Glenn Beck and his radio sidekicks ripped into President Obama's recently released budget proposal, as well as Obama's remarks about the proposal at a press conference, but many of their criticisms were based on falsehoods and misleading framing.
Beck Claim: It's "NotTrue" That Social Security Isn't A "HugeContributor" To The Deficit. From Beck's February 15 radioshow:
BECK: Then he is asked this question. I havenot heard the answers, but here we go. Roll the tape.
REPORTER [audio clip]: Thank you very much, Mr. President. You'vebeen talking a lot about the need for tough choices in your budget, but yourplan does not address the long-term crushing costs of Social Security,Medicare, Medicaid -- the real drivers of long-term debt. Can youexplain that? Where is your leadership on that issue? When arewe going to see your plan? And if Imay, sir, on the foreign front, the uprising in Egypt has helped promptprotests in Bahrain, in Yemen, and Iran. I'm wondering how you balance yourpush for freedoms in those places against the instability that could reallyendanger U.S. interests.
OBAMA [audio clip]: At the same time, we're going to be makingsome key investments in places like education, and science and technology,research and development that the American people understand is required to winthe future. So what we've done is we've taken a scalpel to the discretionarybudget rather than a machete.
BECK: I need a machete, please. Or an ax.
OBAMA [audio clip]: Now, I said in the State of the Union andI'll repeat: That side of the ledger only accounts for about 12 percent of ourbudget. So we've got a whole bunch of other stuff that we're going to haveto do, including dealing with entitlements. Now, you talked aboutSocial Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. The truth is Social Security isnot the huge contributor to the deficit that the other two entitlements are.
STU BURGUIERE: It's huge, it's justnot as huge.
BECK: And it's not true. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Glenn Beck Program,3/27/10]
CBO Director Tells Deficit CommissionThat Health Care Reform Slightly Improves Budget Outlook. From The WashingtonPost:
"Growth in spending on health-careprograms remains the central fiscal challenge," CBO Director Douglas W.Elmendorf said in a presentation to Obama's bipartisan deficit commission."In CBO's judgment, the health-care legislation enacted earlier this yearmade a dent in the problem, but did not substantially diminish that challenge."
Although more starkly stated, CBO's positionhas not changed since the health-care legislation was approved. The newforecast simply incorporates CBO's cost estimates from that time, whichpredicted that the plan to expand coverage, raise taxes and cut Medicarespending would reduce deficits by about $140 billion over the next decade andby more than $1 trillion in the decade after.
"Slowing the rate of health care costgrowth is the single most important action we can take to reduce our long-termfiscal shortfall," White House budget director Peter Orszag said in astatement. "The report confirms that the enactment and successfulimplementation of the Affordable Care Act is a key step toward a healthierfiscal future." [TheWashington Post, 7/1/10]
CBO Budget Outlook Says Health CareReform Law Will "Reduce Budget Deficits Over The 2010-2019 Period And InSubsequent Years." From the Congressional Budget Office:
CBOprojects that if current laws do not change, federal spending on majormandatory health care programs will grow from roughly 5 percent of GDP today toabout 10 percent in 2035 and will continue to increase thereafter. Thoseprojections include all of the effects of the recently enacted health carelegislation, which is expected to increase federal spending in the next 10years and for most of the following decade. By 2030, however, that legislationwill slightly reduce federal spending for health care if all of its provisionsare fully implemented, CBO projects. [CBO, 6/30/10]
CBO: In Long Term, Health Care Reform"Slow[s] The Accumulation Of Debt Considerably." From the CBO:
Thelong-term paths for primary spending presented in this report are similar tothe ones that CBO published last year, but the paths for revenues differ. Inthe extended-baseline scenario, the recent enactment of major health carelegislation has increased projected revenues, particularly in the 2030s andbeyond, thus slowing the accumulation of debt considerably. [CBO, 6/30/10]
HHS: 18 Benefits Of Health Care Reform Have Already Taken Effect. TheDepartment of Health and Human Services website HealthReform.gov lists 18benefits of the health care reform law that took effect between March 2010 andJanuary 2011. [HealthReform.gov, accessed 2/17/11]
BeckClaim: If Obama Believes Health Care Reform Shouldn't Be Reargued, He Shouldn'tDrop Bush Tax Cuts Because They Were "Already Argued And Already Answered." From the February 15 show:
BECK: And only the top tax bracket -- remember the Bush tax-cut thing? That has alreadybeen argued -- you know, when he talked aboutthe health care -- "I'm not going back in the past. It's already been argued,and we're moving forward."
