Fact and friction in TV ads

October 12, 2012

Obama ads Romney ads

“Table”: This is an unusually long ad — two minutes — in which Obama talks directly to the camera and outlines his plans for the nation. We had previously given this ad Three Pinocchios for Obama’s claim that Romney would “double down” on the same tax-cut and regulatory policies that caused the economic crisis. There is no evidence that the George W. Bush tax cuts led to the crisis. In this ad, Obama also repeats a claim we have frequently faulted — that the savings from ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq can be used for
nation-building at home and to reduce the deficit. It is a budgetary gimmick that still puts the money on the credit card that Obama has long decried as bad policy under Bush.

“These hands”: This ad features a small-businessman who denounces Obama for his comments — taken out of context — that “if you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” The full comment, made in a campaign speech, makes it pretty clear that the “that” referred to roads and bridges, as part of a riff on how the wealthy should give something back to the government because they benefit from it in many ways. (Later it emerged that the business owner in the ad had benefited from millions of dollars in government contracts.) But that did not stop Republicans from making “build that” the theme of the first night of the GOP convention.
“Heard it all before”: This ad trashes Romney’s economic record as Massachusetts governor, frequently stretching the truth. It claims Massachusetts was 47th in job creation in the nation, but that is a blended four-year rating, and thus ignores the fact that Romney boosted the Bay State’s standing — from 50th to 28th — in tough economic times. The state debt did increase by $2.6 billion, but much of that was for capital investments such as public buildings and roads, not operating
expenses.

“Stand Up to China”: The ad claims that Obama’s policies toward China have “cost us 2 million jobs.” The claim was based on a 2011 report from the International Trade Commission, which noted that improving protection of intellectual-property rights could lead to an additional 2.1 million jobs. But that is not a result of Obama’s policies. The report framed it as an opportunity lost, not the disappearance of jobs. In fact, the report notes that the Obama administration had taken action on the issue.

“Firms”: This sly, almost wicked ad features Romney singing “America the Beautiful” while images flash of his alleged connections overseas — his Bain Capital firms shipping jobs to Mexico and China, outsourcing jobs to India as governor, and his use of a Swiss bank account and tax havens overseas. We did not rate this specific ad but have investigated most of these claims, and they are exaggerated or lack evidence.




“Too many Americans”:
This 60-
second ad is Romney’s speak-to-the-
camera moment; it was intended to help mitigate the fallout from his “47 percent” comments. He throws out a lot of statistics about economic woes in the United States, but his most misleading comment is about his own economic plan — that it would create 12 million jobs. As we have previously noted, that is in line with what economists think will happen — no matter who is president.

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