Obama the Liar?

A conservative friend of mine send me an essay railing at President Obama for being, among other things, a liar.  While I’m sure it was satisfying for the author of the essay to write it, and for many conservatives to read it, I wondered.  My mother taught me to be very careful when calling someone a liar, and while I can think of oodles of things that our President said that turned out to be not quite true on further inspection, I was hard-pressed to identify a real lie.  So I turned to the Web, where I found lots of help.  There was an article in Human Events listing the ‘top 10 Obama lies.’  So let’s have a look:

1.  Americans want higher taxes:  During the debate over raising the debt ceiling, President Obama said that 80% of Americans support including higher taxes as part of the deal.  But a Rasmussen poll taken the same week showed that only 34% believe a tax hike should be included in a debt-ceiling agreement.

I remember news reports that indicated that a majority did favor higher taxes.  And in fact, there was a Quinnipiac poll that reported 55% in favor of higher taxes on the wealthy and corporations to help address the debt.  Not quite the 80% reported by our President, but close enough by politician standards.

2.  Mother denied health insurance:  During his presidential campaign, Obama said that his mother died of cancer after being denied coverage for a preexisting condition…. But [she] had health insurance through her employer and was only denied disability insurance.

His mother was denied some form of insurance.  Again, close enough for political work.

3.  Tax restraint for middle and lower class:  Obama pledged during his campaign and throughout his presidency not to raise taxes on families making less than $250,000.  But ObamaCare’s individual mandate… a higher federal cigarette tax and countless other “fees” in the health care law… hit the middle and lower class.

The usual context of this statement is the Federal income tax, and in that context, Obama has been true to his word.  ObamaCare is a special case, about which I have more later, and if you don’t want to pay excise taxes on cigarettes, then don’t smoke.

4.  Shovel-ready jobs:  When Obama was selling his $787 billion stimulus package, he consistently bragged about how shovel-ready construction jobs would be funded across the nation.  Even the President later admitted…:  “There’s no such thing as shovel-ready projects.”

In my professional life, I’m involved with public works projects, and I know that there is no such thing as a ‘shovel-ready’ job.  At best, there is a nearly-complete design on the shelf that is waiting for funding, and it would take a bare minimum of three months (and more practically 6-9 months) to finish the design, bid and award a contract, and start work.

But Obama is a politician, not an engineer, and if he hears from state and local politicians about all these projects they’d like to execute, but just need funding, he’s inclined to believe them. Alas, even allowing for a few months’ latency, there was no bump in employment as these ‘not-quite-shovel-ready’ jobs took hold.  So I’ll score this as one that he had to learn the hard way.

5.  Keep your doctor:  President Obama repeatedly pledged that under his health care measure, Americans would be able to keep their doctors.  However, with rising costs, many employers will dump their health care plans….

ObamaCare is an abomination for a variety of reasons.  But Obama is correct in noting that there is nothing in the health care legislation that will prevent you from seeing your current doctor or maintaining your current insurance.   (Whether you will be able to in real life is another matter, as many have pointed out.)

6.  No lobbyists:  During the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama said:  “We have the chance to tell all those corporate lobbyists that the days of them setting the agenda in Washington are over….”  At least a dozen former lobbyists got top jobs in his administration at the beginning of his presidency….

Every politician rails at lobbyists, and ultimately does nothing.  So what else is new?

7.  Foreign money in campaigns:  During his 2010 State of the Union address, and again during the 2010 midterm elections, Obama railed against foreign money influencing U.S. elections.  The only problem was that there was no evidence to support the charge….

Obama’s 2010 State of the Union address came a few days after the Citizens United Supreme Court decision ruling that allowed corporations and others to present ‘issue’ advertising during the political campaign cycle.  While such advertising cannot identify candidates by name, it can be readily associated with candidates.  And a foreign corporation could indeed present such advertising, if they really wanted to wade into the cesspool that is American politics.

8.  Arizona immigration law:  During the battle over Arizona’s immigration law, President Obama said:  “Now suddenly if you don’t have your papers and you took your kid out to get ice cream, you can be harassed, that’s something that could potentially happen.”

Well, if you were speeding on the way to the ice cream parlor, you might get stopped, and then you could get in trouble for not having your papers.  I don’t know if Arizona has a law (as in New York) enabling the police to stop and ticket you if you aren’t wearing your seat belt, but if it does, that would be another ‘show me your papers’ moment.  The threshold is any infraction where the police would stop you and ask questions, not necessarily a crime.

9.  Transparency:  Obama pledged that transparency would be a top priority, but his administration refused to grant one-third of the Freedom of Information Act requests, according to an Associated Press analysis.  He also was dishonest about transparency when he said that health-care negotiations would be televised on C-SPAN and that he would wait five days to sign a bill so people would have a chance to read it online.

Stupid naive campaign promises, nothing more.

10.  Constitutional oath:  During his January 2009 inauguration, Barack Obama pledged to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States,” yet he has consistently ignored the 10th Amendment giving powers not enumerated in the Constitution to the states.  Exhibit No. 1: ObamaCare.

ObamaCare relies on a twisted interpretation of the Commerce Clause (‘Congress shall have power to… regulate Commerce… among the several States;’) to require people to purchase insurance.  As far as the Tenth Amendment, I’m sure it isn’t the first time that the Federal government has imposed uniform standards on something across the states.

To take another Tenth Amendment example, consider Arizona’s immigration law.  The President can rail against it; he can have the Justice Department sue the state of Arizona in pursuit of what he believes to be right; but he can’t force Arizona to abandon its law.

Our President may question whether the Constitution allows him to do this or that, but I can’t identify any time where the President has simply disregarded or violated the Constitution.

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My point in all of this is not to defend President Obama’s performance: he has been one of our most inept Presidents in a long time.  Yes, he’s more inept than President Carter, who had decent policies but couldn’t present them well.

But he’s no more a liar than the average politician.  Every politician overlooks inconvenient facts, makes pointless promises he has no intent in keeping, pontificates from ignorance (‘shovel-ready jobs’), or engages in creative over- or understatement to advance his agenda.  Moreover, every President lives in a bubble, surrounded by advisors who tell him what he wants to hear.

I’m bitterly disappointed in President Obama.  I disagree with his policies, and I’m horrified by his non-leadership leadership style.  But if I call him a liar, I would also have to call almost all of his modern predecessors liars too.  The last President who wasn’t a liar was Jimmy Carter: it was perhaps the root of many of his problems.

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