Governments Tell The Truth, Sometimes

Our national insolvency has gotten too severe to hide anymore.

By now, we've become accustomed to politicians and government employees lying through their teeth, especially on matters of importance.  Mr. Obama's health care lies were so outrageous during a State of the Union address, for example, that a US Congressman leaped up and yelled "You lie!"  Which, of course, was the truth: our President was demeaning his office by lying like a rug.

My. Obama continued lying about health care when he gave the 2012 commencement address at Barnard College, a women's school which makes Wellesley seem conservative by comparison.  According to the Wall Street Journal,

The world that Barack Obama conveyed to the women at Barnard is totally, overwhelmingly political. ...

He said they are about to grapple with unique challenges, "like whether you'll be able to earn equal pay for equal work" or "fully control decisions about your own health."  [emphasis added]

His sound bite about women making their own health care decisions is one of the loudest whoppers we've heard in a long time.  Obamacare promised to cut costs by setting up committees who'd decide who could receive treatments and who could not.  We were given a glimpse of government "death panels" before Obamacare even passed when a committee recommended against women getting annual mammograms as often as they had been.

How can Mr. Obama speak of women being able to "fully control decisions" about health when he himself signed into law panels which would determine what women could have and what they couldn't?  His law not only gives government the power to tell you what they'll pay for and what they won't, it also forbids doctors to treat you outside government recommendations even if you have enough money to pay for treatment yourself.  Unless you're an elite government employee who's exempt from Obamacare, you'll have no choice beyond whatever the government chooses to give you.

How can Mr. Obama keep a straight face when putting over such whoppers?  Because he's one of the best, most accomplished liars we've seen in politics in a long, long time.

Our government lies systematically and on purpose.  The Obama administration is changing the definition of unemployment to automatically make unemployment look really bad during good times under Republican administrations and look better during bad times when Democrats are managing the country.

They're also changing the definition of inflation so they can say that prices haven't gone up much under Obama.  The new definition leaves out fuel, food, and other essential items that have gone up the most.  Most of our media go along with this but there are occasional glimmers of the truth when the lies get really outrageous.

Burger King claims to be home of the whopper, but they've lost their crown to the Beltway Bandits.  Should we sue Burger King for misrepresentation?

Truth Outs, Occasionally

Politicians have been known to occasionally tell the truth without meaning to.  One of our treasured examples is Jesse Jackson's saying that Barack Obama's criticism of black males and his calls for black men to take responsibility for children they father were undercutting Jackson's leadership of the black community.  That's the utmost in truth-telling - Mr. Jackson's entire schtick is based on black people being underachievers or nonachievers so they're dependent on his ability to secure money for them from government or by threatening businesses with boycotts unless they pay protection money.

More recently, Mr. Obama told Russian President Vladimir Putin that he could negotiate a treaty which would be more favorable to the Russians after the election when he no longer had to worry about voters.  This, too, is the truth - even Obama knows the American people would be furious if he gave away the store to the Russians, so he'd better do so only when he doesn't have to worry about winning an election ever again.  Mr. Putin doesn't need to worry about such things, but apparently he understood the concept and found Mr. Obama's explanation satisfactory.

Our all-time favorite example of a politician telling the truth, however, is from Mr. Obama's speech to African leaders:

No business wants to invest in a place where the government skims 20 percent off the top, or the head of the port authority is corrupt. No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery. That is not democracy, that is tyranny, and now is the time for it to end.

 - President Barack Hussein Obama, on the need for reform in Africa, New York Times quote of the day, July 12, 2009

Truth doesn't get any more vivid than that.  Read Mr. Obama's first sentence again - "No business wants to invest in a place where the government skims 20 percent off the top..."

Mr. Obama was speaking of corrupt African officials, but it doesn't really matter whether businesses pay taxes, fees, environment studies, bribes, or campaign contributions.  It all comes off the top as a cost of staying in business.

Under Mr. Obama's administration, our Federal government's take has increased from less than 20% of GNP to about 24%.  That's more than the "20% off the top" which he declared made a country a place where "no business wants to invest."  Add in the corporate income tax which hits small businesses which can't afford the campaign contributions needed to manipulate the tax code in their favor and you'll understand why American businesses are sitting on their profits or going offshore instead of investing here.

