Friday, October 31st, 2014

Checking Newt Gingrich's jabs about jobs

GOP hopeful Newt Gingrich has been critical of President Barack Obama's record on jobs
GOP hopeful Newt Gingrich has been critical of President Barack Obama's record on jobs

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says the Obama administration is making the unemployment picture worse.

 "I think the president has now spent three years proving that he kills jobs in energy, he kills jobs in manufacturing, he kills jobs in virtually every part of American life. I mean, notice -- the only reason the unemployment rate is going down is because … twice as many people dropped out of the employment pool as the number of jobs were created," Gingrich said at a recent campaign appearance.

We started by checking the first part of his statement -- the claim that President Barack Obama "has now spent three years proving that he kills jobs in energy, he kills jobs in manufacturing."

We used data showing net changes in jobs -- that is, jobs created minus jobs lost -- rather than just jobs lost (or "killed") and looked at Obama's record over two different periods of time.

When it came to energy jobs, we found that for both periods, the energy sector grew in absolute terms. When it came to manufacturing, which has long been in a decline in the U.S., we found that during the entire Obama presidency, the number of manufacturing jobs has declined by 795,000, or 6 percent. Since January 2010, though, the number of manufacturing jobs has increased by 299,000, a rise of 2.6 percent over two years. While not a big increase, it was the  fastest paced growth in two decades.

The job market is subject to many factors, not just Obama’s policies, so it’s unfair to lay all of the blame on the president. And even on the numbers, the claim’s accuracy is mixed at best, so we ruled it Mostly False.

The we moved on to Gingrich's claim that "the only reason the unemployment rate is going down is because … twice as many people dropped out of the employment pool as the number of jobs were created."

We found that Gingrich erred by using the wrong survey in his numerical comparison. Using the appropriate survey data, the decline in the unemployment rate stemmed in roughly equal parts from job creation and a shrinking labor force. As a result, it wasn't accurate to put the blame "only" on people who stopped looking for work. So we rated his statement Mostly False.

We also checked a claim made by a top Obama campaign official about Gingrich. During an interview on the Dec. 5, 2011, edition of MSNBC’s The Daily Rundown, David Axelrod coined a new description for Gingrich: "the godfather of gridlock," calling him "the guy who two decades ago really invented the kind of tactics that have now become commonplace in Washington."

We found that while Gingrich was sharply partisan during his career in the House, there wered solid examples where he short-circuited gridlock to push bills to enactment. On balance, we rate Axelrod’s statement Half True.

Then we moved on to Gingrich's claim that he "never favored cap and trade." We did a little digging and it didn't take long to find that Gingrich has been inconsistent and has at times advocated cap and trade approach to reducing pollution when combined with other approaches.

For instance, on Feb. 15, 2007, Gingrich went on the PBS show Frontline and championed cap and trade.

"I think if you have mandatory carbon caps combined with a trading system, much like we did with sulfur, and if you have a tax-incentive program for investing in the solutions, that there's a package there that's very, very good. And frankly, it's something I would strongly support." he said.

Although he says he opposes it now, he has supported it in the past, so we rated his statement False.