American Crossroads Smears Rep. Edwards With Tired Falsehoods

October 25, 2010 11:47 am ET

American Crossroads is out with a new, unsurprisingly disingenuous ad, attacking the Democratic policies supported by Rep. Chet Edwards (D-TX). In addition to claiming the stimulus "failed," the ad laments "trillions of dollars in new taxes, reckless spending, and massive debt," and suggests that Edwards has failed to help lower unemployment. In reality, the Recovery Act — which Edwards supported — created millions of jobs and brought the economy back from the brink of disaster, and that "massive debt" is the result of Bush policies and the economic downturn. Additionally, under Obama, federal taxes are historically low and 95 percent of families actually received a tax cut in the stimulus bill.

American Crossroads: "Message"

[Edwards:] It does make a difference, in your day to day lives, who is in the Oval Office. [Announcer:] A failed stimulus. [Edwards:] Senator Obama wins on his ultimate message... [Announcer:] Millions left unemployed. [Edwards:] ...message of real change... [Announcer:] Trillions of dollars in new taxes, reckless spending, and massive debt. [Edwards:] Let's carry Texas for Barack Obama and Joe Biden. [Announcer:] Oh really, Congressman? Working for Obama doesn't work for Texas. American Crossroads is responsible for the content of this advertising.

The Recovery Act Didn't Fail — It Created Millions Of Jobs And Boosted The Economy

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. [Sonecon.com, 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:

Klein

[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.

privatesectoremp

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

Princeton, Moody's Economists Say "Highly Effective" Government Response To Crisis Saved 8.5 Million Jobs. According to the New York Times: "Like a mantra, officials from both the Bush and Obama administrations have trumpeted how the government's sweeping interventions to prop up the economy since 2008 helped avert a second Depression. Now, two leading economists wielding complex quantitative models say that assertion can be empirically proved. In a new paper, the economists argue that without the Wall Street bailout, the bank stress tests, the emergency lending and asset purchases by the Federal Reserve, and the Obama administration's fiscal stimulus program, the nation's gross domestic product would be about 6.5 percent lower this year. In addition, there would be about 8.5 million fewer jobs, on top of the more than 8 million already lost; and the economy would be experiencing deflation, instead of low inflation. The paper, by Alan S. Blinder, a Princeton professor and former vice chairman of the Fed, and Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, represents a first stab at comprehensively estimating the effects of the economic policy responses of the last few years. 'While the effectiveness of any individual element certainly can be debated, there is little doubt that in total, the policy response was highly effective,' they write." [New York Times7/27/10, emphasis added]

The Deficit Is Fueled By Bush Policies And The Recession

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:

CBPP

[CBPP.org, 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 publicly and foreign-held debt during the years Bush was in office:

bushpublicdebt

bushforeigndebt

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

President Obama And Congressional Democrats Have "Cut Taxes Across The Board For Working Families"

The Recovery Act Cut Taxes For 95% Of Working Families.  According to PolitiFact.com:

Under the stimulus bill, single workers got $400, and working couples got $800. The Internal Revenue Service issued new guidelines to reduce withholdings for income tax, so many workers saw a small increase in their checks in April 2009.

The tax cut was part of Obama's campaign promises. During the campaign, Obama said he wanted $500 for each worker and $1,000 for working couples. Since the final number was a bit less than he promised, we rated his promise a Compromise on our Obameter, where we rate Obama's campaign promises for fulfillment. 

During the campaign, the independent Tax Policy Center researched how Obama's tax proposals would affect workers. It concluded 94.3 percent of workers would receive a tax cut under Obama's plan based on the tax credit to offset payroll taxes. According to the analysis, the people who wouldn't get a tax cut are those who make more than $250,000 for couples or $200,000 for a single person. [PolitiFact.com, 1/27/10]

CBS News: "One Third Of The Recovery Act Was Made Up Of Tax Credits." According to CBS News:

One third of the Recovery Act was made up of tax credits, the White House emphasizes.

"No one I've met is looking for a handout," Mr. Obama said in his address Saturday. "And that's not what these tax cuts are. Instead, they're targeted relief to help middle class families weather the storm, to jumpstart our economy, and to bring the fundamentals of the American Dream -- making an honest living, earning an education, owning a home, and raising a family -- back within reach for millions of Americans."

The credits included:

  • An increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit
  • An expansion of the Child Tax Credit
  • For those who work, the Making Work Pay tax credit offered $400 per individual and $800 per couple
  • For those who lost their job, there was a 65 percent tax credit to help cover the cost of health care. The first $2,400 in unemployment benefits went tax-free
  • Up to $2,500 under the American Opportunity Credit for students and parents paying for college tuition
  • $8,000 for first-time home buyers
  • A deduction of state and local taxes paid on a new car
  • Up to $1,500 for home improvements to increase energy efficiency

Even conservative advocacy group Americans for Tax Reform, which advocates for a single, national flat tax rate, found some praise for the Recovery Act -- specifically for provisions allowing small businesses to write off a wider range of business expenses. [CBS News, 4/15/10]

Federal Tax Rates Are At Lowest Levels In 60 Years

Federal Taxes Are At Their Lowest Level In 60 Years. According to the Brookings Institution's William Gale: "It is ironic if not bizarre that the TEA party got going during a time when federal taxes were at their LOWEST in about 60 years. So, I am not seeing that people are taxed too much right now. I think the message that government should not take its power to tax lightly is always appropriate. But I don't see any sort of recognition in the TEA party statements that if we don't want to raise taxes we will need to cut spending by enormous amounts and where they are willing to cut spending." [Brookings Institution, 4/14/10]

PolitiFact: Top Income Tax Rate Is Lower Under President Obama Than Under Presidents Reagan, Eisenhower. According to the non-partisan PolitiFact.com:

Today, the top income tax rate is 35 percent, starting at $186,825 for individuals and $373,650 for couples.

