At the Associated Press aka the Administration's Press on Saturday, Andrew Taylor's "Fact Check" item on President Obama's stump speech claim in Iowa on Thursday dove into the trees without first looking at the forest.
Distracted by ridiculousaurus Rex Nutting's write-up earlier in the week at MarketWatch ("Obama spending binge never happened"), which absurdly claimed that "government outlays (are) rising at slowest pace since 1950s," Taylor spent paragraph after paragraph going into the nuances of "the Wall Street bailout" (really TARP, which wasn't all about "Wall Street," unless GM and Chrysler have recently moved there) and the disputes over who should be responsible for various items of and increases in spending the fiscal 2009. He either didn't understand -- or didn't want to communicate that he really did understand -- exactly what President Obama said, which follows the jump:
But what my opponent didn’t tell you was that federal spending since I took office has risen at the slowest pace of any President in almost 60 years.
By changing the argument to one about spending "since I took office," Obama is no longer, as Taylor incorrectly wrote, "rest(ing) his claim on an analysis by MarketWatch." He is now claiming that spending growth during his administration has risen "at the slowest pace of any President in almost 60 years" since January 20, 2009. Other than the necessary discrediting of Nutting's work, which at this point is done (James Pethokoukis, Heritage, Dan Mitchell, yours truly, and many more), a tedious discussion of George W. Bush's vs. Obama's responsibility for spending which occurred after Bush left office is no longer required.
All one needs to see is this table, followed by a comparison to the first four years of George W. Bush's administration to the last four years of Bill Clinton's:
(Note: Fiscal years 2009, 2010 and 2011 were adjusted by -$157 billion, +115 billion and +$42 billion, respectively -- with an overall net effect of zero -- to account for TARP-related noncash accounting entries which, as I explained here yesterday, had nothing to do with "spending" as it correctly defined.)
As to the Clinton-Bush 43 comparison, I looked at the last four years of spending under Clinton (Feb. 1997 to Jan. 2001) and the first four under Bush (Feb. 2001 to Jan. 2005). Bush 43's average monthly spending was 25.1% greater. Though that's not a record to point to with pride, that increase in average monthly spending is less than the Bush 43-Obama increase calculated above. So we don't need to go back 60 years to see that Obama's "since I took office" claim is inarguably false.
Two things are possibly at work here.
It may be that Obama, his teleprompter, and those who prepare his presentations don't understand the dreadful degree of fudging Nutting had to do to reach his deceptive conclusion, and really think that it was about Obama's entire presidency to date "since I took office."
It seems more likely that Obama and his deeply cynical handlers do understand, but that they think they can stretch Nutting's original assertions to the breaking point, count on the establishment press not to give the new "since I took office" twist the scrutiny it deserves, and thereby get away with it. For all practical purposes, seeing how Andrew Taylor handled his "fact check" and wrote up his conclusion, Team Obama got what it wanted from him:
A fairer calculation would give Obama much of the responsibility for an almost 10 percent budget boost in 2009, then a 13 percent increase over 2010-2013, or average annual growth of spending of just more than 3 percent over that period.
Beyond the fact that Taylor, like Nutting, is giving Obama credit for 17 months (May 2012 through September 2013) which haven't even transpired, the fact is that Obama himself has now said that he owns responsibility for the spending decisions "since I took office" on January 20, 2009 and that the historical numbers as seen above are what they are.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.