AP on Obamamercial: Misleading

I didn’t watch the Obamamercial last night.  I felt poorly enough as it was; I got my flu shot in the morning, and it was so effective that I started feeling flu-like symptoms by late afternoon.  (I usually get a mild reaction from the vaccine, so this was no real surprise.)  Since compounding the symptoms with high blood pressure and a headache seemed like a bad idea, I watched The Last Seduction for the first time in years.  Michelle live-blogged it, and apparently I didn’t miss anything.

The Associated Press watched it too, and surprisingly, the 30-minute infomercial also failed to impress them:

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama was less than upfront in his half-hour commercial Wednesday night about the costs of his programs and the crushing budget pressures he would face in office.

Obama’s assertion that “I’ve offered spending cuts above and beyond” the expense of his promises is accepted only by his partisans. His vow to save money by “eliminating programs that don’t work” masks his failure throughout the campaign to specify what those programs are – beyond the withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

Calvin Woodward reports that Obama misled viewers on at least five key points in his 30-minute final argument:

  • Health care costs – Obama claimed his plan would lower costs by $2500 per year per family, but it doesn’t.  In fact, Obama can’t point to any particular cost reductions.  He plans to spend $50 billion over five years on modernization and chronic-disease prevention and presumes that this will lower costs in the future, but in the meantime it raises costs at least in the short run on everyone (the $50 billion doesn’t come out of thin air).
  • The Pay-Go of his plans – No, he hasn’t demonstrated that he’s found the revenue for his spending, despite his claims last night.  Non-partisan analysts believe that his spending programs will add at least $428 billion to the deficit in his first term, and that’s if you accept his non-specific pledge to cut spending in other areas.
  • Tax cuts for working class families – Before the commercial aired, he had already begun backing away from that idea because of the financial crisis, although Obama didn’t acknowledge it in the ad.
  • The “right” to affordable health care – Obama doesn’t guarantee coverage in any of his plans, at least not for adults.
  • Getting out of Iraq – Obama noted that the US spends $10 billion a month in Iraq and talked again about “bringing that war to a close” — but he’s backed away from his previous pledges to get out on a strict 16-month timetable, which is as fast as the remaining units can be properly withdrawn.

In other words, we didn’t miss much, except for the usual evasions Obama gives on the campaign trail.