Fact checking the new attack ad on Obama
(CBS News) Crossroads GPS, the Karl Rove-cofounded independent political group working to boost Republicans, announced Wednesday that it is launching a $25 million TV ad campaign against President Obama grounded in the notion that the president has broken his promises.
Outside groups have shown themselves to be particularly prone to stretch or distort the truth in their advertising - in part because they have no official connection to a candidate - and Crossroads GPS has been no exception. Its new spot contains four charges against the president, only one of which is unambiguously supported by the facts.
The first charge involves Mr. Obama's statement that "we must help millions of homeowners facing foreclosure." The ad then says that one in five mortgages is now underwater. But that doesn't actually counter the president's statement: Just because some homeowners are underwater does not mean that others have not gotten help.
That's not to say the administration isn't subject to legitimate criticism on its efforts, particularly a $75 billion program to help homeowners facing foreclosure that was seen as potentially making things worse. But that was just one of many proposals, among them a plan announced earlier this year to ease refinancing for struggling homeowners.
The second charge involves Mr. Obama's statement that he wouldn't raise taxes on those making less than $250,000. Whether he broke this promise depends on how you look at it. Some people making below that threshold have seen some taxes go up if they use tobacco products or tanning beds, both of which have been subject to increased taxes under the president.
But Mr. Obama has not signed an across-the-board tax increase. In fact, he's signed into law tax reductions for the vast majority of Americans through the payroll tax cut and other measures.
Crossroads GPS points to a report from the conservative Heritage foundation to argue that "Obamacare raises 18 different taxes by 2019." Obviously, the group's calculations are up for debate; you can review what they list as the "top 10 most expensive Obamacare taxes and fees" here. Seven of the ten have yet to kick in.
The third charge is that the president said if you like your health care plan, you can keep it. To suggest this is false, the ad quotes a story that it quotes as saying "as many as 20 million Americans could lose their employer-provided coverage because of President Obama's healthcare reform law."
The story, from The Hill, does indeed make that claim, which comes from a report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. But it continues: "The figure represents the worst-case scenario, CBO says, and the law could just as well increase the number of people with employer-based coverage by 3 million in 2019." Since the major provisions of the health care law have yet to kick in, it's impossible to know how this will play out. But the implication that Mr. Obama has already broken that promise is decidedly premature.
The fourth and final charge in the ad is the only one that is unassailable. Mr. Obama pledged to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term. As the ad notes, he hasn't kept that promise.
The Congressional Budget Office is projecting a $1.17 trillion budget deficit for the budget year that ends in September. For the last budget year under President George W. Bush, the government recorded a $1.41 trillion budget deficit. So while the deficit looks to be smaller, it is not near half what it had been.
Left unmentioned in the ad is that on this metric, President Obama looks a lot better than President Bush. Mr. Bush started his presidency, with Rove as a senior adviser, with a $127 billion budget surplus.
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