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AP ‘Fact Checks’ Obama’s SOTU Speech

From those hard nosed fact checkers at the Associated Press:

FACT CHECK: Obama and his imbalanced ledger

By Calvin Woodward, Associated Press
January 26, 2011

WASHINGTON – The ledger did not appear to be adding up Tuesday night when President Barack Obama urged more spending on one hand and a spending freeze on the other.

Obama spoke ambitiously of putting money into roads, research, education, efficient cars, high-speed rail and other initiatives in his State of the Union speech.

He pointed to the transportation and construction projects of the last two years and proposed "we redouble these efforts."

Didn’t we (the taxpayer) already put hundreds of billions into this with the stimulus? What happened? Doubling this obviously failed effort will have exactly the same effect on growing the economy as multiplying zero by two.

He coupled this with a call to "freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years."

As we have noted, this does nothing more than protect domestic spending from cuts – which are badly needed. But of course defense spending will be slashed. After all, what good does defense spending do jobs or innovation?

But Obama offered far more examples of where he would spend than where he would cut, and some of the areas he identified for savings are not certain to yield much if anything.

For example, he said he wants to eliminate "billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies." Yet he made a similar proposal last year that went nowhere. He sought $36.5 billion in tax increases on oil and gas companies over the next decade, but Congress largely ignored the request, even though Democrats were then in charge of both houses of Congress.

Hasn’t Mr. Obama already done enough to destroy the oil industry with his seven year moratorium on offshore drilling?

A look at some of Obama’s statements Tuesday night and how they compare with the facts:

And by facts, Mr. Woodward means ‘AP facts.’

OBAMA: Tackling the deficit "means further reducing health care costs, including programs like Medicare and Medicaid, which are the single biggest contributor to our long-term deficit. Health insurance reform will slow these rising costs, which is part of why nonpartisan economists have said that repealing the health care law would add a quarter of a trillion dollars to our deficit."

THE FACTS: The idea that Obama’s health care law saves money for the government is based on some arguable assumptions.

To be sure, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated the law will slightly reduce red ink over 10 years. But the office’s analysis assumes that steep cuts in Medicare spending, as called for in the law, will actually take place. Others in the government have concluded it is unrealistic to expect such savings from Medicare.

In recent years, for example, Congress has repeatedly overridden a law that would save the treasury billions by cutting deeply into Medicare pay for doctors. Just last month, the government once again put off the scheduled cuts for another year, at a cost of $19 billion. That money is being taken out of the health care overhaul. Congress has shown itself sensitive to pressure from seniors and their doctors, and there’s little reason to think that will change.

The problems with the CBO’s estimate go far beyond the ‘doughnut hole.’ In reality, Obama-care entails a number of huge tax increases in the guise of mandates. The CBO’s estimate assumes these mandates/taxes will stand. But 27 states are fighting the mandates, and federal courts have already ruled that the tax on the uninsured is un-Constitutional.

Also, it should be noted that the only way even these new huge taxes can even pretend to cover the new costs is because we have ten years of taxes for four years of benefits. Once we get past the first ten years, even if all these new taxes stand, the cost of Obama-care will increase the deficit astronomically. Even more than Medicare and Medicaid have done.

OBAMA: Vowed to veto any bills sent to him that include "earmarks," pet spending provisions pushed by individual lawmakers. "Both parties in Congress should know this: If a bill comes to my desk with earmarks inside, I will veto it."

THE FACTS: House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has promised that no bill with earmarks will be sent to Obama in the first place.

Apparently, Mr. Woodward is unaware that the Senate is perfectly free to add their own earmarks when they mark up House bills.

Republicans have taken the lead in battling earmarks while Obama signed plenty of earmark-laden spending bills when Democrats controlled both houses. As recently as last month, Obama was prepared to sign a catchall spending measure stuffed with earmarks, before it collapsed in the Senate after an outcry from conservatives over the bill’s $8 billion-plus in home-state pet projects.

It’s a turnabout for the president; in early 2009, Obama sounded like an apologist for the practice: "Done right, earmarks have given legislators the opportunity to direct federal money to worthy projects that benefit people in their districts, and that’s why I’ve opposed their outright elimination," he said then.

What a preposterous thing to call Mr. Obama on, given all of the other mendacities in his speech. Of course Mr. Obama would support an end to Congressional earmarks. That gives him full say over how the money allocated by Congress is spent. What better way for Mr. Obama to oil his political machine for his re-election bid.

OBAMA: "I’m willing to look at other ideas to bring down costs, including one that Republicans suggested last year: medical malpractice reform to rein in frivolous lawsuits."

