At the Washington Post, Glenn Kessler catches a dubious claim from Obama’s Labor Day speech:

“Everything we’ve done, it’s been thinking about you. We said working folks deserved a break—so within one month of me taking office, we signed into law the biggest middle-class tax cut in history, putting more money into your pockets.” (Emphasis added.)

Since this is the first time we’ve heard about Obama’s “biggest middle-class tax cut in history,” which he supposedly signed nearly three years ago, Kessler decided to follow up with the White House. It turns out Obama was talking about the one-time tax credit in the 2009 stimulus bill, according to a spokesperson:

“The point the president was making is there is not a tax cut that has been enjoyed by such a broad section of the population,” an administration official said, pointing to a report that said that 95 percent of working families received some kind of tax cut under the Making Work Pay provision in his stimulus bill.”

So when he said “biggest,” he didn’t mean in terms of dollar amount, as most listeners would assume. He meant that it affected a broad swath of people, despite the fact the impact is still up for debate.

Kessler goes on to rip Obama on the false claim – and notes the president knew it was inaccurate when he made it:

Obama’s claim of having passed the “biggest middle-class tax cut in history” is ridiculous. He might have been on more solid ground if he had claimed the “broadest” tax cut, but that doesn’t sound very historic.

We went back and forth over whether this was a three or four Pinocchio violation, until we found evidence that Obama knew he was saying a whopper.  Here’s how he put it in his 2010 State of the Union speech: “We cut taxes for 95 percent of working families.”  That phrasing, at least, would not have been so misleading.

Middle-class tax cuts will likely be one of Obama’s top talking points once he starts lobbying Congress to pass his jobs plan. Because the plan reportedly includes a temporary extension to the payroll tax cuts – something many conservatives oppose because it doesn’t promote job creation – Obama will frame it as a middle-class issue. Republicans who fight against the plan will be painted as opponents of middle-class tax cuts, when they would actually argue the money should be spent on tax reductions that would be more effective at boosting job growth.

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