending goes to the poor and middle class, the richest 1 percent pay nearly a quarter of federal taxes.
Saying that 70% of federal spending goes to the lower classes does seem to back his first point on the surface but not in reality. What if the GDP was $1 trillion with total government spending being $1,000 and 70% of that spending went to the lower classes? Would that make it appear as if the super-rich hardly controlled the government and got what they wanted as far as taxes and spending? Exactly.
A more accurate measure would be percent of GDP spent on social programs. And where does the U.S. rank among developed countries? No where near the top and, in fact, below the average (shown here). As for his point about the richest 1 percent and taxes, I’ve addressed this previously here.
The other preposterous claim for the day comes from the Washington Examiner:
What Fox News found in its most recent public opinion survey was that 61 percent of Americans believe Obama “lies” about important public issues either “most of the time” or “some of the time.” No other president in living memory has conducted himself in a manner that warranted even asking if such a description was appropriate. (Emphasis added)
I’ll ignore the absurd and unscientific question in the Faux News poll and just ask, were the people at the Washington Examiner alive and awake from 2001-2009?
Actually, the question of presidential trustworthiness has been asked plenty of times just not in the stupid way Faux News decided to word it. For example, this ABC News poll asked whether George W. Bush “Is honest and trustworthy?” Answer in 2005: about 40% agreed, basically identical to Faux News’ poll for Obama considering margin of error.
And taking into account Bush left office with far worse approval ratings than he had at the time of that poll, safe to say his trustworthiness ratings would have been far worse if people had been asked the same question and given the same options for answers as the recent Faux News poll.
In the lead-up to this week’s opening of the George W. Bush library, a jaw-dropping poll number was given on CNN’s site:
Eight in ten Republicans now say that Bush’s eight years in office were a success.
After some smelling salts and looking more closely at their data, I realized part of the problem of this poll was no option of a middle choice between “success” and “failure”, for example “mixed” or “somewhat successful”. People were forced to back their party’s guy and we get this result.
But the stat still seems pretty high for the disaster that was the Bush administration. Point being if that was a “success”, then let’s do a little comparison between 43 and 44 and see who we should consider the bigger success.
When Bush was inaugurated in January 2001: 4.2%. When he left office in January 2009: 7.8%. Overall change: 3.6% increase in unemployment. “Success!”
When Obama was inaugurated in January 2009: 7.8%. Latest numbers for March 2013: 7.6%. Overall change: .2% decrease. Bigger “success!”
Public approval of Bush handling Hurricane Katrina in the days after impact: 43% approve and 54% disapprove. “Success!”
Public approval of Obama handling Hurricane Sandy: 68% approve and 15% disapprove. Bigger “success!”
Bush taking us into a war most Americans now consider a “mistake” and doing it with clearly faulty info while not focusing resources on a pursuit of the man responsible for the 9/11 attacks. “Success!”
Obama getting us out of the “mistake” and putting the emphasis of security forces back on those guilty of killing so many then giving the order to take out Bin Laden. Bigger “success!”
Before I get into these numbers, I’d like to clarify something. Many conservatives argue the 2009 numbers are Obama’s and not in any way the actions of Bush. There is an easy solution to this debate, however: ask conservatives who they thought was responsible for the 2001 budget prior to Obama becoming president.
You see, the government was running growing surpluses for three years prior to the 2001 budget. Then things started to turn around. So, if we figure out who conservatives considered mostly responsible for the 2001 budget, then we know who gets most of the blame for 2009.
Let’s ask Bush’s OMB director, Joshua Bolten when he testified to Congress in 2004:
In the last budget year of the previous (Clinton) administration (2001)…With the adoption of President Bush’s first budget (2002).
Seems clear. How about right wing economic think tank the Cato Institute? When they were doing the numbers on the first three years of Bush’s budgets in this piece, they included the 2004 budget which means no 2001.
Any conservative budget hawks from Townhall want to add their knowledge? Seems so:
So the $133.29 billion deficit in the year ending September 2001 was Clinton’s.
Hard right think tank Heritage Foundation weighing in:
Even the most rabid leftist cannot blame George Bush for the 2001 recession. It was the Clinton recession.
(This is despite the fact the 2001 recession officially started in March 2001, two months into Bush’s term. By comparison, the Great Recession officially started in December of 2007, 14 months prior to Obama taking the oath.)
But the most rabid conservatives have no problem doing the same with Obama by blaming him for 2009. Rabidly, of course. The blame of Clinton was rather extensive as this piece from the Daily Kos shows. That being said, using the conservative perspective that 2001 was all Clinton’s fault prior to Obama’s election, we can safely assume all conservatives understand 2009 belongs to Bush, right guys? Let’s look at some numbers.
(Source here for the following.)
First fiscal year budget deficit Bush is responsible for (2002): $157 billion. Last year he was responsible for (2009): $1.4 trillion. Overall: $1.2 trillion increase in deficit. “Success!”
First fiscal year budget deficit Obama is responsible for (2010): $1.3 trillion. 2013 deficit projection: $972 billion. Overall: over $300 billion decrease in deficit. Bigger “success!”
(Source here for the following.)
Federal deficit as percent of GDP in Bush’s first year: 1.48%. Final year: 10.13%. Overall: an increase nearly seven times higher than first year. “Success!”
Obama’s first year: 8.92%. 2013 projection: 6%. Overall: a 30% decrease from year one. Bigger “success!”
The Dow (all retrieved from here) on Jan. 20, 2001, Bush’s first day in office: 10,587.59. Last day in office, Jan. 20, 2009: 7,949.09. Overall: 2638.5 drop in the Dow. “Success!”
The Dow when Obama was sworn in on Jan. 20, 2009: 7,949.09. As of yesterday, April 26, 2013: 14,712.55. Overall: 6,763.46 increase in the Dow. Bigger “success!”
If people are going to completely re-imagine history and call the presidency of George W. Bush a “success”, then they have to do one more thing when that is done. Admit the Obama presidency has been a far, far greater success in most of the ways we actually measure success when it comes to judging presidents.