Friday, May 07, 2010
Broken promises and lies: Defending Obama's veracity
A recent exchange with one of my Facebook friends has prompted me to finally put a new post on my sadly neglected blog.
My friend Kristen is NOT a big fan of Barack Obama and went so far as to denounce him as a methodical liar.
“Obama and honest shouldn’t even be used in the same sentence. I don’t hate him, I have no respect for the man, he is a joke and you cannot believe a word he says,” she said.
To which I responded: “If you have some specific examples of Obama being purposefully deceitful then please share them with us. But I really have no use for these broad, over-the-top denunciations of our president...”
And so Kristen came back with a long list of “lies” that she believes Obama is guilty of foistering on the American people. I will run through the list below and attempt to address each one as best as I can.
The Alleged Lies:
• we can start with his statement that our premiums will go down 3000% if his healthcare bill was passed (numerically impossible but he said it over and over)...
The 3,000 percent decrease in healthcare premiums was a statement that was widely mocked on rightwing blogs as a quick Google check confirms. Clearly, however, it was a simple case of a misspeak on Obama’s part in one speech. What he meant to say was that the plan includes a $3,000 per employee credit for the employer to provide health insurance, not a 3000 percent reduction for the employer. If you look at the full context of what he was saying, just a few sentences earlier he had said that insurance premiums could fall 14 to 20 percent. So obviously the second reference to falling premiums was a misspeak.
• and how about the no tax increases for 95% of Americans, that lie was exposed almost immediately.....
As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports, Federal Income Taxes on Middle-Income Families are currently at Historically Low Levels. They were low to start with under GW Bush and Obama has lowered them even further with his first budget proposal and the stimulus plan that included even more tax breaks. While it is true that Obama said earlier this year that he may have to reneg somewhat on that campaign promise in order to address the budget deficit problem, so far that has not happened and there have NOT been any federal tax increases on the middle class. If Kristen insists on believing otherwise then she needs to at least produce some source or citation backing up her belief.
• “i didn’t know bill ayers”
This item from FactCheck.org evicerates the bogus claim that Obama lied about his relationship with Bill Ayers. Anyone still harboring doubts about this non-event that was unsuccessfully hyped by the McCain campaign should read the article in full.
• “i don’t share the views of rev white”
That would be Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and I believe Obama more than adequately addressed the situation with his now famous A More Perfect Union speech during the presidential campaign.
The irony is that once the Obama haters failed to pin Obama to the radical Christian views of Rev. Wright, they then set about trying to label him as a radical Muslim.
• my government is the most transparent ever
Obama has indeed taken significant steps towards opening up the government to make it more transparent as this story details. And while some critics say it hasn’t gone far enough, it is still an improvement on the policies of past presidential administrations.
• i will have the entire healthcare debate on cspan
This overly broad campaign promise was a bit naive on Obama’s part and he has admitted as much Obama acknowledges broken C-SPAN promise. It is not unusual for a candidate to promise things with all sincerity on the campaign trail only to find out later that they are impractical once they are in office. But without question, there has been more open debate televised on C-SPAN than in years past.
• no backroom deals for me
I cannot find a specific instance of Obama making such a statement. Nevertheless, while most politicians would object to the negative connotations of the term “backroom deals,” it is without question part of the way things are done in any large entity whether it’s a government or a corporation. Compromises are made, allliances are formed, deals are cut and things get done. That is the way the world has always worked.
• i will not take money from lobbyists
Obama made this pledge during the campaign and based on strict definitions of “registered Washington lobbyists” was able to stick to it. Of course, as Columbia Journalism Review reported at the time, that accounted for only about 1 percent of the available money in the race.
• i post bills online for 5 days before i sign them so people can read and give feedback
Yes, this is another naive promise made on the campaign trail that ran counter to the scheduling realities of Washington. But as I noted before, being forced to break a promise made in all sincerity due to the constraints of real life is not the same as telling a malicious lie with the intent to deceive. It was one of those promises that sounded good at the time, but doesn’t make a lot of sense when you consider that these bills have been debated for months and months by the people’s representatives and once they are passed are not going to be changed anymore. They either get signed or vetoed at that point. So putting everything on hold for five days and forcing people to juggle schedules and delay overseas trips makes little sense.
• i am a moderate
Within the context of the Democratic Party, Obama is very much a moderate. Ask any Democrat on the left who has a long list of gripes and disagreements with President Obama.
• i am not a socialist
Of course he is not a socialist. That is an ignorant statement. If one assumes that Obama is a socialist then every president we’ve had from Roosevelt through Clinton is a socialist as well.
• i’m not looking to run insurance companies out of business (many times he is on video saying he wants a single payer system)
First, while he may have expressed support for a single payer system at one time, the reality in Washington right now is that it would not pass so he has shifted his position on that point. That is not lying, it is being practical and is something that I can respect. Secondly, why would having a single payer system run insurance companies out of business? Taiwan has a national healthcare single-payer system and they still have an insurance industry Taiwan Insurance Report - Business Monitor International. If we ever did implement a single payer system here, U.S. insurance companies would adapt.
• I do not want to own GM
And how is that a lie? GM has paid back its loans to the federal government and is starting to rehire workers around the country. If we had allowed GM to fail it would have been a huge blow to our already weakened economy and would have extended the recession for much longer and could have even pushed us into a depression.
• i will recognize the armenian genocide
Once again political reality has forced Obama to backpedal on a campaign promise. Once again this is not the same thing as a lie. I’m sure Obama would like to formally recognize the genocide, but to do so now would jeapordize U.S.-Turkey relations at a time when we are depending on that country’s support for our ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and to help pressure Iran on nuclear deterrence.
• i will have no earmarks in the stimulus (there are 9000 from what i can find)
This is simply a matter of semantics. One person’s “earmark” is another person’s vital program. Practically anything you put into any bill can be called an earmark. What Obama was trying to stop were the last-minute additions that get inserted without review or debate, and in that respect he largely succeeded.
• hell he even lied about quitting smoking
Low blow. Clearly he is trying to break a 30-year habit and that does not come easy.
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