Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Fact-Checking DNC Attacks on McCain

We already know that the Democrats will exploit for political gain violent images of American troops facing grave danger in Iraq.

It turns out now that the DNC's also hammering John McCain on the economy, for example, in this

Well's got a post up analyzing the veracity of the DNC ads, and here's the take on the "Are Americans Better Off..." spot:

Untrue Claims

The DNC's first national ad was released April 21 and tweaks McCain for his positive assessment of President Bush's economic record during a January debate on CNN. While McCain talks of "a pretty good, prosperous time" over the past eight years and says, "I think we are better off overall," the ad flashes images of a foreclosure sign, a closed factory, a gasoline pump with a $4.01 price per gallon and a series of gloomy economic statistics.The announcer poses a perfectly fair question at the end: "Do you feel better off?" Individual voters may answer that question differently based on their own circumstances, regardless of the numbers. Nevertheless, two of the DNC's factual claims are untrue.

Not Enough Jobs

While McCain says "a lot of jobs have been created," the ad shows a graphic that states, "1.8 million jobs lost." McCain is correct and the ad is wrong. Total nonfarm employment was nearly 5.4 million higher last month than it was when President Bush took office in January 2001, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That's the standard measure of jobs, and it means 5.4 million have been created.The DNC defends its claim of "jobs lost" by pointing to the total number of persons who were without jobs in March. That figure is 1.8 million higher than it was when Bush was sworn in. But it doesn't mean that many jobs were lost, it means that the job gain didn't keep pace with the number of persons who are seeking work. The ad would have been correct to say that there are "1.8 million more unemployed." That stark statistic doesn't contradict McCain's statement that lots of jobs were created, however. It means not enough were created to satisfy the need.

Fuelish Math

The ad claims gasoline prices are "up 200 percent," which isn't correct. The increase is actually 139 percent.The price of regular gasoline at the pump has gone from $1.47 per gallon the week Bush was sworn in to $3.51 the week the ad appeared, according to the Energy Information Administration. That's an increase of $2.04 per gallon, which is 139 percent of the starting price.The DNC picked the week ending Dec. 3, 2001, as its starting point – long after Bush took office. By that time the price of regular had dipped to $1.11 as Americans curtailed travel in the weeks following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Using that figure does produce a 200 percent increase, but that's not the change that has occurred since Bush was sworn in.
Note that some of the other DNC statistics do check out, but what's so interesting about the analysis is that McCain's accurate in his market assessments, and economics is suppossed to be his Achilles' heel.

This is turning out to be a tough economic year, but the Democrats are going to have a hard time pinning economic difficulties on McCain.

The Federal Reserve - which is politically independent of the White House - should get most of the flak for the housing crisis.

Other areas of government mismanagement - like the Katrina response - reflect inefficiencies at all levels of bureaucratic organization, especially the Democratic-controlled state and local governments in Louisiana (recall the management disasters of Kathleen Blanco and Ray Nagin in 2005).

The Democrats are desperate, which is somewhat surprising, as this year's electorate is manifestly ready for change - which, ironically, may benefit McCain and
his maverick political style.