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Katie Sanders
By Katie Sanders May 17, 2012

Crossroads GPS ad says Obama failed to keep pledge of halving the deficit

President Barack Obama is failing to deliver on his promises, insists a new attack ad from conservative group Crossroads GPS.

The TV commercial, airing in Florida and nine other states through May 31, 2012, lists a few examples relating to foreclosures, taxes and Obama’s health care plan. We plan to fact-check each claim, but for now we’ll address one about the deficit. (See our other stories on past claims from Crossroads GPS.)

The ad shows a clip of Obama at a press conference where he says, "Today I am pledging to cut the deficit we inherited in half by the end of my first term in office."

A narrator deems that a broken promise over the sound of shattered glass, adding that Obama "hasn’t even come close."

Spoiler alert: We’ve already checked out this issue a few times. In short, the claim about the deficit -- the difference between government spends and takes in -- is accurate.

Obama indeed made the pledge on Feb. 23, 2009, following a "Fiscal Responsibility Summit" shortly after his inauguration. (Watch more of his remarks that day.) He said then that the nation’s $1.3 trillion deficit was the largest in the nation’s history. It was mostly unchanged through fiscal year 2011.

In 2012? It’s expected to be $1.17 trillion.

So not cut in half. That’s according to the nonpartisan researchers at the Congressional Budget Office in a March 2012 report.

"Although the deficit is starting to shrink, it remains very large by historical standards," the CBO noted.

PolitiFact Florida asked the Obama campaign about the pledge as part of a fact-check along the same lines from Republican Party of Florida chairman Lenny Curry. The campaign pointed us to Obama’s response when asked about it by an Atlanta TV station in February 2012.

"Well, we're not there because this recession turned out to be a lot deeper than any of us realized," he said. "Everybody who is out there back in 2009, if you look back at what their estimates were in terms of how many jobs had been lost, how bad the economy had contracted when I took office, everybody underestimated it. …"

Obama promised to halve the nation’s deficit, but he hasn’t managed to chip away much as the end of his first term nears. We rate this claim from the Crossroads GPS ad True.

Featured Fact-check

Our Sources

Congressional Budget Office, report, "Monthly Budget Review, November 2011," Nov. 7, 2011

Politifact, Truth-O-Meter article, "Tim Pawlenty says President Obama is going to break promise on deficit and will double it," June 24, 2011

PolitiFact Florida, "Obama promised to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term but didn't," March, 8, 2012

PolitiFact Texas, "Republican consultant says Barack Obama promised to halve federal deficit in his first term," Dec. 2, 2011

Tampa Bay Times’ The Buzz blog, "Crossroads' new Florida ad says Obama has broken promises," May 16, 2012, Obama’s remarks after fiscal responsibility summit, Feb. 23, 2009

Crossroads GPS’ Youtube video, "Obama’s Promise," May 16, 2012

Congressional Budget Office, Updated Budget Projections: Fiscal Years 2012 to 2022, March 2012

USA Today’s The Oval blog, "Obama budget to miss deficit goal," Feb. 10, 2012

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Crossroads GPS ad says Obama failed to keep pledge of halving the deficit

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