Video: The cost of Obama's broken promises

From the American Action Network comes a cool new video that quantifies Obama’s broken promises to reduce the deficit by half and to hold unemployment to less than 8 percent:

I call this a “cool” new video because I like its faded color palette and urgent background music — but the reality it conveys is decidedly uncool. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, the chief economist of President George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers, summarizes the substance of the video:

As the president took office, his advisers released an analysis that promised his stimulus bill would prevent the unemployment rate from rising over 8 percent.  Obviously it has not.  For example, in October 2009 the rate was 10.0 percent, 2.1 percent above the rate promised by the president.  That 2.1 percent translates into 3.3 million more workers out of work that month than the president promised. Using the average hourly earnings in that month, the lost jobs in November translated to $11.2 billion in lost wages in one month alone.

Of course, these wage losses have accumulated from the beginning of the Obama administration to the present, as unemployment continues to exceed the president’s promise.  What is the cost of this ongoing broken promise?  The price tag easily exceeds $400 billion in lost wages.

As another example, recall that in 2009 the president promised that he would cut the budget deficit in half by the end of his term in office.  At the time, the deficit was over $1.4 trillion.  This implies that by 2012 the deficit would be $706 billion, and a straightforward connecting of the dots suggests targets of $1.2 trillion in 2010, and $942 in 2011.  Of course, the President has made no serious effort in this regard.  Every budget deficit is over $1 trillion on his watch, with that in 2012 now expected to be $1.3 trillion.

What is the gap between promise and reality?  Adding it up, the president’s disinterest in taming deficits has cost $1.1 trillion dollars.  That’s a pricey flip-flop.

The 2012 election has been billed as the “jobs and economy” election, but, recently, the White House has done a masterful job at distracting voters from the economy with the so-called contraception mandate. Still, a president’s economic performance in an election year has always been and continues to be an important predictor of elections. Unfortunately for Republicans, performance change matters more than absolute performance and, lately, the news has made it sound as though the president has helped the economy to round a corner. Ruy Teixeira sums it up:

Recent economic performance by these standard measures has been fairly good: The unemployment rate fell from 9 percent in September of last year to 8.3 percent this January; job growth accelerated steadily from 112,000 last October to 243,000 in January; and the overall economy grew by 3 percent in the last quarter of 2011, up from 1.8 percent the previous quarter. Current projections of economic growth for 2012 are in the 2.5 to 3 percent range. Based on these projections, models that incorporate GDP growth tend to see an Obama victory this November. Nate Silver’s model, for example, gives Obama a 60 percent chance of winning, given a 2.5 percent growth rate this year and current job approval levels.

Now, then, is when it is most important to examine the entirety of Obama’s economic record. Let’s not forget that unemployment was lowest under Obama on his first day in office. Let’s not forget that the real unemployment rate even now is at least 11 percent. Let’s not forget that, under Obama’s latest budget, the government would run as great a deficit as it has under every other year he has been president.

In 2008, Obama was rewarded for his cheap rhetorical promises. In 2012, let’s hold him accountable for breaking them.

Update: This post originally said the video came from the American Action Forum, when, in fact, it came from the American Action Network. The post has been corrected above — my apologies for the mistake! Also, check out this cool website for more on the discrepancies between Obama’s words and his actions. I’m beginning to think a politician who keeps his promises exists in the same universe as the Loch Ness monster.

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