Fact Check: Romney Ad Says He Did Better Than Obama

By Steve Kanigher

Published 10/29 2012 06:24PM

Updated 10/30 2012 06:00AM

Claim: A new advertisement endorsed by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney that is airing on KLAS-TV Channel 8 begins with a narrator who states: "Most Americans believe we're heading in the wrong direction. Higher deficits, chronic unemployment, a president who admits he can't work with Congress." President Barack Obama is then quoted as saying: "You can't change Washington from the inside." Narrator: "But he says he's only had four years. That's all Mitt Romney needed. He turned Massachusetts around, cut unemployment, turned the deficit he inherited into a rainy day fund, all with an 85 percent Democratic legislature."

Verdict: Partly true and partly misleading. The first budget year that Democrat Obama inherited from Republican President George W. Bush and the three successive budgets prepared by the Obama administration contained the four largest budget deficits in U.S. history. When Obama took office in January 2009 the unemployment rate was 7.6 percent and there were 133,561,000 nonfarm jobs. Last month, the unemployment rate was 7.8 percent and in August there roughly 61,000 fewer jobs than when he became president, the latter based on preliminary estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Obama also has repeatedly complained about Republicans in Congress.

But the ad glosses over numerous aspects of Romney's years as governor of Massachusetts from January 2003 through January 2007. While he worked with a Democratic-controlled legislature to pass the nation's first state-mandated health care insurance reforms, he also vetoed an estimated 800 measures and saw most of those vetoes overturned. State unemployment under Romney fell from 5.6 percent to 4.7 percent. But as reported by The New York Times, Romney hasn't contested Obama campaign claims that Massachusetts was 47th in job creation and lost 40,000 manufacturing jobs under the Republican governor's tenure.

When Romney took over he faced a large budget shortfall, and he left office with a surplus of $2 billion, the Times reported. But he didn't do it all with budget cuts. As the Boston Globe reported, he also presided over increases in fees for permits, licenses and services, a 2-cent-per-gallon gasoline fee hike, and a 63 percent increase in fees at state colleges and universities. The newspaper also reported that state budget reductions under Romney forced cities and towns to absorb more costs. SurveyUSA, which conducts polls for 8 News NOW and the Las Vegas Review-Journal, also reported in November 2006 that Romney's job approval rating was only 34 percent, third worst in the nation.

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