Fact Check: Ad Challenges Direction Obama Taking US

By Steve Kanigher

Published 09/10 2012 03:39PM

Updated 09/10 2012 03:54PM

Claim: An advertisement airing on KLAS-TV Channel 8 from Republican-leaning super political action committee American Crossroads states: "President Obama says he'll move us forward but where has he taken us so far? America's worst economic recovery ever. Twenty-three million of us without full-time work. Family incomes down. Forty percent living paycheck to paycheck. And Obamacare's new tax on middle class families all while Obama racked up $5 trillion more in debt. Is that really forward or backward?"

Verdict: Partly true and partly misleading. The comment about the worst recovery ever was taken from a report in July from CBS News anchor Scott Pelley. But that claim was followed by a chart, sourced to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which showed unemployment rapidly climbing beginning in January 2008. That's when Democrat Barack Obama's predecessor, Republican President George W. Bush, was still in office. The bureau reported Friday that in August 12.6 million Americans were unemployed, 8 million were working part time and 2.6 million wanted jobs but didn't have them, a total of 23.2 million people. The claim about 23 million individuals without full-time work is accurate. The claim about family incomes being lower came from an April 30 Bloomberg story in which it was reported that median household income in March was down $4,300 since Obama took office in January 2009. The Consumer Federation of America and Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards reported in July that 38 percent of respondents to a survey of household financial decision-makers indicated they were living paycheck to paycheck. The part about the health care reform law dubbed Obamacare being a new tax was an interpretation from Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who argued that the individual mandate represented a tax hike. As for the nation's debt, it has risen from $10.6 trillion when Obama took office to $16 trillion today, a $5.4 trillion increase. While the numbers in the ad are accurate, they lack context and are misleading when digested together. Obama inherited an economic crisis that was the nation's most severe since the Great Depression. The unemployment problem didn't begin with the Obama administration, as the recession was already more than a year old by the time he became president. The recession was a key factor in plummeting family incomes and is at least part of the reason why the debt also has increased. Obama's economic stimulus package contributed to the debt but so did the Bush tax cuts and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan begun by that administration.

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