Here is President Barack Obama holding forth in an ad released in September: “Now Governor Romney believes that with even bigger tax cuts for the wealthy, and fewer regulations on Wall Street, all of us will prosper. In other words, he’d double down on the same trickle-down policies that led to the crisis in the first place.”
That is the core message of the Obama-Biden campaign. Mr. Obama has repeated the claim often, and Vice President Joe Biden took it for a ride around the block in his recent debate with Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan.
Unfortunately, the theory recently collided with fact checker for the Washington Post Glenn Kessler, not a conservative or a member in good standing of the much abused and misunderstood Tea Party movement, who awarded the claim three out of four “Pinocchios,” which places the statement alongside such whoppers as “the earth is flat” and “Vice President Joe Biden is a gentleman.”
Citations to support the claim are missing, and the veracity of the proposition rests upon a single column written by Ezra Klein, the paper’s liberal blogger who told Mr. Kessler, “I am absolutely not saying the Bush tax cuts led to the financial crisis. To my knowledge, there’s no evidence of that.”
In an attempt to bury the lie, Mr. Kessler wrote, “It is time for the Obama campaign to retire this talking point, no matter how much it seems to resonate with voters.”
Good luck with that. It was British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli who said there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics. One suspects the Obama-Biden trope falls into the category of damned lies that cannot be withdrawn without causing a campaign to collapse upon itself. Inconvenient lies are easily thrown overboard, but a convenient lie that forms the main joist of a political campaign must be defended to the death. And didn’t some politician or other point out that if a lie is large and audacious enough, it would survive the attacks upon it of angels, science and fact checkers?
If former President George Bush did not slay the economy with tax cuts, who killed Cock Robin? What was the precipitating cause of crisis so often lamented by Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden?
It was, many non-partisan writers are coming to believe, the mortgage crisis. This writer said months ago that if Mr. Obama had from the beginning of his first term in office addressed himself to settling the mortgage crisis, he would today be undefeatable. A healthy housing market drives the entire U.S. economy, and an effective solution to the mortgage crisis would have been very painful indeed. The housing bubble was caused by politicians in Washington who degraded mortgage banking standards so that those who could not afford mortgages might never-the-less own houses. In Canada, where banking standards remained rational, the housing industry remained solvent.
Instead of addressing himself to restoring the lending integrity of banks, Mr. Obama reached for the same brass ring that tempted progressives a hundred years ago during the election of 1912 and pushed through a Congress dominated by Democrats the holy grail of progressivism – universal health care, Obamacare being a giant step in the direction of universal health care. That attempt is now crashing on the rocks of reality. The U.S. economy simply is not healthy enough to sustain the cost of Mr. Obama’s unaffordable “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” a poorly conceived half-way measure designed to move the nation towards a government run health care system.
Other government controlled and administered systems – Social Security, than which there is nothing less secure, Medicare and Medicaid -- are heading towards collapse if nothing is done to make them solvent for future generations. Solutions that might make these systems solvent put forward by Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan, among others, have been laughed to scorn by the easily amused Mr. Biden, who continues to disown problems he and the president should have accepted as their own long ago. The very first step in problem solving is to own the problem before it owns you.
We are living in a time when problems put the saddle on men and ride them until they drop. In Europe, politicians are already hagridden. Excessive spending and unaffordable entitlements have bankrupted first Greece, then Spain, then Italy, and the governments of impecunious countries, former democracies, have now been delivered into the unforgiving hands of technocrats and international bankers. All this is happening in real time, right under our noses. And yet here, just as in Europe, we are following the path of least resistance towards a fatal fall dramatically pictured in our media and on our television screens.
It ought to be a cause of great concern that our politicians cannot see the problems so apparent to the enemies of our country. The response of the United States to the murder of an ambassador and the destruction of a consulate in Benghazi is a near triumph of rhetoric over reality.
At first, the attack on the embassy was attributed to a spontaneous protest occasioned by a film that insulted the prophet Mohammed, a tissue of lies. On the second day following the organized attack on the embassy by a terrorist network supposedly disabled by the killing of Osama bin Ladin, intelligence officials knew there was no protest rally at the embassy -- none. Nice try. At a vice presidential debate with the excessively polite Mr. Ryan, the vastly amused Mr. Biden, three corpses sitting on his chest, pointed to faulty intelligence as the culprit that prevented him and the president from reinforcing an embassy under constant threat from terrorists for months, a four Pinocchios stretcher. Pity Mr. Biden couldn’t put the blame on former President George Bush. But in Mr. Bush’s absence, intelligence services would serve the same purpose.
Trust my rhetoric over the reality that seeps through your senses into your brain, Mr. Biden implored an audience that saw him interrupt Mr. Ryan about eighty times, a calculated filibuster designed to blunt the force of Mr. Ryan’s assertions. You do trust us, Mr. Biden asked the voting public, don’t you?
Well, don’t you?