Americans for Prosperity softens its usually harsh tone with an ad that features former Obama supporters explaining why they are disappointed with the president’s performance. However, the ad still features several misleading statements that echo common attacks on President Obama’s record from AFP and other conservative groups.
Under Obama, “Major Layoffs” Have Turned To Consistent Private-Sector Job Growth
Recession Officially Ran From December 2007 To June 2009, Making It The Longest Since World War II. From the National Bureau of Economic Research: “The Business Cycle Dating Committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research met yesterday by conference call. At its meeting, the committee determined that a trough in business activity occurred in the U.S. economy in June 2009. The trough marks the end of the recession that began in December 2007 and the beginning of an expansion. The recession lasted 18 months, which makes it the longest of any recession since World War II. Previously the longest postwar recessions were those of 1973-75 and 1981-82, both of which lasted 16 months. In determining that a trough occurred in June 2009, the committee did not conclude that economic conditions since that month have been favorable or that the economy has returned to operating at normal capacity. Rather, the committee determined only that the recession ended and a recovery began in that month.” [NBER.org, 9/20/10]
- Recession Resulted In 8.3 Million Job Losses. According to the Associated Press, “the Great Recession killed 8.3 million jobs, compared with 1.6 million lost in the 2001 recession.” [Associated Press via Yahoo! News, 5/4/12]
Bush Recession Was So Severe That Economy Was Still Shedding Over Three-Quarters Of A Million Jobs Per Month Through First Few Months Of President Obama’s Term. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the economy shed 839,000 jobs in January 2009, 725,000 in February 2009, 787,000 in March 2009, and 802,000 in April 2009, for a four-month average of 788,250 lost jobs per month. [BLS.gov, accessed 5/3/12]
Since The Recession Ended In June 2009, The Private Sector Has Added 3.3 Million Jobs While Public-Sector Employment Has Fallen By Over 640,000. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 107,933,000 private-sector jobs in June 2009, and 111,317,000 private-sector jobs in July 2012, an increase of 3,384,000 jobs. The BLS also reports that there were 22,570,000 Americans working in the public sector in June 2009, and 21,928,000 working in the public sector in July 2012, a decrease of 642,000 jobs. The private-sector gains and public-sector losses add up to a total increase of 2,742,000 jobs.
The following chart shows the cumulative private-sector job gains and public-sector job losses since the recession officially ended in June 2009:
- Conservative AEI: The Public Sector Is Shrinking, But Private-Sector Growth Is Above Average. From American Enterprise Institute scholar Mark J. Perry: “In the second quarter of 2012, ‘public sector GDP’ decreased -1.44%, and that was the eighth straight quarter of negative growth for total government spending, averaging -2.88% per quarter over the last two years. In contrast, there have been 12 consecutive quarters of positive growth for private sector GDP averaging 3.07% per quarter in the three years since the recession ended, which is slightly higher than the 2.8% average growth rate in private real GDP over the last 25 years.” [AEI-Ideas.org, 7/31/12]
- GOP-Favored “Government Downsizing” Has Been “A Drag” On Job Growth. From the Associated Press: “Conservative Republicans have long clamored for government downsizing. They’re starting to get it — by default. Crippled by plunging tax revenues, state and local governments have shed over a half million jobs since the recession began in December 2007. And, after adding jobs early in the downturn, the federal government is now cutting them as well. States cut 49,000 jobs over the past year and localities 210,000, according to an analysis of Labor Department statistics. There are 30,000 fewer federal workers now than a year ago — including 5,300 Postal Service jobs canceled last month. By contrast, private-sector jobs have increased by 1.6 million over the past 12 months. But the state, local and federal job losses have become a drag on efforts to nudge the nation’s unemployment rate down from its painfully high 9.1 percent.” [Associated Press, 10/25/11]
The Private Sector Has Added 4.5 Million Jobs Over 29 Consecutive Months Of Private-Sector Growth. The following chart shows the monthly change in private-sector jobs dating back to January 2008.
