Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

Weekend Truth-O-Meter rulings hit opposite extremes

Gov. Chris Christie calls Mitt Romney from a phone bank at Romney's presidential campaign headquarters in New Hampshire.
Gov. Chris Christie calls Mitt Romney from a phone bank at Romney's presidential campaign headquarters in New Hampshire.

New Jersey politicians and their politics keep ending up on a national stage.

In case you missed it, the Truth-O-Meter this weekend ruled on claims by Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), both of whom talked recently about issues of national concern.

Christie claim

The governor this weekend picked up his second Pants on Fire rating from the Truth-O-Meter, exactly six weeks after his first. Coincidentally, both rulings were on statements Christie made while campaigning for Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney of Massachusetts. Sunday’s ruling also makes Christie the first Garden State politician to earn PolitiFact New Jersey’s lowest Truth-O-Meter rating more than once.

Sunday’s ruling looked at Christie’s claim on a New Hampshire radio show that President Barack Obama "did nothing" to create jobs during his first two years in the White House. PolitiFact New Jersey spoke with several economists and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. All said the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – known as the stimulus – helped create or save jobs.

Signed into law less than a month into Obama’s presidency, the stimulus bill allocated about $787 billion in federal spending and tax benefits. By Sept. 30 of this year, about $5.5 billion had been awarded to recipients in New Jersey alone.

Christie’s other Pants on Fire ruling, issued Oct. 23, was for a claim that Obama’s health care plan amounts to a government takeover of health care. Numerous experts we spoke with all rejected the governor’s claim. But that statement didn’t just get a Pants on Fire from PolitiFact New Jersey. The claim of a national takeover of healthcare was PolitiFact.com’s 2010 Lie of the Year.

Lautenberg claim

New Jersey’s senior U.S. senator, a longtime advocate of rail transportation, claimed that more than $40 billion was spent last year on highway funding -- more than Congress has spent on Amtrak in the national rail system’s 40-year history.

The Truth-O-Meter found Lautenberg’s statement True based on figures from the Federal Highway Administration and Amtrak’s president and CEO.

Coming attractions

In coming weeks PolitiFact New Jersey will put out a newsletter for readers about our fact checks and what’s coming up for the Truth-O-Meter. If you’re interested in receiving the newsletter, or having PolitiFact New Jersey do a presentation for your organization or school, drop a note with your email address to PolitiFact New Jersey Editor Caryn Shinske at cshinske@starledger.com. You can also follow @PolitiFactNJ on Twitter or find us on Facebook.

Check out the complete stories on Christie’s and Lautenberg’s statements at PolitiFactNJ.com and then join the conversations about those rulings and others at NJ.com.