Zane: Obama shades the truth as the economy struggles

February 11, 2014 

Honest people admit that President Obama and his acolytes have an unconventional relationship with the truth.

Even as they have been forced to back off their lie-of-the-year claim that you can keep your doctor and health plan if you like them, they still maintain that the Affordable Care Act is responsible for bending the curve on health care spending. This despite the fact that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services attributes the slow-down to the poor economy.

Beginning with his State of the Union address, Obama’s has repeatedly stated that women earn “77 cents for every dollar made by men.” This might help Democrats push their phony “war on women,” but numerous liberal analysts have shown that it is deeply misleading.

I could go on, adding his claims that he never drew a red line concerning Syria’s use of chemical weapons, that the sequester wasn’t his idea, that his trillion-dollar stimulus would fund thousands of “shovel-ready projects,” that there was “not a smidgen of corruption” in the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups before the 2012 election (one wonders why Lois Lerner took the fifth before Congress).

Casting these claims simply as lies obscures the deeper dynamic. To understand Obama’s upside-down world, focus on a favorite trope of his defenders: that Obama is the grown-up in the dysfunctional room of modern politics. In fact, he and his acolytes see the world through a child’s eyes, believing what they want to, facts be damned. This is the cerebral, nuanced, higher plane he operates from.

Like a struggling student, he blames others for his troubles. During Obama’s first term, George W. Bush was his go-to fall guy. In his Super Bowl interview with Bill O’Reilly, he blamed Fox News, a cable channel with a few million viewers, for the scandals plaguing his administration. (Also disquieting were the attacks by so-called journalists on O’Reilly for asking tough questions in the tradition of Edward R. Murrow.)

Like that same struggling student, he keeps promising to buckle down. Every few months he promises to really, seriously, at long last focus on job creation. Then he’s off on another issue.

He and his acolytes believe name-calling is an argument. Instead of engaging Obama’s opponents in the arena of ideas, they dismiss them through labels (they’re “extremists,” “far-right radicals,” “tea party radicals”) or conspiracy theories (the Koch brothers and folks like Art Pope are corrupting our politics). That language belies Obama’s claim that he is a centrist who has tirelessly reached out to Republicans. He hasn’t, and why would he when he dismisses his opponents – who control the House and may retake the Senate – as dangerous outliers?

This childish world view was on full display last week when the Congressional Budget Office reported that by 2024, the equivalent of 2.3 million fewer Americans will be working because of the Affordable Care Act. This more than triples the earlier estimate of 800,000. The White House and its defenders characterized this as great news, arguing that it reflects the choice of millions of Americans who will be liberated from job lock.

That line makes sense if one believes people should do what they want, regardless of the consequences. Adults, however, have responsibilities to themselves and their communities. The problem in America is not that too many people are stuck in crummy jobs, but that they don’t have jobs at all. We do not need policies that, as über-liberal Paul Krugman admits, reduce “the incentive to work.”

The economy only added 113,000 jobs in January, but unemployment dropped because discouraged workers continued to leave the labor market. We are in the fifth year of the “recovery,” but during that time the labor participation has steadily declined. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that 17 percent of men in the prime working ages of 25 to 54 did not have jobs.

In a local sign of our upside-down politics, when North Carolina reported a sharp dip in unemployment after the legislature shortened and reduced jobless benefits, liberals who had long crowed about the falling unemployment rate under Obama suddenly latched onto the labor participation rate as a better indicator of economic weakness.

Considering the nation owes more than $17 trillion in debt and faces crippling deficits as far as the eye can see, it is hard to see how policies that generate less tax revenue and more dependency represent progress.

But they do to those whose world view is shaped less by hard realities than by the classic children’s song, “If all the raindrops were lemon drops and gumdrops, oh, what a world it would be.”

Contributing columnist J. Peder Zane can be reached at

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