WaPo gives Obama three Pinocchios for "halfway" claim

Actually, Glenn Kessler had already given Barack Obama two Pinocchios for claiming that he had met the Republicans “halfway” on budget cuts.  Incensed, the administration dumped data and charts on Kessler’s desk and asked him to reconsider his assessment.  Kessler gamely agreed to do so and indeed changed his mind … to score Obama’s claim as an even bigger deception than he had first thought:

We also did some rough calculations to compare the current GOP plan to the $16 billion in budget cuts (known as recissions) made by congressional Republicans in 1995. All things being equal, the current House bill appears to be about three times as large as the bill that President Bill Clinton signed into law (after first vetoing an earlier version). That bill cut the budget by about 3 percent, or 0.2 percent of the gross domestic product; this proposal would reduce the budget about 8 percent, or 0.75 percent of GDP.

But has the White House offered “specific cuts,” as the president asserted? That’s not quite accurate, especially compared with the detailed cutbacks in the House bill. In fact, that’s where the White House’s arguments breaks down. The specific trims offered by Democrats amount to just $10.5 billion.

The president made a number of other questionable comments elsewhere in his radio address.

Obama said the 2012 budget “will reduce our deficits by $1 trillion over the next decade.” That’s only through a number of dubious accounting gimmicks, which we have previously documented. The president’s proposals would actually increase the deficit in 2012, the year that counts.

Obama also claims “the cuts I’ve proposed would bring annual domestic spending to its lowest share of the economy under any president in more than 50 years.” Again, that would be at the end of the budget period — after Obama finishes what he hopes would be a second term. He neglected to mention that in 2010 he brought annual domestic spending to its highest share of the economy — 4.5 percent — in three decades. Even you buy the president’s claim that he wants to cut discretionary spending, mandatory spending and net interest in 2016 would amount to the highest share of the economy in history.

Kessler argues that the insistence on using gimmicky calculations to support the “halfway” claim damages Obama’s credibility.  That’s more or less a foregone conclusion anyway.  Even Senators from his own party are deriding the effort at the White House to reduce spending, and openly questioning Obama’s fiscal leadership.  Practically everyone can see the difference between $10 billion and $61 billion in cuts and understand that it’s not even close to “halfway,” and that anyone arguing that point is either an idiot or thinks voters are.

That kind of approach might delight Obama’s base — although I think even that is questionable — but it’s certainly not going to impress voters who want significant reductions in government spending and regulatory overreach.

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