FactCheck Attacks DNC Attacks on McCain

Can someone tell the clowns at FactCheck to please change their name?

The Democratic National Committee has produced two TV ads against McCain, hoping to soften him up while the party figures out who its own presidential nominee will be. One ad shows selected portions of McCain’s comments that a 100-year U.S. presence in Iraq would be “fine with me.” The ad uses dramatic images of war and violence, and omits any mention that McCain was speaking of a peaceful presence like that in Japan or Korea. An earlier ad attacks McCain for saying the nation’s economy is “prosperous” and “better off overall” than eight years ago. The ad uses a couple of incorrect statistics to argue otherwise. It says the country has lost 1.8 million jobs when, in fact, it has gained nearly 5.4 million, and it says gasoline prices have risen 200 percent, when the actual figure is 139 percent.

FactCheck notes that McCain also said the following:

That would be fine with me, as long as Americans, as long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed. It’s fine with me and I hope it would be fine with you if we maintain a presence in a very volatile part of the world.

Yes – the DNC did not mention the part about Americans not being harmed. Bit if we maintain our troops in this “very volatile part of the world”, the chances that they will not be harmed are about zero.

FactCheck notes that payroll employment has increased by almost 5.4 million since January 2001, which they tout as an indication that McCain’s statement that we are better off than we were eight years ago (closer to seven, I guess) is correct. But a modest absolute increase in employment is a really stupid metric for an economy that has had population growth. Jeff Frankel recently posted on how we should be looking at the employment to population ratio, see let’s do that. It was 64.4% as of January 2001 but was only 62.6% last month. That sounds like we are worse off. But to be fair, the FactCheck crowd did end with this:

But it doesn’t mean that many jobs were lost, it means that the job gain didn’t keep pace with the number of persons who are seeking work. The ad would have been correct to say that there are “1.8 million more unemployed.” That stark statistic doesn’t contradict McCain’s statement that lots of jobs were created, however. It means not enough were created to satisfy the need.

On the gasoline price issue, FactCheck notes:

The price of regular gasoline at the pump has gone from $1.47 per gallon the week Bush was sworn in to $3.51 the week the ad appeared, according to the Energy Information Administration. That’s an increase of $2.04 per gallon, which is 139 percent of the starting price. The DNC picked the week ending Dec. 3, 2001, as its starting point – long after Bush took office. By that time the price of regular had dipped to $1.11 as Americans curtailed travel in the weeks following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Using that figure does produce a 200 percent increase, but that’s not the change that has occurred since Bush was sworn in.

If you wish to see gasoline prices by month, check this source. Ten years ago, the price of a gallon of gasoline was only $1.03. It seems FactCheck forgot to tell us that their starting point was a period where gasoline prices were seen as quite high by the public at the time.