Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Election: The Wall Street Journal Calls Bullshit on Rightist Myth *OBAMA CAMPAIGN UPDATE*

UPDATE II: The following is from Politifact:

UPDATE, May 31, 2012
While we have already shared some of the critiques of this fact-check in a previous follow-up story, critics have since noted that two of our fellow fact checkers -- the Washington Post Fact Checker and the Associated Press -- offered more negative rulings on related claims.
The Fact Checker addressed the apparent discrepancy succinctly in a follow-up column, saying "we did not evaluate the same thing."
There’s a widespread misconception that we gave a Mostly True rating to Rex Nutting’s MarketWatch column. After our original fact-check published, White House spokesman Jay Carney tweeted, "PolitiFact backs MarketWatch analysis of federal spending under POTUS & predecessors." Many conservative bloggers read our fact-check the same way, as they attacked us.
The assumption made by both sides is wrong. We examined at a Facebook post that said Mitt Romney is wrong to claim that spending under Obama has "accelerated at a pace without precedent in recent history," because it's actually risen "slower than at any time in nearly 60 years." The Facebook post does rely partly on Nutting’s work, and our item addresses that, but we did not simply give our seal of approval to everything Nutting wrote. In fact, half of the Facebook post stems from something else entirely -- a claim on Mitt Romney’s website.
Using and slightly tweaking Nutting’s methodology, we recalculated spending increases under each president back to Dwight Eisenhower and produced tables ranking the presidents from highest spenders to lowest spenders. By contrast, both the Fact Checker and the AP zeroed in on one narrower (and admittedly crucial) data point -- how to divide the responsibility between George W. Bush and Obama for the spending that occurred in fiscal year 2009, when spending rose fastest.
How you divide the spending between Bush and Obama for fiscal 2009 only makes a difference to our ruling if the shifts move Obama significantly up or down our rankings. Do they?
Nutting attributed spending from the first year of every presidential term to the previous administration, arguing that every new president starts their term four months into a fiscal year begun under their predecessor. Historically, this has not been a particularly controversial approach, and even some of Nutting’s critics we spoke to agreed that it’s not a bad rule of thumb.
But fiscal year 2009 was special because it came amid an economic and financial free fall that drove the nation’s leaders to spend a lot more than they ordinarily would. Nutting did take these factors into account, but not to the extent that some critics think is needed. Nutting shifted $140 billion in fiscal 2009 spending from two of Obama’s signature programs -- the economic stimulus package and an expansion of the Children’s Health Insurance Program -- out of Bush’s column and into Obama’s. He also shifted excess spending beyond what Bush would have spent from the appropriations bills signed by Obama in 2009.
A number of critics also argued that spending for the Troubled Asset Relief Program should be taken into account. This program aided troubled financial institutions and involved a lot of money going out the door in fiscal 2009 and a lot of money coming in the door in subsequent years as the money was paid back to the treasury. The critics note that counting the TARP expenses as Bush’s artificially raises the baseline level of spending Obama inherited, thereby making Obama’s subsequent spending increases seem unrealistically small.
We think reasonable people can disagree on which president should be responsible for TARP spending, but to give the critics their say, we’ll include it in our alternative calculation. So, combining the fiscal 2009 costs for programs that are either clearly or arguably Obama’s -- the stimulus, the CHIP expansion, the incremental increase in appropriations over Bush’s level and TARP -- produces a shift from Bush to Obama of between $307 billion and $456 billion, based on the most reasonable estimates we’ve seen critics offer.
That’s quite a bit larger than Nutting’s $140 billion, but by our calculations, it would only raise Obama’s average annual spending increase from 1.4 percent to somewhere between 3.4 percent and 4.9 percent. That would place Obama either second from the bottom or third from the bottom out of the 10 presidents we rated, rather than last.
When we encounter a compound claim such as this one, we consider the accuracy of each part separately. During our internal discussions, we give a preliminary rating to each half of a claim, then average them to produce our final, published rating.
Our extensive consultations with budget analysts since our item was published convinces us that there’s no single "correct" way to divvy up fiscal 2009 spending, only a variety of plausible calculations. So the second portion of the Facebook claim -- that Obama’s spending has risen "slower than at any time in nearly 60 years" -- strikes us as Half True.
Meanwhile, we would’ve given a True rating to the Facebook claim that Romney is wrong to say that spending under Obama has "accelerated at a pace without precedent in recent history." Even using the higher of the alternative measurements, at seven presidents had a higher average annual increases in spending. That balances out to our final rating of Mostly True.

