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$1,430 for every person on earth: What was Bachmann talking about?

by Joe Bodell on February 20, 2009 · 3 comments

Thanks to the brouhaha over Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s latest round of questionable statements before a friendly media audience, the DCCC got in on the game and made a note of one more piece of the interview on which we haven’t put to much focus:

As families across the country are struggling to make ends meet and businesses large and small are closing their doors, it has been determined that Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s refusal to support the American Economic Recovery Package may be because she simply didn’t understand the simple math behind this necessary and responsible legislation.  On KTLK’s Chris Baker Show, Michele Bachmann claimed “The amount of money that’s been committed by this Democrat government already, the amount of money that they have committed, your tax money to spend, would equal, and I’m not making this up, a check in the amount of $1,430 written to every man, woman, child in the world.”

Let’s see, Start Button, Applications, Accessories, Calculator….1430 x 6700000000 (approximate population of the world)…. that works out to $9.5 trillion. Even if you accept the GOP talking point that “this is a trillion-dollar spending bill” (it’s not), that’s still a pretty dramatic error on the part of the Congresswoman.

If you’re more reality-based than the Republican Party in Washington, then the difference between the $787 billion package of spending and tax cuts recently signed into law by President Obama is even more dramatic — we’re talking “a factor of 12” dramatic.

So what was she talking about? $787 billion divided equally among all the world’s people = $117/person. $787 billion / the U.S. population = $2,580/person. Perhaps she was using the GOP talking point that it’s closer to a trillion dollars?  That works out to $149/person on earth, or $3,278/American.

This $1,430 figure is a mystery.

In MinnPost’s brief note about the story, conservative commentator Thomas Swift commented “It’s obvious that Bachmann mispoke.” That much is certain, but once again we return to what is now an old debate — what’s the difference between “misspeaking” and “lying”?

Is it foreknowledge that what you are saying is false?

Does that make a difference?

Shouldn’t a member of Congress know that what they are about to say in public is true, both factually and contextually?

Let’s all remember that this is not the first time she has “misspoken” in public — the Super-Secret Partition Plan for Iraq and her call for an investigation into whether members of Congress are pro-America or anti-America spring to mind. Were those incidents simply misspoken, or was something more important than the truth on her mind?

In any case, if Rep. Bachmann is so upset about the Stimulus bill that she’s willing to “misspeak” so brazenly about it, perhaps we should ask Congress and the White House to amend the bill so that the funds intended to make her district the biggest winner in Minnesota in terms of job savings and gains can go somewhere else, where the Congressional representation doesn’t “misspeak” as often or consistently.

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