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Joe Lowe to Dems: Fight GOP Hogwash with Facts About Obama Successes

South Dakota Democratic Party Vice Chair Joe Lowe is tired of two things: Republican hogwash, and Democrats’ failure to respond to Republican hogwash. Lowe says South Dakota Democrats need to set the record straight if they want to win elections:

The campaign season has started as well as the GOP rhetoric. People are entitled to their own opinion but not their own facts. Our Republican friends seem to drive the narrative with made-up facts. As Democrats we must stop letting Republicans drive the narrative. If we do not, these lies become truth to many Americans. If Republicans control the narrative, they will control Congress, the Senate and the Presidency, and we will be back to the failed policies of the 2008 Recession [Joe Lowe, essay, 2015.09.07].

To practice what he preaches, Lowe drags out some of the biggest whoppers of the national GOP narrative about the Obama Presidency. He begins with the budget deficit:

I want display a few graphs developed from the Budget of the United States Historical Tables Fiscal Year 2015. First let’s address who added substantially to the budget deficit and refute the first attempt to rewrite historical data.

Bush-Obama Deficits
Image source: Dave Johnson, “Three Charts to E-Mail to Your Right-Wing Brother-in-Law,” Huffington Post, 2014.10.09

Note: President Clinton’s last budget posted a $128 billion surplus [Lowe, 2015.09.07].

We can update the chart Lowe shows us with this chart from the Wall Street Journal showing our national deficit through the first nine months of this fiscal year:

WSJ Budget Deficits FY2005-2015
Source: Nick Timiraos, “U.S. Annual Budget Deficit Remains Near 7-Year Low in June,” Wall Street Journal, 2015.07.13

According to the New York Times, the national deficit is on pace for an eight-year low.

Lowe turns his attention to how President Obama has driven down the deficit: keeping government spending in check!

Let’s look at the Republicans’ second attempt to rewrite history. The second graph speaks to spending.

Bush-Obama Spending
Image source: Dave Johnson, “Three Charts to E-Mail to Your Right-Wing Brother-in-Law,” Huffington Post, 2014.10.09

This sure does not make Democrats look like the party that likes to spend money. I would think that the graph says it all [Lowe, 2015.09.07].

An updated chart based on Office and Management and Budget data shows this year’s budget still doesn’t outspend Bush’s parting shot:

Image source: Jon Perr, "Jeb Bush Wrongly Blames," Daily Kos, 2015.07.01
Image source: Jon Perr, “Jeb Bush Wrongly Blames GOP Congress for Dubya’s Spending and Debt,” Daily Kos, 2015.07.01

Lowe then addresses the Republicans’ damaging and inconsistent approach to raising the debt ceiling during President Obama’s first term:

Source:, 2011

So if the above is not enough let’s take a look at the debt ceiling crisis of 2011. The Republican Party demanded that the President negotiate over deficit reduction (which Bush had a lot to do with) in exchange for an increase in the debt ceiling. The crisis sparked the most volatile week for financial markets since the 2008 market. The stock market trended significantly downward. Later that week Standard and Poor’s downgraded the credit rating of the United States Government for the first time in our country’s history. The Government Accounting Office estimated that the delay in raising the debt ceiling increased government borrowing costs by $1.3 billion in 2011. We also had a 16 day partial shutdown of government as a result of the crisis. The GOP previously did not have a problem raising the debt ceiling. See the diagram [Lowe, 2015.09.07].

The Congressional Research Service published an updated history and discussion of recent debt ceiling actions last month. Study that in anticipation of the next debt-ceiling drama looming this fall.

We’d be having a very different discussion about the debt ceiling and the federal budget if President Obaam hadn’t averted the Second Great Depression with the stimulus. Lowe reminds us what good that stimulus did:

Now for those GOP friends that say the stimulus did not work. See the next graphic.

Monthly Chg Private Employment Feb2008-May2014
Image source: Dave Johnson, “Three Charts to E-Mail to Your Right-Wing Brother-in-Law,” Huffington Post, 2014.10.09

We have had 56 months of private sector job growth under this administration. The graph speaks for itself.

In 2008 our country was on the brink of disaster as a result of the poor policy decisions made during the Bush Administration. The auto industry had to be rescued, Wall Street had to be bailed out, the Trickle Down did not work, and many working class Americans were out of a job. Republicans created those problems; Democrats had to solve them. The upper one percent continued to see increases in their wages and the rest of us saw little in the way of wage increases. In fact I saw a Times Magazine article that says since 1979 the one percent saw a 138% increase in their wages while the rest of us saw a 15% increase in our wages. Republicans give lip service to supporting the middle class [Lowe, 2015.09.07].

Notice that the Johnson graph on which Lowe relies shows job growth through May 2014. The latest jobs figures show continued growth:

Source: Bill McBride, “August Employment Report: 173,000 Jobs, 5.1% Unemployment Rate,” Calculated Risk, 2015.09.04

Lowe urges his fellow Democrats to use these charts to build and defend the Democratic narrative…

I ask you, my fellow Democrats, to do the same thing I’m trying to do with these four charts: stop letting GOP drive the narrative and rewrite history. Stand up for our Democratic values because we are on the right side of the issues. When you hear Republican—friends, neighbors, whomever—spreading false information let them know that what they are saying is simply not true and give them the true facts [Lowe, 2015.09.07].

