Mythbusting

I can’t compete with the folks at M5, but plenty of political myths pop up all the time, and they’re worth busting. (Unlike Adam and Jaime, feel free to try this at home.)

First up, the far-right Heritage Foundation desperately wants you to believe the tax break for private jets Democrats are eager to eliminate was “created” by the Dems’ own Recovery Act. Is this true? Of course not.

The source of the confusion is that congress passed a “bonus depreciation” law in 2008 as an economic stimulus measure, and ARRA continued it. This depreciation is a broad (albeit temporary) provision that includes to a wide range of capital goods including both commercial and corporate aircraft. By contrast, the tax break at issue in the negotiations is a 1987 provision of the tax code that allows corporate jets to be depreciated over a five-year period rather than the seven-year period required for commercial aviation.

This is not something Barack Obama created, not something Barack Obama has ever supported, and not anything that has anything to do with the stimulus bill. It is, instead, a small but real subsidy that distorts the economy at the margin by encouraging large firms to invest in corporate jets rather than paying for commercial airfare.

Next up, Republican presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann has told national television audiences that President Obama has increased the number of federal limousines by 73% over the last two years, a trend the unhinged congresswoman considers “reprehensible.” Is she right about this? Not even a little.

The initial report, which quotes figures from the General Services Administration, notes that most of the increases were for the State Department for “law enforcement and security vehicles.” Documents also show that the vehicle requests likely date back to 2007 and thus would have been made under the Bush administration. The iWatch article also suggested that Fiscal Year 2009 spending was tied to President Obama when that budget would have been approved in 2008 under President Bush.

In fact, according to the GSA’s Fiscal Year 2010 Federal Fleet Report, the largest increase in the government-owned limousine fleet was between FY 2008-2009 (46%), compared to FY2009-2010 (18%).

The same report, however, indicates that the term “limousine” is loosely defined, and could encompass everything from an armored vehicle to a sedan.

Next up, four gay servicemembers have recently been removed from the U.S. military in recent months under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which is still a few weeks from being officially scrapped. Is this evidence of President Obama betraying and secretly hating the LGBT community? Not at all.

Air Force spokesman Maj. Joel Harper [said] all four individuals discharged had made voluntary statements regarding their sexual orientation and had asked to be “separated expeditiously.”

We’re talking about individuals who, for whatever reason, simply wanted out of the military. Indeed, they acted quickly to take advantage of DADT’s remaining days, precisely so they could get out now.

And finally, Bachmann argued yesterday, “A dollar in 2011 should be the same as a dollar in 1911. A dollar should be worth a dollar.”

Is that true? Should the value of a dollar have remained at a constant level for the last 100 years? No, that’s insane. As Chris Hayes put it, this is “the monetary policy equivalent of creationism.”