You read that headline correctly.
Here are a few excerpts…
#6. “When Mitt Romney was governor, Massachusetts was No. 1 in state debt. $18 billion in debt. More debt per person than any other state in the country.” — from an attack ad titled “Number One” that was posted June 12, 2012 on the Obama campaign’s official YouTube page
While this statement is factually accurate, it leaves out a big part of the picture.
Massachusetts owed a notoriously large state debt for a long time, certainly before Romney ever set foot in the governor’s office. Part of the reason the Bay State’s debt is so high, as PolitiFact points out, is because many projects that in other states would be funded by counties are funded by the state in Massachusetts.
Secondly, as anyone who’s ever lived in Massachusetts will tell you, “the Big Dig” — a highway and tunnel construction project that was started in the 1980s and has cost over $20 billion — has been a budgetary nightmare for decades. The Boston Globe estimates the project won’t be paid off until 2038 at the earliest. No matter who’s governor of Massachusetts, the Big Dig is still an incredibly expensive project, with the interest alone costing the state billions….
#3. “[Under Romney] Massachusetts plunged to 47th in job creation.” — David Axelrod, Obama campaign senior advisor, on CBS’s ‘Face The Nation,’ June 3, 2012
Romney’s been pummeled with this statistic, first during the Republican primaries and now by the Obama campaign (see here, here and here). Factually, it’s accurate to say that Massachusetts was 47th out of 50 states for job growth from December 2002 through December 2006 — PolitiFact verified the statement using Bureau of Labor Statistics. But there are different ways of looking at the numbers, and, as noted above, Romney inherited a state that was already in deep economic trouble.
While the rate of job growth in Massachusetts was lower than the rate for the country as a whole during that time, the number of jobs in the state did increase under Romney’s tenure.
The poor state of the Massachusetts economy at the time was a major concern in the gubernatorial debates between Romney and his opponent, Shannon O’Brien. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that Massachusetts had the second-worst increase in unemployment the year before Romney took office. In fact, it placed at No. 50, so saying it “plunged” to No. 47 in job creation is a little misleading. The data also show that unemployment in Massachusetts bottomed-out a few months after Romney was sworn in, and employment began a slow climb upwards from that point until the Great Recession of 2008-2009.
#2. “Our businesses have created almost 4.3 million new jobs over the last 27 months.” — Obama during a presidential address in Golden Valley, Minn. (June 2, 2012)
Obama has made this claim many times recently (see here, here and here, and see Sarah Jessica Parker say it here), but again, he isn’t giving the whole picture. We called Josh Bivens, an analyst at the Economic Policy Institute, to see what the missing context was. Bivens told us that Obama neglected to mention the 500,000 jobs that were lost in the public sector over the same time period.
Obama also started counting from a low point when the private sector job numbers bottomed out — a more useful statistic would be the number of jobs created in the past two years, or perhaps since he took office. And don’t forget, as The New York Times points out, the country still needs to add more jobs to reach the level of employment when Obama was elected.