The Corner

Yet More Padding of the Resume

Barack Obama has now released his second national ad, which is essentially a shorter version of the first. He has taken out the dishonest reference to his passing a bill in Congress to extend health care to wounded soldiers, so all the substantive claims made in the new ad about his legislative accomplishments are about laws he is said to have passed in the Illinois legislature, not the U.S. Senate.

The ad first says Obama “passed a law that moved people from welfare to work” and offers as a citation Illinois Public Act 90-0017 from 1997. That act made some amendments to the Illinois welfare statutes to bring them into line with the federal welfare reform enacted in the previous year. It replaced references to AFDC (the previous federal welfare program) with references to TANF (the new one), and put the new federal welfare reform rules into the state code. Obama was one of the co-sponsors of the act, but in the debate surrounding it he actually said the state was basically forced into it by a federal law he would have opposed (“I probably would not have supported the federal legislation, because I think it has some problems. But I’m a strong believer in making lemonade out of lemons.”) But the ad makes it sound like it was Obama’s idea, and then says that he “slashed the rolls by 80 percent,” thus taking credit for the declining welfare rolls achieved by the federal law Obama would have opposed (it cites HHS statistics for that decline, and those trace the results of the federal welfare reform).

Next the ad says Obama “passed tax cuts for workers” and cites Illinois Public Act 91-0700 from 2000. The Act in question was a version of the earned income tax credit. Obama was not the sponsor of the legislation, but was one of 43 co-sponsors (more than two-thirds of the members of the Illinois Senate), and there don’t seem to be references to him in the debate or in the statement the governor made when signing the bill.

Finally, the ad says Obama passed “health care for kids” and cites Public Act 93-0063, from 2003. That law did expand eligibility for the state’s existing children and family health insurance program, and Obama was its sponsor, so the statement here is well within the bounds of routine stretching, and I think we can call that one legitimate.

So who says Obama has had no legislative accomplishments? He has had one, sort of. The rest is padding.

Yuval Levin is the director of social, cultural, and constitutional studies at the American Enterprise Institute and the editor of National Affairs.

Most Popular

U.S.

Zoomers and the Constitution

A 2019 study by the Pew Research Center compared generational views on key social and political issues, focusing on the similarities between Millennials and Generation Z. The topics probed include race relations, diversity, climate change, capitalism, socialism, and the role of government. This last item, ... Read More
U.S.

Zoomers and the Constitution

A 2019 study by the Pew Research Center compared generational views on key social and political issues, focusing on the similarities between Millennials and Generation Z. The topics probed include race relations, diversity, climate change, capitalism, socialism, and the role of government. This last item, ... Read More
Elections

Is the Biden Campaign Struggling?

On the menu today: a long, long list of Democrats warning that the Biden campaign may not be as strong as it looks in key states and among key demographics; another former White House staffer comes out and denounces the president, offering a hard lesson about how personnel is policy; and a long look at the ... Read More
Elections

Is the Biden Campaign Struggling?

On the menu today: a long, long list of Democrats warning that the Biden campaign may not be as strong as it looks in key states and among key demographics; another former White House staffer comes out and denounces the president, offering a hard lesson about how personnel is policy; and a long look at the ... Read More
Media

How American Journalism Died

In 2017, the liberal Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University found that 93 percent of CNN’s coverage of the Trump administration was negative. The center found similarly negative Trump coverage at other major news outlets. The election year 2020 has only accelerated ... Read More
Media

How American Journalism Died

In 2017, the liberal Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University found that 93 percent of CNN’s coverage of the Trump administration was negative. The center found similarly negative Trump coverage at other major news outlets. The election year 2020 has only accelerated ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Enough of ‘Orange Man Bad’

The Trump era has brought its own unique vocabulary: Never Trump, anti-anti-Trump, Deep State, QAnon, “The Resistance,” Podbros, Trump Derangement Syndrome, and of course, MAGA, to name just a few. But by far the most useless phrase to emerge over the last few years is “Orange Man Bad.” If you follow ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Enough of ‘Orange Man Bad’

The Trump era has brought its own unique vocabulary: Never Trump, anti-anti-Trump, Deep State, QAnon, “The Resistance,” Podbros, Trump Derangement Syndrome, and of course, MAGA, to name just a few. But by far the most useless phrase to emerge over the last few years is “Orange Man Bad.” If you follow ... Read More

The Last Days of Robin Williams

After Robin Williams hanged himself in 2014, the media speculated that financial troubles or depression related to drug or alcohol use might have been the cause. Without discussing those topics, Williams’s widow, Susan Schneider Williams, is eager to set the record straight and does so in Robin’s Wish, a ... Read More

The Last Days of Robin Williams

After Robin Williams hanged himself in 2014, the media speculated that financial troubles or depression related to drug or alcohol use might have been the cause. Without discussing those topics, Williams’s widow, Susan Schneider Williams, is eager to set the record straight and does so in Robin’s Wish, a ... Read More