Barack Obama campaign rebuts $25 million attack ad but avoids facts

The Obama campaign called “BS” Thursday on an independent group’s $25 million attack ad that accuses the president of breaking his promises.

Stephanie Cutter, Obama’s deputy campaign manager, used the abbreviation to describe an ad released Wednesday by the Karl Rove-led nonprofit Crossroads GPS. In a 3-minute Web video, Cutter rebuts the ad’s claims, one by one. But she often avoids the specific facts presented by the ad and in one case misrepresents its argument.

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“First up, the attack ad says the president has not helped people who faced foreclosure. That is flat out wrong,” Cutter asserts.

As evidence, she says 5.9 million homeowners have been able to stay in their homes by modifying mortgages under Obama’s policies, a figure supported by a report by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Treasury. But Cutter does not address the ad’s claim that “one in five mortgages are still under water.” A March report by the mortgage data firm CoreLogic showed 22.8 percent of US homeowners owe more than their homes are worth.

“Now, second, the ad says the president broke a promise not to raise taxes on middle class Americans,” Cutter says. “They’re wrong again. President Obama has cut taxes for all working Americans.”

The 2009 stimulus package, the payroll tax holiday and the extension of Bush tax cuts under Obama have, indeed, relieved Americans’ tax burden. But the Crossroads GPS claim centers on a Heritage Foundation analysis of Obama’s health care law, which showed that if the law’s provisions are classified as taxes, they do amount to increases—albeit future hikes aimed mostly at high earners.

The Obama administration said the health care mandate is not a tax then argued before the Supreme Court in March that it is.

Two years ago, PolitiFact called Obama’s “firm pledge” that “no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase” a broken promise.

“Third,” Cutter continues in the rebuttal video, “the ad talks about health care, and you’ll like this one because we’ve heard it before: It says that you won’t be able to keep the insurance plan that you have. Now that’s just flat out wrong. If you like your plan and you want to keep it, you can.”

Because many aspects of the Affordable Care Act have not yet taken effect, it is too early to know for certain whether millions of people will lose their current health plans and be “forced into a government pool,” as the Crossroads GPS ad forewarns. But a March report by the Congressional Budget Office projected that “because of the ACA, about 3 million to 5 million fewer people, on net, will obtain coverage through their employer each year from 2019 through 2022 than would have been the case under prior law.”

“If a firm chose not to offer insurance coverage under the ACA,” the report continued, “some of its workers and their families might enroll in Medicaid or [the Children’s Health Insurance Program] or be eligible to receive subsidies through the insurance exchanges.”

The CBO report suggests it is premature to label Obama’s promise broken or kept.

“Fourth up is an attack on the president’s plan to cut the deficit,” Cutter concludes in the video. “The president has already enacted $1 trillion in spending cuts to help reduce our deficit and has a balanced plan to cut the deficit by $4 trillion over the next 10 years.”

In fact, the Crossroads GPS ad does not mention Obama’s new deficit cutting plan; it states accurately that he has not kept his promise to cut the budget deficit it inherited by half.