That’s funny, we distinctly remember that Mr. Obama claimed to have included this Republican suggestion back in March 2009, when he rammed the bill through Congress via reconciliation. Was he lying then or is he lying now?

THE FACTS: Republicans may be forgiven if this offer makes them feel like Charlie Brown running up to kick the football, only to have it pulled away, again.

Obama has expressed openness before to this prominent Republican proposal, but it has not come to much. It was one of several GOP ideas that were dropped or diminished in the health care law after Obama endorsed them in a televised bipartisan meeting at the height of the debate.

Republicans want federal action to limit jury awards in medical malpractice cases; what Obama appears to be offering, by supporting state efforts, falls short of that. The president has said he agrees that fear of being sued leads to unnecessary tests and procedures that drive up health care costs. So far the administration has provided grants to test ideas aimed at reducing medical mistakes and resolving malpractice cases by negotiation, but has recommended no change in federal law.

Trial lawyers, major political donors to Democratic candidates, are strongly opposed to caps on jury awards. But the administration has been reluctant to support other approaches, such as the creation of specialized courts where expert judges, not juries, would decide malpractice cases. In October 2009 the Congressional Budget Office estimated that government health care programs could save $41 billion over 10 years if nationwide limits on jury awards for pain and suffering and other similar curbs were enacted.

The simple fact of the matter is that giving the government more control over the healthcare industry will open the door to more fraud. How many times do we have to be taught this lesson? We have seen in every part of government that the bureaucrats charged with ferreting out fraud spend more time ferreting out pornography.

Mr. Obama and his minions at the Associated Press would love for the Republicans to get lost in the weeds discussing such trivialities. The problem with Obama-care is not fraud – it is freedom, or the lack thereof.

OBAMA: "The bipartisan Fiscal Commission I created last year made this crystal clear. I don’t agree with all their proposals, but they made important progress. And their conclusion is that the only way to tackle our deficit is to cut excessive spending wherever we find it — in domestic spending, defense spending, health care spending, and spending through tax breaks and loopholes."

THE FACTS: Obama’s fiscal commission did not simply recommend cutting excessive spending; it proposed that the deficit could only be tamed by cutting $3 for every $1 of new revenue raised — in other words, a painful mix of spending cuts and tax increases. Instead, Obama proposed an overhaul of the corporate tax system that would eliminate loopholes and tax breaks but also reduce tax rates. The net effect would be neutral; it would not reduce or raise any revenue. Obama has yet to sign on to any of the ideas, even though he promised when creating the panel that it would not be "one of those Washington gimmicks."

It is a waste of everyone’s time to pretend that Mr. Obama’s ‘fiscal commission’ was anything more than a way to stall presenting any way to deal with the deficit until after the midterm elections.

Now that the elections are over, it will go down the same memory hole as the rest of the findings from his blue ribbon panels and study groups.

OBAMA: "To put us on solid ground, we should also find a bipartisan solution to strengthen Social Security for future generations."

THE FACTS: With that comment, Obama missed another chance to embrace the tough medicine proposed by the commission for bringing down the deficit. For example, he ruled out slashing benefits or partially privatizing the program, and made no reference to raising the retirement age. That left listeners to guess how he plans to do anything to salvage the popular retirement program whose trust funds are expected to run out of money in 2037 without changes.

The Democrats have fought any kind of Social Security reform for seventy years. And why not? It is working perfectly for them. In fact, they can’t wait until they can use Obama-care alongside Social Security, as the twin ‘third rails’ of politics.

OBAMA: As testament to the fruits of his administration’s diplomatic efforts to control the spread of nuclear weapons, he said the Iranian government "faces tougher and tighter sanctions than ever before."

THE FACTS: That is true, and it reflects Obama’s promise one year ago that Iran would face "growing consequences" if it failed to heed international demands to constrain its nuclear program. But what Obama didn’t say was that U.S. diplomacy has failed to persuade Tehran to negotiate over U.N. demands that it take steps to prove it is not on the path toward a bomb. Preliminary talks with Iran earlier this month broke off after the Iranians demanded U.S. sanctions be lifted.

It was reported in the news over the weekend that our good friends the Chinese have supplied Iran with the special steel used for the centrifuges in their nuclear plants. So much for sanctions. Besides, there have never been any real sanctions on Iran’s oil exports, which is all that really matters. Like everything else in this administration, all the talk about significant sanctions has just been words.

Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, giving the GOP response: "Whether sold as `stimulus’ or repackaged as ‘investment,’ their actions show they want a federal government that controls too much, taxes too much and spends too much in order to do too much."

