When fallacies are committed intentionally to manipulate or persuade by deception, they are considered propaganda aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward or against some person or group by presenting false ideas, and are usually repeated and dispersed over a wide range of media to create the chosen result in the public’s attitudes. Republicans have, with their media outlet Fox News, spread propaganda that the nation’s current economic problems are founded in excessive spending by the Obama Administration, and traditionally, they have labeled all Democrats as big-spenders for the past thirty years. Throughout the President’s first term, and especially since the beginning of the 112th Congress, Republicans have sought Draconian spending cuts targeting safety nets while defending tax cuts for the rich, and it has been at the forefront of the GOP’s negotiations to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff they claim requires drastic spending cuts as long as defense and tax cuts for the rich are exempted.
One of the reasons many conservatives oppose any deal to avoid the fiscal cliff is to let domestic spending cuts in the Republican sequestration begin in 2013, and it has been a two-year claim of Republican leadership that America is broke and that to save the economy, the President’s “out-of-control” spending has to be halted immediately. The problem with that argument is it is patently false. Under President Obama’s leadership, government spending is at its lowest levels since Ronald Reagan’s administration, and in fact, the President’s spending is the lowest since the Eisenhower Administration. However, those are easily verified facts and if there is one thing Republicans avoid like plague, it is easily verified facts.
One simple fact Republicans understand, but many in the population do not, is that the first year of every presidential term starts with a previous administration’s budget approved by Congress. Republicans began their lying by counting 2009’s fiscal year budget as the President’s even though it began four months before he moved into the White House, and included spending increases of hundreds of billions of dollars in response to Bush-Republicans’ economic and financial catastrophe. In the 2009 fiscal year budget, the last of George W. Bush’s presidency, federal spending rose by 17.9% from $2.98 trillion to $3.52 trillion, and the first budget attributable to President Obama (fiscal 2010), spending fell 1.8% to $3.46 trillion. In fiscal 2013, the final budget of the President’s first term, spending is scheduled to fall 1.3% to $3.58 trillion according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and extended out means that over the President’s first four budget years, federal spending is on track to rise from $3.52 trillion to $3.58 trillion, an annualized increase of just 0.4%. Obviously, there has been no huge increase in spending under President Obama, and yet Republicans claim he has been on a spending binge that is the sole cause of the nation’s economic woes.
Looking back at annualized growth in federal spending, the biggest spender was Ronald Reagan (8.7%) followed closely by Bush II (8.1%), Bush I (5.4%), and Bill Clinton (3.2%). As a matter of fact, even Clinton’s low of 3.2% federal spending growth is nearly two-and-a-half times higher than President Obama’s 1.4% during his first term in office. Reagan and George W. Bush’s spending was over five times as high as President Obama, and yet they are considered avatars of fiscal responsibility by conservatives of all shapes and sizes. There are two specific reasons conservatives portray the President as a big spender, and as is usually the case with anything Republicans or their conservative think tanks characterize, they lie, and one of the biggest purveyors of mendacity is the Heritage Foundation.
In May 2012, two Heritage writers claimed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (stimulus) was excessive and an “utter failure,” and that Social Security is one of the main drivers of future deficits. First, the so-called “utter failure” of the stimulus meme has been debunked, disproved, and denied by every economist that is not in the employ of the Heritage Foundation, and yet they persist in propagandizing the lie to the point that Adolf Hitler’s propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, would envy their ability to “tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, so people will eventually come to believe it.” According to the CBO, the stimulus created approximately 3.5 million jobs and raised the GDP between 1.1 and 3.5 percent and continued improving employment numbers through the end of 2012. Unemployment figures have borne out the CBO’s predictions despite the Heritage liars’ contention the stimulus was an utter failure.
The Heritage Foundation also perpetuates the filthy lie that Social Security is entitlement spending, one of the main drivers of future deficits, and because President Obama will not address his out of control spending habit, will nearly double by 2050. It makes one weary to repeat a fact borne out by the Social Security Trust statute that the program is forbidden to take one penny from the federal budget and does not, cannot, and will not ever add to the nation’s deficit regardless who is president. However, one of the principle tactics of good propaganda is to “tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, so people will eventually come to believe it,” and the masters of mendacity at the Heritage Foundation are without peer in propagating the lie that Social Security is “one of the main drivers of future deficits,” and all because Barack Obama “has repeatedly failed to tackle entitlement spending.”
Heritage also claims the President wanted a “free pass on last summer’s debt ceiling increase so he could keep spending,” but the historically big-spending Republicans “insisted on spending cuts to accompany any hike in the debt ceiling;” something Republicans never ever required during the Bush Administration’s record spending spree that ranks at number two behind Ronald Reagan as the president overseeing the greatest spending growth in recent memory. Heritage closed out its analysis of President Obama’s spending problem with “The only fiscal restraint this Administration seems to have is restraint to act with great fiscal responsibility,” and it is a direct contradiction of the facts that this President is more fiscally responsible and has shown more spending restraint than Republicans’ man-turned-god, Ronald Reagan.
Republicans and their propaganda machine, the Heritage Foundation, have perpetuated the fallacious contention that all Democrats are big spenders, but none worse than President Obama, and it is unclear if their predisposition to lie is because the President is a Democrat or a Black man. Regardless their reason(s), President Obama has presided over the lowest spending since Eisenhower and five times less than Reagan or Bush II. The ARRA (stimulus) did amount to an increase in spending, but not only did it create millions of jobs and add to GDP growth, it contained tax cuts for 95% of working families, and it is one of those pesky facts Republicans and the Heritage Foundation consider an “utter failure.”
The utter failure of Republicans is acknowledging that President Obama is stingy with federal dollars, and that their spending cut propensity is directly correlated to which party is in the White House. Republicans had no problem blowing up the deficit when Bush II was in the White House, and most Americans are unaware that Bush’s folly in Iraq and Afghanistan were kept out of the budget and still old George and Republicans presided over the second highest federal spending increase since Reagan was president. President Obama gave Republicans a good offer to avoid the dreaded fiscal cliff that included over $800 billion in spending cuts they hardly considered adequate because in their world view, one can never cut enough from services and safety nets.
It is a hard pill for Republicans to swallow, but this President has reduced spending to the point that there is little left to cut without causing more undue harm to tens-of-millions of Americans. However, one must remember that causing harm to the poor, children, Veterans, and seniors is the prime directive of Republicans and their policy machine the Heritage Foundation, and regardless that President Obama leads the pack in reducing spending, Republicans and Heritage will always find more ways to punish Americans whether it is robbing them of their Social Security retirement accounts, cutting food stamps, cutting healthcare spending, slashing Veterans benefits, or eliminating school lunch programs that not only reduces spending, it reduces life expectancy.