By contrast, during the eight years of the Eisenhower presidency, the top rate averaged roughly 90 percent, typically hitting individuals making $200,000 a year or couples making $400,000 a year. In 2010 dollars, that's equivalent to $1.6 million for an individual and $3.2 million for a couple. Someone making the 1954 equivalent of $186,825 in today's money would have paid a tax rate of 59 percent back then.

So by this measure, Obama's comparison with Eisenhower earns a True.

Now for Ronald Reagan.

In 1981, Reagan's first year, the top tax rate was 70 percent, hitting individuals earning $107,100 and couples earning $215,400. The top rate dropped immediately to 50 percent in 1982 and stayed there through 1986. In 1987, the top rate fell again to 38.5 percent, and in 1988, it fell to 28 percent, kicking in at $113,300 for married individuals and $149,250 for married couples. (The 1988 incomes would be equivalent to $209,000 and $275,000 today.)

So, for one year of the Reagan presidency, the top rate was lower than it is now under Obama. For the other seven years, it was higher.

For the Reagan comparison, we rate Obama's statement Mostly True. [PolitiFact.com, 9/20/10]

President Obama And Leading Democrats Favor Extending Tax Cuts For 97% Of Americans

PolitiFact: Dems Consistently Say Only Tax Cuts For Wealthiest Will Be Allowed To Expire. According to the non-partisan PolitiFact.com, in their analysis of an allegation from Rep. Mike Pence that Democrats want all tax brackets to rise:

Do Democrats want every tax bracket to rise, as Pence suggests? In a word, no.

For many months, Democratic officials have consistently said that they intend to let only the tax cuts for the wealthiest individuals lapse. The cutoff they usually suggest is $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for married couples filing jointly. President Obama campaigned on just such a plan, and we've logged those promises into our Obameter campaign promises database.

[...]

Pence is right that every tax bracket will go up if the law is not extended. Still, we think the claim that Democrats don't want to extend the law is inaccurate. While the legislative drafting is still in process, the Democratic majority in Congress has made clear that it plans to extend tax cuts for all but the top couple percentage points of the income distribution. So it's highly misleading for him to say that Democrats actually want to see all the bill's cuts expire. Indeed, Pence's comment verges on a scare tactic.

[PolitiFact.com, 7/22/10, emphasis original]

Reuters: "Two To Three Percent Of Americans" Are Affected By Democrats' Proposals. According to Reuters: "Lawmakers are mulling the renewal of tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 under former president George W. Bush that expire at the end of this year. President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress want to extend the lower rates for individuals earning less than $200,000 or couples making less than $250,000. About two to three percent of Americans fit into the upper income categories." [Reuters7/21/10]

President Obama's FY2011 Budget Calls For Extending Bush Tax Cuts For Families Making Less Than $250,000 Per Year. As Market Watch reported in February: "Facing a gaping deficit but aiming to spur job creation at the same time, President Barack Obama's fiscal year 2011 budget would hit top earners, oil companies and others while giving tax breaks to small businesses to help them hire new workers. ... Obama wants tax breaks proposed by President George W. Bush to expire this year. His budget would eliminate tax breaks on those making more than $250,000 a year, a move almost certain to be opposed by Republicans and perhaps some Democrats as the economy crawls out of the recession. 'We extend middle-class tax cuts in this budget,' Obama said Monday at the White House, but 'we will not continue costly tax cuts for oil companies, investment fund managers, and those making over $250,000 a year. We just can't afford it.'" [Market Watch2/1/10]

Speaker Pelosi: High-End Tax Cuts Should End. According to The Hill: "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday rejected extending tax cuts for the wealthiest tax bracket that are set to expire at the end of the year. Pelosi took off the table a short-term extension of those cuts floated by some lawmakers in her own party. 'No,' the speaker said at her weekly press conference when asked if the cuts for the highest bracket should be extended. 'Our position has been that we support middle-class tax cuts. ... I believe the high-end tax cuts did not create any jobs, increased the deficit and should be repealed,' she said." [The Hill7/22/10, emphasis added]

Treasury Secretary Geithner: We Will Extend Middle- And Lower-Income Provisions Of Bush Tax Cuts. According to the Wall Street Journal: "The Obama administration will allow tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans to expire on schedule, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Thursday, setting up a clash with Republicans and a small but vocal group of Democrats who want to delay the looming tax increases. Mr. Geithner said the White House would allow taxes on top earners to increase in 2011 as part of an effort to bring down the U.S. budget deficit. He said the White House plans to extend expiring tax cuts for middle- and lower-income Americans, and expects to undertake a broader revision of the tax code next year. 'We believe it is appropriate to let those tax cuts that go to the most fortunate expire,' Mr. Geithner said at a breakfast with reporters." [Wall Street Journal7/23/10, emphasis added]

New York Times: Obama Plan Leaves Much Of The Bush Tax Cuts In Place. The New York Times prepared an infographic showing where President Obama seeks to change Bush-era tax law, and where he intends to leave it unchanged:

nyt

[New York Times7/25/10]

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