Washington Post “Fact Checker” Glenn Kessler decided to award a “Bottomless Pinocchio” to Joe Biden for lying repeatedly about how he’s dramatically reducing the deficit. Kessler defines his “bottomless” rating by a politician repeating a false claim more than 20 times.
He quoted the president from an April 25 speech: “As a matter of fact, my first two years in office I’ve lowered the deficit by a record $1.7 trillion. Lowered the deficit — the debt.” Obviously, the national debt isn’t being lowered right now. Kessler said he’s dropped this line more than 30 times since last June.
Budget reporting is notoriously slippery, and the Post likes to present reductions in the growth of government spending to budget “cuts.” So here in the fact-checking arena, Kessler wrote “It’s an important talking point for him as he faces off against House Republicans who are demanding steep reductions in government spending in exchange for a vote to raise the nation’s debt limit.”
This is how Kessler addressed the numbers:
Biden gets his $1.7 trillion figure by comparing the deficit in fiscal year 2020 ($3.132 trillion) with the deficit in fiscal year 2022 ($1.375 trillion). Federal fiscal years end in September, so some of fiscal 2021 overlaps with Trump’s term. (Biden claims a “record,” but that’s in raw dollars; the deficit fell even more after the end of World War II.)
Here’s the rub: The Congressional Budget Office, the official scorekeeper, in February 2021 already estimated the budget deficit would fall dramatically in fiscal 2021 and 2022 because emergency pandemic spending would lapse. The combined 2021 and 2022 budget deficits were projected by the CBO in 2021 to be $3.31 trillion. In November, the CBO said the combined deficits were in fact $4.15 trillion.
What happened? Biden enacted additional pandemic relief funds and other new policies, resulting in a more modest decline in the deficit. For instance, the deficit was projected to be about $1 trillion in 2022, and it turned out to be about $1.375 trillion. It was supposed to decline $875 billion in 2021, and it was actually $360 billion under Biden.
All told, in those two years Biden increased the national debt about $850 billion more than originally projected.
So Biden’s energetically adding spending while he claims he’s responsible for accomplishing deficit reduction. No one should seriously count on the liberal media to be factual on government spending, especially in describing the Republican position on spending bills or negotiations. We can energetically assert that the liberal media is part of the deficit problem, and not the solution.