Sunday, September 21st, 2014

Bill Clinton's night at the Democratic convention

Former President Bill Clinton addresses the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
Former President Bill Clinton addresses the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

Last updated Sept. 7, 2012, at 1:49 p.m.

Former President Bill Clinton received a hero's welcome on the second night of the Democratic National Convention, where he spoke issue by issue to try to make the case for President Barack Obama's re-election.

Clinton claimed a victory of sorts comparing job gains under Democratic presidents vs. Republicans. "Since 1961 … our private economy produced 66 million private-sector jobs. So what's the jobs score? Republicans 24 million, Democrats 42 million," Clinton said.

We dug into those numbers and found his statement is True.

Clinton also said that the stimulus program "cut taxes for 95 percent of the American people." It actually cut taxes for 95 percent of American workers. We awarded Clinton a Half True for leaving out that critical qualifier.

His statement that "in the last 29 months, our economy has produced about 4.5 million private-sector jobs," earned a Mostly True. The statistic is correct but some cherry-picking was involved in getting to it.

Clinton addressed recent Republican attacks on changes to welfare. Obama, he said, is not gutting the program's work requirements, as Romney campaign ads have said. Instead, Obama is seeking state ideas that would increase employment. PolitiFact has looked into the welfare controversy and rated the Romney ad claims Pants On Fire.

Clinton praised Obama for taking a "balanced approach" to debt reduction, mentioning the work of the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles commission, which was charged with finding ways to cut the national debt over the long term. Last week after Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan spoke at the GOP convention, we noted in a story that Ryan criticized Obama for abandoning the commission's recommendations but failed to mention that he himself voted against them.

Clinton also touched on recent claims about Medicare, saying "both Gov. Romney and Congressman Ryan attacked the president for allegedly robbing Medicare of $716 billion." That's also one we've checked before. What we found: the $716 billion represents reductions in future Medicare spending, not cuts to benefits or the program's current budget. The Ryan attack rating: Mostly False.

Clinton also noted that Ryan attacked Obama for "the same amount of Medicare savings that (Ryan) had in his own budget." Clinton is correct that the Ryan budget plan included cost savings that were part of the health care law, and we rated the statement True.

Clinton touted Obama's accomplishments on student loans. Student loan legislation under Obama, he said, "lowers the cost of federal student loans." "And even more important," he said, "it gives students the right to repay those loans as a clear, fixed, low percentage of their income for up to 20 years." We rated this Mostly True. He's basically right, but he slightly oversimplifies the process through which the percentage of income is determined.

The night also featured several speakers who emphasized Obama’s record on education and women’s issues.

Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards told the audience that Obama "stands with women," and former North Carolina Gov. Jim Hunt credited the president with spurring improvements in public schools and higher education.

Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette invoked a well-worn statistic to illustrate how women earn less than men during her speech, saying women make "only 77 cents for every dollar a man earns." The measure comes from a valid source, though other comparisons indicate the gap is tighter. Our rating: Mostly True.

U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore overstated her claim that "House Republicans "tried to change the definition of rape." GOP members sought to change the definition only when federal money for abortions could be used in cases of rape, by using the term "forcible rape."

Attacks on Romney are part of the script too. Delaware Gov. Jack Markell told the audience that Romney "says he likes to fire people."

That cherry-picks what Romney actually said, which was a comment on the advantage of being able to switch health insurance companies if a provider isn’t giving good service. We rated Markell's claim False.

On housing, California Attorney General Kamala Harris said Romney favors letting foreclosures "hit the bottom." Romney did say that, but he also said that with reinvestment the housing market would then "turn around and come back up." That merited a Half True.

Bob King, president of the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (better known as the UAW), said in his speech that "since June 2009, (the auto) industry has added a quarter of a million jobs." The numbers check out. That statement's True.