AP: Obama Goes Off the Truth Rails in Convention Speech

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Barack Obama laid claim to a peace dividend that doesn’t exist when he told the nation he wants to use money saved by ending wars to build highways, schools and bridges.

The wars were largely financed by borrowing, so there is no ready pile of cash to be diverted to anything else.

The claim was one of several by Obama in his acceptance speech Thursday at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., and by Vice President Joe Biden in earlier remarks that did not match the facts. A look at some of their assertions:

OBAMA: “I’ll use the money we’re no longer spending on war to pay down our debt and put more people back to work – rebuilding roads and bridges, schools and runways. After two wars that have cost us thousands of lives and over a trillion dollars, it’s time to do some nation-building right here at home.”

THE FACTS: The idea of taking war savings to pay for other programs is budgetary sleight of hand, given that the wars were paid for with increased debt. Obama can essentially “pay down our debt,” as he said, by borrowing less now that war is ending. But he still must borrow to do the “extra nation-building” he envisions.

He made a similar statement in his State of the Union address, and it is no less misleading now than in January. And the savings appear to be based at least in part on inflated war spending estimates for future years.

OBAMA: “We will reform and strengthen Medicare for the long haul, but we’ll do it by reducing the cost of health care, not by asking seniors to pay thousands of dollars more.”

THE FACTS: Some of the proposals the Obama administration has floated in budget negotiations with Congress would ask Medicare beneficiaries to pay more. Among them: revamping co-payments and deductibles in ways that could raise costs for retirees and increasing premiums for certain beneficiaries.

Obama even indicated a willingness to consider raising the eligibility age, currently 65, to 67. As word of some of the proposals leaked out, the president faced a backlash from fellow Democrats. He has since said he would not accept Medicare cuts as a part of a deficit reduction deal, unless it also includes higher taxes on the wealthy. Still, some level of increased costs for middle-class and upper-income Medicare recipients is likely to be part of any future deficit reduction deal.

OBAMA: “We can help big factories and small businesses double their exports, and if we choose this path, we can create a million new manufacturing jobs in the next four years.”

THE FACTS: Obama has claimed an increase of some 500,000 manufacturing jobs over the past 29 months. But this is cherry picking by the president. From the beginning of Obama’s term 3 1/2 years ago, manufacturing jobs have declined by more than 500,000, according to the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. Manufacturing jobs have been on a steady decline for nearly two decades.

Even though there has been a modest uptick in manufacturing jobs this year, unless there is a major turnaround, it seems unlikely that Obama’s goal of 1 million new manufacturing jobs can be reached by his target date of 2016.

OBAMA: “And now you have a choice: We can give more tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas or we can start rewarding companies that open new plants and train new workers and create new jobs here in the United States of America.”

BIDEN: “Gov. Romney believes that in the global economy, it doesn’t much matter where American companies put their money or where they create jobs. As a matter of fact, he has a new tax proposal – the territorial tax – that experts say will create 800,000 jobs, all of them overseas.”

THE FACTS: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s proposal is actually aimed at encouraging investment in the U.S., not overseas.

The U.S. currently has a global tax system that is filled with credits, exemptions and deductions that enable many companies to avoid U.S. taxes and provides an incentive for corporations to keep their profits in other countries. Whether Romney’s plan would spur investment in the U.S. is debatable, but it’s not a plan aimed at dispersing profits abroad.

Experts differ on the impact of a territorial system on employment in the U.S. But Biden’s implication that Romney’s plan sends jobs abroad is not supported by the expert opinion he cites.

Kimberly Clausing, an economics professor at Reed College in Portland, Ore., said a pure territorial tax system could increase employment in low-tax countries by 800,000. But that did not mean U.S. jobs moving overseas. Clausing later wrote: “My analysis does not speak to the effects on jobs in the United States.”

BIDEN: “After the worst job loss since the Great Depression, we’ve created 4.5 million private sector jobs in the past 29 months.”

THE FACTS: This seems to be a favorite statistic, because many speakers at the convention cited it. But it’s misleading – a figure that counts jobs from when the recession reached its trough and employment began to grow again. It excludes jobs lost earlier in Obama’s term, and masks the fact that joblessness overall has risen over Obama’s term so far.