Leaking Truth About Debt

Politicians especially like to lie about how much money our governments owe.  We appreciated the Securities and Exchange Commission pointing out that states such as New Jersey lied to investors when they sold bonds, just as the Greek government lied to investors.  The New York Times noted that the politicians are lying about how much income they expect from their pension investments:

While Americans are typically earning less than 1 percent interest on their savings accounts and watching their 401(k) balances yo-yo along with the stock market, most public pension funds are still betting they will earn annual returns of 7 to 8 percent over the long haul, a practice that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg recently called “indefensible.”

The Times called it a "fragile calculus" instead of telling us that they're lying, but it's a politically-inspired lie nonetheless.  Politicians lie about future costs because they hope they won't be around when the bills fall due.

Some time back, USA Today warned us that our government debt was $528,000 per household.  This was a lot bigger than the government claims.  They've published an update which goes into more detail.  It turns out that government debt is four times bigger than the government admits.

Last year, the Obama administration admitted to a $1.3 trillion deficit.  USA Today reports that the real deficit was $5 trillion if you include retirement, health care, and other benefits our government has promised that we'll pay.  Federal debt is now $561,000 per household.  The average household earns just under $50,000.  In other words, the average household's share of the national debt is ten years gross income.

USA Today quotes a politician who shed some actual truth on the debt:

Jim Horney, a former Senate budget staff expert now at the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, says retirement programs should not count as part of the deficit because, unlike a business, Congress can change what it owes by cutting benefits...

"It's not easy, but it can be done. Retirement programs are not legal obligations," he says.  [emphasis added]

Read that last part over again.  "Retirement programs are not legal obligations."

That's the truth and nothing but.  Long, long, ago, the Courts ruled that Social Security is a welfare program; it's not an insurance program even though the government lied and called it insurance.  More recently, Mr. Obama pointed out that he would stop making Social Security payments unless the Republicans raised the debt ceiling.  That, too, was the truth, he can cut off Social Security payments if his administration spends all the money and bumps into the debt ceiling.

He could cut his own pay too, of course, but that's not likely.

Truth is rare indeed in DC, but there are glimmers.  The question is whether Congress will address our debt the hard way by cutting spending or whether they'll wait until the very hard way comes along in the form of economic collapse.  Remember that choice when you vote in 2012.

Will Offensicht is a staff writer for and an internationally published author by a different name.  Read other articles by Will Offensicht or other articles on Economics.
Reader Comments

OK, we've got a mess, no new revelations there. What do we do? Do we tinker with the system or do we do wholesale surgery on the economy? Since politicians lack the guts to do the latter it looks like we will tinker with the economy. The tax code is the one area where the country could be helped the most. An agressive overhaul is desparately needed. We must, as a country, have a real dialogue about a national sales tax. The Fair Tax is ready to go and has been vetted by eocnomists with a far greater knowledge of how business works than our esteemed elected officials. It is about 135 pages long as opposed to over 71,000 of tax code that we currently enjoy. It is simple. We pay no federal taxes, no FICA, no estate, no corporate taxes, none. We replace what we are already paying that are embedded taxes with a transparent tax at the point of sale. The retail price remains roughly the same. The difference is that we have all of our paycheck and we tax ourselves when we choose to buy something. A study was done with the 400 largest corporations outside of the US as to what effect would the Fair Tax have on them if it were passed into law. 240 said that they would build their next plant here and the remaining 160 said that theu would move their company headquarters here. Does this sounf like job creation on steroids? You bet it is. SO why don't we do this? Simple. Without the ability to tinker with the tax code and grant favors to a congressman's donors he would lose power. Lobbyists would go out business as there would be less of a need to get a "tax break". We as voters are allowing these elected officials to take money out of our pockets without a whimper. Will we wake up? Probably not as the media is sold out to the current power system, that being one of big government dictating to us how to live our lives and how much money we are allowed to keep because after all, it's really the government's money isn't it? We were the land of the free but we have lost that. A change from obama to Romney won't be much of a difference if we don't bring back capitalism with a hands off from government towards our entreprenuers. These are dangerous times for our republic.

June 20, 2012 10:56 AM
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