Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Obama's Spending and Campaign

I previously wrote about a column making the rounds that claims that the Obama administration is one of the most fiscally conservative in decades. It bases this on a very narrow measure - increase in spending from the last year of the previous administration. Since Bush's last year contained numerous expensive, one-time emergency measures, this set a very high level of spending to compare against. There is also a great deal of creative accounting in this piece including crediting Bush for spending bills signed by Obama. Numerous fact-checkers have found the column to be false.

President Obama read the article while on route to a campaign event and added it to his speech. Since then it was incorporated into the White House message of the day. Press Secretary Jim Carney repeated it as did surrogates and sympathetic columnists.

Now, if anyone knows how much the Obama administration spent, it should be the Obama administration. Did they really think that they were keeping a tight lid on spending even though it grew in proportion to the GDP to levels unseen since WWII?

If we give them the benefit of the doubt then they rushed a piece into the campaign without properly vetting it. That's really sloppy.

The alternative is that they don't actually care about truth. If someone says something that benefits them then they will repeat it and assume that few people bother to read the fact-checkers. Unfortunately, this is more likely what happened. It matches their attack on Romney as a corporate vampire and it gives them deny-ability. After all, they were just repeating what someone else wrote.

The Obama campaign plans on playing hard-ball, raising as many issues as possible in order to distract voters from the economy and counting on demographics to deliver the big western states. While this may work, the economy is at the top of everyone's list of worries. The Obama campaign's message on the economy is, "Yes, things aren't very good but they will be worse under the other guy." This message only works if the economy is seen to be improving. The worse the economy does the better someone new looks.

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