PolitiFact stretches “Half True” in examining Rubio’s sequestration claims


On Tuesday night, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) gave the official GOP response to President Obama’s State of the Union address. PolitiFact did a series of fact-checks during the evening, and one of their fact-checks took a very accurate statement by Senator Rubio and manipulated it to make it half-true.

Normally, it’s not worth commenting on such a relatively minor assessment by PolitiFact, but the Senator’s comments were on the President’s initiation of the sequester, and in light of the President’s recent intention to avoid the sequester, this information is important to correct.

From PolitiFact:

“Any time anyone opposes the president’s agenda, he and his allies usually respond by falsely attacking their motives,” Rubio said. He named several examples, including the sweeping cuts to military and other spending set to take effect unless Congress and the president agree on deficit-reduction package.

“Tonight, he even criticized us for refusing to raise taxes to delay military cuts – cuts that were his idea in the first place,” Rubio said.

For the record, Obama didn’t make that specific criticism in his speech, but here we’re focusing on the second half of Rubio’s statement about where the idea of the cuts originated.

Their conclusion is mostly straightforward:

Rubio said the defense cuts known that are part of sequestration were Obama’s “idea in the first place.”

That doesn’t tell the whole story — particularly the fact that Obama does not favor these cuts. The White House proposed them as a means of driving the two sides to a compromise over the deficit, not as a real-world spending plan.

Still, the idea did originate with Obama’s team. We rate Rubio’s statement Half True.

Here’s the problem with the claim of half-true – Senator Rubio is not saying President Obama favors the cuts. All he said is that the President had the idea for these spending reductions in the first place, a statement with which PolitiFact agrees. And since the eventual legislation the President signed into law did say sequestration (including the defense portion) would go into place if the so-called “Super Committee” failed to find a better solution, it is indeed true that this plan was intended “as a real-world spending plan.”

Yes, the President proposed sequestration to drive Congress to an agreement. But the law still stated it would take place if the Super Committee failed, which it did. Thus, it became a real-world solution.”

Oh, and then there’s this little gem from November 21, 2011:

“Already some in Congress are trying to undo these automatic spending cuts. My message to them is simple: No,” Mr. Obama said from the White House briefing room Monday evening. “I will veto any effort to get rid of those automatic spending cuts to domestic and defense spending.”

“There will be no easy off ramps on this one.,” he added.

Sounds like the President favored those cuts when he was gearing up for re-election…