Whether making the round of Sunday morning talk shows, giving the Tea Party response to President Obama's State of the Union address, or announcing her own presidential candidacy, Michele Bachmann does one thing consistently – lie.
The Republican congresswoman from Minnesota, who has been described as Sarah Palin with a brain, has enjoyed a dramatic rise in public opinion polls following the latest debate among GOP candidates seeking the party's presidential nomination. But Bachmann's comments are a reminder of the adage: Figures can lie and liars can figure. Here are some of the most egregious examples:
BACHMANN [CBS "Face the Nation," June 26]: The Congressional Budget Office estimated Obamacare will cost economy 800,000 jobs, probably the –
HOST BOB SCHIEFFER: Again, that is data that other people would question.
BACHMANN: That's – well, that's what the Congressional Budget Office, that's not Michele Bachmann, that's Congressional Budget Office figures saying that we're – we have the potential of losing 800,000 jobs.
FACTS: As Factcheck.org noted, "The CBO didn't say that. Instead the CBO said that the law would cause a reduction in the amount of labor workers choose to supply. Some Americans would decide to work fewer hours or retire earlier because their ability to get health insurance would be more secure. And low-income workers would receive subsidies to purchase insurance, putting more money into their pockets. Overall, the CBO said the impact on jobs would be 'small.'"
BACHMANN [Jan. 25 Tea Party Response to the State of the Union address]: Unfortunately, the president's strategy for recovery was to spend a trillion dollars on a failed stimulus program, fueled by borrowed money…Not only did that plan fail to deliver, but within three months the national jobless rate spiked to 9.4 percent. And sadly, it hasn't been lower for 20 straight months. While the government grew, we lost more than 2 million jobs. Let me show you a chart. Here are unemployment rates over the past 10 years. In October 2001, our national unemployment rate was 5.3 percent. In 2008…it was just 6.6 percent. But, just eight months after President Obama promised lower unemployment, that rate spike to a staggering 10.1 percent.
FACTS: The watchdog group Media Matters, on its politicalcorrection.org site, stated: "From December 2007 to July 2009 – the last year of the Bush second term and the first six months of the Obama presidency, before his policies could affect the economy – private sector employment crashed from 115,574,000 jobs to 107,778,000 jobs. Employment continued to fall, however, for the next six months, reaching a low of 107,107,000 in December of 2009. So, out of 8,467,000 private sector jobs lost in this dismal cycle, 7,796,000 of those jobs or 92 percent were lost on the Republican watch or under their policies. Some 671,000 additional jobs were lost as the stimulus and other moves by the administration kicked in, but 630,000 jobs came back in the following six months. The tally, to date: Mr. Obama can be held accountable for the net loss of 41,000 jobs (671,000-630,000), while the Republicans should be held responsible for the net losses of 7,796,000 jobs."
BACHMANN [Tea Party State of the Union response]: But instead of cutting, we saw an unprecedented explosion of government spending and debt, unlike anything we have seen in the history of our country. Deficits were unacceptably high under President Bush, but they exploded under President Obama's direction, growing the national debt by an astounding $3.1 trillion dollars.
FACTS: The rising debt can be attributed to Bush-era policies and the recession that began before Obama took office. As the conservative Washington Times observed, "The Congressional Budget Office announced a projected fiscal 2009 deficit of $1.2 trillion even if Congress doesn't enact any new programs…About the only person who was silent on the deficit projection was Mr. Bush, who took office facing a surplus but who saw spending balloon and the country notch the highest deficits on record."
BACHMANN [Tea Party response]: We need to start making things again in this country. And we can do that by reducing the tax and regulatory burden on job creators. America will have the highest corporate tax rate in the world. Think about that.
FACTS: Researchers at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities have thought about it and what they realize is that to grasp the corporate tax burden, one needs to look beyond statutory tax rates to the effective tax rate, which takes into account tax deductions. Judging by that standard, the Center notes, "The U.S. corporate tax burden is smaller than average for developed countries. Corporations in 19 of the member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development paid 16.1 percent of their profits in taxes between 2000 and 2005, on average, while corporations in the United States paid 13.4 percent."
Appearing on Fox News after officially declaring her candidacy for president, Bachmann said on June 27: "What I want them to know is, just like John Wayne is from Waterloo, Iowa, that's the kind of spirit that I have too."
John Wayne wasn't from Waterloo. He was born in Winterset, Iowa and grew up in California. Bachmann apparently got John Wayne mixed up with another John Wayne – John Wayne Gacy, the serial killer who was from Waterloo.
George E. Curry is former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine and the NNPA News Service.