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Rachel Maddow: Lying with Graphs

March 23, 2010 6 comments

[tweetmeme source=AlinskyDefeater only_single=false]

Rachel Maddow calls the above chart “the best chart ever”. Why? Because she claims it proves the Bush tax cuts were a disaster while the Obama Health Care plan is a real boon to America’s beleaguered financial status. But do the facts bear out her claims? In reality, this is a pathetic claim based upon obvious and serious mistakes in interpreting the CBO numbers.

Here are the actual CBO numbers for the Bush years and the first year of the Obama Administration:

Debt
Held by
Revenues Outlays Total the Public
2000 2025.198 1788.957 236.241 3409.804
2001 1991.142 1862.906 128.236 3319.615
2002 1853.149 2010.907 -157.758 3540.427
2003 1782.321 2159.906 -377.585 3913.443
2004 1880.126 2292.853 -412.727 4295.544
2005 2153.625 2471.971 -318.346 4592.212
2006 2406.876 2655.057 -248.181 4828.972
2007 2568.001 2728.702 -160.701 5035.129
2008 2523.999 2982.554 -458.555 5803.05
2009 2104.612 3518.191 -1413.58 7543.987


The obvious errors:
1. You should not compare historical data with projected data. Projections are far from factual. As we all know, Government projections are always less than what the outlays end up being. It is patently absurd to claim your guy is better based upon a projection.

Beyond this, it is well documented that the numbers provided by the Obama Administration for the Health Care Reform bill double count money taken from Medicare and do not include the so-called doctor fix.

2. Deficits are simple. They are Revenue – Outlays. Period. For some reason Maddow has chosen to simply look at deficits as though they consist only of revenues or only of outlays depending upon which makes Obama’s future, rosy projections look better and Bush’s numbers look worse. If revenues decrease while spending remains static the deficit will increase. However, if outlays increase while revenue remains static the deficit will also increase.

In fact, revenue and outlays do not remain static and a cursory look at the CBO numbers show us that the Bush deficits were primarily the result of too much spending not too little revenue.In fact, out of eight years, only one year was total Revenue lower under Bush than under Clinton. If that wasn’t enough, the historical data for the one year of the Obama administration brings deficits to a staggering new level.

We assume that Ms. Maddow knows better since she was a Rhodes Scholar so we can only assume that it was a deliberate attempt to mislead people who either didn’t know the facts or who didn’t take the time to check.

If there is still any doubt, please note this chart from CBO site:

Total Deficit or Surplus (Percentage of GDP)

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