Do we need a White House literacy program?

posted at 1:40 pm on June 19, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

This isn’t the first time we’ve had to ask this question, but this may be a more embarrassing example of the problem.  My friend Scott Johnson at Power Line notes a multitude of formatting and spelling errors in an official release on the White House web site.  The Obama administration published an important letter to G-20 leaders on the eve of a critical meeting on economic policy, one in which Obama wants to assert American leadership and demand a continuation of his Keynesian policies.  Unfortunately, this letter should give pause as to whether the Obama White House can handle a word-processing program, let alone economic policy (via HA reader ClericalGal on Twitter).

Here are a few examples, emphasis mine:

For our part, we will pursue measures to SUppOit the recovery in private demand and return the unemployed to work. …

At the same time, we recognize the impoltance of setting a credible medium-term fiscal path: that is why my Administration will cut the budget deficit we inherited in halfby FY 2013 and work to reduce our fiscal deficit to 3 percent ofGDP by FY 2015, which will stabilize the
debt-to-GDP ratio at an acceptable level in that year.

Some of the rest of the errors were more, er, impoltant:

* more effective ji’Qlllework for winding down large global firms, along with principles for thefillallcial sector to make afair and substantial contribution towards payingfor allY burdens it creates in a way that protects taxpayers, creates a level playing field, and reduces risks to our economies.

I look fOlward to seeing you in Toronto and reaffhming our unity of purpose and resolve.

There exists one more substantial error, albeit one that has repeatedly been made by the Obama administration since it took office.  Deficits are a function of annual budgeting.  One can inherit a national debt, but not a budget deficit … except for the fiscal year in which a President assumes office.  Unfortunately for Obama’s argument, that budget — FY2009 — never came to George W. Bush for his signature.  Instead, the Democrats controlling both chambers in Congress played keepaway through continuing resolutions (including a Senator from Illinois named Barack Obama), only getting fully passed when Obama signed the omnibus spending bill to complete the FY2009 budget in March 2009.

It seems that the Obama White House has literacy problems in more than just word processing.  In any case, we had better hope that the actual letter as transmitted to the G-20 went through more oversight than it did before getting published to the White House’s official web site.

By the way, it’s been almost a day since it was posted, and it’s still not corrected.  In case someone gets around to it today, I’ve archived the original here.

Update: I’ve gotten a number of e-mails saying these look like artifacts of optical character recognition (OCR) from a scanner or fax machine output.  I’d agree with that, but that hardly lets the White House off the hook, either.  Anyone using OCR knows that it requires a lot of fixing on the back end.

Update II: So Right notes that the White House published the PDF as a correction to its website earlier today.  I think it’s impoltant to keep up with the developments in this story.


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