PolitiFact: RNC’s Obama/Scranton Video Half True
By Natalka Karaman, Contributing Writer
According to PolitiFact, a non-partisan fact-checking website founded by the St. Petersburg Times, the statements made in the Republican National Committee’s new web video attacking President Obama’s economic record in Pennsylvania are half true.
The 30 second video compared Obama’s 2008 Scranton visit and the promises he made in that speech to the current economic climate, evaluating what occurred since he took office. The most questionable fact in the ad was the number of manufacturing jobs lost.
The ad states that 37,900 manufacturing jobs were lost under Obama’s watch. The number is accurate according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, however PolitiFact points out that policies enacted by politicians are just one factor driving this decline. When looking at manufacturing jobs, it is important to take into account the fact that the last 50 years has seen a huge drop in U.S. manufacturing jobs nationwide, due to factors such as free trade or technology.
PolitiFact concluded that it is unfair to blame Obama for these losses, even going so far as to compare his record to the loss of manufacturing jobs under George W. Bush. Pennsylvania lost about 30,000 manufacturing jobs each year of the eight years Bush served in office, while Obama has only lost about 13,000 manufacturing jobs per year whilst in office.
“In other words, during the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression, Pennsylvania manufacturing job losses declined less than half as quickly under Obama as under Bush.”
However, the video’s other claims were fair game.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment percentage is correct. Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate in January 2009 was 6.8 percent, while its rate in October 2011 was 8.1 percent. That’s an increase of 1.3 percentage points, but that can also be expressed as an increase of 19 percent above the initial level.
On the issues of poverty, there was actually an increase of 186,000 people living in poverty and not 189,000 people as the ad says, but PolitiFact deemed this number “close enough”.
The video was part of a series of GOP attacks on Obama keying in on his Scranton visit Wednesday to advocate extending and expanding payroll tax cuts. Many Republicans in Pennsylvania said they support the idea, but accused the president of campaigning in crucial swing states like Pennsylvania on the taxpayer’s dime. All of Pa.’s GOP delegation voted against the measure in Congress yesterday.