If Conservatives are anything like their former vice presidential nominee, Paul Ryan, they love charts. Ryan’s deep love affair with charts is well-known; a video of Ryan blasting the Obama administration during the Blair House debate on healthcare with his charts went viral back in 2010.
The problem with so many conservative charts isn’t that they don’t make sense; it’s that they’re just wrong. So to help solve that problem, here are five reality-based charts, to help debunk the conservative talking points.
The right-wing loves to paint Obama like he’s an out-of-control spender, but in reality, Obama’s managed to curtail government spending. You wouldn’t know that from reading the National Review, Newsmax, The Heritage Foundation, and other websites like them. But then again, individuals plugged into right-wing media are often times more misinformed than those of us occupying the real world.
Like Global Warming, this is just a fact. All the numbers that conservatives cite are cited in a vacuum, without any comparison figures. Bush, who dragged us through two wars and a recession, caused a recession. Obama, who reined in spending, managed to drag us out of it. Obama is every bit the socialist conservatives like to pretend George Orwell isn’t.
This particular chart starts with Clinton’s last budget year, just to allow for comparisons.
The figures in the chart are cited from the Budget of the United States Government: Historical Table Fiscal Year 2015, and are representative of the amounts that the government spent and borrowed. People who claim that Obama has increased the deficit are either con men or easy marks who fell so hard for the scam it might behoove the DMS-VI to introduce and categorize it as a form of Advanced Stockholm syndrome.
3. The Stimulus and Jobs
This chart speaks for itself. Red is Bush, blue is Obama, and it starts February of 2008. The arrow marked “the Stimulus” shows the effect of the stimulus when it was passed; you’ll note that the bars slowly start their upward turn, until eventually, everything leveled off. We went from losing about 850,000 jobs a month to gaining 200,000 a month.
4. How to Torpedo An Economy: A Guide to Idiotic Austerity Policies
The chart above is from The Atlantic, and is best called “The Incredible Shrinking U.S. Government.” This chart illustrates how government spending helps to create government jobs, which gets us out of recessions. However, since the 2007 “Great Recession,” we have laid off hundreds of thousands of government employees. Now, whoever thinks that laying off people improves unemployment should probably have their head checked, but this hurts at a number of levels. For instance, the job loss outlined in the chart above is restricted only to government jobs. It doesn’t focus on the job losses in stores were those newly laid-off government employees are no longer shopping.
And like the Huffington Post points out, it also doesn’t speak to the millions of jobs that weren’t created by maintaining and modernizing infrastructure. Millions of people may have been hired to do those things but were not, proving that “austerity” is code for “confidence scheme.”
Another chart, from Roger Hickey’s “Continued Job Growths, but Highway Bill Shows Austerity Still Hurts,” shows just how budget cutting has undermined economic growth from mid-2010 to 2014.
5. Miscellaneous Conservative Nonsense
The above aren’t the only rumors that conservatives spread. Another perennial favorite, especially among those of a more libertarian bent, is that Social Security is a Ponzi Scheme and “going broke.” For instance, you hear these rumors from the Von Mises Institute, from Cafe Hayek, and from Forbes. Fortunately, Forbes also has some intelligent writers on staff, who are more than capable of dispelling the Ponzi Scheme myth.
They also like to claim that government spending somehow takes money out of the economy, and they may even push for a return to the gold standard, arguing against a so-called “fiat currency” — without realizing that gold is also a fiat currency.
Another comparison they often make is to the “family budget,” — that is, when the money isn’t there, it’s time to cut back. This is nonsense on two levels: first, when the government prints money, it’s called official currency. When families do it, it’s called “counterfeiting.” Governments may not always want to print new money to help with a recession since it may increase inflation, and that positive feedback cycle has destroyed countries in the past. But the point is, governments can print money on demand; families cannot.
No, your libertarian friends may not like this ambiguity about money. That’s too bad, since that’s how it works.
Of course, all this requires your Tea Party relatives to want to learn and to want to see the truth (or something that very strongly resembles it). And that, dear readers, is problem no chart can fix.