“What Cost?” The Affordable Care Act Reduces The Deficit
CBO: The Affordable Care Act Will Reduce Deficits By Over $200 Billion From 2012-2021. According to Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf’s testimony before the House on March 30, 2011: “CBO and JCT’s most recent comprehensive estimate of the budgetary impact of PPACA and the Reconciliation Act was in relation to an estimate prepared for H.R. 2, the Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act, as passed by the House of Representatives on January 19, 2011. H.R. 2 would repeal the health care provisions of those laws. CBO and JCT estimated that repealing PPACA and the health-related provisions of the Reconciliation Act would produce a net increase in federal deficits of $210 billion over the 2012–2021 period as a result of changes in direct spending and revenues. Reversing the sign of the estimate released in February provides an approximate estimate of the impact over that period of enacting those provisions. Therefore, CBO and JCT effectively estimated in February that PPACA and the health-related provisions of the Reconciliation Act will produce a net decrease in federal deficits of $210 billion over the 2012–2021 period as a result of changes in direct spending and revenues.” [“CBO’s Analysis of the Major Health Care Legislation Enacted in March 2010,” CBO.gov, 3/30/11]
- July 2012 Report Affirmed Projection That ACA Will Reduce Deficits. According to a Congressional Budget Office Report titled “Estimates for the Insurance Coverage Provisions of the Affordable Care Act Updated for the Recent Supreme Court Decision”: “CBO and JCT have not updated their estimate of the overall budgetary impact of the ACA; previously, they estimated that the law would, on net, reduce budget deficits.” [CBO.gov, July 2012]
“No Effort”? Obama Has Repeatedly Agreed To Spending Cuts
President Obama Called For “Painful Cuts” To Federal Spending. In his 2011 State of the Union Address, President Obama said: “So tonight, I am proposing that starting this year, we freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years. Now, this would reduce the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade, and will bring discretionary spending to the lowest share of our economy since Dwight Eisenhower was President. This freeze will require painful cuts. Already, we’ve frozen the salaries of hardworking federal employees for the next two years. I’ve proposed cuts to things I care deeply about, like community action programs. The Secretary of Defense has also agreed to cut tens of billions of dollars in spending that he and his generals believe our military can do without.” [President Obama State of the Union Address, 1/25/11]
Obama Agreed To Spending Cuts In Deal To Avert Government Shutdown. Congressional leaders and President Obama headed off a shutdown of the government with less than two hours to spare Friday night under a tentative budget deal that would cut $38 billion from federal spending this year. […]Speaking from the White House after the Republican meeting ended, Mr. Obama said that both sides gave ground in reaching the bargain and that some of the cuts accepted by Democrats ‘will be painful.’ ‘Programs people rely on will be cut back,’ said Mr. Obama, who said Americans had to begin to live within their means. ‘Needed infrastructure projects will be delayed.’” [New York Times, 4/8/11]
April 2011: Obama’s Debt Plan Proposed $1 Trillion In Cuts To Non-Security Spending Over Dozen Years. From CNNMoney: “His new debt plan takes the blockbuster spending cuts working their way through Congress, embraces them, and then cuts even more. […] Obama’s new plan doesn’t name programs or services to be cut, but calls for a reduction of more than $1 trillion in non-security spending over 12 years. Discretionary accounts, which require annual funding from Congress, will be hardest hit. Obama would reduce spending in that small part of the budget by a total of $770 billion. An additional $360 billion would be stripped from mandatory accounts. The whole plan, which includes reforms to the tax code, as well as entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid, would cut $4 trillion in deficits.” [Money.CNN.com, 4/13/11]
President Obama’s Proposed 2013 Budget “Cuts Government Spending In A Big Way.” From CNNMoney: “President Obama’s new budget cuts government spending in a big way. Sure, there are a bunch of new taxes on the rich, but more deficit reduction is sourced from winding down overseas wars and bringing agency budgets in line with the congressional mandates. Add it all up, you get lower deficits. The budget projects a $1.3 trillion deficit this year, and $901 billion in 2013. But by 2018, the deficit is forecast to fall to $575 billion, before increasing slightly as 2022 approaches.” [Money.CNN.com, 2/13/12]
