The Obama campaign released a two-minute ad Wednesday which lays out a four point plan for his second term. The ad may sound good to those not paying much attention, but all it really does is rehash old promises and misleading budget plans in a slick new package.
Shot in what appears to be the White House residence, Obama describes Romney's economic plan as "even bigger tax cuts for the
wealthy and fewer regulations on Wall Street." And according to Obama, Romney is doubling down on "the same trickle down policies that led to the crisis in the first place."
By contrast, Obama has a four-point plan that starts with "a million new manufacturing jobs." He'll achieve this goal by giving "tax breaks to companies that invest in
America." If new tax cuts sounds a bit like Romney's plan, well, never mind.
Come to think of it, Obama's plan sounds a lot like this claim: "Barack Obama... will invest in climate-friendly energy development that will transform the economy and create millions of new jobs."
That was the Obama campaign's promise of "millions" of green jobs back in 2008. As we now know, the Volt didn't sell and Solyndra went bust. Promises are easy, but Obama hasn't delivered on similar promises in the past.
On to point two, where Obama says he'll "cut our oil imports in half and produce more American-made energy, oil,
clean-coal, natural gas, and new resources like wind, solar and
bio-fuels—all while doubling the fuel efficiencies of cars and trucks."
Let's take these in reverse order. First, new CAFE standards for cars and trucks were announced last month, but they gradually ramp up between now and 2025. That said, even the goals for the end of a second Obama term are unlikely to be met. In any case, we won't be anywhere close to doubling fuel efficiency by 2016.
As for Obama's plan to cut oil imports in half, this is an upgrade. Just a few months ago, he was promising to cut imports by a third. Maybe cutting by half tested better in focus groups? What we know for certain is that this is a ten-year plan meaning, once again, Obama will be long gone by the time we judge this plan a success or failure in 2022.
Obama did have one significant chance to increase the inflow of North American oil (as opposed to oil from Saudi Arabia), and he botched it badly. That was his decision to kill the Keystone XL pipeline, which led Canada's Stephen Harper to permanently reevaluate his nation's status as a captive US supplier. Obama's decision also killed an estimated 30,000 jobs in the process.
Point three is about education. Obama plans to prepare "100,000 additional math and science teachers." This is another reworked Obama plan which was initially launched in January 2010 with a $250 million budget. The revised plan was announced in July of this year and increases the budget to $1 billion. Congress has not allocated the money yet, meaning this is a promise the president probably can't deliver on.
Obama also promises to cut "the growth of tuition in half and expanding student aid so more Americans can afford it." Unfortunately, these goals work at cross purposes. Increased federal aid means tuition prices go up: "on average, schools increased Pell Grant recipients' prices by $17 in
response to every $100 of Pell Grant aid. More selective nonprofit
schools' response was largest and these schools raised prices by $66 for
every $100 of Pell Grant aid." Obama is on a path that ensures tuition will increase.
In step four, Obama announces his plans to reign in the deficit "by four trillion dollars over the next decade on top of the trillion in spending we've already cut." Again, this is an upgraded promise. Just a few weeks ago at the DNC, Bill Clinton was touting Obama's plan to cut $4 trillion including the one trillion already passed.
First of all, four trillion dollars is less than Obama has racked up in just three years, 2009-2011. Cutting that amount over ten years doesn't cut our debt at all, it just slows the rate we add to it. In fact, $4 trillion is the bare minimum we can cut to avoid another downgrade, this time by Moody's.
But putting that aside, Obama suggests two ways in which he'll reach the magic number. First he'll "ask the wealthy to pay a little more," which is Obama-speak for a $1.5T tax increase. Second, he'll "apply half the savings" from ending the war in Afghanistan to the deficit. This has rightly been called "phantom savings" by the Washington Post:
By projecting war spending far in the future, the administration is
able to claim credit for saving money it never intended to spend.
(Imagine taking credit for saving money on buying a new car every year,
even though you intended to keep your car for 10 years.) Rather than good arithmetic, independent budget analysts called the maneuver “a major budget gimmick.”
This ad is apparently Obama's final big appeal in a number of swing states. He's counting on this to help him win in November. What does it say about the electorate and the media if this compilation of empty promises and misleading nonsense actually works?