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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Obama's SOTU: Correcting (Some Of) The Lies

Overall, the President's speech last night was a giant--Meh. And I am not just saying that because I lost the pool (we all picked a word out of hats and received points for every time the president said your particular word--I got two words "Benghazi" and "IRS Scandal" leaving me with a big fat zero).

Now if there were points for lies expressed by the President last night I would have won It took two hands to handle all the whoppers Barack Obama told and below are just a few.

Climate Change: "But we have to act with more urgency – because a changing climate is already harming western communities struggling with drought, and coastal cities dealing with floods."

According to the UN IPCC, the climate watching organization, It has not gotten warmer for the past 16 climate change couldn't have created drought and flooding since the time Bill Clinton was president. More recently scientists have said that droughts and flooding are not more frequent or worse than normal.

Jobs:"more than 8 million new jobs our businesses have created over the past four years." That's the equivalent of the Mets winning their first two games of the season and describing it as they haven't lost since last year.

It's true that nearly 8.2 million private sector jobs have been added since February 2010, which was the low point of the great job slump that began a year before Obama took office and continued through his first year. But overall, the net job gain since he took office stood at just over 3.2 million (or nearly 4 million if counting only private sector jobs), as of the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics figures for December.

Manufacturing Jobs: “A manufacturing sector that’s adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s.” The low point for manufacturing jobs was reached in January 2010, and there has been a gain of 570,000 jobs since then. But BLS data show that the number of manufacturing jobs is still 500,000 fewer than when Obama took office in the depths of the recession — and 1.7 million fewer than when the recession began in December 2007.  The gain in manufacturing actually has begun to stall a bit in the past year.  The only reason Obama can tout a gain in manufacturing jobs “for the first time since the 1990s”  is because, before the recession, manufacturing had been on a slow decline for many years.

Obamacare: The president said that "because of the Affordable Care Act … more than 9 million Americans have signed up for private health insurance or Medicaid coverage." Obama carefully does not say these numbers are the result of the Affordable Care Act, but he certainly leaves that impression. But the Medicaid part of this number—6.3 million from October through December — is very fuzzy and once earned a rating of Three Pinocchios from WAPO's Glenn Kessler.

Also, Obama didn't claim that all of those signing up for coverage had been uninsured, and, in fact, we know that not all of them were. For instance, members of Congress and their staffs signed up for exchange plans, as required by the law, instead of continuing to get coverage through the program for federal employees, even a bigger slice of the signups comes from the 6.2 million people who lost their coverage because of Obamacare.

The Gender Earnings Gap: “Today, women make up about half our workforce.  But they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns.  That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment.”

First of all the President didn't mention that women who work in the White House, make 87 cents for every dollar a man makes. Overall while the president is correct when he says a "gender gap in wages is wrong, he exaggerated the problem.

Per the WAPO fact-checker, Obama is using a figure (annual wages, from the Census Bureau) that makes the disparity appear the greatest. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, for instance, shows that the gap is 19 cents when looking at weekly wages. The gap is even smaller when you look at hourly wages — it is 14 cents — but then not every wage earner is paid on an hourly basis, so that statistic excludes salaried workers.

In other words, since women in general work fewer hours than men in a year, the statistics used by the White House may be less reliable for examining the key focus of legislation pending in Congress — wage discrimination. Weekly wages is more of an apples-to-apples comparison, but it does not include as many income categories.

Economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis surveyed economic literature and concluded that “research suggests that the actual gender wage gap (when female workers are compared with male workers who have similar characteristics) is much lower than the raw wage gap.” They cited one survey, prepared for the Labor Department, which concluded that when such differences are accounted for, much of the hourly wage gap dwindled, to about 5 cents on the dollar.

Deficit: "Our deficits – cut by more than half."
Obama's claim that federal deficits have been "cut by half" is true, but deficits remain at historically high levels.

When Obama took office in 2009, he inherited a projected deficit of $1.4 trillion. Keep in mind that $800 billion of that deficit came from Obama's stimulus plan which was passed and paid for in the 2009 fiscal year.  And deficits remained over $1 trillion for the next three fiscal years.

The deficit for fiscal year 2013 (which ended Sept. 30) fell to $680 billion. That's indeed less than half the 2009 figure, but it's still higher than any full-year deficit for any previous president. The previous record was $459 billion in fiscal 2008, under President George W. Bush.

During the five years of the Obama presidency the national debt (not including the stimulus) grew by almost $7 trillion dollars, approximately 2 trillion more than every president from Washington to Clinton combined. And at the rate he is spending, after two full terms he would have grown the deficit as much as every president from Washington-Bush combined.

Domestic Oil and Gas production: for the first time in nearly 20 years, there is "more oil produced at home than we buy from the rest of the world."

That's true. The latest figures from the nonpartisan experts at the Energy Information Administration show domestic oil production averaged 7.5 million barrels per day last year, while net imports of petroleum averaged 6.2 million barrels. And that's the first time since 1992 that domestic production exceeded net imports. However that boom in oil/gas production is because of Fracking, the new technology using horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" — and not of any government policy. One of the President's first acts after he was first inaugurated was cancelling fracking leases for more study. In fact most of the new drilling is happening on state-owned rather than federal lands.

Sources, Politifact, WAPO Fact-Checker, The Lid

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