Sunlight Shining Through Cloud

Just The Facts, Ms. Palin

Posted on: June 2, 2011

There are things in life that you automatically know to be suspicious of: product claims in television commercials; the fine print in a contract; the earnest assertion of a child who’s hiding the candy behind his back…to name but a few.

Politics is a passion for me and I spend a fair amount of time studying the subject.  I’ve learned not to get my dander up over the vast majority of the machinations of our body(s) politic.  There’s hardly anything new under the sun, after all.  But one thing still manages to make the hair stand up on the back of my neck: the mis/use of facts.  Or, more to the point, lies.

Palin aboard the "One Nation Tour" bus Photo credit: FoxNews

We could talk about global warming or about the president’s place of birth.  But I am presently thinking about the economy.  My blood is boiling because Sarah Palin told Fox‘s Greta VanSusteren on Tuesday that President Obama has increased the national debt by more than “all other presidents combined.”  It’s an old canard kept alive by, well, liars.

Facts, even those involving hard numbers, are vulnerable to interpretation.  We are bombarded daily by facts.  There are so many of them.  The cacophony muddies them.  We become confused by them.  We don’t like being weakened by confusion, so we shut them out entirely.  Or, perhaps worse, we select only those facts that amplify our personal perceptions or strongly-held beliefs.

So when Ms. Palin cites the “facts” as she chooses to see them, and Ms. VanSusteren fails to perform her journalistic duty by challenging them, the faithful are being fed their chosen poison.  That’s fine…it’s a free country.

But lies are lies.

It took Google 0.09 seconds to show me the truth.  On inauguration day, President Obama inherited a $10.6Trillion dollar debt from the previous administration.  In the past two-and-a-half years, the debt has been increased by $3.7Trillion mostly resulting from Bush-era policies and some (e.g. the Afghan War; 2009 Recovery Act) adopted or initiated (respectively) by the current administration.

No matter how you choose to interpret those facts, a school child can see that Palin’s assertion is easily $7Trillion wrong.

It’s darned near impossible to find honest, unvarnished information because it’s buried so deeply beneath the noisy informational garbage with which we’re being pummeled.  So what is the truth about our national debt?  Using data from the Congressional Budget Office, the non-profit, non-partisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities developed this graph:

This study’s analysts conclude that:

[S]imply letting the Bush tax cuts expire on schedule (or paying for any portions that policymakers decide to extend) would stabilize the debt-to-GDP ratio for the next decade.   While we’d have to do much more to keep the debt stable over the longer run, that would be a huge accomplishment.

This blog post is not a criticism of Sarah Palin.  She’s far too easy a target.  There are clowns aplenty  — on both sides of the aisle — who play the same game.  No, this post is an exhortation: It is incumbent upon us, the citizens of a country we profess to love, to learn the truth and to vote accordingly.

2 Responses to "Just The Facts, Ms. Palin"

Thus proving that we should always check the “facts” we are bombarded with…

So odd how some people’s “facts” support whatever predetermined position they hold.

Personally, I am grateful that we have an intelligent and capable man in the White House in these very challenging times. And, I don’t think Sarah Palin will be changing that within the next few years.

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