AP's Calvin Woodward Does Astonishing Fact Check on Obama


Somebody needs to 'fess up. Who put truth serum in Calvin Woodward's coffee this morning?

Whoever it is, they're in a heap of trouble, as Woodward produced a fact-checking critique of Barack Obama that is so good you'd swear most of it was ghostwritten by a conservative talk host.

It will be interesting to see how much distribution it gets. I would suggest not counting on too much, but being open to a pleasant surprise.

Regardless of its distribution, you'd better believe they've read it in the White House, and they're wondering what in the world happened.

Here are key paragraphs from Woodward's rundown, which is really, seriously, a read (and save) the whole thing item (it is saved at my host for future reference; HT to Mark Levin, who excerpted the report on his show tonight):

FACT CHECK: Obama disowns deficit he helped shape

“That wasn't me,” President Barack Obama said on his 100th day in office, disclaiming responsibility for the huge budget deficit waiting for him on Day One.

It actually was him — and the other Democrats controlling Congress the previous two years — who shaped a budget so out of balance.

And as a presidential candidate and president-elect, he backed the twilight Bush-era stimulus plan that made the deficit deeper, all before he took over and promoted spending plans that have made it much deeper still.

Are we having fun yet?

..... His assertion that his proposed budget “will cut the deficit in half by the end of my first term” is an eyeball-roller among many economists ....

..... OBAMA: “Number one, we inherited a $1.3 trillion deficit.... That wasn't me.

..... THE FACTS: Congress controls the purse strings, not the president, and it was under Democratic control for Obama's last two years as Illinois senator. Obama supported the emergency bailout package in President George W. Bush's final months — a package Democratic leaders wanted to make bigger.

..... OBAMA: “You could cut (Social Security) benefits. You could raise the tax on everybody so everybody's payroll tax goes up a little bit. Or you can do what I think is probably the best solution, which is you can raise the cap on the payroll tax.” — in Missouri.

THE FACTS: Obama's proposal would reduce the Social Security trust fund's deficit by less than half, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

That means he would still have to cut benefits, raise the payroll tax rate, raise the retirement age or some combination to deal with the program's long-term imbalance.

The main criticism I have of Woodward's report is that he doesn't understand that there has always been a correlation between Social Security taxes paid and Social Security benefits received during retirement. Thus, he sees making the payroll tax apply to incomes higher than $102,000 (the 2008 upper limit) strictly as a revenue raiser, without realizing that a failure to increase benefits commensurately, which would almost certainly not happen, would break that historic link and officially turn Social Security into a welfare program (astute readers already know that it already is a welfare program, in the sense that it is an intergenerational transfer from current workers to current retirees, because there really is no "Trust Fund" with real assets).

But there are enough zingers in one place to talk down Obama's 100-day defenders with ease.

Enjoy it. Just don't delude yourself into thinking a lot of people will see it, or that it marks any kind of general change in direction at AP.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Taxes Economy Media Bias Debate Budget Health Care Campaigns & Elections 2008 Congressional 2008 Presidential Recession Bailouts Wire Services/Media Companies Associated Press Calvin Woodward

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