AdWatch: Simplistic ad assails economic stimulus

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Associated Press

Posted on July 27, 2012 at 8:02 PM

Updated Saturday, Jul 28 at 2:00 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — TITLE: "Again"

LENGTH: 30 seconds.

AIRING: On NBC during the Olympics, national cable and in North Carolina, Ohio, Wisconsin, Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and Virginia.

KEY IMAGES: "President Obama's first term economic plan: an $800 billion stimulus," says a male narrator as a shot of Obama at his desk fills the screen, followed by a clip of Obama saying, "To create three to four million jobs."

A series of images of sad-looking people follows: a man on a train, a woman and a worker holding his head in his hands with his hard hat on a table. A shot of a hand-lettered sign reading "We Still Don't Know Where All The Money Went" underscores the ad's gloomy tone.

"While Americans waited for help, billions were spent in foreign countries," the narrator says. "Millions went to political insiders. Millions more unaccounted for. Now your money is gone, and so are nearly 500,000 jobs. His second-term economic plan? Do it again."

ANALYSIS: The attack ad, from the Republican National Committee, presents a simplistic picture of the stimulus and ignores its positive impact on the economy, including jobs.

Obama's stimulus, enacted in February 2009, created both public-sector and private-sector jobs, even if not as many as its sponsors had hoped.

The director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, Douglas Elmendorf, has estimated that the stimulus saved or created more than 3 million jobs. Princeton economist Alan Blinder and Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, have estimated that the stimulus, together with the bank bailout started by President George W. Bush and continued by Obama, saved or created more than 10 million jobs.

Part of the stimulus was directed toward retaining teachers and other public workers. But the package included plenty of construction and other "shovel-ready" projects with private workers, not public employees, wielding the shovels.

Economists debate whether the stimulus lived up to its promise or was worth the cost, but no one seriously argues that it created no jobs. Many believe it helped to end the recession even while falling short of its employment goals.

The RNC ad also reiterates a charge made earlier this year by conservatives that money from the stimulus went to overseas green-energy companies. They alleged that Obama's stimulus helped foreign companies that moved jobs overseas, including some that make wind turbines or electric cars. Independent analysts have said that while some foreign-based companies received loans or tax credits under the stimulus law, the companies have U.S. subsidiaries that benefited from federal aid.

The ad is airing as many Americans start tuning into the Olympics. Meanwhile, Obama is airing an upbeat ad for the opening of the Olympics that touts how he wants to grow the economy from the middle out and fight for the middle class.

The economy is the biggest issue for voters and a weak spot for Obama's re-election. He's on the defensive over recent lackluster jobs reports.

Republican Mitt Romney's campaign wants to make Obama's handling of the economy the driving issue, while the Obama camp has focused much of its energy on assailing Romney's business background as a venture capitalist.

Obama wants to undercut the former Massachusetts governor's argument that his business background makes him more qualified than the president to boost the sagging economy. Obama says that under his leadership, the country is fighting its way back from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

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