Political ad draws Democrats’ ire in Ohio

10/29/2012
BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
President Barack Obama waves to supporters on the tarmac before getting into his limousine after arriving at Orlando International Airport in Orlando, Fla., Sunday.
President Barack Obama waves to supporters on the tarmac before getting into his limousine after arriving at Orlando International Airport in Orlando, Fla., Sunday.

One of the many super PACs that are pouring millions into advertising for the presidential election just a few days away hit the Toledo market with a newspaper ad that Democrats are decrying as full of half-truths and lies.

Empower Citizens Network PAC, which is registered in Akron, purchased a full-page advertisement in The Blade’s Oct. 25 edition making many claims against President Obama and Democrats.

Related story: Romney ads stops in northwest Ohio

Among the claims made by the ad is that the Obamas throw lavish parties at the White House for “socialist friends” that include flying in $100-per-pound Kobe beef from Japan; the President’s $800 billion stimulus did not produce any net jobs, and that “this deep recession was not caused by the Bush tax cuts, Republican lax regulation, or Wall Street greed.”

Instead, it said the nation’s financial troubles were caused by the subprime mortgage collapse that it says was created by Democrats. It blamed presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama, along with Janet Reno, Franklin Raines, Chris Dodd, and Barney Frank.

Obama campaign staff and other Democratic leaders in Ohio said the ad was an attempt to trick voters.

“This super PAC ad is about as bogus as they come and Ohioans won’t be fooled by its outright mistruths,” Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Meredith Tucker said.

“The fact of the matter is that President Obama has a plan to move this country forward by creating an economy that has a strong middle class at its core, by supporting small businesses and keeping good-paying jobs here in Ohio, not outsourcing them overseas as Governor Romney has done at Bain Capital, a firm that represented companies who were called ‘pioneers in outsourcing.’ ”

Like other Democrats, including former President Clinton at the Democratic National Convention, Ms. Tucker put the blame on the Republican presidents who occupied the White House the last two decades.

Robert Warther, who is listed as the treasurer for Empower Citizens Network in Akron, declined to comment and did not follow through with promises to make a spokesman available.

The ad stated: “While we suffer, the Obamas take multimillion dollar vacations around the world.

According to Factcheck.org, presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush spent more time on vacation during their first year than President Obama did. Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton also spent less time on vacation.

The ad also stated “this deep recession” was not caused by the Bush tax cuts. It instead goes back to blame President Carter, who signed the Community Reinvestment Act into law which was passed by the Democratic Congress in the late 1970s.

“The Community Reinvestment Act provided home mortgages to people who did not qualify for mortgages,” the ad stated. “Bill Clinton and his Attorney General Janet Reno threatened banks with legal action if they did not give mortgages to people who could not afford the payments. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac then bought up the majority of these bad mortgages and cooked the books so their Democrat-appointed executives could get millions of dollars in bonuses.”

It is widely accepted that people bought homes they could not afford because it was believed house values could only increase. And it is also widely accepted that the housing downturn that started in 2006 was the primary cause of the economic collapse.

There are various theories to what led to the financial crisis of 2008.

Raghuram Rajan, a University of Chicago economist who warned before the collapse that Wall Street was out of control, in his book Fault Lines said it was caused by income inequality and lack of social services, such as health care.

Many analysts find former Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Alan Greenspan at fault for a variety of reasons, which include keeping interest rates too low between 2003 and 2005 as the real estate and credit bubbles inflated.

Others place heavier blame on credit rating agencies Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s.

According to the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council, the Community Reinvestment Act was enacted by Congress in 1977 and was “intended to encourage depository institutions to help meet the credit needs of the communities in which they operate.”

Claims that the Community Reinvestment Act caused the crisis have been debunked since most subprime loans were made by independent lenders that were not subject to the law.

University of Michigan law professor Michael Barr testified before the House Financial Services Committee in February, 2007, that “More than half of subprime loans were made by independent mortgage companies not subject to comprehensive federal supervision; another 30 percent of such originations were made by affiliates of banks or thrifts, which are not subject to routine examination or supervision, and the remaining 20 percent were made by banks and thrifts.”

The lengthy super PAC ad also alleges that President Obama’s and the Democrats’ “socialist policies have already added $5 trillion to the nation’s debt. They created high unemployment, crashing home values, high food prices, and high gas prices.”

Data from the Bureau of Public Debt at the Treasury Department shows the debt increased $4.899 trillion during the two terms of the Bush presidency and it increased about $5 trillion since President Obama took office — putting the national debt at about $16 trillion.

The ad also claims that President Obama’s $800 billion stimulus packaged “did not produce any net jobs” and that “the majority of the money went to state government union members as a political payback because unions gave Democrats donations out of union dues.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry made the same claim in September, 2011, which sparked a number of fact-checking missions from media groups and nonpartisan economists — most of whom found that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which estimates the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, also known as the stimulus bill, “increased the number of people employed by between 1.4 million and 3.3 million” in the second quarter of 2010 alone.

The ad also paints the President’s health-care law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as a tax that took $716 billion out of Medicare “to pay for free health care for freeloaders, many of which are illegal aliens.”

These claims are commonly said by opponents of the law and the President.

Fact-checking the claim has been tough and debunked claims are later debunked.

While many say the health-care law is a tax increase, they also say it will chiefly affect wealthy Americans.

Included in the law is a 0.9 percent surcharge on the Medicare taxes paid on wages of $200,000 annually for people who file as a single or $250,000 for married couples who file jointly. There is also a 3.8 percent tax on unearned income of over $250,000 — such as dividends and capital gains.

There are also new taxes or fees on medical devices, drug manufacturers, and medical-device importers.

However, Chief Justice John Roberts defined the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as a tax.

“The Affordable Care Act’s requirement that certain individuals pay a financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance may reasonably be characterized as a tax,” he wrote when joining four liberal justices in upholding the key provision of the health-care law.

Contact Ignazio Messina at:

imessina@theblade.com

or 419-724-6171.