Fact Checking and Alternate Realities

One of the stereotypes firmly embedded in the nation’s political psyche is that of the “tax and spend” Democrats. The taken-for-granted “reality” of American politics pits these profligate lefties against fiscally prudent conservative Republicans.

As with all stereotypes, this one has roots in reality. When I was young, Democrats were leftwing big spenders. And Republicans were fiscally responsible. (Those Republicans would never have waged a war and cut taxes at the same time, to use just one example.) The problem with stereotypes, however, is that they persist long after the reality that generated them has changed.

Which brings me to the reality-challenged charge by Mitt Romney and his minions that the Obama Administration has spent money like drunken sailors, a charge echoed by partisans on the Internet, Faux News and other outlets that have long since abandoned even the pretense of fact-checking and/or objectivity.

The charge has now been pretty decisively debunked by no other than the Wall Street Journal, hardly a left-wing publication.

The Journal reports that, even taking into account the massive stimulus spending during Obama’s tenure, overall federal spending has been rising at the slowest pace since Dwight Eisenhower brought the Korean War to an end in the 1950s. In fact, according to the article,  “Even hapless Herbert Hoover managed to increase spending more than Obama has.”  The article includes a nifty graph, and hyperlinks that will lead skeptics to the official sources of the information presented.

Not only has spending barely increased in present dollars, after adjusting for inflation, the Journal reports that spending under Obama is falling at a 1.4% annual pace — the first decline in real spending since the early 1970s, when Richard Nixon was retreating from the quagmire in Vietnam.

Why level a charge so demonstrably untrue? Because people will believe it. It feeds into a persistent stereotype, and the “legacy media” that could formerly be relied upon to provide fact-checking has been displaced by lazy “he said/she said” reporting and partisan spin.

Repeat a big lie often enough, and you’ll be amazed at how widely it will be accepted.


  1. I have repeated ad nauseum that any lie told often enough will soon be believed as truth. This statement has been argued with by Democrats and Republicans that, people are too smart to not recognize lies. And look where we are now with this current political campaign fillws qirh blatant, frightening lies…how many people do you supppose still believe President Obama is not an American citizen and that he is a Muslim? These issues should have been settled at least two years ago. The lies regarding Democrat spending are believed by all who have forgotten seeing Bush give away billions of our tax dollars late in 2008 with no rules or regulations to the very people who brought this contry to its financial knees. I believe Bush knew Republicans could not possibly win the presidential election and this action was deliberate – to give President Obama more financial problems and headaches than we were already aware of. The average person in Indiana does not read the Wall Street Journal; we must rely on the Indianapolis Star and local newspapers and TV news reporters. Is there anyone reading Sheila’s blog who is unaware this is a Republican state? Are there any Republicans in any state in this nation who are aware that the Republican party today is NOT the Republican party of 20 years ago; a party with elected officials who would often work with Democrats to resolve problems? Who did more for this city, working within a reasonable budget, than Mayor Bill Hudnut? Sheila and I were there doing this work and accomplishing much; especially for those in need in Indianapols. He can in no way be compared on any level with Goldsmith or Ballard. Checking facts, searching for basic truths in these allegations against Democrats is not part of the Republican reality because they are beyond reason. Romney is a clown and too full of himself to seek financial information regarding the level of income the vast majority of this country is trying to live on. He is handed a script, probably prepared by Karl Rove, and doesn’t need to read the Wall Street Journal because he will never be able to spend his vast personal fortune. If I sound pissed; it is because I am…I am sick of the lies.

  2. For a country that still spends billions every business day that we don’t have, we’re supposed to be elated by “…overall federal spending has been rising at the slowest pace since Dwight Eisenhower…”?

    In the recent book on the pseudo-battle in economic theory between Keynes and Hayek, Eisenhower is documented as having a little-recognized expansion of government economic influence, followed by Nixon, Reagan, and a fiscal nadir with the latter Bush and expanded spending on foreign policy and “conservative compassion”, while coupled with reduced taxation. All this is supposed to only begat a sympathetic smile when President Obama puts that same monetary jellybean up his nose, like his Repubican (and Democratic) predecessors?

    The scary part, besides his budgets being nearly unamimously voted down and lacking any grasp of the unaffordability of our entitlement path, is President Obama either doesn’t know or care that if ALL taxable income from rich Americans were taken, it will reportedly pay-off the deficit- but not our (16?) trillion dollar debt (with more benefits obligations ahead).

    I didn’t vote for Bush. I expect politicians of both parties to default to evasion and lying. Yet, I’m to vote somebody who won’t even acknowledge the existence of our largest collective area of spending (approximately 60%in entitlements versus 20% in defense)- and then has the nerve to not propose a credible budget?

    Romney’s not my idea of the perfect pick. But, when I perceive he doesn’t believe in our Constitution, or free enterprise competition, yet thinks government is the default answer to our problems- then I’ll be ready to flip a coin for President.

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