Thursday, October 04, 2012
Lies, lies and (sigh) more lies
by Larry Geller
It used to be that newspapers and journalists were responsible for factchecking. Sadly, this essential function has been “outsourced.” Rather, the reader is led to “believe” by the usually uncritical reporting.
I’ll rant a bit on our culture of lying in another article.
Question: Are these politicians intelligent people, lying and distorting in order to win office, knowing that the American people will swallow and believe whatever they say? Or is an understanding of the facts no longer a requirement to hold public office?
**** Excerpt **** Read entire article on Factcheck.org website here.
Dubious Denver Debate DeclarationsObama and Romney swap exaggerations and false claims in their first meeting.
Posted on October 4, 2012
We found exaggerations and false claims flying thick and fast during the first debate between President Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney.
- Obama accused Romney of proposing a $5 trillion tax cut. Not true. Romney proposes to offset his rate cuts and promises he won’t add to the deficit.
- Romney again promised to “not reduce the taxes paid by high-income Americans” and also to “lower taxes on middle-income families,” but didn’t say how he could possibly accomplish that without also increasing the deficit.
- Obama oversold his health care law, claiming that health care premiums have “gone up slower than any time in the last 50 years.” That’s true of health care spending, but not premiums. And the health care law had little to do with the slowdown in overall spending.
- Romney claimed a new board established by the Affordable Care Act is “going to tell people ultimately what kind of treatments they can have.” Not true. The board only recommends cost-saving measures for Medicare, and is legally forbidden to ration care or reduce benefits.
- Obama said 5 million private-sector jobs had been created in the past 30 months. Perhaps so, but that counts jobs that the Bureau of Labor Statistics won’t add to the official monthly tallies until next year. For now, the official tally is a bit over 4.6 million.
- Romney accused Obama of doubling the federal deficit. Not true. The annual deficit was already running at $1.2 trillion when Obama took office.
- Obama again said he’d raise taxes on upper-income persons only to the “rates that we had when Bill Clinton was president.” Actually, many high-income persons would pay more than they did then, because of new taxes in Obama’s health care law.
- Romney claimed that middle-income Americans have “seen their income come down by $4,300.” That’s too high. Census figures show the decline in median household income during Obama’s first three years was $2,492, even after adjusting for inflation.
- Obama again touted his “$4 trillion” deficit reduction plan, which includes $1 trillion from winding down wars that are coming to an end in any event.
Romney sometimes came off as a serial exaggerator. He said “up to” 20 million might lose health insurance under the new law, citing a Congressional Budget Office study that actually put the likely number who would lose employer-sponsored coverage at between 3 million and 5 million. He said 23 million Americans are “out of work” when the actual number of jobless is much lower. He claimed half of all college grads this year can’t find work, when, in fact, an AP story said half either were jobless or underemployed. And he again said Obama “cut” $716 billion from Medicare, a figure that actually reflects a 10-year target for slowing Medicare spending, which will continue to grow.
**** Excerpt **** Read entire article on Factcheck.org website here.
Note: This article is not covered by Disappeared News’ Creative Commons license.
Too often, neutral bodies adopt a "false equivalency" tone when refereeing disputes between tow parties. Which, if unjustified by the particular facts, actually constitutes a bias and leads to distortion. I read through several of the "fact check" efforts spurred by the Denver debate and this one, from FactCheck.org, was one of the more disappointing in that regard.
Look at their very first example:
"Obama accused Romney of proposing a $5 trillion tax cut. Not true. Romney proposes to offset his rate cuts and promises he won’t add to the deficit."
Really? Is that a fair judgment? Obama's claim about the loss of revenue from the tax cut is accurate. So what "facts" are cited to dispute that? Romney "proposes to offset his rate cuts" with unspecified closures in loopholes and "promises he won't add to the deficit." Where are Romney's vague promises acceptable as counterpoints to asserted FACTS? It is not as if Romney has not had time to clarify which loopholes he proposes to eliminate. Romney wants the benefit of being able to CLAIM his proposal will not deepen the deficit crisis, while being able to avoid providing specifics which would allow the public, and the press, to judge whether his proposals are likely to accomplish what he claims.
But "FactCheck" enables this fraud to continue, rewarding Romney for his evasions and calling Obama a "liar," based upon vague assurances from a man they admit "comes across as a serial exaggerator."
The entire debate was extremely disappointing for a number of reasons. I tried to watch it live via the Democracy Now stream, but their decision to include Green candidate Jill Stein and Justice candidate Rocky Anderson, while admirable, interfered with my desire to follow the dynamics between the two main candidates, so I abandoned the DN stream for PBS. I DO recommend people watch the DN stream now, AFTER the debate, as it demonstrates how narrow the differences are between Romney and Obama. Not only did the official, PBS debate limit the range of candidates, they limited the scope of alternative perspectives by so doing. I was unfamiliar with Rocky Anderson prior to watching the DN debate. I thought he came across as a solid, progressive Democrat, emphasizing Keynesian responses, a la Paul Krugman or Robert Reich as a response to our continuing economic crisis. It highlights how far Obama has moved to the center-right that he was unable, unwilling to articulate a consistent, anti-austerity, pro-middle class vision as well as Anderson.
Folks can find the Democracy Now "Expanded Debate" video stream here:
To be clear, I am voting for Obama in this election, even as I recognize Hawaii is not a "battleground" state in the presidential election. Some progressives are willing to vote "third party" in states where one of the two major candidates is clearly going to win, regardless of how the small group of progressives vote. We are then free to vote for candidates whose views more closely align with our own, an attitude which is counter-productive in battleground states as it may lead to the election of the candidate we most oppose.
But I do not see either the Green or the Justice parties as organizing efforts worth encouraging. I say that with some regret. In Hawaii, after an initial, promising beginning here a couple of decades ago, the Green Party apparatus has withered away to an even tinier group of people, unable to engage the public imagination and attract new activists. This despite widespread support for their core values of sustainable economic (and social) development, clean government, reform in campaign spending, a non-interventionist foreign policy, etc.
A STRONG exception to the general validity of my statement is the campaign of Keiko Bonk for the state house against Speaker Calvin Say. I hope she is effective at exciting public opinion and giving us optimism about a better future through citizen involvement. Both in here immediate district, but also, across the state. I think people in that district should vote for Keiko. And her election (fingers crossed) or even a strong challenge to Speaker, WILL "send a message." But there is no way Jill Stein (or Rocky Anderson) will get enough votes in Hawaii to "send a message" that has a clear meaning. More likely, a bump in votes for the local Greens will allow them to gain optimism for "staying the course" rather than truly re-examining the failures of their electoral strategy and their inability to organize.
A good showing by Keiko may give her enough credibility within the local Green Party that she can lead an effort to revitalize the local party.
Voting should be a complicated act. The media make it appear to be a popularity contest. And Obama is being criticized for poor presentation or whatever instead of both being criticized (or celebrated) for what they said.
I agonized over Ralph Nader when he ran, and in the end, I voted for him. It was going to make no difference in the outcome, but I felt better for having done what I felt was the right thing to do with my one little vote.
Yes... good luck to Keiko Bonk. Any third party has a better chance here if it can field capable candidates. Of course, she's picked the biggest target there is--unseating the Shogun would be an incredible upset. And perhaps the beginning of something new and Green.