Politico Adopts False Romney Unemployment Claim

Politico adopted the falsehood pushed by Mitt Romney that President Obama had said he would bring the unemployment rate down to near 5 percent during his first term.

Independent fact-checkers have rated the charge that Obama promised an unemployment rate of around 5 percent as false and misleading. While economists working with Obama projected in 2009 that one version of a stimulus bill would lower the unemployment to that level, the severity of the recession wasn't fully understood at that time, and Obama himself never promised that level of unemployment would be achieved.

Nevertheless Politico claimed that the Obama administration never achieved “its own projections to bring unemployment to 5.4 percent, ” which echoes Romney's claim that Obama promised an unemployment rate of 5.2 percent. From Politico's article:

Four years ago, both Obama and Republican John McCain tried to reach voters with a certain type of appeal: The idea that leadership has an almost mystical quality, created by a rare combination of extraordinary character and biography.

This time, neither Obama nor Romney is making an appeal on such romantic notions of leadership and for good reason--there is no evidence the public would buy it.

In Obama's case, the obstacle is his own mixed record. The power of his rhetoric and biography did nothing to tame Washington's bitter partisan wars, as he had suggested in 2008. Nor did the administration achieve its own projections to bring unemployment down to 5.4 percent by now.

The 5.4 percent projection is a reference to a projection Obama's economic advisers made in 2008 that unemployment would be near 5 percent in 2012 if the stimulus was passed. But the report was produced before the release of data showing that the recession was much worse than was thought at the time.

In August 2011, the Bureau of Economic Analysis estimated that real gross domestic product had declined by 8.9 percent during the fourth quarter of 2008 -- over twice as much as BEA's initial estimate of 3.8 percent. These revised estimates showed that the contraction included “the worst single-quarter decline” in gross domestic product (GDP) since 1958.

In focusing on the January 2009 unemployment prediction, Politico also hides the actual effect of Obama's economic policies on jobs. Since the end of the recession in June 2009, the economy has created about 4 million private sector jobs and the unemployment rate has dropped nearly 2 percent.