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Fact checking Obama’s fifth State of the Union address

President Obama delivered his fifth State of the Union on Tuesday night.
President Obama delivered his fifth State of the Union on Tuesday night.
AFP/Getty Images

Those that support President Barack Obama saw his State of the Union address on Tuesday night as a sign that they are about to get what they have been clamoring for, a more assertive Obama that is willing to act on his own through Executive Order, while those that are on the other side of the aisle viewed the speech as a proclamation to all that he is ready to act on his own to farther an agenda that the Democrats have been unable to get through Congress.

While supporters and detractors alike will no doubt maintain their positions regardless of the accuracy of statements, it is important that claims stated as fact be verified. If claims are found to be incomplete or incorrect, the correct information should be made available.

Six Fact Checked Claims

“The more than eight million new jobs our businesses have created over the past four years.”

While it is true that 8.2 million jobs have been created by the private sector since February 2010, the low point in jobs, net jobs growth is 3.2 million, less than half that number due to losses in the public sector. The nation currently has about 1.2 million fewer jobs than it did when the recession began in December 2007.

“A manufacturing sector that’s adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s.”

Manufacturing jobs bottomed out in January 2010, and since then 570,000 jobs have been added- an average of about 142,000 a year- but there are half a million fewer than when Obama took office and 1.7 million fewer than at the start of the recession. Again, this statement is accurate but incomplete. The reason there has been no gain in manufacturing jobs since the 1990s is because manufacturing had been on a constant decline for many years.

“More than nine million Americans have signed up for private health insurance or Medicaid coverage.”

The statement suggest that the number signed up is a direct result of the Affordable Care Act, as well as implies that the 9 million is a verified, accepted tally when the reality is that the stated number is in question.

The federal exchange counts people enrolled if an individual has selected a plan, regardless of whether the premium has been paid because the “backend” or checkout part of the system has not been built. It will not be known how many are actually enrolled until numbers are reported about paid premiums.

According to the administrations numbers, 6.3 of the 9 million enrollees come from Medicaid but that number includes renewals as well. The actual number is lower because without subtracting renewals from the total it is not possible to arrive at an accurate number.

Federal deficits have been “cut by half.”

It is true that the federal budget deficit has dropped from $1.3 trillion in Obama’s first year to a little over $600 billion for last year, but that is due more to tax hikes (payroll and the highest income earners) and the sequester (cut spending 2.3 percent) than Obama fiscal policies. The suggestion is that it is his policies that have resulted in the reduction.

Obama said that the U.S. "reduced our total carbon pollution more than any other nation on Earth." Again, this is accurate as far as tonnage of emissions reduced but as a percentage change, dozens of countries did better.

The President also said that for the first time in almost 20 years there is “more oil produced at home than we buy from the rest of the world.” Reports from the nonpartisan Energy Information Administration confirm this statement. The EIA reported domestic oil production averaged 7.5 million barrels per day last year, while imports averaged 6.2 million barrels a day. It is the first time since 1992 that domestic production was greater than imports.

Again, the suggestion is that this is a result of administration policies when the reality is that it is mostly a result of new drilling technology, not government policy. In fact, the administration has hindered even greater levels of production by fighting some of the new technology like fracturing, known as “fracking,” and delaying decisions on projects like the Keystone Pipeline.

After fact checking these six statements, as well as a number of others, this writer gives President Obama an A on truthfulness of his statements but a D on honesty in implied meaning.

While the statements were true, they were incomplete and suggested that it was a direct result of Obama administration policies that led to the results when it is in spite of, not due to, White House policy.

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