Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Washington Post Fact Checker Exposes Obama State of the Union Whoppers

Once again, the President descended into such an alternate universe during his 24 Jan State of the Union speech that even the Washington Post Fact Checker had to call him out on his exaggerations. Although the liberal WaPo is want to ever criticize a Democrat, even they couldn't let some of these whoppers slide.

Here are some of the passages they took exception to and why but for their entire article, blow up the graphic below and read it for yourself:

“In the six months before I took office, we lost nearly four million jobs. And we lost another four million before our policies were in full effect. Those are the facts. But so are these. In the last 22 months, businesses have created more than three million jobs. Last year, they created the most jobs since 2005. American manufacturers are hiring again, creating jobs for the first time since the late 1990s. Together, we’ve agreed to cut the deficit by more than $2 trillion. And we’ve put in place new rules to hold Wall Street accountable, so a crisis like that never happens again.”

The GOP will point out that Obama has the worst job-creation record of any president since World War II. Although about 4 million jobs were lost at the start of his administration, the nearly $1 trillion stimulus was passed into law in February so the claim of “we lost another four million before our policies were in full effect” is a stretch as it took a full nine months to run up that other 4 million lost jobs, some 8 months after the stimulus was passed into law and 4 months after the official end of the recession (the 4 million lost before Obama took office occurred in the previous 9, not 6 months. Also, note he describes 8 million jobs lost but he only gained 3 million back.

Then Obama took credit for $2 Trillion in deficit reduction without mentioning that Republicans forced him to accept that $2 trillion in budget cuts during the debt-ceiling impasse. Then he brags “we’ve put in place” new rules on Wall Street, glossing over the fact that it had little Republican support and the GOP candidates have all vowed to repeal the Dodd-Frank law.

“We will not go back to an economy weakened by outsourcing, bad debt, and phony financial profits… It’s time to apply the same rules from top to bottom: No bailouts, no handouts, and no copouts.”

Few economists would blame “outsourcing” for the economic crisis; it is also unclear how Obama has eliminated outsourcing during his presidency. “Bad debts” presumably would refer to irresponsible mortgage loans. “Phony financial profits” is also a bit puzzling. Perhaps it was not supposed to make sense.

The same goes for the other catch-phrase, uttered a bit later in the speech. The president, of course, supported massive bailouts before and after he took office, as will be demonstrated by the next quote.

“On the day I took office, our auto industry was on the verge of collapse. Some even said we should let it die. With a million jobs at stake, I refused to let that happen. In exchange for help, we demanded responsibility. We got workers and automakers to settle their differences. We got the industry to retool and restructure. Today, General Motors is back on top as the world’s number one automaker. Chrysler has grown faster in the U.S. than any major car company. Ford is investing billions in U.S. plants and factories. And together, the entire industry added nearly 160,000 jobs.”

Here the president appears to celebrate a bailout, which actually was started under his predecessor George W. Bush. The claim that “some” wanted the auto industry to die is patently false but Romney did advocate a “pre-packaged bankruptcy” that would have produced the same results without massive taxpayer funding, incidentally, Ford did not accept a bailout. About 200,000 auto workers were laid off during the recession, bringing the industry to a low of 550,000 workers.

“Right now, American oil production is the highest that it’s been in eight years. That’s right — eight years. Not only that — last year, we relied less on foreign oil than in any of the past sixteen years.”

The first statement is a great statistic but not especially noteworthy because there has not been much change in the annual barrels produced in the United States since 2003; it essentially has been steady though it may be slightly higher now. As for the second claim, foreign oil imports have declined because of the poor economy and changes in efficiency that began “two years before the 2008 crisis” — long before Obama took office.

“Take the money we’re no longer spending at war, use half of it to pay down our debt, and use the rest to do some nation-building right here at home.”

This is fanciful budget math. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were funded with borrowed money so the US is still running huge deficits, so none of Obama’s “imagined savings” would “pay down the debt” unless we began running a surpluse. Instead, his proposal would continue to add to the debt.

“Right now, because of loopholes and shelters in the tax code, a quarter of all millionaires pay lower tax rates than millions of middle-class households.”

This earned the President 3 Pinocchios in a previous speech but he is still making this bogus claim on a narrow set of facts. Most wealthy people pay a higher tax rate than most less-wealthy Americans, but there are always going to be some exceptions. The CBO found that the average millionaire’s Federal tax rate is about 30%. But about one quarter do pay a rate lower than 10.4 million moderate-income tax payers. Don’t forget 46% of Americans pay NO Federal Income Tax at all!

“That’s why our health care law relies on a reformed private market, not a government program.”

WRONG - half of the 34 million people who will receive Obama-care coverage through Medicaid, a federal-state government program for low-income Americans. The rest of the newly insured might get coverage through private markets.

“Through the power of our diplomacy, a world that was once divided about how to deal with Iran’s nuclear program now stands as one.”

This is a more wishful thinking than reality. The U.N. approved new sanctions and just this week the European Union joined in an Iranian oil embargo but there are other key nations like China have resisted a crackdown on trade with Tehran. There is little evidence that the sanctions have had much effect on Iranian nuclear ambitions.

“Our iron-clad commitment to Israel’s security has meant the closest military cooperation between our two countries in history.”

Obama has had tense relations with Israel’s Prime Minister and the president did not even mention peace with the Palestinians which suggests how much his dream of achieving a peace deal has faded.

“Anyone who tells you otherwise, anyone who tells you that America is in decline or that our influence has waned, doesn’t know what they’re talking about. That’s not the message we get from leaders around the world, all of whom are eager to work with us.”

Both favorability rating and confidence in Obama had fallen sharply since 2009. For example, in Turkey, a NATO ally, for instance, the confidence in Obama fell from 33 percent in 2009 to 11 percent in 2011; in Jordan, another key ally, the favorability rating for the United States fell from 25 percent in 2009 to 13 percent in 2011.

….and now you know the rest of the story!