Barack Obama was less than upfront in his half-hour ad Wednesday night about the costs of his programs and the crushing budget pressures he would face in office.
His 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 to specify what those programs are – beyond the withdrawal of troops from Iraq.
A sampling of what was in the ad:
The spin: “My health care plan includes improving information technology, requires coverage for preventive care and pre-existing conditions and lowers health care costs for the typical family by $2,500 a year.”
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The facts: His plan does not lower premiums by any set amount. Obama hopes that by spending $50 billion over five years on electronic medical records and by improving access to disease management programs, among other steps, consumers will save money. He uses an optimistic analysis to suggest cost reductions in national health care spending could amount to the equivalent of $2,500 for a family of four. Many economists are skeptical those savings can be achieved, but even if they are, it's not a certainty that every savings would be passed on in the form of lower premiums.
The spin: “I've offered spending cuts above and beyond their cost.”
The facts: Analysts say both Obama and John McCain would deepen the deficit. The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates Obama's policy proposals would add a net $428 billion to the deficit over four years – and that analysis accepts the savings he claims from spending cuts. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center whose other findings have been quoted approvingly by the Obama campaign, says: “Both John McCain and Barack Obama have proposed tax plans that would substantially increase the national debt over the next 10 years.”