As we have noted many times, Jeff Sessions has become the Senate’s indispensable man on the our ruinous federal debt and deficit. In January Senator Sessions took a look at the role played by then OMB Director Jack Lew in the Obama administration’s stage management of the related public relations issues. Not pretty.
Lew is not a man constrained by hidebound notions of veracity. Lew proved his worth to President Obama in part through “egregious falsehoods,” as Senator Sessions puts it, in his congressional testimony on the budget. This of course qualified Lew for promotion by Obama to his current position as Secretary of the Treasury.
“Egregious falsehoods” play a key role in the Obama administration’s strategy on tax and budget issues, just as they did in the selling of Obamacare. Obama himself prefers evasion or false denials of knowledge. He doesn’t want to be seen publicly acknowledging the true nature of the problem we are confronting, or how he is contributing to it.
Obama took the path of evasion with David Letterman in response to a question asking how much the debt had grown during Obama’s term in office. Letterman himself being a low information voter had no idea. Asked by Letterman what the federal debt was when he entered office, Obama said, “I don’t know what the number was precisely.” Not “precisely,” not down to the last penny, so maybe true in a sense.
Obama’s denial that he knew how the debt has grown under his watch was nevertheless an “egregious falsehood,” to borrow Senator Sessions’s formulation, if on a slightly different order than Lew’s lies. I think it represents the Obama administration’s preferred public approach to the issues.
Take, for example, the case of Lew’s successor as OMB Director, one Jeffrey Zients. Remember, the man is the Director of the Office of Management and Budget. This week Zients went to Capitol Hill to testify about Obama’s long-awaited budget. Senator Sessions elicited from Zients a denial that he knew the amount of added deficits in the Obama budget projection he was defending. An egregious falsehood, to be sure, but one followed up by Zients with the certifiable truth: “There are a lot of numbers there.”