Chris Matthews managed to keep a straight face, Wednesday, when he
seriously repeated the "fact" that Barack Obama is "not" a "reckless
spender." Highlighting a seriously flawed analysis by MarketWatch, Matthews marveled, "Every once and a while I come across a fact that just blows me away."
The Hardball anchor insisted that "federal spending is rising at the slowest rate" in 60 years. Embracing this new talking point, Matthews continued, " For four years, from fiscal year '09 through fiscal year '13, we are heading into, no change."
Except, of course, this isn't true. As James Pethokoukis of the American Enterprise Institute points out, the chart only works if you blame George W. Bush.
Pethokoukis debunked the chart by MarketWatch's Rex Nutting:
As the chart indicates, Nutting arrives at that 1.4% number by assigning 2009—when spending surged nearly 20%—to George W. Bush: “The 2009 fiscal year, which Republicans count as part of Obama’s legacy, began four months before Obama moved into the White House. The major spending decisions in the 2009 fiscal year were made by George W. Bush and the previous Congress. Like a relief pitcher who comes into the game with the bases loaded, Obama came in with a budget in place that called for spending to increase by hundreds of billions of dollars in response to the worst economic and financial calamity in generations.”
Let me complete the metaphor for Nutting: “Then as those runners scored, Obama kept putting more on base.”
Obama chose not to reverse that elevated level of spending; thus he, along with congressional Democrats, are responsible for it. Only by establishing 2009 as the new baseline, something Republican budget hawks like Paul Ryan feared would happen, does Obama come off looking like a tightwad. Obama has turned a one-off surge in spending due to the Great Recession into his permanent New Normal through 2016 and beyond.
Pethokoukis quipped, "It’s as if one of my teenagers crashed our family
minivan, and I had to buy a new one. And then, since I liked that new
car smell so much, I decided to buy a new van every year for the rest of
my life. I would indeed be a reckless spender."
Matthews, of course, didn't care about the actual facts. He simply parroted, "It is incredibly flat, government spending, federal spending."
A partial transcript of Matthews May 23 comments can be found below: