The Fact Checker nails Senate Democrats for dishonest semantics

Eyeglasses with newspaper and coffee cup

Over at The Fact Checker, Glenn Kessler hands out Three Pinocchios to Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan for her statement on how the Democratic budget in the Senate is a “balanced budget,” meaning her statement had “significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions.”

Kessler wastes few words in his analysis:

The summary tables produced by the Budget Committee show hundreds of billions of deficits year after year, with $566 billion in deficits at the end of the 10-year period. About $5.2 trillion is added to the national debt over the 10 years.

So how can Stabenow even begin to refer to this as a “balanced budget”? It comes right out the Budget Committee’s news release: “This budget takes the balanced and responsible approach to our fiscal challenges that every bipartisan group has endorsed and that the American people support.”

See that word “balanced”? Democrats clearly want to have their cake and eat it too, using a nice, poll-tested word that resonates with voters without making the cuts or tax increases needed to get there.

Cullen Schwartz, a spokesman for Stanenow, said she misspoke and did not mean to suggest that the budget is balanced, numbers-wise, though she certainly said it was “balanced in values and approach as well as in numbers.”

“Senator Stabenow was referring to the fact that the Senate budget takes a balanced approach to reducing the deficit by making sensible spending cuts while also cutting tax loopholes and giveaways to millionaires and special interests,” Schwartz said.

Kessler’s summary says it all:

Democrats have thrown around the word “balanced” because it sounds good, but it is a real stretch to use that term for a budget plan that does even come close to being “balanced,” as most Americans would understand it. And yet Stabenow claimed that the budget was balanced not even in terms of values, but also in “numbers.”

When you play with fire, it’s easy to get burned. It would be best to stop making claims of “balance” when the deficits barely get nicked.

While it’s good to see Senator Stabenow’s spokesperson admit error – a rarity among politicians – Kessler is exactly right: it’s long past time for Democrats to stop pretending their so-called “balanced approach” is even remotely close to a “balanced budget.”