Saturday, September 20th, 2014

Fact-checking Barack Obama

President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama

Who has faced the Truth-O-Meter the most? The answer is Barack Obama, and it’s not even close.

As of this writing, we’ve checked 314 statements from the president, more than any other person in PolitiFact history.

We’ve also been actively fact-checking the Republicans seeking the 2012 nomination to run against Obama. But none of them approach Obama’s number. Among the declared Republican candidates, we’ve fact-checked 54 statements from Mitt Romney, 28 from Michele Bachmann, 14 from Ron Paul, 10 from Herman Cain, 18 from Newt Gingrich, one from Jon Huntsman, 14 from Tim Pawlenty, five from Rick Santorum, two from Gary Johnson and zero from Buddy Roemer. (Sorry, Buddy.)

Looking at Republicans not in the race, as of today we’ve checked 51 statements from Sarah Palin, 66 from Rick Perry and six from Chris Christie. (See all of our people pages.)

Here are some highlights from our recent fact-checks of President Obama.

• A new book and reporting from the New York Times sheds new light on an anecdote Obama told about his mother while arguing for a new health care law. He said his mother had to fight with health insurance companies for treatment because of a pre-existing condition. The book makes a compelling case that it was disability insurance she was denied, not treatment. We rated his statement Barely True.

• During the debt crisis of recent weeks, Obama has made the case that American voters favor a package of both spending cuts and tax increases. We gave him a Mostly True when he said that "Eighty percent of the American people support an approach (to federal budget problems) that includes revenues and includes cuts." His number was a little high, but the basic point was correct.

• On the other hand, we gave him a Barely True for the statement that, "The clear majority of Republican voters think that any deficit reduction package should have a balanced approach and should include some revenues." Polls have showed different results for Republican opinion, with some showing opposition or even splits on whether tax increases should be included.

• Also about the debt crisis, Obama said that Social Security and other federal checks may not go out on Aug. 3 if the debt ceiling is not increased. We rated that Half True. Experts and history suggest special steps could be taken to make sure Social Security checks go out, but the situation includes much uncertainty.

• Obama also said that when President Bill Clinton raised the top tax rates to levels now proposed by Obama, the country experienced significant job growth. We rated that Half True. The economy did experience growth, but it wasn't because taxes increased.

• Obama also got a Pants on Fire recently for his claim that his efforts are regulatory reform are unique. "What I have done -- and this is unprecedented ... is I've said to each agency ... 'look at regulations that are already on the books and if they don't make sense, let's get rid of them.'" We looked at the history and found lots of presidents have done that.

You can read all our fact-checks by and about President Obama on the Barack Obama PolitiFact page.