Well, we passed the Bush tax cuts, theybecame the Obama tax cuts, and now he is raising the upper bracket from 35 to39 percent. Wasn't that already argued and already answered? [Premiere Radio Networks, The Glenn Beck Program, 2/15/11]
PBS: December Tax-Cut Deal "Preserves All Bush-Era Income TaxBreaks For Two Years." From the PBS blog The Rundown:
President Obama signed $858billion tax bill into law Friday afternoon, putting the final touches on abipartisan compromise to prevent income tax rates from increasing before thenew year.
The legislation preserves allBush-era income tax breaks for two years, extends jobless benefits for 13months, and cuts Social Security payroll tax rates by 2 percent for one year onincome up to $106,800. [The Rundown, PBS.org, 12/17/10]
CBPPExec. Director: "The Budget Would Allow Various Bush Tax Cuts ... To Expire OnSchedule At The End Of 2012." From CBPP executive director RobertGreenstein:
The budget would allow various Bush tax cutsfor people making over $250,000 a year to expire on schedule at the end of 2012(although the budget does not count these savings as part of its estimated $1.1trillion in total deficit savings), and it proposes to close an array of taxloopholes for special interests such as the oil and gas industries. In addition, the budget would cap the value ofitemized deductions at 28 percent and use the savings to extend relief from theAlternative Minimum Tax for three years, so that the AMT doesn't ensnaremillions of middle- and upper middle-income households.Until now, Presidents and Congresses of both parties have repeatedlyextended AMT relief without paying for it -- that is, by financing the costthrough bigger deficits. There is risk thatCongress will ignore this proposed reform and simply continue to extend AMTrelief without paying for it; we urge lawmakers to resist that temptation.[CBPP.org, 2/14/11]
BeckClaim: There Are 15 "Hidden Taxes" In Obama Budget. From the February 15show:
OBAMA [audio clip]:Touse an analogy that families are familiar with, we're not going to be runningup the credit card any more. That's important.
BECK: How is that possible?
OBAMA [audio clip]:And that's hard to do. But it's necessary to do, and I think the Americanpeople understand that.
BECK: Hold on. Just a-- stop. How -- where -- where is that --where's that plan? 'Causethat doesn't reflect the budget, does it? I --
GRAY): No. No.
BECK: Where is that plan?Other than all of the hidden taxes that are in this budget.
BURGUIERE: Only 15 of them.
BECK: But that's it. [PremiereRadio Networks, The Glenn Beck Program, 2/15/11]
BeckWebsite TheBlaze.com: "Uncovered: The 15 Tax Hikes Hidden In Obama's NewBudget."From a post on The Blaze headlined "Uncovered: The 15 Tax Hikes Hidden InObama's New Budget":
Over the last two years, the president hasregularly touted his fight to lower taxes for Americans. In fact, his latestbudget proposal offered up today is being billed as a package of toughcuts. But buried within the budget's rhetoric and numerous pages areactually a healthy amount of increases -- tax increases, that is. 15 of them.[TheBlaze.com, 2/15/11]
FACT:Budget Is Publicly Available On The Internet, Contains Table Of Proposals'Effects On Deficit.Obama's budget proposal includes a list of summary tables, one of which, "TableS-8. Mandatory and Receipt Proposals," details the impacts the budgets'proposals have on the federal deficit. [WhiteHouse.gov, accessed 2/15/11]