Even if you're among the liberal faithful, President Obama has probably given you plenty of reasons to be annoyed with him lately, mainly for that whole "spying on you all the time" unpleasantness. But here's one reason you don't need to be miffed: He is not giving away free cars and motorcycles on your dime.
The latest idea posited by far right-leaning news website Breitbart News is that a provision exists in the comprehensive immigration bill currently working its way through Congress that would give "free cars, motorcycles, scooters or other vehicles to young people around the country."
The website claims part of that bill includes a new stimulus program which would provide $1.5 billion to help provide jobs for low-income workers between the ages of 16 and 24. Those funds also "may be used to provide supportive services, such as transportation or child care, that is necessary to enable the participation of such youth in the opportunities," according to the bill.
Bretibart News quotes a lone, anonymous GOP senate aide to interpret this as a "handout" that buys or leases cars for poor people.
A GOP senate aide told Breitbart News that for the country to be able to spend $1.5 billion on such a program so fast, it would need to buy, lease or rent motor vehicles for beneficiaries of the new government handout. The provision that outlines how the money can be legally used for providing “supportive services” like “transportation,” the aide said, could easily be interpreted to mean the money could be spent buying or leasing or renting vehicles for the beneficiaries.
“This appears to give states authority to buy, lease or rent motorcycles, cars and scooters or anything kids want to buy to get to and from a job,” the GOP aide said.
Needless to say, this plan to redistribute the wealth in order to buy Hayabusas for poor kids got the Breitbart commentariat good and riled up.
The problem is, their assertion about the "Obama Car" is not true. PolitiFact, the fact-checking project of the Tampa Bay Times and other newspapers, rated the claim as "pants on fire." They note that the bill fails to define "transportation services," not "goods" like cars or motorcycles. Here's what they wrote in their ruling:
[Sen. Bernie] Sanders’ amendment doesn’t define in detail what the transportation services would entail. Ultimately if the bill passes, local workforce boards would propose jobs programs that would be signed off by the states and approved by the U.S. Labor Department. There is no proof to support the idea that the program would include free car, motorcycle or scooter giveaways. In fact, that such a process would end up allowing car giveaways seems laughable. We are putting the brakes on this rumor. Pants on Fire!
Asawin Suebsaeng of left-leaning Mother Jones came to the same conclusion, though he has yet to get a response from the White House.
Still don't buy that Obama Car isn't a thing? Just ask Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, noted Obama critic and chief defender of the immigration bill, who has put out press releases debunking it as a myth. Here's what his camp put out:
The jobs program for young Americans does not cost any taxpayer money. It is being funded directly by a new fee that foreigners will pay when they’re applying for visas. This program is being created because of concerns about American kids competing with foreign workers for low-skill jobs, so to protect them, foreign workers will pay for job training programs for American youth.
The language of the bill reads “supportive services, such as transportation and child care”. The qualifier here is that they will be provided “services” and not “goods”. That means the program could provide a service, like a bus ride to a work site, but it cannot provide a car, scooter, motorcycle, or pair of rollerblades.
Not even rollerblades, man. So if you want to be mad at Obama, feel free to do so for the usual reasons, but not because he's giving cars away. Because he isn't.