THE FACTS: The economic stimulus package passed by the Democratic-controlled Congress in February 2009 didn’t raise taxes. Instead, about a third of the package — nearly $300 billion — was made up of temporary tax cuts. The biggest was Obama’s Making Work Pay credit, which provided up $400 to individuals and $800 to married couples. There were dozens of other tax cuts, including a more generous child tax credit, a tax credit for buying a home and a sales tax deduction for buying a car. Many, but not all, of the tax cuts have since expired.

What inane cavilling. Mr. Ryan was pointing out that Mr. Obama sold the $787 billion stimulus as an ‘investment.’ And that fact is undeniable, or it should be if the AP had one ounce of regard for the truth. Besides, we thought this was to be a fact check on Mr. Obama’s speech.

Obama’s health care law imposed new taxes, including a penalty for some people who don’t get qualified health insurance, starting in 2014.

How kind of the AP to finally admit this. Albeit, they buried this admission in the last paragraph of this wildly spinning piece.

But Obama extended Bush-era tax cuts that were due to expire at the beginning of the year. He also enacted a new one-year cut in the payroll tax for 2011 for just about every wage earner.

What does the ‘hostage-taking’ Republicans forcing Obama into these measures have to do with anything Mr. Ryan said?

Mr. Woodward is a hopeless Obama-tron. He can’t even pretend to critique his master.

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, January 26th, 2011. Comments are currently closed.

11 Responses to “AP ‘Fact Checks’ Obama’s SOTU Speech”

  1. TerryAnne says:

    I don’t know, Steve. For as enamored Woodward is of Obama, this was pretty impressive coming from him. He missed, but at least he was able to hit the strange points Obama made squarely on the head. Maybe a small light is starting to turn on for Woodward.

  2. proreason says:

    A bit of economic philosophy.

    Much as I hate government, I have to admit that what really counts is the overall well-being (think lifestyle) of the country. If government, even statist government, was able to achieve that, it would be a success.

    Now let’s look at the known facts about government:
    – by nature, it can’t be the low-cost provider of services (bureaucracies, rules-based, non innovative, least efficient hiring rules, naturally corrupt, no incentive to improve, enforced by military might)
    – by history, government is always the high-cost provider, oftentimes astronomically so (every government-based medical system ever conceived is 3 to 20 times the estimates)
    – when government does something, it crowds out all competition and becomes the sole provider (Russia, thousands more).

    It’s an iron clad fact that government cannot be efficient and that it kills private enterprise. There is NO WAY it can increase the overall well-being of the country, even if the intentions are good. It’s so fundamentally true that it is axiomatic.

    The proof is in the pudding. 90% (lowball estimate) of the improvements in life styles in THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD have come about when capitalism became dominant in the west after 1776. Think about it in terms of cars, planes, air conditioning, food supply and variety, computers, cell phones, television, movies, internet, medicine, life spans, leisure time, etc. It’s undeniably true. 90% improvement is probably wildly low.

    So now we can state the value ratio of private enterprise to government. Civilization (i.e., government) has existed about 10,000 years. 90% of lifestyle improvement occurred in about 250 of 10,000 years. 40 times the effort (10,000 / 250) produce 10% of improvements.

    Private Enterprise is AT LEAST 400 times better than government at improving lifestyles.

    I’m not kidding.

    If you think about it for even just a few moments, you will realize that it is true, in principle if not the exact number.

    The only thing that government is good at (besides controlling crime – at a hugely inefficient expense) is smoothing out bumps. So, the natural form of government throughout history has been .1% aristocrats and 99.9% serfs (i.e., the Assyrians, Egypt, Rome, Medieval Europe, pre-communist China, pre-British India, Communism, etc., etc., etc. – also undeniable true).

    The only benefit the serfs get is that their lifestyles are consistent – consistently 1/400th or less of the aristocrats.

    So go ahead, liberals…listen to the Liar in Chief. Enjoy your serfdom.

    • BannedbytheTaliban says:

      “The only benefit the serfs get is that their lifestyles are consistent”

      “Knowledge was the highest good, truth the supreme value; all the rest was secondary and subordinate….Universal happiness keeps the wheels steadily turning; truth and beauty can’t. And, of course, whenever the masses seized political power, then it was happiness rather than truth and beauty that mattered. …People were ready to have even their appetites controlled then. Anything for a quiet life. We’ve gone on controlling ever since. It hasn’t been very good for truth, of course. But it’s been very good for happiness. One can’t have something for nothing. Happiness has got to be paid for. ” – Mustapha Mond – BRAVE NEW WORLD – Aldous Huxley

      People will always want something for nothing. As long as there are people who are willing to trade freedom for ‘happiness and comfort’ there will always be a political power who will claim to give it to them. The truth be damned, the fact that government has never brought prosperity to anybody, only mass murder and servitude, will never be enough to convince people that this time won’t be different. ‘My government is better than that’ thinking is pervasive in the minds of democratic voters. They believe it can’t, or for some reason won’t, happen here. That somehow we are different, but fail to see we are different because we choose to be free from government. Free to enjoy the fruits of our labors, but also free to suffer failure.

