There They Go Again

Obama campaign cites misleading statistics to distort Romney jobs record

June 12, 2012

The Obama campaign continues to make dubious claims about Mitt Romney’s record of job creation as governor of Massachusetts.

Obama’s deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter said Monday that during Romney’s term in office, Massachusetts "plummeted to 47th out of 50 in job creation." A recent ad from the Obama campaign claims that under Romney the state "fell to 47th in job creation."

However, the statement is false is several respects.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Massachusetts ranked 51st (including Washington, D.C.) in job growth in January 2003 when Romney took office, and steadily improved to 30th by the time he left in December 2006.

That was the sixth-best improvement in ranking of any state during that same period.

The state experienced a modest increase in job growth (about 1.5 percent) during Romney’s tenure. The unemployment rate dropped from 5.6 percent to 4.6 percent.

As the Boston Globe reported in 2007, "Romney’s policies are credited with improving the state’s competitiveness."

Romney’s record has been verified by a number of fact-checking sites.

The Obama campaign seems to have arrived at the 47th rank by averaging the rate of job growth during Romney’s four years in office. Even so, to say that job creation "fell" or "plummeted to 47th" under Romney is inaccurate.

However, it is hardly the first time the Obama campaign, and in some cases Obama himself, has made misleading claims about the economy.

White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters last month not to "buy into the B.S. that you hear about spending and fiscal constraint with regard to this administration," citing a MarketWatch post purporting to show that "annualized growth of federal spending" under Obama is 1.4 percent—the lowest level in nearly 60 years.

Fact checkers at the Washington Post and the Associated Press pilloried the claim as flawed and misleading. The Post gave it "Three Pinocchios," or the equivalent of a "significant factual error." The AP said it "falls short of reality."

Federal spending under Obama has averaged about 24.5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), a full point higher than the largest recorded level since World War II. The White House estimates federal spending at 24.3 percent of GDP for fiscal year 2012. According to the president’s latest budget proposal, spending would average 23.6 percent of GDP over the next four years.

The thorough debunking of his talking points has not stopped President Obama from continuing to cite the claim as an example of his fiscal responsibility, as he did at a June 4 fundraiser with former president Bill Clinton.