Barackrobatics: A Few More Dimes

A couple days back we noted that whenever President Obama used the term "every dime", it was almost certainly a signal of less-than-optimal truth content in his associated words.

As the math guys say, we can strengthen that theorem. My current speculation is that it's the single word "dime" that should get your BS detectors buzzing.

Exhibit One is this anti-Hillary ad from the Pennsylvania Primary campaign, conveniently titled "Dime":

The unctuous voice guy says: "And Obama's the only candidate who doesn't take a dime from oil company PACs or lobbyists." The helpful onscreen text says "Obama doesn't take money from PACs or Washington lobbyists."

Once the nomination was in the bag, Obama upped the ante by another dime:

"Today as the Democratic nominee for president, I am announcing that going forward, the Democratic national Committee will uphold the same standard -- we will not take a dime from Washington lobbyists," Obama said at a town hall meeting in Bristol, Va.

OK, so?

  • Note the careful phrasing about Washington lobbyists (something that got fuzzed over in much of the MSM reporting). Even Politifact, which can be relied upon to give Obama the benefit of many doubts, rated his claims merely "half true".

    He almost always qualifies his statement to note that he won't take money from federal lobbyists, a distinction that allows him to accept money from well-connected state lobbyists.


    And Obama still accepts tens of thousands of dollars from people who work for Washington firms that do substantial lobbying. Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle is an Obama contributor who isn't a registered lobbyist, but works as a consultant for Alston & Bird, a lobbying firm in Washington.

  • The Factcheck folks were similarly unimpressed with Obama's efforts to paint his campaign as oil-free :

    Obama has, however, accepted more than $213,000 in contributions from individuals who work for, or whose spouses work for, companies in the oil and gas industry, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.


    In addition, two oil industry executives are bundling money for Obama - drumming up contributions from individuals and turning them over to the campaign. George Kaiser, the chairman of Oklahoma-based Kaiser-Francis Oil Co., ranks 68th on the Forbes list of world billionaires. He's listed on Obama's Web site as raising between $50,000 and $100,000 for the candidate. Robert Cavnar is president and CEO of Milagro Exploration LLC, an oil exploration and production company. He's named as a bundler in the same category as Kaiser.

  • Although the announcement that the Democratic National Committee would refuse that filthy, awful money from those dirty, nasty sources got a lot of publicity, a recent Politico article points out this is hardly a universal practice among the Democrats:

    The two major Democratic congressional fundraising committees agreed to forego lobbyist and political action committee cash at a June fundraiser in order to land President Barack Obama as the keynote speaker.

    But the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee will go right back to taking lobbyist and PAC cash - which Obama refused during his presidential campaign - the day after their June 18 fundraiser with Obama.

    Somehow that got a lot less attention from the media.

  • And don't forget: the purpose of the "Dime" ad was to trash Hillary as hopelessly in bed with corrupting special interests. A mere few months later, that ugly corrupt duckling became the beautiful Secretary of State swan, and nobody said anything more about her unsavory connections and contributions.

Exhibit Two is the oft-repeated tax pledge during the campaign, often worded this way:

"I can make a firm pledge," he said in Dover, N.H., on Sept. 12. "Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes."

He repeatedly vowed "you will not see any of your taxes increase one single dime."

That's from this recent AP story, appropriately dated April 1. The reporter goes on to say:

Now in office, Obama, who stopped smoking but has admitted he slips now and then, signed a law raising the tobacco tax nearly 62 cents on a pack of cigarettes, to $1.01. Other tobacco products saw similarly steep increases.

OK, so that's not an increase of a single dime; that's actually an increase of nearly four dimes. It's one of the Federal Government's regressive excise taxes, which kick lower-income folks harder in the teeth

And, finally, Exhibit Three, from a June campaign speech on "retirement security":

Right now, the Social Security payroll tax is capped. That means most middle-class families pay this tax on every dime they make, while millionaires and billionaires are only paying it on a very small percentage of their income.

Technically true, but incomplete enough to mislead: the payroll tax is capped, but so are the (eventual) benefits. The "millionaires and billionaires" get about the same-size Social Security check as the folks who made the around the salary cap.

Worse, Obama's actual proposal, fairness-wise, was even worse than the status quo: to keep his other promise not to increase taxes by a "single dime" for people with incomes under $250K, the rates got a little wacky, as Lawrence Lindsay described in the WSJ at the time:

Reporters cited the Obama statement without asking for the logic behind having someone making $100,000 pay on every dime and someone making $250,000 pay on just 41% of income, while someone making $10,000,000 would pay on 98.5% of income. There is no economic principle or theory of tax law that would endorse such a result.

It made pretty good political sense, though, in that the rubes were bamboozled enough to not laugh the proposal out of town. Politifact notes that Obama hasn't taken any action on this scheme yet.

Bottom line: when the President starts talking about dimes, watch yours.

Last Modified 2012-10-08 5:40 AM EDT