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There’s a big risk when you get too fancy with numbers on television, but for a real devil’s brew, just throw Twitter into the mix.
For proof, you need look no further than Fox News personality Eric Bolling and his arithmetic metaphor on combatting ISIS during the June 29, 2015, broadcast of The Five.
Bolling was making the point that the United States should be spending a lot more money to defeat the fundamentalist Sunni group that now controls large swaths of Syria and Iraq. Here’s the full text of his pitch. In the middle, he turns to his co-host Dana Perino to ask a rhetorical question.
"We're spending, ready for this, $9 million a day. Look at it this way. We're taking in $8 billion a day in tax revenue. We're spending $9 million to keep us safe. That's like if America was you, Dana. You had $100 bill in your pocket. A bully says I’m going to beat you up. How much would you pay someone to get rid of the bully? A dollar or two, maybe five bucks. We're spending less than a penny to get rid of ISIS. Let’s step it up."
If you need to read that twice to get Bolling’s drift, you’re not alone.
Someone at Fox News apparently didn’t though. Right after Bolling finished, this tweet went out:
Plenty of viewers applauded the stat. Captain Truth replied, "Put pressure on the cowards in Congress to authorize use of force. It’s their constitutional duty." Another said "It doesn’t help that we’re spending most of the treasury and beyond on a ballooning welfare state instead."
But others on Twitter ridiculed the tweet, pointing out, some more politely than others, that the country is spending millions of dollars each day fighting ISIS, as in fact, Bolling had said.
We should note that on the show, Bolling was working without a net, which is to to say, there were no pretty graphics to back-up what he was saying. His point though was simple. The United States is spending .01 percent of its daily tax revenues to crush ISIS.
We checked his numbers and he’s a little off. The Treasury Department’s latest monthly report tells us that so far in fiscal year 2015, the country has brought in $8.9 billion each day. The Defense Department’s June summary of spending on military operations shows an average burn of $9.1 million each day since the first air strikes.
Do the division and you get .001, or one-tenth of a percent. Apply that to $100 and you get a dime. But the rhetorical point is about the same.
Unfortunately, who ever sent the tweet didn’t get that far.
Linked in the story.