OLIVER WILLIS/Media Matters for America
Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and other conservative outlets are falsely claiming that President Obama, while discussing his own economic policies, said "we tried our plan -- and it worked." This quote has been taken out of context and distorted. Obama was referring to economic policies during the Clinton administration that taxed high income earners at a higher rate than they are currently charged. When Obama said "it worked," he was referring to low unemployment and strong economic growth when these rates were higher. Obama has advocated a return to Clinton-era tax rates for high income earners.
Slate's Dave Weigel, who described conservatives' editing of Obama's comments as "insanely misleading," points to Obama's full quote:
OBAMA: I'm running because I believe you can't reduce the deficit -- which is a serious problem, we've got to deal with it -- but we can't reduce it without asking folks like me who have been incredibly blessed to give up the tax cuts that we've been getting for a decade. (Applause.) I'll cut out government spending that's not working, that we can't afford, but I'm also going to ask anybody making over $250,000 a year to go back to the tax rates they were paying under Bill Clinton, back when our economy created 23 million new jobs -- (applause) -- the biggest budget surplus in history and everybody did well.Just like we've tried their plan, we tried our plan -- and it worked. That's the difference. (Applause.) That's the choice in this election. That's why I'm running for a second term.
In order to argue that Obama is out of touch on economic issues -- a message that is nearly identical to the one pushed by Romney's campaign -- conservative media figures have spent the week removing all of the context from Obama's comments and juxtaposing them with the current high unemployment rate.
Though conservatives are using the distorted Obama quote to label the administration as out of touch, Obama has consistently acknowledged that "we're still not creating [jobs] as fast as we want." For example, a speechfrom Obama on the day the June 2012 jobs report was released:
And today, we're still fighting our way back from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The economy is growing again, but it's not growing as fast as we want it to grow. Our businesses have created almost 4.3 million new jobs over the last 27 months, but as we learned in today's jobs report, we're still not creating them as fast as we want. And just like this time last year, our economy is still facing some serious headwinds. We had high gas prices a month, two months ago, and they're starting to come down, and they were spiking, but they're still hitting people's wallets pretty hard. That has an impact. And then, most prominently, most recently, we've had a crisis in Europe's economy that is having an impact worldwide, and it's starting to cast a shadow on our own as well. So we've got a lot of work to do before we get to where we need to be. And all these factors have made it even more challenging to not just fully recover, but also lay the foundation for an economy that's built to last over the long term.
On July 24, the conservative Washington Examiner was apparently the first to note Obama's new comments, omitting the context:
Discussing his economic policies at a fundraiser in Oakland, California, last night, President Obama, told supporters that "we tried our plan -- and it worked.""We tried that and it didn't work," Obama said of Mitt Romney's proposed tax cuts and spending cuts, which he dismissed as a Bush-style "top down" economic policy. "Just like we've tried their plan, we tried our plan -- and it worked," he added later in the speech. "That's the difference. That's the choice in this election. That's why I'm running for a second term."
The same day, Glenn Beck's news site, The Blaze, also promoted the misleading quote:
Speaking at a fundraiser in California on Monday night, President Obama touted his economic policies, saying"we tried our plan -- and it worked," The Washington Examiner reports. At the same time, Obama dismissed presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney's proposed tax cuts and spending cuts as the same Bush-style "top down" economic policy that have failed in the past.
That night, Obama's distorted comments predictably made the leap to Fox News and Fox Business, with Sean Hannity and Lou Dobbs both airing truncated video of Obama's remarks.
From Fox News' Hannity, July 24 (via Nexis):
HANNITY: All right. So, he hasn't -- you know, if you look at his record, he has played a lot of gulf, has a ton of fund-raising, a lot of Hollywood friends. Anna Wintour, Sarah Jessica Parker. All right. We know what he's been doing. So, the President goes out today, I am going to play two cuts back to back. He says, we don't need top-down economics, he's playing the class warfare card. And then he claims that his plan worked. Let me roll these for you.(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)OBAMA: We don't need more top-down economics. I've got a different view. I believe that the way you grow the economy is from the middle out.(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)I believe that you grow the economy from the bottom up. I believe that when work and people are doing well, the country does well.Just like we tried their plan, we have tried our plan and it worked. That's the difference.(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)That's the choice in this election. That's why I'm running for a second term.(END VIDEO CLIP)
From Fox Business' Lou Dobbs Tonight, July 24 (via Nexis):
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My opponent's entire plan, his whole plan for economic renewal, is more tax cuts for the wealthy.But here's the problem. We tried that and it didn't work. Just like we've tried their plan, we've tried our plan, and it worked. That's the difference.(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)OBAMA: That's the choice in this election.(END VIDEO CLIP)DOBBS: Hard to believe that Mr. Obama would tell an Oakland audience how well his plan is doing, with that city suffering an unemployment rate of nearly 14 percent, more than 5 percentage points above the national average. Imagine!
Limbaugh followed suit the next day, using the dishonest clip to argue that Obama "said his plan is working." From The Rush Limbaugh Show, July 25:
LIMBAUGH: Folks, it's working! Barack Obama said his plan is working. It's Monday night in Oakland during a campaign speech.OBAMA: Just like we've tried their plan, we've tried our plan, and it worked. That's the difference. That's the choice in this election. That's why I'm running for a second term.LIMBAUGH: The god reverb is back. Notice that? But he said, "Just like we've tried their plan, we tried our plan, and it worked. That's the difference. That's the choice in this election. That's why I'm running for a second term." It's why, precisely, he should not be elected for a second term. Now, the question is: Does he really believe this? I'm gonna play this again. This sounds like somebody reading it off the prompter. This doesn't sound like somebody who really believes it. I put myself in his shoes.If the economy on my watch is a disaster -- and it's a disaster because my policies have made it such -- and somebody sends me out there to talk about how it's working, I have too much conscience to be able to pull that off with any believability. So you have to look at the context, the precious context. If he says it's working, and if he means it, then that means something dangerous. Here, listen to it again.OBAMA: Just like we've tried their plan, we've tried our plan, and it worked. That's the difference. That's the choice in this election. That's why I'm running for a second term.RUSH: That is quite an admission. I don't know how else to look at this. He is admitting that this has been the plan all along, and that everything's going right. Everything's going according to plan.
On his website, Limbaugh embedded a video from the Republican Party, which is also trumpeting a misleadingvideo of the out of context quote.
National Review's Jim Geraghty embedded the same RNC video distorting Obama's remarks and claimed, "Between 'the private sector is doing fine,' 'you didn't build that' and 'we tried our plan, and it worked,' the president sounds unhinged."
HotAir's Ed Morissey also embedded the RNC's misleading video and categorized the out of context quote as the "Obamateurism of the Day." Morissey contrasted Obama's comment with current economic statistics and asked, "I guess that's Mission Accomplished in the era of Hope and Change, eh?"
Writing at Michelle Malkin's blog, Doug Ross used the RNC video and juxtaposed it with testimony from Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner about ongoing problems with the economy, again using the false implication that Obama was discussing the current economy. Ross wrote, "If the plan is working, I'm afraid to ask what the plan is."
It's getting to the point where you have to assume any time Fox News, Limbaugh, and the rest of the conservative media are trumpeting a "gotcha" quote from President Obama, they've omitted the context and are twisting it beyond recognition.