"If you want to be president," President Obama said the morning after he was soundly beaten in his first presidential debate against Mitt Romney, "you owe the American people the truth."
Obama is right: Presidential candidates do owe the American people truth. Which is why it is so important to examine Obama's debate claim that he has a $4 trillion plan to reduce our nation's $16 trillion national debt.
"I've put forward a specific $4 trillion deficit-reduction plan," Obama said last Wednesday night. "It's on a website. You can look at all the numbers, what cuts we make and what revenue we raise."
Fact checkers have gone to Obama's website and looked at all the numbers. They've seen what cuts Obama makes and what revenues he raises. Problem is, every independent fact checker who has reviewed Obama's claim has found it to be false. Here's a sampling:
* PolitiFact.com: "The Congressional Budget Office, the nonpartisan analytic arm of Congress, looked at the president's 2013 budget and concluded that it would increase the cumulative deficit by $3.5 trillion over its baseline between now and 2022. That greatly undercuts Obama's argument that he is saving money."
* FactCheck.org: "Even taking Obama's $4 trillion claim at face value and using projections of his own Office of Management and Budget, the projected annual federal deficits would never be lower than $476 billion, which is higher than any year of the Bush administration except for the $1.4 trillion shortfall for fiscal 2009, for which Obama himself bears some responsibility. And under Obama's plan, deficits would be rising for the last three years of the 10-year period, reaching $565 billion in 2021."
* ABC News: "The '$4 trillion plan' he is referring to includes about $1 trillion Congress has already agreed to and $1 trillion in savings from ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which are already ending. This would be Mostly Fiction."
* The Associated Press: "In promising $4 trillion, Obama is already banking more than $2 trillion from legislation enacted along with Republicans last year that cut agency operating budgets and capped them for 10 years. He also claims more than $800 billion in war savings that would occur anyway. And he uses creative bookkeeping to hide spending on Medicare reimbursements to doctors."
* The Washington Post: "Virtually no serious budget analyst agreed with this accounting. The $4 trillion figure, for instance, includes counting some $1 trillion in cuts reached a year ago in budget negotiations with Congress. So no matter who is the president, the savings are already in the bank."
* MSNBC, arguably the most liberal major news organization in America, also found Obama's claim to be false: "He's counting $1 trillion in savings over ten years by drawing down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bipartisan non-profit Committee for a Responsible Budget has called that a gimmick. And the president is also counting on savings agreed to last year when the White House and Congress agreed to raise the debt ceiling."
The reality is that Obama's trillion-dollar tax hikes don't cover his multitrillion-dollar spending splurges. Taxes, spending and debt will all go up if he's re-elected president. It's time he squared his rhetoric with the facts.