A very disturbing ad is making the conservative rounds, featuring a glimpse into a so-called future where China is inexplicably mocking the United States of 2010. I saw this ad over on The Consumer Trap today, where the overt racism is decried. Setting the racism aside (I can't imagine any self-respecting actor of Chinese descent signing up for this commercial) this ad is full of ridiculous misrepresentations and misdirection.
First off, the presenter suggests that America fails because they "turn their back on the principles that make them great." I don't disagree with this basic premise, we're in a lot of trouble right now because we've done exactly that, turning our back on the principles of the 20th century that saw us rise to world prominence. From 1936 to 1980, our top marginal tax rate was at least 70%... during this time America became the industrial and manufacturing powerhouse that won WWII and lead the technological revolution for the world. We turned our back on this progressive tax code in the 1980s, and the massive tax cuts of 2001 continue to ravage our economy today.
Unfortunately, this isn't what the message is in the commercial. As an example of the "turning our back" idea, they list the US Stimulus package, and refer to it as "so-called" and "massive". This idea is ridiculous on the surface, as China enacted a much larger stimulus package at the same time as ours (representing 1/6 of China's economic output), 38% of which was directed toward infrastructure improvements.
The ad also decries the health care overhaul of the Obama administration, a convenient talking point of the right, which is entirely out of context when comparing our industry-oriented reforms to China's state-based free insurance. If the right's suggestion that Obama has made US health care state-run were true, wouldn't the Chinese applaud this change to something more similar to theirs?
Finally, the commercial makes the point that US debt is largely owned by China. While this is partially true (they hold 20.6% of our outstanding foreign debt) they own less of us than Japan and the UK combined, neither of which would take a pro-US stance versus China. On top of this, a large majority of our debt is held domestically, with foreign debt making up less than $5 trillion of the $13 trillion debt. The implication in the ad, of course, is that Obama and progressives are somehow responsible for China holding our debt, when a majority of our outstanding debt was accumulated under President Bush. Not to mention that China holds a smaller percentage of our debt today than they did at the beginning of the Obama administration.
Unfortunately, none of these facts are convenient for the anti-tax anti-spending message of the commercial, and it's not likely people will go to the work of researching this information for themselves. It's much easier to ignore the facts and stir up emotions when people are justifiably afraid that our country has fallen behind in many areas. This commercial, sadly, blames the very things that could help us catch back up with China and the world.