New York Times: President Obama makes up details about the Republican’s plans for America

Posted on October 17, 2010

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A couple of days ago, there was a surprising admission from the nation’s newspaper of record.   In order  to rally his party’s political supporters, it seems President Obama is making unfounded claims about what the Republicans plan to do if they are to take back control of the House and/or Senate:

In speech after speech lately, President Obama has vowed to oppose a Republican proposal “to cut education by 20 percent,” a reduction that would “eliminate 200,000 children from Head Start programs” and “reduce financial aid for eight million college students.”

Except that strictly speaking, the Republicans have made no such proposal. The expansive but vague Pledge to America produced by House Republicans does promise deep cuts in domestic spending, but it gives no further detail about which programs would be slashed. So Mr. Obama has filled in his own details as if they were in the Republican plan. (emphasis mine)

With the midterm Congressional campaign heading into the home stretch, Mr. Obama and the Republicans are engaged in a profound debate about the proper size and scope of government. To Democrats, the Republican platform is misleading in a fundamental sense, masking the depth of spending cuts while ignoring deficits when it comes to tax breaks for the wealthy. But in making his case, the president at times has presented selective characterizations of Republican positions, according to a review of his campaign speeches. (emphasis mine)

Politicians and their surrogates commonly stretch or omit facts to make points during campaigns, and Mr. Obama has seen his opponents make many unfounded assertions about him and his policies, whether by questioning his Christianity or by claiming that his health care plan included “death panels.”

But as he tries to rally his party for the midterm election against the odds, Mr. Obama is employing the biggest megaphone in politics, and his words are parsed like no other politician’s. While Mr. Obama’s general points about the scale of Republican spending cuts and fiscal effects of high-end tax cuts have a solid factual basis, some independent organizations that examine political statements, like PolitiFact and, have questioned the veracity of some specific claims on economic policy and other topics. (emphasis mine)

The New York Times calls it “filling in the G.O.P.’s blanks.” Others may call it lying or at the very least making up figures up out of thin air.  Either way, hearing this type of rhetoric from the President shouldn’t be surprising given the way he’s also gone after the Chamber of Commerce using “foreign money” to support Republicans in this year’s elections without any evidence.  As I’ve said before, political speech is free and not bound specifically to claims that can be proven.  In politics, anything goes.

Before voting in November, the lesson is clear:  don’t believe everything you hear, especially from the President who now has a record of making unfounded claims. You need to do your own homework.