The only reasonable conclusion is that Greg Sargent should resign from the Washington Post before it finishes destroying his brain.
Give Sargent credit: he knows Mitt Romney is lying, and he calls him out on it, which—especially for the denizens of “Fox on 15th”—is as close to truth as you get outside of Sarah Kliff’s Wonkblog pieces.* But he always tries to find the bright side, assuming that it’s not deliberating lying so much as hoping there is a “memory hole” in the electorate.
RNC Chair Reince Preibus this evening went out of his way to prove that this is a far too generous. In an email entitled “Stop Obama’s Debt and Deficits,” he declares:
Obama’s [sic] racked up the three highest deficits in history and is scheduled to rack up the fourth this year.
In less than four years, President Obama has run up more than $5 trillion in debt, which is the most rapid increase in the debt under any U.S. President.
That is elephant shit.**
As I noted a couple of days ago, the “three highest deficits in history” (on an absolutely dollar basis, of course; no Republican currently in the party would admit that the largest percentage increase was under Ronald Wilson Reagan) include the fiscal year ending in September of 2009—the result of the Previous Administration’s final budget (which still holds the record in dollars, let alone inflation-adjusted terms, by at least $113B). That’s not just hoping for a “memory hole,” it’s outright prevarication. Lying, not to put too fine a point on it.
Even if we were stupid enough to believe that Barack Obama was responsible for the Previous Administration’s final budget—what, he did a Vulcan Mind Meld, simultaneously planting the idea that Starburst Palin should be the Veep pick?—the total for those three years of deficit is just over $4T. So where does the RNC get $5T, just under 25% higher?
Well, again, we here in Dataland cannot answer that question. We can accurately state that Willard “My Name is
Julie Mitt” Romney has been saying for a while that the jobs lost for the January, 2009, report—the report of data taken the week of the 12th, before the inauguration, but apparently journalists are even stupider than economists, since even Sargent let that blatant falsehood slide recently—are all Obama’s fault.***
So let’s be Amazingly Generous. Let’s accept, just for argument’s sake, that the deficit for the month of January, 2009—a month in which the Previous Administration was in office more than 5/8ths of the time—should all be blamed on the Obama Administration, even though they have no control of the purse strings.
In short, let’s make the scenario as bad as possible for the Obama Administration, while remaining in Dataland. If we were pretending that Reince Preibus was an Andrew Sarris stand-in, my next line would be, “Well, I have the Monthly Treasury Statement right here…”
For the time period from January, 2009 to April, 2012, inclusive, the total deficit is just under $4.4T.**** Yet Reince Preibus emails us that “President Obama has run up more than $5 trillion in debt.”
If he really is that innumerate, then I have only one thing to say: Reince, buddy, it took me less than five minutes to document that your email was bollocks. You need to hire me (or someone like me). Today.
Otherwise, even Greg Sargent will have to admit that Mitt Romney isn’t just lying; he’s Following Orders to Lie.
*For which, far too often, Ezra Klein will be credited.
**I considered “horse” or “bull,” but the magnitude is at least in the “what, and quit show business” range.
***That the Party that claims that the 2001 recession—which began in March—was not their Administration’s fault has a standard bearer who declares that the layoffs the month before the following Administration took office are also Not Their Fault would win the Chutzpah Award if there were still journalism being practiced by another other than Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.
****By the way, Februarys have been especially ugly since 2002. If I any econometrician wants to look for when the Seasonal Adjustment formula went wrong, that might be a good place to start.