WashPost Fact Check: Obama's Military Budget Comment a Selective Telling of the Truth

Thursday, 12 Jan 2012 05:33 PM

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President Barack Obama's statement comparing the size of the U.S. military budget with those of other nations — as a sign that cuts can be made without jeopardizing America’s security — was a selective telling of the truth.

Obama said the U.S. defense budget is larger “than roughly the next 10 countries combined,” The Washington Post noted in a fact check.

The Post said that the comparison of the $550 billion U.S. defense budget to that of a combined number of countries is common and some sources put it as high as the next 19 countries combined.

“However, raw numbers can be misleading,” the Post said. “The official Chinese figure of less than $100 billion a year is believed to be dramatically understated” and even that “doesn’t tell the whole story, because it costs China less money to buy the same goods and services as the United States” and the actual figure could be around $240 billion.

In conclusion, the Post said, “giving a presidential imprimatur to such a suspect statistic is probably not good practice.

“We nearly gave this our ‘true but false’ rating but ultimately settled for one Pinocchio, which can mean “no outright falsehoods” but a selective telling of the truth.”


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