…and to fight for Democratic candidates:

Setting the record straight with the facts during this election cycle is so important for our country and the hard working folks like us. We need to ensure we get out and vote, work on the campaigns of our Democratic candidates, and raise donations so our candidates can get our message out. We cannot let the GOP’s falsehoods return us to the failed policies of the past. What’s at stake? The continued erosion of the middle class. So if you believe we deserve better, then fight for a better America. Don’t give this next election away [Lowe, 2015.09.07].

That’s Joe Lowe, data-driven Democrat, willing to challenge Republican malarkey with facts about President Obama’s positive impact on the deficit and the economy? Can you turn that strategy to your local legislative races and beat back the complacent Republican narrative with facts about the teacher shortage and economic stagnation that have happened on their watch?


  1. Winston 2015-09-08 01:07

    Amen! It is good to see the party leadership come out swinging. Maybe we should run Joe against Thune!

  2. Rorschach 2015-09-08 07:51

    George Bush Jr. will go down as one of the worst presidents in history, if not the very worst. Now that President Obama has gone a long way toward cleaning up the Bush disaster and moving America forward we can’t afford to elect George Bush III to replace him. Joe Biden/Elizabeth Warren will do nicely.

  3. larry kurtz 2015-09-08 08:37

    Good to see Joe has finally caught up with me. Wonder where he is on legal cannabis.

  4. rwb 2015-09-08 08:53

    Great stuff put forward by Joe. Now if we can just get Republicans to somehow instantly develop the ability to absorb “facts.”

    I’m working overtime to try and reduce these concepts down to the size they can fit on a bumper sticker. I know that will work with some of them.

  5. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-09-08 11:00

    RWB, that’s exactly the help we Dems can use! Guys like Joe Lowe can step out and tell the big story with charts and graphs. Others can adapt that big story to little bites, bumper stickers and Facebook posts and comments in water-cooler conversations that can soak out into the popular mindset and counteract the GOP baloney. Spread the word!

  6. Don Coyote 2015-09-08 15:03

    Ohh Noooze! Looks like Joe Lowe is covered in juice from all his cherry picking:

    1) The deficit is dropping mostly due to reductions in spending and the Fed’s quantitative easing program which has pushed interest rate to historic lows. Once QE4 is ended look for the deficit to increase due to rising interest rates with 19T+ of debt at the end of the Obama regime. That looks to be a breathtaking 77% increase in the total debt under Obama.

    2) Note that the deficit still hasn’t reached the highest yearly deficit experienced under W nor will it. See #1.

    3) The reduction in spending isn’t coming from judicious spending by Obama but forced spending cuts from the budget sequestration that went into effect in 2011. In fact Obama wants to end sequestration and increase discretionary spending by 7%.

    4) If you count intra-governmental borrowing (the various trust bonds, mostly Social Security bonds), Clinton never balanced the budget once. It only appears so because of smoke and mirrors accounting (intra-governmental borrowing was left off the books). The total debt increased every year of the Clinton regime.

    5) Unemployment is dropping although the 5.1% figure is a bit suspect since many are under-employed and many have totally stopped looking for work. In fact a record 93.6M of the total workforce are not working in the US.

    Too bad Ol’ Joe has so many holes in his “data-driven” argument.

  7. larry kurtz 2015-09-08 15:34

    However, in recent months, improvements in real wages — wages adjusted for inflation — have given Americans a greater sense of prosperity. That’s because of declines in key commodity prices, especially oil. With gasoline prices down, Americans have more money in their pockets to pay for other things — necessities, like rent and utilities, and discretionary items, like jewelry, concert tickets or a fancy dinner out.

  8. bearcreekbat 2015-09-08 16:12

    I think there is a hole in Don’s recitation of the typical anti-Obama claim that, “Unemployment is dropping although the 5.1% figure is a bit suspect since many are under-employed and many have totally stopped looking for work.”

    The flaw in this argument is that at any time in history we measure the unemployment rate, there always will be people who are under-employed or who have stopped looking for work. This argument is a classic Zippy the Pinhead non-sequitur.

  9. Don Coyote 2015-09-08 17:55

    @bear: If there are holes in the “recitation” as you call it, then that is the fault of the Zippy Pinheads over at the Dept of Labor as these are their numbers. The 5.1% unemployment rate is called the U3 while the U6 rate is calculated as the “total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force” and is currently 10.3%. The government defines “persons marginally attached to the labor force as those who currently are neither working nor looking for work but indicate that they want and are available for a job and have looked for work sometime in the past 12 months.” This number does not include discouraged workers who are no longer looking for work and comprise many of the historic 90M+ people not unemployed at all.

  10. larry kurtz 2015-09-08 18:24

    Workers are not ‘discouraged’ so much as disinterested. For the coyotes of the GOP think: Kim Davis’s who believe the economy is make believe to prop up billionaires.

