WASHINGTON D.C.—I’m just a semi-retired lawyer, living on a gravel road in the Blue Ridge Mountains, but I am also an avid consumer of news in all forms. This is a test. I read none of today’s analyzes of the State of the Union speech. Here are the obvious lies I saw, off the top of my head.
Lie 1: “One in 10… cannot find work.” Government statistics show that unemployment is almost double that: 17 percent are out of work. But the “official” rate ignores the 7 percent who have given up looking for a job.
Lie 2: “To get a government that matches [Americans’] dignity.” Is he totally unaware of the members of his Administration, or of his supporters in Congress, who are currently under investigation as tax cheats, perjurers or other felonies? Or, does President Obama assume that they will all beat the rap?
Lie 3: “We made the [financial recovery] program more transparent and accountable.” Is he unaware that Congress is currently trying to find out where the now-$850 billion bailout money went? Who got it, why and how?
Lie 4: “There are about two million Americans… who would otherwise be unemployed… because of the steps we took.” His own experts said the stimulus program would “keep unemployment below 8 percent..” His own people released a claim of jobs saved, district by district. That report listed more than a dozen congressional districts that don’t exist. The press has also gone into the gross inflation of many of the individual claims.
Lie 5: “Guard against the same recklessness [of the banks] that nearly brought down our entire economy.” He cannot claim ignorance of the laws promoted by Barney Frank in the House and Chris Dodd in the Senate, which forced banks to make loans to people unlikely to repay them. He can’t claim ignorance, because as a lawyer in Chicago he went to court to force banks to make such bad loans.
Lie 6: “The overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change.” He must know that leading scientists claiming the sky is falling because of global warming are being exposed and are under investigation for hiding and faking the data.
Lie 7: “National competition to improve our schools.” He cannot be so isolated and ignorant not to know his strongest possible supporters —the education unions—fight every possible effort to fire bad teachers, provide incentive pay and allow real competition from private and charter schools and home schooling.
Lie 8: “According to the Congressional Budget Office… our approach [to health care] would bring down the deficit by as much as $1 trillion….” A week after the CBO issued its first analysis, it issued a correction; it had made a half-billion dollar math error. Unless he and his entire staff were asleep at the switch, he knows his claim of deficit reduction is false.
Lie 9: “Starting in 2011, we are prepared to freeze government spending for three years….” This starts late and covers only one-fifth of the federal budget. This is fiscal bulimia ”“ gorge yourself, then throw up a little, then claim you are being responsible.
Lie 10: “I’ve called for a bipartisan Fiscal Commission…. the Senate blocked a bill to [do that]… so I will issue an Executive Order… to go forward.” Anyone with even a passing familiarity with the Constitution knows that presidents can’t force money to be spent on this Commission, or any other purpose, without approval by Congress. Regardless of what he thinks, we are not a dictatorship. Yet.
Lie 11: “Last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests—including foreign corporations—to spend without limits in our elections.” That case did not lay a finger on the long-standing prohibition of foreign money in American elections, nor the general barrier to corporate contributions. Either he was lying when he said this, or he should return his diploma to Harvard Law because he didn’t learn how to read and understand a Supreme Court case.
I skipped various lies about national security, because even casual readers of the news understand why it was wrong to let the attempted Christmas plane bomber to lawyer up. The same goes for attempts to negotiate an Iranian nuclear stand down, when Iran has made clear its intention to proceed, and to use those bonds once they are available.
It will be interesting to see whether the press does any kind of research to challenge any falsehoods in the president’s State of the Union address. I hope I have encouraged them in that direction