(Check The Whitehouse Budget Charts)
From Timothy Noah at Slate
When Bush got asked about his spending habit on Meet the Press, this was his answer:
If you look at the appropriations bills that were passed under my watch, in the last year of President Clinton, discretionary spending was up 15 percent, and ours have steadily declined.
That isn’t even close to being true. Under Bush, overall discretionary spending (i.e., with defense spending included) has increased every single year. It’s now 31 percent higher than it was when Bush arrived.
But perhaps Bush meant to say, “domestic discretionary spending.” Well, that, too, has increased every single year of Bush’s presidency, and, as previously noted, is now 25 percent higher than it was when Bush arrived.
It seems almost gratuitous to add that in the last year of President Clinton’s term, discretionary spending was up not 15 percent, but 3 percent, and that domestic discretionary spending was up not 15 percent, but 5 percent.
It should be obvious how the Meet the Press lie about spending differs from the usual Bush lie. He’s lying to a different audience. Bush isn’t gaslighting Democrats; although Democrats worry about deficits, they don’t lose sleep over large increases in government spending. (Indeed, the liberal Center for Budget and Policy Priorities has lately been complaining that the spending increases projected in Bush’s proposed 2005 budget aren’t large enough.) To most Democrats, Bush’s transparently false claim that he’s cut discretionary spending will provoke at best mild academic interest.
Those conservatives who sincerely believe that government needs to spend less—a small but important Republican constituency—are furious at Bush right now because he’s increasing domestic discretionary spending more rapidly than Bill Clinton did. During his two terms in office, Clinton increased domestic discretionary spending by 10 percent. Bush, in not quite one full presidential term, has already increased domestic discretionary spending by 25 percent. This according to the White House’s own budget charts! (The numbers are adjusted for inflation.)
Bush is gaslighting small-government Republicans. He’s lying to the Heritage Foundation’s Brian Riedl, who has observed that federal spending has grown twice as fast under Bush as it did under Clinton. He’s lying to Paul Gigot, who edits the Wall Street Journal‘s editorial page, which says runaway spending is evidence that “the Republican imperium is starting to show signs of ideological dry rot.” He’s lying to Rush Limbaugh, who recently told his listeners that Bush hopes to soften “people’s view of conservatism by making Americans work more for government and less for themselves,” and that this strategy won’t work. He’s lying to Andrew Sullivan, the hawkish conservative blogger who’s in utter despair over Bush’s spending spree. He’s lying, in short, to people who believe in him. Or rather, believed; Sullivan is drifting rapidly leftward and has already struck out at Bush’s dishonesty on Meet the Press. If others follow, Bush could see serious erosion in his political base.
A more appalling possibility is that small-government conservatives won’t complain about being lied to because they place loyalty above self-respect. Even before the Meet the Press interview, former Bush speechwriter David Frum was making excuses for spending increases under Bush. (Frum made his name with the 1994 book, Dead Right, which urged Republicans to regain their focus on reducing the size of government, but he’s since decided that intellectual consistency must bow to the war on terrorism.) There was nothing about Bush’s spending lie on the Journal editorial page today, and nothing in James Taranto’s “Best of the Web” log on its Web site. The Weekly Standard‘s Web site hasn’t weighed in, either. There’s some grumbling about Bush’s spending on National Review‘s “The Corner” Web log, but nowhere could I find the words, “lie,” “false,” “untrue,” or “not true.” Is it possible all these conservatives are going to take Bush’s lie, er, lying down? Be warned, Republican brothers: Once Bush starts lying to you, he may never stop.
and it’s not the first time…
By Timothy Noah (Slate)
Posted Tuesday, July 15, 2003, at 4:01 PM PT
Chatterbox is gratified that the country has come to share his enthusiasm for dissecting the lies uttered by or on behalf of President Bush. Or rather, for dissecting one lie: Bush’s assertion, in this year’s State of the Union address, that Saddam had “recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” This information, the Bushies now concede, was based almost entirely on documents that the CIA and the White House knew to be false. (Pedants’ corner: Bush actually said that British intelligence had “learned” about Saddam’s yellowcake safari, but the attribution amounted to a lie because you can’t “learn” something that isn’t true.)
But what makes the yellowcake lie so special? That it was a justification for going to war? Then what about Bush’s comic insistence in May that “We’ve found the weapons of mass destruction”? That lie was arguably worse than the yellowcake lie, because it was retrospective rather than speculative, and more demonstrably untrue. What about the cost of the war, which the Bush administration insisted couldn’t be estimated in advance? Larry Lindsey reportedly lost his job as chairman of the National Economic Council for blabbing to the Wall Street Journal that the war would cost between $100 billion and $200 billion. Mitch Daniels, then White House budget director, scoffed at Lindsey’s estimate and said the cost would be more like $50 billion or $60 billion. But now the Washington Post is estimating the cost of the war and its aftermath at … $100 billion.
Why was there no media frenzy when Bush lied about this year’s tax cut? “My jobs and growth plan would reduce tax rates for everyone who pays income tax,” Bush said before Congress passed it. Not so! The Urban Institute-Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center found 8.1 million taxpayers who would receive no tax cuts. Or what about when Ari Fleischer said the prisoners of war at Guantanamo were “receiving far far better treatment than they received in the life that they were living previously”? This was difficult to square with the fact that there had, at that time, been 27 suicide attempts. Or what about Fleischer’s denial (twice!) that Bush had come out against civilian nation-building during the 2000 presidential campaign? Fleischer tried to convince reporters that Bush had criticized only nation-building by the military. But Bush had said, “I don’t think so” in response to the following question in the Oct. 11 debate: “Is it time to consider a civil force of some kind, that comes in after the military, that builds nations or all of that?” Or what about the White House fact sheet that insisted the tax cuts hadn’t contributed to the deficit (“The budget returned to deficit because of war, recession and emergencies associated with the terrorist attacks of September 11th“), even though, buried inside the White House budget documents, some renegade bureaucrat wrote, “The deterioration in the performance of the economy together with income tax relief … produced a drop in the surplus to $127.1 billion (1.3% of GDP) and a return to deficits”? (Incidentally, the budget deficit is now projected to be $455 billion.)
And these lies are all just from this calendar year. They don’t include what is probably Bush’s most significant lie concerning domestic policy: that his restrictions on stem-cell research left scientists with 64 stem-cell lines to use in their research. “[M]ore than 60 genetically diverse stem cell lines already exist,” Bush said in his August 2001 stem-cell speech. “They were created from embryos that have already been destroyed, and they have the ability to regenerate themselves indefinitely, creating ongoing opportunities for research.” Not true! Until recently, there was only one stem-cell line that researchers could use. Now there are 11. In this instance, Chatterbox knows why the lie got lost in the shuffle. It’s because just about everybody (including Chatterbox) dropped the subject after Osama Bin Laden’s major distraction on Sept. 11.