Conservative super PAC hits President Obama on unemployment in $11 million TV ad

The conservative super PAC American Crossroads is spending $11 million in eight swing states this week on a TV ad criticizing President Obama for the nation’s persistently high unemployment rate.

Crossroads GPS, the super PAC’s nonprofit affiliate, is spending an additional $1 million on radio advertising in the same eight states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia. The two groups are also spending $4 million on advertising in Senate races.

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The $16 million in total spending is the most by the Crossroads twins in the current election. Politico was the first to report the ad buys.

In the presidential TV ad, a man charts unemployment rates.

“This is what President Obama promised the jobless rate would be if we passed the stimulus: 5.6 percent,” the man says. “But this is what the jobless rate actually is: 8.1 percent. The difference? About 3.7 million jobs. Obama’s spending drove us $5 trillion deeper in debt, and now we have fewer jobs than when he started.”

The claim that Obama promised a 5.6 percent unemployment rate is based on a report his Council of Economic Advisers prepared before Obama took office. The council predicted that passage of Obama’s stimulus package would prevent unemployment from rising above 8 percent—a fact Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney cites frequently—and would bring it down to 5.6 percent in the third quarter of 2012.

The real American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was actually a bigger government expenditure, $840 billion, than what Obama’s economic advisers assumed in early 2009, “just slightly over the $775 billion currently under discussion.”

The council appears to have underestimated the magnitude of the recession. It projected that even without stimulus spending, the unemployment rate would be down to 5.9 percent by now.

The ad’s statement that “now we have fewer jobs than when [Obama] started” is inaccurate, if total nonfarm employment in February 2009—the month the stimulus package passed—is measured against the most recent figure from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There were 463,000 more jobs in August than there were in February 2009.

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