Saturday, October 25th, 2014

Fact-checking Obama's State of the Union speech

President Obama delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress.
President Obama delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress.

With his party reeling from the loss of a Senate seat in Massachusetts and doubts increasing about whether he'll be able to pass his health care plan, President Barack Obama challenged Congress -- and the nation -- to put aside partisanship and tackle the difficult problems facing the country.

"Rather than fight the same tired battles that have dominated Washington for decades, it's time for something new," he said, according to his prepared remarks. "Let's try common sense. Let's invest in our people without leaving them a mountain of debt. Let's meet our responsibility to the people who sent us here."

We're putting many of his claims to the Truth-O-Meter, as well as some of the responses by Republicans. We'll be updating this story as we add them.

• We found Obama was exaggerating the impact of the Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance when he said it would "open the floodgates for special interests – including foreign companies – to spend without limit in our elections." We rated that Barely True.

• Obama was pretty much on the mark with his claim that he had opened White House visitor logs. We rated that one Mostly True.

• Obama incorrectly described his "revolving door" policy on former lobbyists being barred from policy jobs in his administration.

• Obama exaggerated the role that "pay as you go" policies had on the budget in the 1990s.

• Obama earned a Full Flop on our Flip-O-Meter for supporting a spending freeze, which he opposed during the campaign.

• Obama was right that 95 percent of working families have gotten a tax cut.

• He earned a Mostly True for his claim that the nation had a $200 billion budget surplus at the start of the Bush administration and that Obama inherited a $1 trillion deficit.

• Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell, who delivered the Republican response, earned a Half True for his claim that the federal debt is "on pace to double in five years and triple in 10. The federal debt is now over $100,000 per household."

• McDonnell earned a True for his claim that if the government allows drilling off the coast of Virginia, it would be the first time on the East Coast.

• In a live-blogging response to the State of the Union address, House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, wrote that "a majority of Americans still oppose this health care bill." We rated that claim Mostly True.