Fact Check: 5.4 percent unemployment

Romney likes to claim that Obama promised to get the unemployment down to 5.4 percent by 2012, but it is not as simple as that.

Before Obama took the oath of office, two aides, Christina Romer, the nominee to head the Council of Economic Advisers, and Jared Bernstein, an incoming economic adviser to Vice President-elect Biden, wrote a 14-page report that attempted to assess the impact of a possible $775 billion stimulus package and how much of a difference it would make compared to doing nothing.

Thus, it was not an official government assessment or even an analysis of an actual plan that had passed Congress. Page 4 of the report included a chart that showed that unemployment would peak at 8 percent in 2009, compared to 9 percent in 2010 if nothing was done. For 2012, the report suggested the unemployment rate would be 5.4 percent after stimulus. But the report also contained numerous caveats and warnings because, after all, it was merely a projection.

Still, the administration later cited the report in congressional testimony, giving it an official imprimatur. So, while Obama officials may not have “pledged” such a goal, it was certainly part of the administration’s talking points.

Glenn Kessler has reported on domestic and foreign policy for more than three decades. He would like your help in keeping an eye on public figures. Send him statements to fact check by emailing him, tweeting at him, or sending him a message on Facebook.
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Melissa Bell | October 22, 2012