- Budget Would Cut Federal Discretionary Spending To Lowest Level Since Eisenhower Administration. From CNNMoney: Non-security discretionary spending — subject to the caps laid out in the Budget Control Act — would be hard hit. Currently $450 billion, it would fall to $410 billion in 2013 and $385 billion by 2015. That part of the budget, which does not include military spending, entitlements or interest on the debt, is what many Americans think of as the federal government. In 2015, the $385 billion allotted for non-security discretionary spending would amount to only 9.5% of total federal outlays. The White House notes that when coupled with less spending on overseas wars, the reductions ‘would bring discretionary spending to its lowest level as a share of the economy since Dwight D. Eisenhower sat in the Oval Office.’” [Money.CNN.com, 2/13/12]
Spending Growth Is Low Under Obama
January 2009 (Pre-Obama): Federal Spending Projected To Spike To $3.5 Trillion Without Any Policy Changes. In January 2009, the Congressional Budget Office projected: “Without changes in current laws and policies, CBO estimates, outlays will rise from $3.0 trillion in 2008 to $3.5 trillion in 2009.” [Congressional Budget Office, “The Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2009 to 2019,” January 2009]
Accounting For Inflation And President Obama’s Impact On FY 2009, Spending Will Have Grown By Just 1.7 Percent From 2009 To 2012. According to Michael Linden, Director of Tax and Budget Policy at the Center for American Progress:
[I]n January 2009, before President Obama had even taken office, the Congressional Budget Office projected that federal spending would exceed $3.5 trillion for fiscal year 2009, half a trillion more than the government spent in 2008. Again, that was BEFORE President Obama event took office. It’s reasonable to use that number as our best guess at what spending would have been in FY2009 under ANY president. […]
Of course, the CBO’s projections aren’t perfect. They change as the economy changes and as laws change. Fortunately, CBO also tells us in subsequent reports how and why its previous estimates have changed. We can use that to understand how much of the total federal spending in fiscal year 2009 was attributable to legislative changes that occurred AFTER President Obama took office.
The answer is that out of a total of $3.5 trillion actually spent in FY09, only $165 billion, less than 5 percent, was the result of policy changes signed into law by President Obama.
In other words, probably the best baseline against which to judge spending under Obama is $3.5 trillion (the amount actually spent in 2009) minus $165 billion (the added amount Obama himself actually approved): $3.35 trillion. This year, the CBO expects that the federal government will spend $3.6 trillion. After accounting for inflation, that’s a growth rate of just 1.7 percent. By comparison, and using the exact same methodology, spending in President Bush’s first term was up nearly 15 percent. [ThinkProgress.org, 5/25/12]
PolitiFact: Spending Growth Under Obama Is “Second-Slowest” In Recent History. According to PolitiFact: “Obama has indeed presided over the slowest growth in spending of any president [in recent history] using raw dollars, and the growth on his watch was the second-slowest if you adjust for inflation.” [PolitiFact.com, 5/23/12]
[“RICHARD”:] In 2008, I voted for President Obama with no reluctance.
[“ROBIN”:] He presented himself as something different.
[“MARIA”:] I had hoped that the new president would bring new jobs, not major layoffs, not people going through major foreclosures on their homes.
[“ROBIN”:] He did get his health care through, but at what cost?
[“RICHARD”:] He said he was going to cut the deficit in his first term. I’ve seen zero interest in reducing spending. He inherited a bad situation but he made it worse.
[“MARIA”:] I think he’s a great person. I don’t feel he is the right leader for our country, though.
[“ROBIN”:] I still believe in hope and change. I just don’t think Obama’s the way to go for that.
[“MARIA”:] The president has not earned re-election in 2012, in my book.
[“RICHARD”:] I’ve seen his now definition of hope and change. It’s not the hope and change I want. It’s not the hope and change I thought I was going to get. I don’t feel that I helped by grandchildren by voting for President Obama, and I regret that.
[NARRATOR:] Americans for Prosperity is responsible for the content of this advertising.
[Americans for Prosperity via YouTube.com, 8/14/12]