The Romney campaign has released a new television, titled “Strong Leadership,” touting Romney’s economic record as Massachusetts governor:
“As governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney demonstrated strong leadership—reducing the unemployment rate and balancing budgets without raising taxes. As president, Mitt Romney will do the same to help create jobs and get our country back on track.”
The ad highlights three of Governor Romney’s economic achievements:
- As Governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney had the best jobs record in a decade. Under Governor Romney, Massachusetts added tens of thousands of net new jobs – the best jobs record of any Massachusetts Governor in the last decade. (Bureau of Labor Statistics, www.bls.gov, accessed 5/31/12)
- Governor Romney reduced unemployment to just 4.7%. Massachusetts’ unemployment rate fell from 5.6% to 4.7% during the Romney administration. (Bureau of Labor Statistics, www.bls.gov, 5/30/12)
- Governor Romney balanced every budget without raising taxes. Governor Romney closed a nearly $3 billion shortfall without raising taxes and balanced four budgets. (Pam Belluck, “Romney Candidacy Puts Massachusetts Economy In Spotlight,” The New York Times, 3/16/07)
Like Romney’s two previous ads, “Day One” and “Day One Part II,” the new “Strong Leadership” tells us a little more about what a Romney presidency would look like. These three ads present a positive and optimistic message and don’t even mention Obama.
The new ad is also designed to counter Obama’s latest misleading attacks against Romney. In two recent attack ads Obama has attempted to disparage Romney’s record as Governor of Massachusetts. Unfortunately, Obama attacks are misleading as best.
The Obama attack is so misleading that the nonpartisan, FactCheck.org of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, in an article titled “Obama Twists Romney’s Economic Record,” summarizes its analysis stating Obama’s “We’ve Heard it All Before” ad overreaches with several of its claims:
- The ad states that job creation in Massachusetts “fell” to 47th under Romney. That’s a bit misleading. Massachusetts’ state ranking for job growth went from 50th the year before he took office, to 28th in his final year. It was 47th for the whole of his four-year tenure, but it was improving, not declining, when he left.
- The ad’s claim that Romney “cut taxes for millionaires” isn’t as black-and-white as billed. Romney opposed a plan to impose a capital gains tax retroactively, insisting on delaying the hike eight months. That’s different than pushing for a tax cut.
- The ad claims that Romney raised taxes on the middle class. It’s true that Romney imposed a number of fees, but none of them targeted middle-income persons. Also, Romney proposed cutting the state income tax three times — a measure that would have resulted in tax cuts for all taxpayers — but he was rebuffed every time by the state’s Democratic Legislature.
- The ad claims Romney “left the state $2.6 billion deeper in debt.” It’s true that long-term bond debt — used for capital improvements — rose under Romney, as it had in the years before he took office. But Romney wasn’t piling up yearly deficits to support operating expenses the way the federal government is, because Massachusetts requires balanced budgets.
- The ad claims that when Romney was governor, “Massachusetts lost 40,000 manufacturing jobs, a rate twice the national average.” That’s close to true, but the state lost a greater number of manufacturing jobs in the four years before Romney took office, and more in the four years after he left. In fact, the rate of job loss in manufacturing slowed during Romney’s time as governor.
- The ad claims Romney “outsourced call center jobs to India.” Not exactly. What he did was veto a measure that would have prevented the state from doing business with a state contractor that was locating state customer-service calls in India. Democrats who controlled the Legislature could have overridden the veto, but didn’t. The veto was supported by leading newspapers as a savings to taxpayers.
The Washington Post’s Fact Checker column awarded the Obama campaign two Pinocchios for its latest ads attacking Governor Romney.
The disappointing May jobs reports, with unemployment again rising to 8.2 percent, makes Obama’s discredited attacks on Governor Romney’s economic record appear desperate.
In 2009, team Obama told us that without Obama’s so-called stimulus the unemployment rate would reach nine percent, but if Congress passed Obama’s boondoggle, unemployment would peak at eight percent. The unemployment rate scare tactic was contained in Obama’s “The Job Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan.” So far we have had 40 straight months of unemployment during the Obama presidency.
The Obama Campaign’s dishonesty in its attack ads is no surprise. We have seen such misrepresentation from Obama before. Presidential candidate Obama’s distortion of McCain’s “one hundred years” statement about the Iraq war is the most egregious example. Even as fact checker after fact checker found that Obama misrepresented what McCain said, Obama continued the distortions for weeks.
More recently, Obama refused to back off of his misleading attacks on Romney’s experience at Bain Capital. In fact Obama apparently thought it was important to continue his effort to discredit Romney’s competent private sector experience even though recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal and ABC News/Washington Post polls suggest the Bain attacks did not hurt Romney. Some said Obama was staking his reelection on the Bain attacks.
In his book, The Audacity of Hope, Obama wrote that voters are “tired of distortion, name-calling, and sound bite solutions to complicated problems.” This is exactly the opposite of what Obama is doing with his continuing distortions and misrepresentations about Romney’s record.
Obama promised better.