As well, in the same 29 months that private sector jobs grew by 4.5 million, jobs in the public sector declined by about 500,000, making the net gain in that period about 4 million.

Overall, some 2 million jobs were lost during the recession that began in December 2007 in President George W. Bush’s term and ended officially in June 2009 with Obama as president.

Never since World War II has the economy been so slow to recover all the jobs lost in a downturn.

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One thought on “AP: Obama Goes Off the Truth Rails in Convention Speech

  1. GOP Chairman Priebus: Obama, Democrats Living in ‘Fantasy Land’
    Friday, 07 Sep 2012 05:55 PM
    By Todd Beamon and John Bachman
    Newsmax.com

    President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party spent this week “trying to recreate a world that doesn’t exist,” Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus tells Newsmax.TV in an exclusive interview.

    “This race is going to come down to some fundamental things: Are people better off today than they were four years ago and did the president fulfill the mission of his presidency?” Priebus tells Newsmax. “People are forgiving, and people are generally filled with a fair amount of grace when it comes to politicians.

    “However, if you can’t point to some of your most basic promises and show that the missions have been completed, I can’t imagine how anybody’s going to go into this final closing argument thinking that we need four more years of this misery.”Priebus said Obama’s acceptance speech on Thursday at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., conveyed a “sort of a fantasy-land rendition of where we are in this country” — and that was undone on Friday with the disclosure of the national unemployment rate of 8.1 percent for August.

    Only 96,000 jobs were added last month, the government reported, and the overall rate fell from 8.3 percent in July only because more people stopped looking for work. People who are out of work are counted as unemployed only if they are searching for a job.

    “What it shows is that the Democrats aren’t living on Earth,” Priebus said. “Only 63.5 percent of people who are eligible to work are actively looking for work. That’s the lowest number in decades. And of that number, 8.1 percent of those people can’t find work.

    “What you saw this morning was that almost the equivalent of the entire city of Tampa threw up their arms and said, ‘This economy is so bad that I’m not even going to bother looking for work.’ Chronic unemployment in this country is at a level that we haven’t seen since the Great Depression.”

    And this is why the president must not be re-elected, Priebus said.

    “President Obama ran in 2008 based on a tough economy. He ran on the economy. He ran against Bush, and he said that he would fix the economy that we’re in now. He ran based on his own explanation of confidence and ability to fix the situation we were in — and he won because the economy had to be fixed and he promised he would do it.

    “People care about the fact that what we need in politics are people of their word to run for office, and then we need them to govern the way that they’ve campaigned,” he added. “That’s his biggest problem. He has not governed in the way that he campaigned four years ago.”

    Looking to the fall campaign, Priebus said the GOP is going to spend its money on “the ground operation.”

    “I’m a believer in crushing your opponent on the ground: door to door, neighborhood to neighborhood and absentee ballot programs. The Democrats have nothing on us when it comes to the ground operation. Their ground game doesn’t stack up to us at all.

    “The only way to win this election is on the ground, so our money — the vast majority of RNC money that is stockpiled — is for the ground game to make sure we hit our goals and exceed our goals in communities and neighborhood across America,” Priebus added. “We have the technology and the personnel up and down to get this done – and that’s what my focus is on.

    “The airwaves are going to be saturated. It all will come down to door-to-door and the ground game.”

    In his exclusive Newsmax interview, Priebus also:

    • Defended GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney on attacks of not paying tribute to veterans in his acceptance speech last week. The former Massachusetts governor visited a VFW Post in Indiana the day before his Tampa speech. “We had multiple tributes to the troops and we can’t thank them enough.”
    • Rebuffed Democratic National Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who said a “technical oversight” led to the omissions of God and support for Israel from the Democratic Party platform. “There’s no way it wasn’t intentional. There is no such thing as a technical error of removing Jerusalem and God from your platform.”
    • Noted that the GOP is doing better in appealing to women voters because they, in particular, “understand the household situations out there — and they understand the economic impact of Barack Obama’s policies. Now, we need to hone in for the next two months to continue pounding away on what the truth is.”
    • Attacked the liberal mainstream media for not being fair in its coverage to both presidential candidates. “I still think there is a pretty big love affair with Obama, but the facts are on our side — and there is nothing better that walking in to that closing argument with the facts on your side.”

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