In making his case for re-election in the face of historically high unemployment and sluggish growth, President Obama has a simple and straightforward argument.

Things were terrible when I arrived, he says, thanks to Bush-era policies of tax cuts and deregulation. We stopped the decline, but the ditch was so deep that it will take time to get out. Still, we are making progress, even if it isn’t as fast as everyone would like.

So the last thing we want to do is return to the failed Bush policies that, he says, drove us into the ditch. …

But each part of Obama’s argument is based on claims that are not accurate:

• Bush tax cuts and deregulation caused the recession.

At a campaign rally, Obama said Romney is “just churning out the same ideas that we saw in the decade before I took office . . . the same tax cuts and deregulation agenda that helped get us into this mess in the first place.”

It’s a standard Obama talking point. But it’s not true. Bush’s tax cuts did not cause the last recession.

In fact, once they were fully in effect in 2003, they sparked stronger growth — generating more than 8 million new jobs over the next four years, and GDP growth averaging close to 3%.

Those tax cuts didn’t explode the deficit, either, as Obama frequently claims. Deficits steadily declined after 2003, until the recession hit.

Nor was Bush a deregulator. Conservative Heritage Foundation’s regulation expert James Gattuso concluded, after reviewing Bush’s record, that “regulation grew substantially during the Bush years.”

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