Jonathan Chait

Factchecker: Obama's Plan Isn't Paid For If Congress Refuses To Pay For It

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Before I get to commenting on President Obama's speech tonight, I should note this ridiculous "fact check" piece by the Associated Press:

President Barack Obama's promise Thursday that everything in his jobs plan will be paid for rests on highly iffy propositions.

It will only be paid for if a committee he can't control does his bidding, if Congress puts that into law and if leaders in the future the ones who will feel the fiscal pinch of his proposals don't roll it back.

Is this serious? That criticism can be made of any proposal to offset the cost of tax cuts or spending. Indeed, it's a criticism that could be made of any plan of any kind. Obviously the plan won't be paid for if Congress refuses to pay for it. By the same token, the plan won't pass at all if Congress refuses to pass it. And any long-term savings plan, or any long-term plan of any kind, would be undermined if Congress decides to reverse it.

People like me have been saying for years that reporters should stop simply quoting claims by politicians and start evaluating the truth of those claims. It's good they're trying. But the next step is to start hiring reporters who know how to do that.

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