Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Top 10 PolitiFact checks of claims by, and about, Barack Obama as he hies to Texas

President Obama also visited Austin in May 2011 (Associated Press, Eric Gay).
President Obama also visited Austin in May 2011 (Associated Press, Eric Gay).

Just three of this year’s 10 most popular PolitiFact fact checks involving President Barack Obama, visiting the Austin area this week, stemmed directly from claims by Obama.

Reader-favorite articles also drew on statements about Obama by House Speaker John Boehner, U.S. Sens. Rand Paul and Marco Rubio -- and even Mitt Romney way back in 2012. The articles, which were composed by PolitiFact in Washington, D.C., are arranged below based on the number of reader views of each one since January.

No. 1 reader favorite

House Speaker John Boehner says Obama, Democrats have no plan to replace sequester.

Pants on Fire! Obama has a proposal for replacing sequestration cuts with a mix of tax increases and spending cuts, while Senate Democrats have filed a sequester-replacement proposal taking a similar approach.

No. 2

Barack Obama says Congress proposed sequestration cuts.

Mostly False. Obama’s negotiating team came up with the idea for defense cuts in 2011, though they were intended to prod Congress to come up with a better deal for reining in the deficit, not as an effort to make those cuts reality. In the end, congressional members of both parties voted for the legislation that set up the possibility of sequestration. Obama can’t rightly say the sequester isn’t his, though he needed cooperation from Congress to get to this point.

No. 3

Sean Hannity says under Barack Obama as president, 8.3 million fewer Americans are working.

False. The actual decrease in working Americans over Obama’s time as president when Hannity of Fox News spoke in January was less than one-twentieth that amount. However, there are perhaps 8 million or 9 million more Americans than there were four years ago who are not working for a variety of reasons, among them the graying of the Baby Boom generation and by long-term patterns nothing to do with Obama -- and that’s also not what Hannity said.

No. 4

Viral Facebook post says Barack Obama has lowest spending record of any recent president.

Mostly True. The May 2012 Facebook post said Romney was wrong to claim that spending under Obama has "accelerated at a pace without precedent in recent history," because it's actually risen "slower than at any time in nearly 60 years." In raw dollars, Obama has presided over the slowest growth in spending of any president; the second-slowest if adjusted for inflation. Then again, some spending restraint was fueled by congressional Republicans.

No. 5

Barack Obama says the 12 hottest years on record have come in the last 15 years.

True. Obama understates: NASA data shows 13 of the hottest years on record have come in the last 15, and by a different data set produced by another agency, 14 of the hottest years on record have come in the last 15.

No. 6

Romney says Obama failed to pass a budget.

Mostly False. The Republican presidential aspirant made this claim in April 2012, faulting Obama for failing to pass a budget. Congress twice voted down the president’s budget requests. However, the job of passing a budget resolution is not the president’s. That responsibility falls to Congress, and even then the president doesn’t sign it. The votes to reject Obama’s budget proposals amounted to nothing more than political theater.

No. 7

Obama says Reagan raised debt ceiling 18 times; George W. Bush seven times.

True. This July 2011 claim reflects the fact that raising the debt ceiling has historically been an issue tackled by Republicans and Democrats alike. President Reagan agreed to raise the debt ceiling 18 times and George W. Bush did so seven times.

No. 8

Sen. Rand Paul says Obama "is advocating a drone strike program in America."

False. At the time this fact check was researched, the U.S. attorney general and White House counter-terrorism chief hadn’t strictly ruled out the use of lethal force against U.S. citizens on American soil, but they had said that it would take extraordinary circumstances. There was no evidence the administration was purposefully advancing the goal of a domestic drone strike program.

No. 9

Marco Rubio says military spending cuts, known as sequester, were Obama’s idea "in the first place."

Half True. This February claim by Florida’s junior senator didn’t tell the whole story -- particularly the fact that Obama didn’t favor these cuts. The White House proposed them as a means of driving the two sides to a compromise over the deficit, not as a real-world spending plan. But the idea still originated with Obama’s team.

No. 10

U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton says more terrorists have 'reached their targets' under Barack Obama than under George W. Bush.

Mostly False. Cotton’s math was inconsistent and stacked against Obama; he overlooked at least two Bush-era incidents. Besides, there’s a limit to how fairly a comparison like this reflects on a president when career government officials handle day-to-day law enforcement.

Hear anything else we should check? Email any time.