A funny thing happened on the way to viral posting of my graphic--Politifact agrees with me. Well, mostly. They fault the graphic for not showing Congress' role in helping keep spending down. The thing of it is, that's not the point of the graphic or the graphic's intent. The point of the graphic is to indicate that Romney's view of this is false--regardless of the reasoning. So, to insinuate that I didn't include the reasons why isn't really a fair evaluation, because if people want to know the reasons behind the data, I have links and explanations for that, too. Right here in this blog post. I didn't pretend to explain the why, only the what. As my unbiased brother concludes: "I disagree with their assessment that your “graphic” has a shortcoming at all, let alone a significant one, by failing to mention congress’ influence.  It may be true about their influence, but that’s not the point of the facts as presented to refute Romney’s claim."
Source: Politifact

Okay, this is kinda huge. Wall Street Journal Market Watch Website Today:
 Source: MarketWatch.com
Government spending under Obama, including his signature stimulus bill, is rising at a 1.4% annualized pace — slower than at any time in nearly 60 years.

Wow. Just, wow. No commentary: the post just speaks for itself:
But it didn’t happen. Although there was a big stimulus bill under Obama, federal spending is rising at the slowest pace since Dwight Eisenhower brought the Korean War to an end in the 1950s. 
Even hapless Herbert Hoover managed to increase spending more than Obama has.
Here are the facts, according to the official government statistics: 
  • In the 2009 fiscal year — the last of George W. Bush’s presidency — federal spending rose by 17.9% from $2.98 trillion to $3.52 trillion. Check the official numbers at the Office of Management and Budget.
  • In fiscal 2010 — the first budget under Obama — spending fell 1.8% to $3.46 trillion.
  • In fiscal 2011, spending rose 4.3% to $3.60 trillion.
  • In fiscal 2012, spending is set to rise 0.7% to $3.63 trillion, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate of the budget that was agreed to last August.
  • Finally in fiscal 2013 — the final budget of Obama’s term — spending is scheduled to fall 1.3% to $3.58 trillion. Read the CBO’s latest budget outlook.
And of course the obligatory snarky delusional Romney graphic goes here:
Romney's World Source: www.mittromney.com/spending
Real World Source: Wall Street Journal Market Watch
Wait, what? Why? The take away: You can't ascribe policies for 2009--Bush owns that shit. The following is really important. I've been saying this for a while now, but this guy who works for the Wall Street Journal will be taken much more seriously: 

Why do people think Obama has spent like a drunken sailor? It’s in part because of a fundamental misunderstanding of the federal budget. 
What people forget (or never knew) is that the first year of every presidential term starts with a budget approved by the previous administration and Congress. The president only begins to shape the budget in his second year. It takes time to develop a budget and steer it through Congress — especially in these days of congressional gridlock. 
The 2009 fiscal year, which Republicans count as part of Obama’s legacy, began four months before Obama moved into the White House. The major spending decisions in the 2009 fiscal year were made by George W. Bush and the previous Congress.
Like a relief pitcher who comes into the game with the bases loaded, Obama came in with a budget in place that called for spending to increase by hundreds of billions of dollars in response to the worst economic and financial calamity in generations.
Oh, good lord, yes. I've been saying this for a loooooong time. In fact, I said it, again, in a post earlier today! Wow. Just wow. Wait, I already said that.


  1. Replies
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  2. "a fundamental misunderstanding of the federal budget."??? *blinks* (when will we start confronting the truth? When it's too late?)

    The myth is perpetuated by the political think tank-generated hyperpartisan dialogue being used to divide, conquer and dumb down America. "Over spending" is just more of the same thought-terminating, false equivalencies used as maintain an ignorant, indoctrinated, misinformed populace who, thus, are powerless against the crimes being committed against us by the ruling class--who have consolidated and control mass media in an unprecedented fashion.

  3. So the fact that congress is responsible for passing the budget, and a democrat-controlled congress was in power in the senate and the house for the bases loaded situation obama inherited means that it is all bush's fault? The problem is, the regrublicans and the demobrats are both responsible for this mess and neither of them are capable of fixing it.

    1. THANK YOU for pointing that out!

    2. Ah yes, the stupid and inaccurate "they're both bad" argument. That is the argument of false equivelancies - like saying that two people are both criminals because they both break the law, but one is a jaywalker and one is a serial pedophile.

