Slate’s Dave Weigel argued today that it takes President Obama’s comment in Oakland – “we tried our plan — and it worked” – is being taken out of context to create a false perception that the president believes his policies fixed the (still bad) economy.

“Obama wasn’t talking, at this moment, about his own economic record. He was arguing that the economy had grown and the deficit had shrunk when marginal tax rates were higher,” Weigel writes today. “So the truncated version of the Obama quote is insanely misleading. At best, it’ll only appear in $10.4 million or so of TV ads.” (Aside: apologies for truncating the Weigel paragraph, which contains other good points).

Obama did mention the Clinton tax rates, before saying “it worked,” but he also touted the auto industry bailouts immediately after that comment (excerpt from the White House transcript is below). On Tuesday, I argued that the plan in question was the auto bailout plan, not the tax plan, but there is some ambiguity here. ‘Plan’ could refer to the Clinton rates or the bailouts. No doubt, Obama believes that both “worked.”

As for the campaign ad significance of this comment: NRO’s Jim Geraghty suggested that “it worked” might be more haunting than the “you didn’t build that” line. I tend to disagree, if only because Obama will be staring out of the TV saying “you didn’t build that” to people watching the ads. Also, it’s not just “you didn’t build that;” it’s  also Obama saying “I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.”

Here’s  the transcript for “it worked,” as promised:

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.

When the American auto industry was on the brink of collapse, more than 1 million jobs were on the line, Governor Romney said, we should just “let Detroit go bankrupt.”


THE PRESIDENT:  I refused to turn my back on a great industry and American workers.  I bet on American workers.  I bet on American manufacturing.  Three years later, the American auto industry has come roaring back.  (Applause.)  And what happens in the auto industry can happen in other industries.