Politics

President Obama’s war on facts

Mayday! Mayday!

President Obama’s “corporate jet” line from his press conference Wednesday is crashing along with a host of other claims that fact-checkers dismissed in the hours after his speech.

Obama referred to private jets six times in his remarks, essentially describing the Republican position on how to decrease rampant deficits as being “willing to compromise their kids’ safety so that some corporate jet owner continues to get a tax break.”

The tax incentive at issue was enacted to counteract the airplane industry’s woes in 2001 after 9/11 and reauthorized in, drum roll,  Obama’s stimulus package, signed into law by the president himself.

More fundamentally, eliminating that tax break would bring in $3 billion in new taxes over ten years. That is less than 1 percent of the $400 billion in tax increases the Obama administration is proposing behind the scenes. It is about .15 percent of the spending cuts Republicans would like to see enacted.

In other words, by highlighting such a small issue, Obama cherry-picked an effective tool for making the debt ceiling vote a “clash of classes,” in the words of National Journal’s Ron Fournier, while wildly distorting its importance. Given the relatively tiny scale of the tax incentive, it does not force Congress to choose between it and “kids’ safety” in any meaningful way.

(Obama turns spotlight on Republicans for not being willing to give up ’sacred cow’)

Moving on, Obama claimed Wednesday to have been the only president in the history of the United States to have ever tried to eliminate unnecessary regulations.

“What I have done — and this is unprecedented, by the way, no administration’s done this before — is I’ve said to each agency, don’t just look at current regulations or don’t just look at future regulations, regulations that we’re proposing, let’s go backwards and look at regulations that are already on the books, and if they don’t make sense, let’s get rid of them,” Obama said.

As Calvin Woodward of the Associated Press notes, every president since Jimmy Carter has ordered a similar review of federal regulations to cut red tape.

Obama also claimed Wednesday that every informed person on the planet who isn’t being willfully dishonest realizes you can’t tackle federal deficits without raising taxes.

“Every single observer who’s not an elected official, who’s not a politician, says we can’t reduce our deficit in the scale and scope that we need to without having a balanced approach that looks at everything,” Obama said. (This “balanced approach” refers to, as he put it, “spending in the tax code,” i.e. tax increases.)

However, there is an “observer” who disagrees. He happens to be an Obama appointee. That person, as National Review’s Daniel Foster notes, is Ben Bernanke.

Questioned in a congressional hearing whether Congress could tackle deficits merely with spending cuts, Bernanke said, “of course.” Here’s a video.