In an attack on the Obama administration and on government spending she decried as "reprehensible," GOP presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann accused the administration Sunday of increasing the number of limousines employed for federal use by 73 percent in the last two years, suggesting it as evidence that President Obama is not committed to improving the economy.
Bachmann, speaking during a Sunday morning appearance on CBS' "Face the Nation," produced the 73 percent figure when asked about whether or not cuts for farm subsidies should be on the table for Congressional negotiators seeking to cut the federal budget.
"I think everything needs to be on the table right now, every part of government," Bachmann said. But, she added, "I'll tell you one thing that should be on the table: Under Barack Obama, the last two years, the number of federal limousines for bureaucrats have increased 73 percent in two years.
"I can't think of anything more reprehensible than seeing bureaucrats on their cell phones in the backs," she continued. "Seventy-three percent increase in the number of federal limousines in the last two years?"
Bachmann appears to have been referring to a recent report on the iWatchnews.org, an arm of the Center for Public Integrity, which initially pointed to a 73 percent increase of federal limousine use during the first two years of the Obama administration.
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. "The categories in the Fleet Report are overly broad, and the term 'limousine' is not defined," GSA spokeswoman Sara Merriam told iWatch. "Vehicles represented as limousines can range from protective duty vehicles to sedans."
The GSA "cannot say that its report accurately reflects the number of limousines," she added.
A follow-up to the initial study notes that the initial figures may have been "skewed" by an "overly broad definition of 'limousine.'"
"When iWatch News reported that the number of federal limousines increased by 73 percent during the Obama administration, the General Services Administration suggested that an overly broad definition of 'limousine' in its annual fleet report may have skewed the numbers," reads the June 23 post.
Schieffer, citing frequent criticism toward Bachmann for her reliance on data that has on a number of occasions turned out to be faulty, asked the Minnesota Republican for a response to those criticisms.
"A lot of your critics say you have been very fast and loose with the truth," said Schieffer. "Politifact, which is a website that won a Pulitzer [Prize], did an analysis of 23 statements that you made recently. Of these 23, only one, they said, was completely true; seven they call 'pants on fire kind of falsehoods' - four were barely true, and two were half-true.
"How do you explain that?" he asked, pointing to a recent example wherein Bachmann claimed that the Obama administration had issued only one offshore oil drilling permit during his administration. (At the time of her statement, more than 200 such permits had in fact been issued, as Politifact reported.)
"I think that what's clear, more than anything, is the fact that President Obama does - has not been issuing the permits that he should have been issuing on offshore drilling," Bachmann responded.
When pressed by Schieffer to answer his original inquiry directly, Bachmann asserted that, "I haven't misled people at all," before deflecting the question to the Obama administration.
"The question would be asked of President Obama, 'When you told the American people that if we borrow a trillion dollars from other countries and spend it on a stimulus, that we won't have unemployment go above eight percent,' and today, as we're sitting here, it's 9.1 percent and the economy is tanking, that is what's serious," she said.
Schieffer also pressed Bachmann for a specific response to the question of whether or not she would, if president, decline to nominate a judge because he or she supported same-sex marriage.
"Would that be a litmus test for you, someone who was for same-sex marriage?" Schieffer asked Bachmann, who said earlier on the program that she believes marriage should be "between a man and a woman."
"I want people who are for the Constitution," she said. "That's my litmus test. I want judges who are committed to the fidelity of the Constitution."
"I have to say, I don't think you answered the question," Schieffer said, after making a second attempt to extract a direct answer.
"If you want to go further, we will," Bachmann responded.
"Are you saying you would not nominate someone to the court who favored same-sex marriage?" Schiefer asked.
"I know what my view is," she said. "I know what my view is on marriage. And of course I would find the best, most highly qualified justice that there is, because it's a very important position."