      Anyone trying to say both parties are the same is either delusional or so lazy that it's easier to just say both parties are the same than actually learning the issues and the facts - cause that would take actual work. So much easier to post something snarky and call yourself clever, but the truth is that people like you - too lazy to learn the facts - are why they keep getting away with what they do.

  4. Replies
    1. Thanks! And FYI: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/may/23/facebook-posts/viral-facebook-post-says-barack-obama-has-lowest-s Heh.

  5. i prefer the term rethuglicans...keep in mind not all republicans are rethuglicans...but the ones that are thrive on being bullies to the p oor and the middle class on behalf of the 1%

  6. "By no means did Obama try to reverse that spending. Indeed, his budget proposals called for even more spending in subsequent years. But the Congress (mostly Republicans, but many Democrats too) stopped him. If Obama had been a king who could impose his will, what the Republicans are saying about an Obama spending binge would be accurate."

    Of course you completely omitted the above commentary, by the tables author, where he clearly credits congress and especially Republicans. WOW, just WOW.

  7. Does anyone have a link to the original article? I love selective journalism from the left! Great post to the 12:20 May 23 post!

    1. Ah my Righty Friend, that "selective journalism" you've ascribed to the LEFT also, and more often than not, happens to the RIGHT. It would be NICE and GREATLY APPRECIATED if there was a STANDARD of TRUTH in journalism instead of the Corporate based, sensationalistic, negative trash being presented now!

    2. Link to the original article--as with all of my posts and graphics--is underneath the graphic on this page: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/obama-spending-binge-never-happened-2012-05-22?link=home_carousel%3Flink%3DMW-FB. Also, see Politifact's analysis of the graphic: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/may/23/facebook-posts/viral-facebook-post-says-barack-obama-has-lowest-s/ . Best of luck. Oh, and if you're interested, check out this new post and debunk it, please: http://groobiecat.blogspot.com/2012/05/im-curious-how-did-rightists-choose.html. Thanks for stopping by.

    3. I love how you all call this journalism.... It's a blog a singular persons opinion written on the internet for all to enjoy using whatever information as sources as they like. There is no standard to hold bloggers to, this is not a paid position there is no corporation or company or political party backing acknowledging or agreeing with this position. If you want news and journalism and truth get it from a freaking news site not a blog!

    4. AnonymousMay 24, 2012 10:39 AM -- thanks for the laugh! I needed a good chuckle. A couple of things: First, no one is calling this "journalism," per se. The opinions here are my own, and yes, sadly, it's an unpaid gig. Second, I include links to *all* of my sources, so it's not just my opinion. Third, I use basic logic and critical thinking in my posts. You may disagree with it, but it's based not on emotion, but on data. Fourth, today's "professional news organizations" are increasingly untrustworthy. I think the single best example of this is Fox News, whose audience, recent data showed, is the least informed of all news audiences--including people who don't even watch the news: http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/mediawire/174826/survey-nprs-listeners-best-informed-fox-news-viewers-worst-informed/#more-174826 Fifth, no one is asking you to come here; you do so of your own accord. If you don't like what you read, you don't have to keep reading it. Many of the right don't like this blog because it uses syllogistic reasoning and the conclusions I make are not pleasant to consider. Take my newest post today: http://groobiecat.blogspot.com/2012/05/im-curious-how-did-rightists-choose.html --it's based completely on easily found facts.It shows that Romneycare and Obamacare are the same thing, yet republicans call Obamacare socialism. That's illogical. Right? :D Thanks for visiting my blog!

  8. The author fairly reclassifies the 09 budget to Bush, however he then takes the 09 budget with hundreds of billions, in what was supposed to ONE TIME recession stimulus, and uses it as Obama's new baseline. The 10-13 budgets should have been significantly lower than the 09 baseline. It amazes me how gullible some of you are.

    1. It amazes me how cynical and negative some of you are! The problem I see with BOTH sides is that NO ONE seems to have a SOLUTION, they only can point fingers and BAD MOUTH anyone who doesn't think, act, look, or EXPRESS the same way THEY do! Sometimes I pray that the Mayan's were correct and that 12/21/12 will be the END because at the rate we're going as a RACE, we really DO NOT deserve to have Dominion over this beautiful planet we ALL call home! Collectively as humans, we really are a sick lot and from the "outside" do look like a viral infection and should be purged before we kill the planet with our actions. We should clean up our OWN MINDS first then worry about the rest of the people, politicians included! The Golden Rule; DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU! Good luck in your next life!

