Las Vegas Sun

July 31, 2015

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election 2012:

Line of Attack: Is this really the weakest recovery ever?

Editor’s note: Line of Attack is a feature that will run each week until the Nov. 6 election. In Line of Attack, we will parse a political attack, looking at the strategy behind it, how the campaign is delivering it and what facts support or refute it. We’ll assign it a rating on the fairness meter: Legit, Eye Roll, Guffaw, Laughable or Outrageous.

Attack: This is the worst economic recovery American has ever had.

Method of delivery: The televised ad from Crossroads GPS, an independent conservative group, uses CBS News anchor Scott Pelley to deliver the attack. “Good evening,” Pelley said in the July 17 broadcast. “This is the worst economic recovery America has ever had.” The ad then cuts to a list of bad economic news: job losses, skyrocketing unemployment, failed promises by President Barack Obama. Then a narrator articulates the whole point of the attack: “The results of President Obama’s failed stimulus policies.”

Strategy: The economy’s sluggish recovery from the Great Recession is the most lethal yoke opponents have to tie around Obama’s neck. Although the ad doesn’t blame the president for the crash that took place in 2008, before Obama took office, it holds him accountable for failing to turn the ship around.

Fairness meter: Obama and Democrats have conceded their frustration that the recovery has not resulted in enough jobs and that unemployment is too high.

But there’s no evidence to back up the assertion, repeated by Crossroads GPS, that this is the worst recovery in American history.

It’s not clear where Pelley gets the assertion that this is “the worst economic recovery America has ever had.” The rest of the CBS News segment focuses on Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, predicting that job growth would be sluggish.

A CBS News representative declined to comment to the Las Vegas Sun. A Crossroads spokesman did not provide any historical backup.

Elliott Parker, professor of economics at UNR, ran some numbers after the Las Vegas Sun brought the attack to his attention.

By his calculation, the recovery after the 2001 recession was slower, as measured by private gross domestic product, than the current recovery.

A separate analysis of Department of Commerce numbers by The Wall Street Journal late last month said the recovery was the second-weakest post-war, behind the 1980-81 recovery.

And that’s not even looking back to America’s earlier history, including the Great Depression.

Even Mitt Romney, in June 2011, couched his criticism of the economy’s recovery by saying: “This is the slowest job recovery since (former President Herbert) Hoover.”

Romney’s more modest claim of truncating history was deemed false by the nonpartisan website PolitiFact.

We rate this attack Laughable.

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