Attack Ad Breakdown: Obama Hit With New Karl Rove Ad

Karl Rove’s SuperPAC Crossroads GPS has put out a new attack ad on Barack Obama called “Promise Broken.” In the ad, Karl Rove runs through a number of Obama promises made in the 2008 campaign that have not come to fruition. It’s not a terrible ad, and marks a return to form for Rove, whose last outing with Crossroads GPS was an absolute disaster¬†and didn’t help his buddy Mitt Romney at all.

Is this ad incredibly disingenuous? Of course! But it does a good job of not only targeting the concept of breaking the public trust, a powerful message, but also by exploiting the President’s capacity to inspire voters to accept change, which remains one of the key strengths of President Obama, to cast this as a weakness — essentially style over substance. This attack is one of the few that can provide contrast in this election because, say what you will about his substance, no one thinks Mitt Romney has style.

The ad points to calls for change that Obama made in 2008 and declares these promises broken. But it has one incredibly clever trick — the sources cited that “prove” that Obama has breached his promises are immediately obscured by the effect of shattered glass. It makes it difficult for a casual voter to test each of the assertions that Rove makes. Thankfully, you have me.

Promise 1 — Mortgages

First of all, why does Rove’s knock-off iPad click like turning on a TV from 1960? If he thought that the sound would comfort older voters unfamiliar with iPads, then why have use a tablet at all? The ad plays comments made by candidate Barack Obama in June, 2008 pledging to help homeowners facing foreclosure. Rove responds by saying:


For your benefit, the source is a New York Times article from January 1, 2010. That’s right, the best source Rove could find to describe the gloom and doom of the housing sector was written over TWO YEARS AGO! This should set off alarms for everyone watching the ad. It’s also worth noting that the New York Times article in question specifically notes that only some “experts” thought this and that the Treasury Department felt the plan was on track to help forestall foreclosures while the economy recovered. And lo and behold the Treasury Department has turned out to be right. Certainly the housing market is not in great shape, given that banks fueled a housing bubble that many cannot fully escape, but it’s worth noting that, from experts surveying the housing market ONE MONTH AGO finds that foreclosures have hit a 5-year low. For anyone interested in voting on the matter of mortgages…Mitt Romney said the response should have been to kick more people out of their houses.

Promise 2 — Taxes

In July 2008, Obama promised that families making less than $250,000/year would not see their taxes go up. Rove responds:

OBAMACARE RAISES 18 DIFFERENT TAXES: $503B between 2010 and 2019

Note that this is $50B/year — chump change in Washington — and it’s only aggregated into a 10 year period to artificially make it seem like a frightening number. This claim is from right-wing hack tank, the Heritage Foundation. Actually reading the Heritage Foundation article is essential to prove that Obama actually kept this promise. As the Heritage Foundation outlines all the taxes at issue, the only taxes not on manufacturers, companies and providers are limited to those making more than $250,000/year. The article then performs hurdles to calculate money voluntarily contributed to expensive plans or money no longer eligible for flex accounts as though these were tax increases on the middle class.

Promise 3 — Health Care

Obama explains that citizens will be able to keep their health plan if they want to. Rove replies:


As the cracks on screen continue to grow, this one is very difficult to read. This article references a Congressional Budget Office report and Rove’s quote cuts off the next line, which is:

The figure represents the worst-case scenario, CBO says, and the law could just as well increase the number of people with employer-based coverage by 3 million in 2019.

That was actually considered the most likely result according to the CBO, but Rove banks on no one being able to investigate that fact. Even if true, this worst case scenario doesn’t undermine Obama’s statement which was aimed at those who chose their own health plans. Without Obamacare, if you leave your job, you will lose your employer-provided health plan. Obama said that you get the plan you want, the law does nothing to that plan. If you’re satisfied with leaving the decision in the hands of your employer then so be it, but if your employer dumps you, you will lose that coverage by no fault of the law. Mitt Romney could explain this if he were interested in being honest — it’s how Massachusetts works thanks to him

Promise 4 — Budget Deficit

Obama pledged to cut the budget deficit in half by the end of his first term. Rove says:


This one is actually true…but Obama would have definitely accomplished this promise but for Congressional Republicans. When Republicans talk about balancing the budget through cuts and dismiss tax increases out of hand, they make it sound like both mechanisms are equally powerful in closing the budget deficit. In fact, even tiny tax increases have a massive impact on the budget deficit, while budget cuts must be catastrophic to move the deficit in any serious way. If the Bush tax cuts were eliminated for families making more than $250,000/year AND we factor in the savings of leaving Iraq and drawing down in Afghanistan, Obama will have cut the deficit almost in half — and if he were to really break his promise and raise taxes on those making less than $250,000/year too (which he won’t) he will more than cut the budget deficit in half. It’s really that simple and solves the budget reduction issues completely and immediately. Here’s a chart showing those costs:

And there it is. A powerful attack ad from the master of the genre. Cobbled together out of half-truths and visual effects designed to distract. Make sure you tell everyone you know the truth of this ad so they can fight back against anyone spreading its lies and half-truths in order to help Mitt Romney.

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