Chamber Ad Preys On PA Voters With Misleading Statistics

October 13, 2010 9:12 am ET

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce's advertisement attacking Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper (D-PA) over Pennsylvania's unemployment numbers is horribly misleading at best, preying on Pennsylvania voters' vulnerability due to a difficult economic climate. No doubt residents of the northwestern Pennsylvania counties like Mercer, Erie and Crawford — which the ad singles out — are feeling the effects of a high unemployment rate and Bush-era Republican policies that exploded the federal deficit. But the ad is wrong in its suggestion that there have been no signs of recovery in those counties. In fact, since the Recovery Act began to take effect, the unemployment rate in all three of those counties has gone down.

U.S. Chamber Of Commerce: "Recovering"

[DAHLKEMPER:] "We are recovering." Recovering? What planet is Congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper living on? Over 9 percent unemployment in Erie County. Over 10 percent in Crawford County. Over 11 percent in Mercer County. Anyone living in northwestern Pennsylvania can see businesses shuttering, jobs getting cut, and homes being foreclosed. Call Kathy Dahlkemper. Tell her Pennsylvania families want real recovery, not more Washington rhetoric. The U.S. Chamber is responsible for the content of this advertisement.

Since The Recovery Act Took Effect, Unemployment In All Three Counties Has Fallen

Unemployment In Mercer County, Erie County And Crawford County Has Fallen Since July 2009. According to the latest data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in Mercer County fell from 12.2 percent in July 2009 to a preliminary number of 10.7 percent in August 2010. The unemployment rate in Erie County has fallen from 9.6 percent in July 2009 to a preliminary number of 9.4 percent in August 2010. Crawford County unemployment has fallen from 10.8 percent to a preliminary number of 9.8 percent for August 2010. [Bureau of Labor Statistics, accessed 10/8/10, on Mercer County; Erie County; Crawford County]

  • President Obama's Policies Did Not Affect The Economy Until July 2009. According to economist Robert J. Shapiro: "From December 2007 to July 2009 - the last year of the Bush second term and the first six months of the Obama presidency, before his policies could affect the economy - private sector employment crashed from 115,574,000 jobs to 107,778,000 jobs." [, 8/10/10]

Rep. Dahlkemper Voted For The Recovery Act, Which Has Helped The Economy Begin To Turn Around

The Economy Shed Almost 8 Million Jobs Under Republican Policies Before The Recovery Act Was Passed.  According to economist Robert J. Shapiro:

From December 2007 to July 2009 - the last year of the Bush second term and the first six months of the Obama presidency, before his policies could affect the economy - private sector employment crashed from 115,574,000 jobs to 107,778,000 jobs. Employment continued to fall, however, for the next six months, reaching a low of 107,107,000 jobs in December of 2009. So, out of 8,467,000 private sector jobs lost in this dismal cycle, 7,796,000 of those jobs or 92 percent were lost on the Republicans' watch or under the sway of their policies. Some 671,000 additional jobs were lost as the stimulus and other moves by the administration kicked in, but 630,000 jobs then came back in the following six months. The tally, to date: Mr. Obama can be held accountable for the net loss of 41,000 jobs (671,000 - 630,000), while the Republicans should be held responsible for the net losses of 7,796,000 jobs. [, 8/10/10, emphasis added]

Based on Shapiro's research, the Washington Post's Ezra Klein created the following chart showing net job losses before and after the Recovery Act was enacted:


[Washington Post8/12/10]

CBO: The Recovery Act Created Jobs, Lowered Unemployment, And Boosted GDP.  According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, through the second quarter of 2010, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act:

  • Raised the level of real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) by between 1.7 percent and 4.5 percent, 
  • Lowered the unemployment rate by between 0.7 percentage points and 1.8 percentage points,
  • Increased the number of people employed by between 1.4 million and 3.3 million, and
  • Increased the number of full-time-equivalent (FTE) jobs by 2.0 million to 4.8 million compared with what those amounts would have been otherwise. [CBO, 8/24/10]

Reuters: The Recovery Act May Have "Prevented The Sluggish Economy From Contracting" Between April And June.  According to Reuters

The massive U.S. stimulus package put millions of people to work and boosted national output by hundreds of billions of dollars in the second quarter, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said on Tuesday.

CBO's latest estimate indicates that the stimulus effort, which remains a political hot potato ahead of the November congressional elections, may have prevented the sluggish U.S. economy from contracting between April and June.

CBO said President Barack Obama's stimulus boosted real GDP in the quarter by between 1.7 percent and 4.5 percent, adding at least $200 billion in economic activity. [Reuters via ABC News, 8/24/10]

Job Statistics Trend Shows Recovery Act Is Working. Below is a graph prepared by the Speaker's office showing net private sector job gains or losses per month since December 2007:

Private Sector Employment

[Bureau of Labor Statistics via The Gavel, 8/6/10]

The Deficit Is a Legacy Of Bush-Era Republican Policies

Before Obama Took Office, The FY 2009 Deficit Was Projected At $1.2 Trillion. As reported by the Washington Times: "The Congressional Budget Office announced a projected fiscal 2009 deficit of $1.2 trillion even if Congress doesn't enact any new programs. [...] About the only person who was silent on the deficit projection was Mr. Bush, who took office facing a surplus but who saw spending balloon and the country notch the highest deficits on record." [Washington Times1/8/09, emphasis added]

CBPP: Deficit Grew By $3 TRILLION Because Of Policies Passed From 2001 To 2007. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: "Congressional Budget Office data show that the tax cuts have been the single largest contributor to the reemergence of substantial budget deficits in recent years.  Legislation enacted since 2001 added about $3.0 trillion to deficits between 2001 and 2007, with nearly half of this deterioration in the budget due to the tax cuts (about a third was due to increases in security spending, and about a sixth to increases in domestic spending)." [CBPP, accessed 1/31/10, parentheses original]

The Bush Tax Cuts Are The Primary Driver Of Federal Budget Deficits Over The Next Decade.Below is a chart from CBPP showing the deficit impacts of war spending, financial recovery spending, the recession itself, and the Bush tax cuts:


[, 6/28/10]

Public And Foreign-Held Debt Skyrocketed While Bush Was In Office. Below are two graphs prepared by the Speaker's office showing the increase of publically and foreign-held debt during the years Bush was in office:



[U.S. Treasury via The Gavel, 6/11/10]