The White House has been trumpeting the success of its economic stimulus package. President Barack Obama claimed that in its first 100 days, the plan "saved or created" 150,000 jobs (which we rated Barely True ). On June 8, 2009, Obama promised that number would quadruple by the fall.
Republicans are skeptical, however, saying the package hasn't delivered as many jobs as Obama claims.
In response to Obama's latest promise, House Republican Minority Leader John Boehner offered this sharp criticism, calling the stimulus a "bloated government spending scheme" that hasn't helped the economy:
"Democrats said [the stimulus] would immediately create jobs, yet nearly four months later unemployment has continued to climb and none of their rosy predictions have come true," he said in a statement. "Our plan to let the American people keep more of what they earn would have created twice the jobs at half the cost of the Democrats’ bloated government spending scheme. But instead of shifting course, Democrats are doubling down on their plan to spend taxpayer dollars as fast as possible, even as their own vice president admits that the American people are being scammed."
We wondered if Boehner was right that Vice President Joe Biden had been so blunt in describing the legislative centerpiece of the Obama-Biden administration.
Biden held a roundtable with business leaders on June 2 and discussed the stimulus plan and the administration's efforts to spend the money quickly but still avoid waste and fraud.
An Associated Press account of that meeting said, "With so much money at stake, Biden said some waste was inevitable and that a team of federal auditors had already uncovered problematic projects. 'People are being scammed already,' Biden said, promising to expose abuses whenever they were detected."
Biden was referring to the fact that some people have been lured by con artists who promise big stimulus bucks in return for personal information or a fee. Take Kristann Hartley, an Ohio woman featured in a National Public Radio report from March 9, 2009. Hartley applied for a stimulus grant to weatherize her home only to find out that the Web site offering the money was a scam.
But Boehner's statement suggests Biden had a whole other meaning when he talked about 'people being scammed.' In reading the full text of Boehner's statement it's clear that Boehner was suggesting the stimulus spending plan itself is a mistake and that White House claims of positive economic effects are misleading. Using Biden's "scammed" remark in that context makes it sound like Biden was saying the same thing, acknowledging that the White House "scamming" the public by pretending the stimulus spending has been working. That's not what Biden meant at all.
In fact, news coverage indicates the scammers Biden was talking about are garden-variety con artists merely using the stimulus as a cover, and that the programs they seek to exploit are just a minuscule portion of the $787 billion package. The Obama administration has emphasized many other anecdotes and news stories that show the stimulus working the way it is supposed to in helping local government avoid layoffs and helping states balance their budgets.
Boehner may be technically correct that Biden mentioned people being scammed in the roundtable meeting. But Boehner incorrectly suggests the vice president called the stimulus a scam and he fails to note that Biden promised "to expose abuses whenever they were detected," as the AP reported. We find Boehner's claim to be Barely True.
Editor's note: This statement was rated Barely True when it was published. On July 27, 2011, we changed the name for the rating to Mostly False.