Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Two Pinocchios and Climbing


Here at Tea Party Patriots, correcting the media and politicians on dishonest or misleading claims is more than a full-time job. Recently, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew made such a remark. Fortunately, The Washington Post’s The Fact Checker did most of the work for us.

First, Lew’s claim:

“Because of the policies that we’ve put in place, our deficit has fallen faster than at any point since the demobilization after World War II,  and should continue to decline relative to GDP [gross domestic product] over the 10-year budget forecast.”

Glenn Kessler, who runs The Fact Checker blog, points out the following:

…Lew attributing the decline to “the policies that we’ve put in place” is a bit like the rooster congratulating himself for the sun coming up every morning.

Lew is misleading on spending reductions and the economic recovery (among other things). To summarize Kessler:

The President has opposed sequestration – which was initiated after the GOP took the House in 2010 and forced less spending than the President wanted.

The state of the economy increased the size of the deficit in 2009, but has also been responsible for much of the deficit reduction in its weak recovery. Kessler notes President Obama’s impact on the latter is in dispute.

According to the Director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), Washington hasn’t addressed entitlement spending, which will make the deficit worse later on. CBO’s Director also claims extending most of the Bush tax cuts will make deficits worse, but that is due to the way CBO analyzes tax policy, not reality.

Kessler rightly notes as well that it’s easy for the deficits to fall tremendously when they reach record highs as seen in 2009. One point he misses – and what takes Lew’s statement from being merely misleading to outright dishonesty – is that the CBO’s September 17 report has two projections that completely counter Lew’s statements.

First the CBO’s “baseline” projections predict the deficit will fall until 2018, then start to climb again until 2023 and beyond. Thus, deficits will actually gain “relative to GDP” for half of “the 10-year budget forecast.”

More importantly, the CBO’s political reality projections show that $2 trillion is expected to be added to deficits over the next decade compared to “baseline” projections. In other words, the budget deficits predicted from now through 2023 will be far worse than what Lew is claiming as success.

A final point: A couple of weeks ago, Tea Party Patriots fact-checked President Obama for focusing on deficits instead of debt in a speech. Lew is using the same misleading rhetoric in this speech.

Kessler gave Lew “Two Pinocchios” meaning his statement has “[s]ignificant omissions and/or exaggerations.” Tea Party Patriots gives him a simple “F” for “Failure to tell the truth to the American people.”