  3. tranquil.night says:

    The AP and the Left are just being mildly critical because:

    1. They are genuinely disappointed that Obama didn’t capture the new majestic tone of Tuscon to peddle more hard Left pet caues. They consider it a missed opportunity to further put our agenda back on its heels.

    2. Regardless, they know that by mildly criticizing Obama, it’s going to become part of the narrative that Obama took flak from his Left flank for the tone of his proposals. Therefore, they’re serving to further that all-essential “Centrist” Obalmy plush-doll for whom the Republican beltway goes all tingles.

  4. Petronius says:

    Political Thesaurus
    (a layman’s guide to decipher the President’s 2011 State of the Union speech and media coverage of his speech)

    bipartisan = (1) a unilateral cram-down by the Democrats, or (2) a handful of Republicans who compromise on vital principles
    investment = wasteful government deficit spending to reward leftist constituent groups
    stimulus = borrowing and printing money for investment
    entitlement = a program for the confiscation and redistribution of wealth
    the vulnerable = leftist constituents and their lobbyists
    our most vulnerable citizens = welfare queens, immigrants, illegal aliens, labor unions, LGBTs, and the education and abortion industries
    compassion for the most vulnerable = redistribution of wealth to the most vulnerable
    shovel ready = a scheme for the waste of precious resources
    scientific = a scam; something completely bogus
    green jobs = the waste of resources on a scientific project
    discredited = a vitally important truth
    openness and accountability = mendacity; shady back-room deals
    loopholes = lawful tax exemptions
    excessive spending = the defense budget
    fiscal discipline / responsibility = a wild government spending spree
    Sputnik moment = killing NASA space programs and jobs in the aerospace industry
    jobs program = 16,500 new IRS agents hired to police ObamaCare
    crystal clear = obfuscation; muddying the waters
    civility = capitulation
    decency = abasement
    racist = any conservative
    angry violent racists = tea party supporters
    enemy of the state = Sarah Palin
    bigot = a white person who is privately proud of his heritage
    white supremacist = a white who is publicly proud of his heritage
    insensitivity = a momentary lapse into reality
    sensitivity = obedience training
    laser focused = ignored
    community = a bad neighborhood
    community organizer = a gangster
    history = began on 4 Nov 2008
    comprehensive reform = mass amnesty and open borders
    family reunification = mass amnesty and open borders
    fairness and compassion for the innocent young = mass amnesty and open borders
    anti-terrorism program = indiscriminate groping
    affirmative action = revenge for past injustices either real or imagined
    fairness doctrine = a program to silence conservative opposition
    the rich, the wealthy, Wall Street, Big Oil, Big Insurance, Big Pharma, et al. = an anonymous, amorphous group of evil people who deserve to have their property confiscated and redistributed; see also: enemy of the state.
    solar shingles = a painful skin rash that can only be cured by ObamaCare

    • untrainable says:

      Genius. solar shingles LMAO

    • tranquil.night says:

      Absolutely hilarious Petronius.

      One minor friendly correction because I think your definition is just slightly outdated as of Nov. 2, 2010.

      “history = began on 4 Nov 2008 revised daily”

    • TerryAnne says:

      Bravo, Petronius! LOL!

      I have a “change”, too:

      Sputnik moment = because nothing in America’s history quite compares to the one thing Communism succeeded in during the Cold War

  5. proreason says:

    Rand Paul for President. He has a plan to cut $500B (annually !!!) from the federal budget by shutting down the Dept of Energy and gutting Education, Commerce and other useless bureaucracies:


    At least it’s a start at cutting the low-hanging fruit. Then we could get onto Fannie Mae, the FCC, the SEC, the IRS, and the rest of the alphabet soup.

    He must be reading S&L.

    Side note: no cuts in SS or Medicare……gee, I thought it was impossible to make substantial cuts without doing that. Rand must be a genius or be able to count or something.

    • tranquil.night says:

      It’s so heartening to have a serious blueprint like this going on the record.

      You’re the man, Rand!

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