  9. For anyone who's interested, Politifact agrees with my assessment: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/may/23/facebook-posts/viral-facebook-post-says-barack-obama-has-lowest-s/ Cheers.

    1. Assessment, what assessment ? You cut and pasted someone else's work.

    2. AnonymousMay 24, 2012 2:21 PM: Well, the assessment is the comparison of two datasets. The one on the left vs. the one one the right. Here's how the analysis works:





      That's what the data show. I feel kinda bad that you don't actually understand this basic logic that I pulled together. But hey, thanks for coming by!

  10. Reality Strikes Back

    I love it.

  11. Nice try: http://www.politicalmathblog.com/?p=1786

  12. Dear Groobiecat:

    You and your reality-based ilk are like all superior and stuff cuz you think brainwise using numbers and not gutwise using feelings, like graet leaders like George W. did. Just because you lefties like to go all empirical on our asses every time we cite facts from Limbaugh/Fox News/Bill O'Reilly (and yes,Mr. BigPants, they are facts...why else would all 3 of these respectable sources use identical wording so often?). And yes, we conservatives also can admit when we'er wrong like a real man would. I mean, just last month Karl Rove was talking about how he manned up real good to admit he had made a mistake once ( http://online.wsj.com/article/ SB10001424052702304811304577365870484193362.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop): Rove recalled that he had adviced W. Bush back in 2000 not to make Cheney his VP as Cheney would hurt the ticket. But then W. put him strate on that matter. Good thing, two. I mean where would be today if Cheney hadn't been calling the shots from behind the curtain 2001-2009? --DCTroid

  13. Link to the 2nd graphic also, it clearly demonstrates the cutoff budget handoff where W is passing a boatload of deficits on to O. http://ei.marketwatch.com/Multimedia/2012/05/21/Photos/ME/MW-AR657_federa_20120521151828_ME.jpg?uuid=c49a7602-a379-11e1-827e-002128049ad6

  14. The Washington Post awards the Market Watch piece three Pinocchios


    How gullible are you people ?

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  16. You make one important statement, which is that federal spending is not fully dictated by the President. That being said, several claims within the blog are significantly flawed. It is claimed that the 2009 fiscal year is the result of Bush policies, that Obama's first fiscal year actually cut federal spending, and that the 2012 fiscal year is expected to have decreased federal spending.

    What the blog does not mention is that Barack Obama personally signed through several spending measures that were not approved by the budget signed by Bush. The Obama administration increased the allotted amount in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARR Act) to $831 billion. It is not the only spending measure personally signed by Barack Obama during the 2009 fiscal year, but it is most certainly the largest. If we ignore the ARR Act and only observe spending approved by the Bush administration, federal spending was set to decrease by 9.92% to $2686.7 billion. This means that Obama personally inherited a federal budget that would have decreased federal spending by 9.92% from the previous year. He personally approved the spending measures that took federal spending from a 9.92% decrease to a 17.94% increase.

    You wish to ignore the ARR Act when analyzing spending under Barack Obama but include the $831 billion to Bush spending when commenting on the change in federal spending between the 2009 and 2010 fiscal year. If you ignore the ARR Act entirely (meaning that it is neither attributed to Bush or Obama spending) and claim that 2009 federal spending was the result of the final Bush budget, federal spending would have decreased by 9.92% during Bush's final fiscal year and increased by 24.93% during Obama's first fiscal year. The only way that Obama appears to be more fiscally responsible than his predecessor is if the ARR Act is attributed to Bush spending, even though it was personally signed by Barack Obama.

    You also includes false information. The average change in spending under the Bush administration was an annual increase of 3.68%; however, it has been an annual increase of 5.53% under the Obama administration. The figures for federal spending during the 2012 fiscal year are also incorrect. You use a CBO estimate based on a budget proposal made in August; however, the budget was not approved. The Obama administration has not yet passed a budget, so it is more accurate to base estimates on daily federal spending than unapproved budget proposals. Based on daily figures, federal spending will be approximately $3,795.6 billion (not the $3.63 trillion mentioned in the August budget proposal) for the 2012 fiscal year, which would be an increase of $192.5 billion or 5.34% from the 2011 fiscal year.

    A more in-depth analysis of federal spending can be seen at the link below:

  17. Dear CC--thanks for making those points. I looked at the raw numbers and couldn't reconcile some of them with the assertions made in the blog.

  18. nice posting.. thanks for sharing..