By: Glenn Kessler
December 13, 2011
“‘Their proposal ... makes harmful cuts to things like education, that strengthen middle-class security. Their plan seeks to put the burden on working families, while giving a free pass to the wealthiest and big corporations, by protecting their loopholes and subsidies.’
--White House spokesman Jay Carney, Dec. 9, 2011
“‘What I understand is that in the Republican proposal you're talking about, they didn't spell out where the cuts would come. And I get that they were trying to hide the fact that this would be the result. … The result would be cuts in nondefense discretionary programs, education and clean energy, veterans programs. That's the effect of their proposal.’
--Carney, Dec. 12, 2011
“There are few areas more confusing than the federal budget. In many ways, it is a funhouse mirror of numbers, allowing politicians to make claims that are designed to mislead and confuse voters.
“The above quotes by White House spokesman Jay Carney provide a case study of this technique.
“On Friday, reading from a prepared statement, he accused the House Republicans of making ‘harmful cuts’ to education in order to fund their version of an extension of the payroll tax cut. On Monday, he said that “they didn’t spell out where the cuts would come from’… he insisted the result of their plan would be cuts in “education and clean energy, veterans programs.’
“The House Republican bill to extend the payroll tax for one year has a number of elements that concern the White House, but let’s keep the focus on the spending cuts.
“The CBO report lays out the number of specific line items that are designed to help pay for the tax cut extension…
“Some items are minor and symbolic, such as ending unemployment benefits for millionaires. (Savings: $127 million.) Another item—also supported by Senate Democrats—would boost the fees that mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac collect from lenders….
“No matter where you look in the CBO score, you cannot find cuts for education, energy or veterans… how does the White House justify this claim?...
“The White House thinks that one of its possible tools to reduce the budget has been taken away. House Republicans believe that the White House wanted a use such a freeze on wages so it could spend more on other programs…
“The House bill, in fact, lowers spending caps significantly less than a companion Senate Republican bill.
“The 2014 fiscal year, for instance, the reduction in spending amounts to about $2 billion, out of some $500 billion in spending. From this, the White House cries ‘harmful cuts’ in education, clean energy and veterans.
The Pinocchio Test
“Administration officials say that Carney was merely offering an illustrative list of what could be cut, but it certainly did not sound like that. He spoke with certainty, decrying the ‘burden on working families’ that would result from the House GOP bill.
“Carney’s rhetoric is over the top — given the relatively small amounts of money involved and the uncertainty about what future Congresses will do.
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Budget and Spending Taxes