March 14, 2012 by Maggie Zachary
Republican Statistics 101
I saw this chart being passed around on Facebook today. There are so many things wrong with it that I was tempted to just ignore it but, well, it was being commented on as if it had meaning and relevance, so I’ll go over a few of the bigger problems.
The first thing wrong with it is that it has no sources for any of the information. Never believe numbers unless you know that they came from a reliable source. (Hint: Fox News is not a reliable source.) There’s not even an indication of who created the chart, so not only is there no way to try to see it in context, where there might be sources lurking, but there’s no one to mock. Bummer.
Second, using data from any president’s day of inauguration is worse than meaningless: the numbers are almost always attributed to the wrong party. You see, when politicians promise that they’ll start making major changes “from day one”, they’re lying. They’ll be lucky to be able to find the Oval Office on their own on day one. It usually takes about six months after a president takes office for their policies to start to have an effect. On top of that, the federal budget runs from Oct 1–Sep 30 of the following year, so nearly all the spending from Jan 20th to Sept 30, 2009, was due to Bush’s last budget.
But let’s pretend that the table is actually telling you something meaningful and take a look at a similar one for Obama’s predecessor. (Notice that I put in where I got the data from.)
So if you happen to run into the first chart, be sure to show them how “well” the country did under the Bush. And watch them change the subject.