President Barack Obama’s loyal campaign aides are still arguing that he has stabilized federal spending, even though the week-old claim has been debunked.
Obama pushed the claim May 23 after the publication of a short article in MarketWatch that claimed spending has grown slower under Obama than under Presidents George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan.
“I just point out it always goes up least under Democratic presidents,” he said at a May 23 fundraiser in Denver shortly after he was shown the article by his spokesman, Jay Carney. “This other side, I don’t know how they’ve been bamboozling folks into thinking that they are the responsible, fiscally-disciplined party.”
“When we take over [the White House], we’ve got to clean it up,” said Obama, whose three completed budgets have a cumulative deficit of $3.9 trillion.
He repeated the claim May 24 in Des Moines, Iowa, declaring that “federal spending since I took office has risen at the slowest pace of any president in almost 60 years.”
The MarketWatch claim, however, assumed Bush’s emergency spending during the Wall Street crash in late 2008 was normal, and claimed that Bush was responsible for Congress’s 2009 spending laws even though he left D.C. Jan. 20.
“The data in the article are flawed, and the analysis lacks context — context that could easily could be found in the budget documents released by the White House,” said the Washington Post’s fact-checker, who awarded “Three Pinocchios” to the White House. (RELATED: Full coverage of the Obama campaign)
The Associated Press put out a May 26 report, headlined “FACT CHECK: Obama claim of thrifty spending falls short of reality, bailout skewers numbers.”
Republicans are taking advantage of the debate, which helps focus media attention onto Obama’s economic record of high unemployment, debt and deficits.
That’s a focus the Obama campaign has tried to avoid, partly by slamming Romney and by touting side issues, like the so-called “war on women.”
“By the end of this year, President Obama will have presided over a record-shattering four consecutive trillion-dollar deficits and added an historic amount to our national debt,” Romney spokesman Ryan Williams told The Daily Caller May 29. “President Obama has proven beyond all doubt that he is not serious about fixing our country’s spending problem.”
A May 29 missive from the Republican National Committee dubbed Obama’s claim to be “B.S.” and “widely debunked and discredited.”
“The reality on spending is actually the opposite of what Carney claimed,” said Kirsten Kukowski, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee.
Obama’s campaign-trail claim was pushed Tuesday morning by deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter, chief strategist David Axelrod, spokesman Ben LaBolt and Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse, all of whom cited a May 28 column by Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson.