Thursday, December 18th, 2014

Mailbag, Facebook edition: 'PolitiFact gets another Mostly Fail rating'

You can discuss our ratings with other readers on Facebook.
You can discuss our ratings with other readers on Facebook.

We receive lots of lively feedback from readers on Facebook, where we post all of our fact-checks. Here are Facebook comments on some of our most popular recent items. Comments are edited for style and length. You can view our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/politifact.

President Barack Obama on private sector job creation

During a visit to an Amazon facility in Tennessee, President Barack Obama said, "This year, we're off to our best private-sector jobs growth since 1999." The official statistics show that more jobs were created in the first six months of 2013 than in any equivalent period going back to 1999, but other years came close — so close that they were within the survey’s margin of error. We rated the claim Mostly True. Some of the Facebook comments:

• "More liberal spin. Most of those jobs are minimum wage and/or part-time jobs. Obama's economic policies are killing the economy!!"

• "I do not know if I would rate it Mostly True over True, but reading how often tiny things are counted against the speaker, I can't say that you are doing it to be against Obama."

• "Anyone that thinks that the economy has not improved is in denial. Instead of reading the above fact check, they simply choose to consider it ‘spin’ vs. the possibility that the economy is improving, however improving, is still improvement. The argument that it isn't ‘fast enough’ or the jobs ‘are lower paying’ is irrelevant."

• "This is weird. The reason you give from knocking down from True to Mostly True is pretty specious. According to the best available data, it's true. But there is a good reason for knocking it down: These are raw jobs. The population and labor market are considerably larger than they were in 1999. This leaves the statement true, but slightly misleading."

• "PolitiFact deals with the actual statement. They do not try to interpret what a speaker meant, but what they actually said. Unfortunately, some of those posting comments cannot quite get that concept."

Obama on the minimum wage

Obama has also been talking a lot recently about the need to raise the minimum wage, regularly invoking President Ronald Reagan, an icon for conservatives. "We need to raise the minimum wage, because it's lower right now than it was when Ronald Reagan took office," he said in a speech on July 24, 2013. That carefully worded statement is accurate when considering inflation. However, his invocation of Reagan rings hollow, since Reagan was the only president not to preside over an increase in the minimum wage. By the end of his term, the wage was 13 percent lower than it is now. We rated Obama’s claim Mostly True.

• "Don't quite get the Mostly True rating when the statement that was critiqued was 100 percent true. And I don't think Obama's context was conjuring up Reagan because of anything having to do with Reagan other than as a reference point for a specific year. The rate is lower now than when he started. Period. True. Utterly true. "

• "This is one rare problem with PolitiFact's rating system. When dealing with a statement that is literally true but lacks context, they sometimes rate it True and other times Mostly True. In short, they aren't consistent."

• "Of course Reagan didn't sign an increase in the minimum wage. Trickle-down economics did so much for the poor and middle class, it was just plain unnecessary!"

• "Says a lot about Reagan and the conservative agenda right there."

On those 90 million Americans not working or not looking for work

Bloggers and pundits have said that 90 million Americans either aren’t working or aren’t looking for work. That’s a real number, but it includes high schoolers, college students and retirement-age Americans, leaving perhaps 20 million a better approximation. We rated the claim Mostly False.

• "This fact is TRUE: 90 million at the working age are not working. That is a fact you have proven true, but then dismiss because you think some of those people shouldn't be working to begin with. That is your opinion. But 90 million are not working."

• "So once I am ‘retirement age,’ I no longer count? Weird."

• "The point they're making here is not that the number is false, but that it is completely misleading. High school students, college students, retirement-age people and people with disabilities living in a barely recovering battered economy should not be lumped into what ‘conservatives’ want to label as lazy, entitled, drains on society."

• "My 4-year old son can't find a job. Thanks a lot, Obama."

On Obama’s claim that Keystone XL would mean ‘maybe 2,000 jobs’

Obama said in a recent  interview that the propsoed Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry oil from Canada, to refineries on the Texas Gulf coast, might produce about 2,000 jobs during construction. The White House provided no supporting evidence, and the administration’s own State Department predicted the construction process would create nearly twice as many jobs as the president said. We rated the statement False.

• "As usual, you have to read the whole assessment by PolitiFact, not just their rating meter. Whether 2,000 or 3,900 temp jobs and 35 or 55 permanent jobs, they are still of minimal significance to the labor force — which is the real point."

• "Two thousand jobs is still 2,000 jobs! That's like walking by and seeing a dollar on the floor and saying, 'Oh well, it's only a dollar!'"

• "The only source that PolitiFact used to rate Obama's claim false was the State Department draft environmental report. PolitiFact failed to report that the State Department’s review of Keystone XL has been sharply criticized by the EPA and the scientific community. PolitiFact gets another Mostly Fail rating."

• "PolitiFact mentions the Cornell estimate (which matches Obama's estimates perfectly) and yet because Obama or his spokesman doesn't give a citation, PolitiFact rates the claim False? That simply defies logic."

• "May increase the number of jobs in the environmental cleanup area, along with a greater need for health care workers, when and I do mean WHEN a disaster occurs."

• "Wow!!!! A rarity here. Politifact went against Obama? Did someone hijack the page?"

On Sarah Palin’s claim the GOP banned mention of Ayers in '08

Sarah Palin still speaks bitterly about 2008. The former Republican vice-presidential candidate recently told Fox News that she "was banned from talking about Jeremiah Wright and Obama's friend, Bill Ayers, the character that he befriended and kicked off his political campaign in the guy's living room. Couldn't talk about that." But the record shows the complete opposite. Not only did Palin talk about Ayers, so did John McCain, the man at the top of the ticket, as did a recorded message from the RNC that went out to voters in battleground states. We rated the claim Pants on Fire.

• "Having just (finally) read Game Change, it sounds like McCain did want to avoid talking about it, but Palin just ignored it. Typical."

• "Politifact, your report and analysis is Pants-on-Fire false. Don't make up your own scenario. After the week in question, Gov. Palin did not personally mention the topic again."

• "Maybe she was going rogue. She was muzzled, as was McCain. As we all have been for the past five years. Criticism of the King is not allowed."

• "Republicans, changing history to match their opinions whenever it suits them."

On Sen. Marco Rubio’s claim about 75% of small businesses and Obamacare

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., arguing to defund Obamacare, said "75 percent of small businesses now say they are going to be forced to either fire workers or cut their hours." That’s not remotely true. His office cited a news article that misinterpreted ambiguous results from a U.S. Chamber of Commerce study. It turns out that among small businesses in the study, less than 10 percent said they might make that choice. We rated Rubio’s claim Pants on Fire.

• "This still doesn't refute the fact that ObamaCare is a job killer. Reduced hours, limited hiring, etc. People are losing a full week’s pay over this. That adds up."

• "Because of the scary misinformation, more employers may feel less likely to hire more people — following the crowd. So it is counterproductive to mislead. Still, 5 percent to 9 percent is a chunk of workers who will lose out because of the insurance costs, so why not just get right down to the truth in the first place, politician?"

• "As a business owner, I actually welcome ACA. It has cut my insurance by several hundred dollars a month, and added many more benefits that I was not able to afford at my company until now."

• "We own a small company with 36 employees who we voluntarily provide health care, who spent three hours with our insurance agent yesterday trying to figure out if we want to go with a PPO that will only cause a 25 percent increase in our premiums or stay with our HMO and face a 30 percent increase in premiums. Of course, the least painful option for us, personally, would be to stop providing insurance. Always an option since we are under 50 employees. So much moral obligation."

• "A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take everything away. What ever happened to personal responsibility? The government is not our provider."

• "Thanks, PolitiFact, for telling us the truth and naming the lies."