Propagandists in the White House discovered early in President Barack Obama's first term that making their case on a state-by-state basis works well. Warning West Virginians action in Congress will cost each of them a certain amount or telling Ohioans an initiative by Obama is sending a specified sum to each of them has the psychological effect of making people think the president takes a more personal interest in them.
Never mind that regular releases of state-by-state information by the White House almost always are half-truths or outright fabrications meant to mislead, not inform.
Take the numbers announced by the White House this week, for example: Alleged state-by-state analyses of what will happen "if Congress fails to act" on tax rates before the end of the year were released. They went to news media throughout the nation under the heading "The President's Plan to Extend the Middle Class Tax Cuts."
The West Virginia version of the release states that "if Congress fails to act," taxes will go up on about 600,000 families in this state. The Ohio version states 4.3 million Buckeye State middle-class families would be affected.
The White House propagandists are counting on many in the news media simply regurgitating the press releases - and already, that has occurred in some places.
A closer look at what the Obama administration is doing is in order. Clearly, the president's aides are attempting to persuade Americans by the tens of thousands to call their members of Congress and insist Obama's plan to avoid the "fiscal cliff" be approved. Conservative lawmakers who do not agree with the White House proposal are being targeted.
But here's what the White House is not telling West Virginians, Ohioans or anyone else in the United States: It is not a matter of Congress failing to act. Republicans and conservative Democrats on Capitol Hill want to maintain tax breaks for the middle class.
It is Obama who has said he will not sign a bill continuing that relief unless it also includes higher taxes on many small businesses and some higher-income Americans.
And it is Obama who is refusing to discuss substantive steps to reduce deficit spending.
Using the White House's own way of politicizing the statistics, let us examine what that means in our states: It means little or nothing will be done to deal with the $90 billion share of the national debt borne by West Virginians or
$575 billion portion Ohioans must pay.
What Obama and his aides are doing goes far beyond merely putting a "spin" on the news. Active misrepresentation is involved, here. It is the president, not conservatives in Congress, who is threatening the middle class - not just in West Virginia and Ohio but throughout the nation - with tax increases. Claiming otherwise simply is not being honest.