A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Extras: Allentown, Palin, E-mails


This round-up of political tidbits includes an ad pegged to the president’s visit to Allentown, Sarah Palin on Obama’s birth certificate and more chain e-mails.

Working Where in Allentown?

When President Barack Obama traveled to Allentown, Pa., Friday morning to discuss job creation, the Republican National Committee welcomed him with a radio spot questioning the effectiveness of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Unfortunately, by Friday the ad was a day late and a few hundred thousand jobs short. It says the "stimulus plan didn’t stimulate the economy … unemployment has actually GONE UP twenty five percent since then." The GOP used October’s Bureau of Labor Statistics unemployment numbers when it cut the ad, which began airing the day before the president’s visit. That month there were 15.7 million unemployed Americans, as opposed to 12.5 million in February, when the law was signed — a difference of a shade over 25 percent.

But Friday morning BLS released new figures, showing that in November, unemployment was down to 15.4 million, creating a new difference of 23 percent since February. 

Of course, the BLS figures do not count those who have given up looking for work or those who have found part-time employment, as the folks at Mint.com, the financial management website, explain in this nifty little video

Either way, the ad’s claim that the stimulus cost "nearly a trillion dollars, and we’re still going in the wrong direction" might be a bit premature. Three-quarters of the stimulus’ $787 billion have not been spent yet, according to the Congressional Budget Office. 


Palin, Birthers, Facebook

Sarah Palin appeared on conservative Rusty Humphries’ radio program last Thursday and the topic of Obama’s birth certificate came up. Humphries asked if she thought it was a fair question to be looking at, and she said she did.

Obama is an American citizen. Our archive is filled with reporting about all the different ways this false allegation has popped up. But if you are still interested or unsure, you can always view the short form birth certificate with our original dispatch here.  

Even Palin ultimately agrees. She posted a note to her Facebook profile late Thursday night, writing, "at no point – not during the campaign, and not during recent interviews – have I asked the president to produce his birth certificate or suggested that he was not born in the United States."


Bunkmail

And we’re still getting e-mails asking:

  • If Congress is about to give illegal immigrants Social Security benefits. No, they are not. We wrote about this chain e-mail in March 2009 and explained that no benefits could legally be paid to illegal immigrants. The e-mail’s claims mischaracterize debate over immigration legislation in 2006, something we originally caught Republicans doing that year. We’ve even put this item on our Hot Topics page. But folks keep asking, so we’ll keep correcting. 
  • If Congress will collect a pay increase while imposing a benefit freeze on senior citizens. We just pointed out in September that this one isn’t true and that the real culprit for no increase in Social Security benefits is volatile oil prices.