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Democracy and Power 108: Obfuscation
Wherever politics intrudes upon economic life, political success is readily attained by saying what people like to hear rather than what is demonstrably true. Instead of safeguarding truth and honesty, the state then tends to become a major source of insincerity and mendacity. – Hans F. Sennholz
Knowing their constituents cannot be knowledgeable of all the information, the politician’s speech is seldom precise or logically reasoned. Seeking a favorable image, the politician talks in generalities, exaggerates and obfuscates.Double Speak and Obama's Permanent Spending Binge If government got by with 20% of GDP in 2007, why not in 2021, when GDP will be substantially higher?
John Taylor of the Hoover Institute and Stanford University began a Wall Street Journal article deploring confusing language in regards to the national debt. Taylor politely does not accuse the President of political double-speak:
Americans are clamoring for a fact-based debate about the budget, but the numbers they're hearing from Washington are terribly confusing.
But double-speak it is: Speaking at a Facebook town hall meeting here on Wednesday, President Obama sometimes talked about saving $4 trillion, at other times $2 trillion, and he varied whether it was over 10 years or 12 years, never mentioning any one year.
Taylor provides clarity with a graph.
It’s real simple. President Obama’s February budget for the future called for spending of 25% of GDP. Representative Paul Ryan’s recently passed House budget returns spending to 2007 levels, 19% of GDP. President Obama’s counter to the House budget maintains spending at 22%, a historic high.
Again, Taylor politely explains the consequences of the House’s and the President’s proposals.
This means that the House budget plan, with spending in the same range, approximately balances the budget with no increase in taxes. This is good news for economic growth. In contrast, balancing the first or even the second Obama budget requires substantial tax increases—more than the administration has yet to propose.
This is a cogent example of deliberate obfuscation. America deserves better. Americans deserve a straight-forward presentation of the facts and consequences.