PolitiFact: It's "half true" that unemployment in Massachusetts declined to 4.7% under Romney, even though it's totally true

I don’t care about PolitiFact any more than you do, but conservatives are having so much fun on Twitter with this dumb spin — check the #PolitifactRatings hashtag and just keep scrolling — that a post is obligatory.

Hey, you know how every politician who’s ever lived tends to take credit for job growth that happened while he was in office? We’re lucky enough to live in an age when media fact-checkers will devote entire stories to countering such claims by pointing out that (a) economic growth and unemployment are complicated phenomena and (b) rarely can any one pol do much to influence them. Good work, PolitiFact. Coming soon: The companion piece in which Obama is completely absolved for three-plus years of grinding economic dreariness. Note the boldfaced bit below; they’re already inching towards it.

The ad — which combines stirring music, footage of welders and forklift drivers and images of Romney gladhandling with factory employees — was released June 8, 2012. “Romney,” the ad says, “reduced unemployment to just 4.7 percent.”

We checked Bureau of Labor Statistics data and found that the statistic was correct. The low point for the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate during Romney’s tenure was 4.7 percent. (It happened during Romney’s final full month in office, December 2006.)…

Gary Burtless, an economist with the Brookings Institution, said the policies of governors, presidents and mayors can affect job creation, but they play a small role in the overall picture

In fact, the way the Romney campaign phrased the claim we’re checking is particularly bold. It doesn’t say that “under Romney, unemployment declined,” or “due to Romney’s policies, unemployment declined,” or “in Massachusetts, we reduced unemployment.” The ad we’re checking says simply that “Romney reduced unemployment,” as if no other factors mattered.

…Yeah, good point. If not for PolitiFact, who knows how many people might have watched Romney’s ad and concluded that he personally knocked a point off of unemployment unaided by anyone or anything else? Oh, wait, I know: Zero. Zero people would have concluded that.

Look on the bright side, though: At least they gave a rating this time. When they tackled The One’s youthful dog-eating, they couldn’t bear to slap a “true” sticker on it. Via Guy Benson, here’s Krugman characterizing the current malaise as a “depression,” which Guy contrasts with O’s now infamous statement in February 2009 that if he didn’t turn the economy around in three years, he’d be looking at a one-term presidency. I’ll slap a “true” sticker on that one.

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