  11. larry kurtz 2015-09-08 18:27

    How is Denny Daugaard excused for miserable job numbers while President Obama is vilified for excellent performance?

  12. larry kurtz 2015-09-08 18:28

    Red state governors have pretty much pissed their own economies into their shoes. Think: Matt Mead, Jack Dalrymple and Susana Martinez.

  13. grudznick 2015-09-08 18:30

    Still sore about that arse-whuppin’ that pretty young Ms. Wismer gave your man Lowe, eh Lar? And then the record setting crushing of the Democrat Party candidate in the other election for the general. Brutal. Just brutal, sir.

  14. larry kurtz 2015-09-08 18:31

    Don’t forget how Scott Walker, Sam Brownback and other earth hater governors have driven their states’ economies into the dirt.

  15. bearcreekbat 2015-09-08 18:32

    Thanks for the link Don. It confirms my earlier point that every time we measure unemployment there will always be the group that has stopped looking for work, thus it seems nonsense to challenge the figures based on those who have stopped trying to find jobs. No matter when we measure unemployment, there will always be those folks who have given up.

    Your links seem to suggest that the people who have given up searching for a job have actually decreased (12% total of the unemployed plus the giver uppers has decreased to 10.3% total), which I considered good news! Now, if you include these stats into all of the UI stats, we still have benefited from the Obama policies as contrasted to the G.W. Bush policies.

  16. bearcreekbat 2015-09-08 18:39

    larry’s point is right on the money. From what I have read both Walker and Brownback have damaged their respective states with crazy economic policies. SD stands not far behind given the Daugaard and Repub policies that have limited our state’s economic growth – such as rejecting federal Medicaid funds to help pay the cost of providing medical assistance to indigents in our state.

  17. Rorschach 2015-09-08 18:42

    Don Coyote can cherry pick all he wants, but the numbers were calculated the same way for both Bush Jr. and for Obama. Bush Jr. was a total disaster for the economy, and Obama has turned it around – even while decreasing the number of federal employees below the level under Bush Jr.

    If it had been a Republican President who did what President Obama has done with the economy, Don Coyote would be doing a victory dance in the pages of this blog. If the President today were Willard Romney with these economic results, Don Coyote would be telling us why Willard should be re-elected, and canonized.

  18. larry kurtz 2015-09-08 21:05

    Jeb Bush not only sped his brother into eight abysmal years he was a complete washout as governor.

    Today, Florida is one of the country’s most unequal states, with the one of the widest and fastest growing gaps between the rich and the poor. The loss of tax revenue also fueled the state’s debt, which rose from $15 billion to more than $23 billion while Bush was in office.

  19. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-09-08 22:03

    U-3 is a middle number. “Don” cherry-picks the highest possible measure to make his point. Why not pick U-1 and cry with delight that Obama has brought real unemployment down to 2.6%?

    I haven’t heard “Don” make the case that using U-6 would show any different historical trend. If the feds had reported U-6 regularly, we’d shift our sense of normal and have the same debate. As BCB suggests, there’s nothing unique or compelling in “Don”‘s argument for using the alternate stat. We could measure Obama’s progress with U-6, but then we’d have to compare U-6 for past administrations. And yes, as BearCB notices, U-6 is lower now than when BLS started calculating it in 1994 and has trended down from the recession’s record high right along with U-3.

  20. leslie 2015-09-09 18:18

    come join Pen Dems and SDDP for “buffalo hunt” dinner at AJ’s, raise some $$ and get some Dems elected in this red, red side of the state, please! End of the month some time (the 26th?), $65 bucks a pop, $800 per table. Well qualified speakers/gooood people.

  21. leslie 2016-08-27 22:23

    Imagine tom hennies, my old friend, handsome with salt/pepper blow-dryed $400 haircut, 3 week beard, with a cleft lip (CDC says 4400 children a year are born with this condition). This would be the Republican tonight who saw Joe Lowe’s 88% spending increase graph for Bush in comparison to 3.78% spending increase for Obama from 2002 to 2014, estimated using 2015 Budget Tables (

    He was quite vocal and aggressively characterized these numbers as lies and said there is only one truth, the facts, and I agreed. This was at the Penn Dems Fair Booth. Bush’s deficit was shown as $1.4 Trillion in 2009 after Clinton’s $128 Billion surplus. Estimates were used for 2014,15.

    Pretty damning numbers and he was pretty upset about it, and wanted to characterize me as ignoring the truth. He tried to convince other patrons of his “truth”. When I told him where the numbers came from and that the compiler who could have been governor at one point, he said several times, more and more heatedly, bordering on vitriolic, that “you just don’t care about the truth”. Spin. Republican, vitriolic spin. I suggested he directly question Joe Lowe who does business downtown.

    So much for fair political vitriol. Again, it wasn’t the Dems that created it, and despite his castigation to the contrary.

    Other booths in the neighborhood of the busy fair building were the Republicans’, Phil Jensen’s, and Rick Weiland/Drey Samulson’s nonpartisan primary election proposal, Amend. V

  22. leslie 2016-08-27 22:25

    “county fair” Republican vitriol…, I meant to say, as we discussed nearby recently here.

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