10 Preposterous Conservative Myths

Wes Williams / September 8, 2013
Addicting Info.com

We keep debunking them, but most Americans still believe these 10 preposterous conservative myths. Cartoon from politicalhumor.about.com.

A lot of people will occasionally believe something that “just ain’t so.” Fortunately most will let go of an erroneous belief when presented with proof that their belief is incorrect, but that is often not the case if the person is a conservative. Conservatives are notorious for clinging to, and repeating, myths and falsehoods long after they have been debunked. Although an exhaustive list of myths that conservatives cling to would be longer than space permits here, below are ten things that many conservatives believe that “just ain’t so.”

1. President Obama is spending the United States into the poor house.

On June 12, 2012, Godfather of “supply side” economics Arthur Laffer and libertarian flunky Stephen Moore wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal that disingenuously claimed that President Obama continued the Bush administration’s record of spending when he took office. Laffer and Moore blamed the Democratic congress that took office in January 2007 for spending levels during the last two years of the Bush administration, and made the following claim:

After taking office in 2009, with spending and debt already at record high levels and the deficit headed to $1 trillion, President Obama proceeded to pass his own $830 billion stimulus, auto bailouts, mortgage relief plans, the Dodd-Frank financial reforms and the $1.7 trillion ObamaCare entitlement.

CNNMoney.com explains how the auto bailout helped the economy and prevented an even bigger cost to the treasury: the loss of tax revenue from General Motors and Chrysler if those companies had failed, as well as the loss of thousands of jobs, which would have added to costs for unemployment insurance and would have deprived the government of the taxes paid by the laid off workers.

Laffer’s and Moore’s article appeared to be a response to a WSJ Market Watch story from May of that year by Rex Nutting, where he explained in some detail how spending growth has actually been lower under Obama than under all of his predecessors dating back to Ronald Reagan. Who was right? Politifact.com rated Nutting’s claim as “mostly true.”

2. Obamacare changed federal policy on abortion and permits federal funding for abortions on demand.

The site LifeNews.com claimed that Obamacare “bypasses the Hyde Amendment,” which forbids federal money being used for most abortion services. Section 1303 (a) of the Affordable Care Act states explicitly that health plans are not required to offer coverage for abortion services. It further states that nothing in the law changes current federal or state laws regarding abortion. The President issued executive order 13535 clarifying that the law did not have any effect on the Hyde Amendment.

3. Social Security is going bankrupt.

Failed Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan features the claim that “Social Security Is Going Broke” on his website. He says

Projected long run program costs are not sustainable under current program parameters. The Social Security Trustees project that the cash flow deficits that began in 2010 will continue permanently.

However, Social Security is not going bankrupt, either fast or slowly. John T. Harvey explained on Forbes.com why Social Security cannot go bankrupt. Since the system is designed to pay benefits to current retirees from payroll taxes contributed by current workers, the system can’t run out of money as long as tax revenues equal benefit outlays. The Social Security Trust Fund, he argues, is unnecessary, and actually reflects payments made by past workers that were in excess of what was needed for benefit payments.

4. Ronald Reagan tried to cut spending and balance the budget, but Democrats in congress wouldn’t let him.

Americans For Tax Reform makes the following claim:

Faced with a Democratic Congress and the challenge of curbing the power of the evil Soviet Union, President Reagan could not adopt his full agenda for cutting both marginal tax rates and spending.

This chart showing administration budget requests vs. appropriated amounts shows that for four of his eight years in office congress approved budgets that were lower than what the Reagan administration had requested. Also worth noting is that during most of Reagan’s time in office Republicans controlled the U.S. Senate.

5. We were attacked on September 11, 2001, by people who “hate our freedoms.”

So said George W. Bush on September 20, 2001. Bush claimed, in a speech to a joint session of congress, that

They hate what they see right here in this chamber: a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.

But the mastermind of the attack, Osama bin Laden, gave a different explanation. In a detailed letter, bin Laden claimed the attacks were because of American military involvement in the Muslim world. In a letter addressing the attacks bin Laden said

(Q1) Why are we fighting and opposing you?
(Q2)What are we calling you to, and what do we want from you?
As for the first question: Why are we fighting and opposing you? The answer is very simple:
Because you attacked us and continue to attack us.

The letter goes on to list the grievances that bin Laden had against the U.S., from American and Israeli involvement in Palestine and Lebanon, to support for Indian and Russian actions against Muslims in Kashmir and Chechnya.

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