Fact-checking the new ads hitting the swing states
By Becky Bowers
Published on Tuesday, October 9th, 2012 at 5:17 p.m.
As we catch our breath from the first presidential debate, we’re checking ads that are saturating airwaves in key states.
We checked two claims from American Crossroads, a pro-Republican group attacking the president for driving up the debt with a "failed" stimulus.
American Crossroads is spending $11 million in eight states, including Florida, New Hampshire, Ohio and Virginia, to spread its message. We found the ad has some flaws.
It claims President Barack "Obama’s spending drove us $5 trillion deeper in debt," but the president’s policies are responsible for less than half of total deficits over three years. We rated the claim Half True.
Meanwhile, it says the president promised the jobless rate would be 5.6 percent if Congress passed his stimulus. But he didn’t say that. Rather, he presented a report from his advisers before he took office that estimated how much a stimulus bill might lower the unemployment rate. But he referred to the report’s conclusions as "projections," and the report itself was couched in caveats. We rated the claim Mostly False.
We also checked a jobs claim from conservative group the American Future Fund, that the United States now has the "lowest workforce since (President Jimmy) Carter." The ad includes a significant inconsistency about dates, and it uses the word "workforce" incorrectly. By a different measure — the civilian labor force participation rate — its claim is not far off. However, not all the blame for the low participation rates today has to do with the recession and slow recovery under Obama. Another significant cause is the aging of the Baby Boomer generation. We rated the claim Mostly False.
We also checked two claims from the Obama campaign.
First, an Obama ad claimed that in Gov. Mitt Romney’s first budget in Massachusetts, "he cut $248.7 million from K-12 education." Romney actually proposed a modest increase in state K-12 spending categories and larger cuts elsewhere. The $248.7 million in education-specific cuts reflected primarily the work of the Democratic Legislature in a time of serious financial crisis that predated the governor. He did sign those cuts into law, but shares responsibility with a veto-proof majority of lawmakers. We rated the ad’s claim Half True.
Finally, a separate Obama ad claimed Romney invested in a company that made goods in China that "could have been made here in America." We looked into appliance maker Global-Tech and found that while the United States did have the technology and the workforce, the economics of global trade made "Made in America" unworkable well before Romney and Bain invested in the firm. We rated the statement Mostly False.
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