A Challenge to Beltway "Fact-Checkers"

I have read no less than three beltway "fact-checkers" - Washington Post, the AP, and The Daily Beast - all trip all over each other to claim that President Obama's description of his fiscal plan, one that achieves $4 trillion in savings over the next decade and raises $1 in revenue for every $2.50 in cuts, is inaccurate, or at least fudging the numbers.

The twist is this: none of these fact-checkers dispute that counting everything the President does count, the math does actually add up. What they all have a beef with is what savings President Obama is counting - namely that he is counting savings from ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the $1 trillion in cuts included in last year's debt limit deal.

Here's my question to these venerable fact-checkers: why shouldn't those things count? I contend those savings must count, especially given the contrary to Glenn Kessler's claim at the Washington Post, much of it not actually "in the bank."

Republicans want the Medicare private insurance giveaway back to the tune of $716 billion. The Republicans are clamoring every day to not only eliminate the defense half of the automatic cuts from last year's deal, Romney is proposing to raise defense spending even more. The Republican position has been to consistently bash President Obama's actions to end our wars. And of course, they want to start another costly war on Iran. It is very likely that under Republican leadership, we would be fighting not two but three full blown wars overseas.

Furthermore, a blight and blatant ignorance of history is clear from the callous discounting of these savings when judging the President's deficit reduction plan. Recent history. During the debt limit negotiations last year, the President put on the table this $4 trillion plan - and the $1 trillion in automatic cuts are coming as part of comprising that package, although the across-the-board cuts are no one's preferred way to do so. Nonetheless, it is entirely reasonable and proper to count the debt limit deficit reduction as part of that package. President Obama is the one who has maintained that Congress will not be allowed to tinker with only the defense part of it without coming with a full plan to make alternative cuts and savings for all of the automatic cuts - he's pretty much the only one that has held the line on these savings.

Let's talk about the wars now. I hate to get so crass with Glenn Kessler, but simply because George W. Bush chose not to put the wars on the budget, does not mean we did not have to pay for them. Had this president not taken the leadership to end the wars, we would be spending a lot more money. If we would be spending money otherwise that we are not because of this president's policies and leadership, why is it such an anathema to logic to count those dollars as savings? Clearly, those are. Anyone who's ever paid bills can see this. If you're no longer spending money on car payments because your car is paid off, it's money you are saving - not "phantom" bucks, as the fact-checkers would suggest.

If you think about it, this is really like someone telling you that you can't count the savings on your credit card debt that you get from cooking at home instead of charging at the restaurant every night, because hey, you gave up the habit already. Does that make any sense to you?

And so the question must be asked: just what is the basis for these fact checkers, other than a political necessity to call out "both sides" to discount these real savings that the President has achieved and are put at substantial risk should Republicans return to power? I would appreciate any comprehensible answer.

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