Friday, April 30, 2010





The Limbaugh Manipulative Machine: #5

It's not only Rush Limbaugh, but the Tea Party movement and the Republican Party (but I repeat myself) which also have been appalled! appalled! at the budget deficits run up by President Barack Obama. (Aren't we lucky President Bush ran a surplus- oh, wait, that was President Clinton.) Still, Rush Limbaugh is kind enough to have most of his radio program put on-line, facilitating fact-checking. Limbaugh made this claim, as he has at other times, on February 1 of this year. Although a CNN report did not address his claim, statistics which were included refuted much of what Limbaugh would say two days later:

Last year's deficit surged to $1.42 trillion, more than three times the record of the previous year. An imbalance of $454.8 billion in 2008. So Bush's last year budget deficit was $454.8 billion. Obama's budget deficit last year was $1.42 trillion. That's nearly $1 trillion more that he added to it in fiscal 2009. This business that he "inherited a $1.3 trillion budget deficit" is a lie. It's a lie through and through. He has added $1 trillion. You did this, President Obama, not Bush, not the Republicans. You did this. Now, like I said in my letter to President Obama last week: It's time to man up and take responsibility for your disastrous and dangerous decisions. This is childishly immature.

Rush makes several charges:

* "Last year's deficit surged to $1.42 trillion, more than three times the record of the previous year."

This, astonishingly, is true: according to CNN, "the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office says the budget deficit for 2009 was $1.4 trillion, slightly more than triple the $458.6 billion deficit for 2008."

* "Bush's last year budget deficit was $454.8 billion."

This, also, as spoken is largely true. CNN reports that the budget deficit in 2008- President Bush's last term- was $456.8 billion. But it is misleading. The budget goes into effect on October 1- hence, 75% of "last year's budget" applied to President Bush's budget.

* "Obama's budget deficit last year was $1.42 trillion. That's nearly $1trillion more that he added to it in fiscal 2009."

CNN acknowledges that the deficit last year was $1.42 trillion (though most of it should be attributed to Bush's last budget). But Obama did not add "nearly $1 trillion more," inasmuch as "the CBO issued a projection in January 2009, just days before Obama took office, that the budget deficit would reach $1.2 trillion that year, before the cost of any new stimulus plan or other legislation was taken into account." This, then, was a misleading claim, with $1.42 trillion minus $1.2 trillion equaling $.20 trillion (200 billion dollars), far less than $1 trillion.

The conservative/libertarian Cato Institute explains

What about the so-called stimulus, they will ask, with its $787 billion price tag? Or the omnibus fiscal-year 2009 appropriations bill? And how about Cash for Clunkers and Obama's expansion of the children's health insurance program? Didn't these all boost spending in 2009?

The answer is yes. But these boondoggles amounted to just a tiny percentage of FY2009spending — about $140 billion out of a $3.5 trillion budget...


Unless Rush is much worse at math than we could have imagined, he would be aware that his numbers are way off, and simply lied.

* "This business that he 'inherited a $1.3 trillion budget deficit' is a lie."

CNN notes

Obama was essentially correct when he said he inherited a budget deficit of $1.3 trillion. Though the budget deficit for 2008 was a then-record $458.6 billion, the CBO issued a projection in January 2009, just days before Obama took office that the budget deficit would reach $1.2 trillion that year, before the cost of any new stimulus plan or other legislation was taken into account.

Although no doubt aware that Obama inherited a significant budget deficit, Limbaugh may believe that the deficit he inherited was somewhat less than $1.3. We'll call this deceptive, given that he was trying to give the impression that the 44th President found little to no red ink upon assuming office.

* "This is just childishly immature." This is simply a judgement call with Limbaugh striving to equate honesty with immaturity. Otherwise, he might have to refute opposing ideas with facts, which would be inconvenient, tiring, and possibly bore his audience.

It's generally difficult to distinguish among lying, deceiving, and merely misleading. But for this, Rush Limbaugh appears to have lied and deceived only once while misleading his audience twice. Still, an impressive effort of manipulation in merely one paragraph.

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