Title: Fact Checking Obama’s Tax and Jobs Promises
Introduction: Lies and Statistics
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”
The emphasis in most people’s minds when they hear the above Goebbels quote is on the powerful effect of repetition. We hear this in radio ads which maddeningly repeat numbers over and over, usually stopping just before we lunge for the off button. Madison Avenue executives and political operatives alike will never be dissuaded from this deep insight, learned and never forgotten, from the Rat Psychology 101 class of their formative years.
A less noted but quite essential technique in the practice of the Big Lie, a subordinate clause in the Goebbels quote, is to maximize the time, distance, complexity, and amount of obfuscation that may be placed between the original lie, and the means to test, evaluate, or check its validity and truth. The press is an instrument of obfuscation, as Goebbels further explains: “Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play.”
Promises and Realities
Hence we hear about jobs “created or saved”, and how much worse the economy could have been, and that political opponents want dirty air, dirty water, fewer people with health insurance, and higher rates of murder and rape. In the same vein we hear that Obamacare will: 1) bend the health care cost curve, 2) allow you to keep your present health care if you want it, 3) will not add a dime to the national debt, 4) will not cover illegal aliens, and more. Claim #4 crossed the line of credulity for Rep. Joe Wilson, who “spontaneously” shouted “You Lie”, hearing Obama at a 2009 speech.
On the other hand, there is plenty of ambivalence, philosophical forgiveness, and laughter surrounding lying. During the Lewinsky sex scandal Norman Mailer said that even if a man is caught en flagrante, he still is bound to lie, as a matter of respect. There are white lies. There is lying to be kind. Mark Twain said: there are lies, damn lies, and statistics. It is a criminal act to lie to the feds, even without being under oath, as Martha Stewart learned. In an 1851 case Abraham Lincoln won $400 for a pregnant young woman who had been promised marriage by a lying young cad. And then there are the more dangerous lies referred to by Goebbels –lies for the purpose of gaining, seizing, and holding on to power. Unfunny lies by politicians can rob us of livelihood, wealth, means to wealth, and even our freedom.
1. “Millionaires and Billionaires” really means individuals making $200,000 and families and small businesses earning $250,000.
2.The statement that the “jobs bill would create nearly 2 million jobs”, really means a median estimate of 275,000 jobs in 2012 and 13,000 jobs in 2013 for a total of 288,000 jobs.
3. The statement is that “the jobs bill that would put 400,000 teachers and firefighters and police officers back on the job. And it was paid for by asking people who make over a million dollars a year to pay one-half of 1 percent more in taxes. So for someone making $1.1 million a year, that’s an extra $500 that would save 400,000 jobs all across the country.”
The actual number in the Reid bill is $35 billion, which would pay each of the 400,000 jobs $87,500 per annum, assuming absolutely 100% efficiency and no waste (!!). The cost to the 237,000 people earning over $1 million, on the other hand, would not be $500 or even $5000, but rather $148,000 per taxpayer earning over $1 million. This is an untenable number. What this really says is the same as point #1 above, the tax would not fall on “millionaires and billionaires” but rather on the middle class. This is the pernicious and misleading lie.