Friday, December 19th, 2014

False ratings for both Obama, Boehner

President Barack Obama and future House Speaker John Boehner cross paths in 2010. Both earned False ratings today from the Truth-O-Meter.
President Barack Obama and future House Speaker John Boehner cross paths in 2010. Both earned False ratings today from the Truth-O-Meter.

After more than a week with most of the focus on the killing of Osama bin Laden, President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, returned to economic themes in recent comments.

And today, we rated comments by both men False.

During a May 10, 2011, speech at a Democratic National Committee event in Austin, Texas, Obama offered a litany of accomplishments to a friendly audience. One claim that immediately caught our eye was that during Obama’s presidency, the United States has "doubled our exports."

Obama has spoken of doubling exports before: In his 2011 State of the Union address, he said, "To help businesses sell more products abroad, we set a goal of doubling our exports by 2014 -– because the more we export, the more jobs we create here at home. Already, our exports are up."

But that goal has not been met yet. We measured exports several ways and found that they’d increased since Obama became president -- but by about one-third. So we ruled his statement False.

Meanwhile, during an interview on NBC’s Today show, Boehner offered some job-creation statistics to cast a favorable light on the tax cuts passed under President George W. Bush in 2001 and 2003.
   
Host Matt Lauer said to Boehner, "You talk about creating jobs. When the Bush era tax cuts were passed in 2001, unemployment in this country was 4.5 percent. Today it's at 9 percent, just down from 10 percent. So why are the Bush era tax cuts creating jobs?"
   
Boehner responded that the tax cuts "created about 8 million jobs over the first 10 years that they were in existence. We've lost about 5 million of those jobs during this recession."
   
We found several problems with Boehner’s statement  Under the most common yardstick for measuring employment, Boehner's claim was significantly overstated. Boehner was closer when using a different statistic, but only when using a time period much different than the one he referred to in the interview. And his suggestion that the tax cuts are primarily responsible for subsequent job growth is contentious at best.

We found his statement too flawed to give it a rating higher than False.