Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

Fact-checking claims about Obama's jobs bill

We've looked at three claims made recently about President Barack Obama's jobs bill, shown here in the binder clip.
We've looked at three claims made recently about President Barack Obama's jobs bill, shown here in the binder clip.

Congress hasn’t even taken up President Barack Obama’s jobs bill yet, but supporters and critics have already been praising or criticizing aspects of the proposal. We’ve taken a look at three claims about the bill, two by critics and one by a supporter.

The supporter, Rep. David Scott, D-Ga., claimed during a Sept. 9 interview for local National Public Radio affiliate WABE-FM that the bill is "targeted so that no longer will states have to lay off teachers, and it’s specified in its language," Scott said. "Teachers, firefighters, police officers -- people that we need."  

PolitiFact Georgia wrote that the president’s jobs bill does set aside $35 billion for teachers, firefighters and police officers, and it does specify that the bulk of the money go to jobs, rather than administrative costs. This means that even though Scott overstated his claim, the bill is "targeted," as he said, to keep these government employees from being laid off.

Still, PolitiFact Georgia added that while the money could prevent many layoffs, there’s no hard evidence that governments would "no longer" have to let go of employees. His claim has accurate elements, but it’s overstated and could use more context. His claim earned a rating of Half True.

One of the critics, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., took aim at one of the provisions of Obama’s jobs bill in a Sept. 14, 2011, blog post.

The post was headlined, "President Obama's Tax On Soup Kitchens," and it criticized a tax provision included in Obama’s jobs bill.

"Yesterday, it was announced that an astounding one in six Americans are living in poverty," Cantor's blog post said. "President Obama's response? To demand a tax on donations to soup kitchens and other charities that help people desperately in need. The president's proposal will impact approximately 40 percent of all the tax deductible contributions, and essentially penalize soup kitchens, hospitals, and churches that provide essential services to those who need them most. It’s no wonder this tax hike has been rejected on both sides of the aisle."

PolitiFact found that a provision of the bill would generate income by limiting how much certain high-income taxpayers can deduct for charitable donations. That gives slightly less favorable tax treatment to charitable donations, a fraction of which may reach soup kitchens, for a small segment of the tax-paying population. But we concluded that the blog post’s headline exaggerated what the bill did and suggested that Obama actively targeted soup kitchens. We gave it a rating of Mostly False.

Another critic, Fox News host Sean Hannity said on his Sept. 13, 2011, show that under Obama’s bill,"you can sue if you are unemployed and don't get the job and think you weren't hired because you are unemployed."

We found that Hannity was correct. The bill prohibits employers from publishing help-wanted ads that disqualify people who are unemployed, and bars employers from failing to consider or hire an individual "because of the individual's status as unemployed." The bill places similar restrictions on employment agencies.

As for enforcement of the new provision, the bill says that "a court of the United States shall have the same jurisdiction and powers as the court has to enforce ... Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964" -- the landmark provision that bans employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.

We rated Hannity’s statement True.