Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Ad Watch: Crafty splice tags Obama with a promise

This Americans for Prosperity ad shows President Barack Obama giving himself three years to halve the deficit. But the ad uses creative editing.

Virginia airwaves are abuzz with TV ads from the campaigns President Barack Obama, Mitt Romney and the special interest groups supporting them. PolitiFact National and its state affiliates have been busy analyzing them. Here’s a summary of their recent findings.

Claim: Obama said of halving the national deficit, "If I don’t have this done in three years, then there’s going to be a one-term proposition."

Americans for Prosperity recently began running an ad showing Obama promising to cut the national deficit during his first term. They added the punch of another quote from Obama: "I will be held accountable. If I don’t have this done in three years, then there’s going to be a one-term proposition."

But PolitiFact Florida found Americans for Prosperity used some creative editing in the ad – patching together two interviews on different topics.

Obama did promise to cut in half the $1.4 billion deficit he inherited. The deficit is projected to reach $901 billion in the fiscal 2013 budget, but that’s still over the promised amount of about $700 billion.

The three-year deadline came from a TV interview three weeks before his promise. But his comment was addressed to gauging the success of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the bank bailout begun by President George W. Bush.

Because of the splicing of comments, PolitiFact Florida ruled the claim False. Obama never said his presidency would be "a one-term proposition" in he did not halve the deficit in three years.


Democrat claim: "Gov. Romney promised that he would bring jobs to this state. By the time Gov. Romney left office, we had fallen to 47th in the nation in terms of job growth."

The claim is in an ad by Priorities USA Action, a super PAC supporting President Barack Obama. The ad features a Massachusetts small business owner criticizing Romney’s performance as governor from 2003 to 2007.

The job-growth claim echoes a charge that Obama adviser David Axelrod made in June. PolitiFact National examined job figures from December 2002, the month before Romney took office, to December 2006, his last full month in office. Over that time, Massachusetts ranked 47th out of 50 states in job growth.

PolitiFact also looked at a dueling claim from a Romney advisor. Eric Fehrnstrom said that under Romney’s term, Massachusetts rose from the bottom state in job growth to the "middle of the pack." Fact-checking this statement required calculations of the percentage of increase or decrease in job growth in every state during each year of Romney’s term.

From December 2002 to December 2003, the job growth in Massachusetts was dead last among all states plus the District of Columbia. The following year, it was 46th, then 40th, then in Romney’s final full year in office -- December 2005 to December 2006 -- it was 30th in the nation.

So both statements had correct numbers. But both claims overstated Romney’s power; PolitiFact has consistently pointed out that governors have little control over state economies. As a result, both statements were rated Half-True.

Claim: Mitt Romney "would replace your benefits with a voucher" in Medicare.

This ad claim was made by Obama’s campaign. PolitiFact National considered an identical statement made by Obama during an Aug. 15 speech in Davenport, Iowa.

Romney has said that his plans for Medicare are "the same" as those advanced by his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.  The proposals would affect people under 55.

Ryan calls his plan "premium support," but he means the same thing as a voucher – a government grant to the individual to use to pay for private insurance premiums. In Ryan’s original plan, released in early 2011, Medicare would have changed from a program that pays doctors and hospitals fees for particular services to one in which beneficiaries would be paid an amount by the government that they could use toward private insurance premiums.

But in updated plans, Ryan would allow beneficiaries to choose between the payments or a plan that has defined benefits, acting like traditional Medicare.

Because of the semantic differences between "voucher" and "premium benefit," PolitiFact rated the president’s claim Mostly True.