We appreciate that folks at the White House are not having a good day. It started when a liberal commentator on their favorite network called the President a vulgarity, and it has not gotten better. The debt ceiling speech that liberal pundit Chris Matthews fantasized would turn the president into “Give ‘Em Hell, Barry” (Matthews’ words, not ours) has not exactly set the world on fire. Unemployment is still 9.1%, we are no closer to a deal to cut spending and pollster Rasmussen announced that only 21% of Americans strongly approve of the president’s performance, against 39% who strongly disapprove.
So what do you do if you’re a White House communicator? Well, you go after The Heritage Foundation, of course! Hopefully America will be distracted from economic incompetence.
The White House took issue with us for pointing out that President Obama’s constant hammering of “corporate jet owners” in yesterday’s speech was not exactly consistent with President Obama’s own failed stimulus bill. What irritated them is that our investigative reporter Lachlan Markay wrote:
“But the corporate jet tax break to which Obama was referring – called “accelerated depreciation,” and a popular Democratic foil of late – was created by his own stimulus package.
“Proponents of the tax break lauded it as a means to spur economic activity by encouraging purchases of large manufactured goods (planes). So the president’s statement today – and his call to repeal that tax break generally – is either a tacit admission that the stimulus included projects that did not, in fact, stimulate the economy, or an attempt to “soak the rich” without regard for the policy’s effects on the economy.”
Not so, said the White House. The tax break in question was created in 2002 and merely extended by President Obama.
Actually, it wasn’t the White House that originally made the argument. Communications director Daniel Pfeiffer used his official Twitter channel to direct followers to a blog post written by Media Matters, which he said “corrects @Heritage’s claim that the Dems created the private jet loophole that the GOP refuses to close.”
That blog post itself was based on yet another blog post written by blogger Matthew Yglesias, who toils for ThinkProgress, which belongs to John Podesta’s Center for American Progress (CAP).
As a general rule we don’t respond to Media Matters, or anything put out by the folks at CAP. If we did, that’s all we’d ever do. They obsessively write about us every week. But this time, the White House has chosen to use their political cheerleaders as a source for an official government response. Our hands are tied.
So, yes, obviously, if we could write it again, we would say “re-authorized” not “created.” To the writer over at Media Matters who said we should issue a “sweeping correction” we recommend switching to decaf. President Obama did create the Stimulus, which did include a tax break for the purchase of private jets. That failed bill only received three Republican congressional votes.
Our error, which we have corrected on our blog, The Foundry, pales in comparison with what the President is proposing. As Charles Krauthammer said yesterday,
“I did the math on this. If you collect the corporate jet tax every year for the next 5,000 years, you will cover one year of the debt that Obama has run up. One year.
“To put it another way, if you started collecting that tax at the time of John the Baptist and you collected it every year — first in shekels and now in dollars — you wouldn’t be halfway to covering one year of the amount of debt that Obama has run up.”
Perhaps now, the president will admit that he did sign these tax breaks into law. Or maybe he will address PolitiFact charging him with a “Pants on Fire” lie when he said yesterday that his regulatory review was unprecedented. Or he could explain what he meant when he said everyone should “get to work” since he declined an invitation to meet with Senate Republicans today in lieu of political fundraisers.
For the American people, it’s time for the White House to lead, and not hide behind others–certainly not behind Media Matters.
You can follow Mike Gonzalez on Twitter @Gundisalvus