Let's do some math

For Your Consideration

Alan CheahFebruary 29, 2012 

The more I read the commentary and letters in the Sierra Star's opinion section I find myself reluctantly being a self-appointed, local, de-facto fact-checker and context contributor.

Recently, I debunked Albert L. Kiser's assertion - "...Stimulus of almost $1 trillion = zero jobs. Talk to an economist. It's a fact" - with Politifact's finding that this was the No. 1 lie of the top 10 lies in 2011.

Again we are faced with similar assertions in Bill Atwood's "A look at Obama." This is not a critique of Mr. Atwood, who I'm sure is an honorable man, but more a chastisement of those who originally proffer these misleading and, frankly, false ideas for others who trust them to make it mythical urban legends.

A popular belief Atwood echoed is that "...President Obama stated that once the stimulus package was enacted, the unemployment rate would drop below and stay below 8%." Here are excerpts from The Fact Checker column entitled "Mitt Romney's claim that Obama said stimulus would keep unemployment below 8% ."

"Far from being anything that Obama said, the Romney campaign acknowledges that this 8% figure comes from a staff-written projection issued Jan. 9, 2009 -- before Obama had taken the oath of office." In other words, Obama didn't state it nor promise it. "Thus, it was not an official government assessment or even an analysis of an actual plan that had passed Congress."

In the Pinocchio measure, this got three Pinocchios.

Will the GOP pundits and future opinion writers to this paper stop spinning this falsehood?

Probably not, but at least you now know better.

Bill correctly said Obama stated that Bush's massive run up of the debt was unpatriotic but says Obama is hypocritical because he presides over a $5 trillion debt increase. Here is the necessary context. Clinton left a $250 billion annual surplus to George W. Bush. If that continued, some economists predicted that the 2000 $5.5 trillion national debt would have been paid off in 2012.

Instead, Bush used the money for tax cuts in June 2001 giving the bulk of the cuts to the richest 1%. After 911, instead of rescinding the tax cuts to pay for the war, he borrowed the money. In May 2003 during a now full-blown war, he doubled down on a second massive tax cut for the rich. Meanwhile, soldiers couldn't up-armor their Humvees; parents had to send supplies to their children; future generations were laden with a $10.4 trillion debt, all for more tax cuts to the rich.

Is this unpatriotic? You decide.

In contrast, Bush left Obama with a $480 billion deficit - which did not include war costs. In fact, it is really an $830 billion deficit since it went from a $250 billion surplus to a $480 billion deficit; 7.2% unemployment heading to 13% according to Bloomberg; and a recession only rivaled by the Great Depression. In January 2009, before Obama took office, the CBO projected Bush's legacy deficit would reach $1.2 trillion for 2009. Given the worst recession since the Great Depression, the annual deficit from Bush's legacy would have ballooned beyond $1.2 trillion in each subsequent year.

Let's do some math. If Obama did nothing for three years, we would have accrued a minimum of $3.6 trillion ($1.2T x 3) in Bush's legacy debt. Since the debt increase from 2008 stands at $5 trillion, it means Obama's policies are responsible for $1.4 trillion ($5T - $3.6T) or $467 billion ($1.4T /three years) per year deficit. In other words, $3.6 trillion of that $5 trillion debt increase is attributed to George W. Bush. Where's Obama's hypocrisy?

In February 2009, we were losing almost 800,000 jobs per month. For the past 23 months we have had increases in private sector job growth averaging 200,000 jobs monthly for the recent 14 months. Unemployment peaked in Oct. 2009 at 10.2%. Today, it is at 8.3%. Republicans wanted GM to go bankrupt. Obama resurrected GM and Chrysler saving and creating tens of thousands of jobs. The CBO (Congressional Budget Office) says 3.3 million jobs were created by the stimulus.

Obama pushed unemployment extension and payroll tax cuts for those making under $106,000 savings millions from hunger, homelessness and slipping into poverty. For a full list of Obama's record, go to obamaachievements.org/list. Saying that Obama won't run on his record is actually what the GOP hopes for not what Obama will be doing.

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