Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

Obama on Wisconsin’s Truth-O-Meter

President Barack Obama toured Master Lock in Milwaukee on Feb. 15, 2012. He is scheduled to visit a GE plant in suburban Waukesha on Jan. 30, 2014.
President Barack Obama toured Master Lock in Milwaukee on Feb. 15, 2012. He is scheduled to visit a GE plant in suburban Waukesha on Jan. 30, 2014.

We welcome President Barack Obama, fresh off his State of the Union speech, to Wisconsin Jan. 30, 2014 with a look back at where he’s been on our Truth-O-Meter.

We’re revisiting eight statements rated by PolitiFact Wisconsin that were either made by Obama or were made about him by someone else. All were made in 2012 or 2013.

The president, after overnighting in Milwaukee, is scheduled to tour a GE gas engine plant in the Milwaukee suburb of Waukesha (without any greeting from that city’s mayor).

The economy is expected to be the focus of his remarks.

OK, hit rewind.

Affordable Care Act

1.  In December 2013, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., said the average annual premium for a family health plan "didn't go down by $2,500, it's gone up about $2,500."

We rated that Half True.

Johnson was correct that by 2013, three years after the Affordable Care Act became law, the total average premium for employer-provided family insurance had risen by $2,500 per year. But experts said there was little or no evidence that the health care law was responsible.

2. In October 2013, U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., claimed that members of Congress are required to be in Obamacare, but that Obama and members of his administration got to keep "their own gold-plated health care plan."

Our rating: Half True.

Members of Congress have to buy their health insurance from marketplaces created as part of the health reform law, while the president and members of his administration can keep the coverage they get from the federal government. But the federal offerings are roughly comparable to what Congress can buy in the marketplaces, not vastly superior.

3. In August 2013, U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis., defended Obamacare by stating: "Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, U.S. health care spending grew at 3.9 percent for the last three years, the lowest growth rate in over 50 years."

We rated that Half True.

The statistical part of the claim was mostly accurate. But despite Kind’s implication that Obamacare was key in reducing the growth of health care spending, the evidence suggested its role was modest.

4. In January 2013, U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., stated: "When the Affordable Care Act was signed (in March 2010), 17 million American children" had a pre-existing condition and were "uninsurable."

We rated that claim False.

It’s possible that as many as 17 million children had a pre-existing health condition, but the figure could have been as low as 4 million, we found. And only a fraction of children with a pre-existing condition didn’t have insurance because of that condition.

Obama and Paul Ryan

5. In August 2012, the day after Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney named U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., his running mate, the Obama campaign said in a tweet that Ryan "supports banning all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest."

We rated that Half True.

We found at the time that Ryan did oppose those exceptions. But Obama’s claim misfired in saying Ryan supported banning "all" abortions, in that Ryan has supported an exception when a mother’s life is at stake.

6. In an August 2012 speech to the Republican National Committee, Ryan said Obama broke a promise to keep open the General Motors plant in Ryan’s hometown of Janesville, Wis.

We rated that claim False.

We didn't find evidence that Obama explicitly made such a promise -- and more importantly, the Janesville plant shut down before he took office.

Manufacturing jobs

7. During a February 2012 visit to Milwaukee, the president stated: "For the first time since 1990, American manufacturers are creating new jobs."

We rated that False.

In fact, the nation experienced a sustained period of modest manufacturing growth deep into the 1990s, most of it under President Bill Clinton.

Federal debt

8. In his memoir released in November 2013, Gov. Scott Walker wrote: "The national debt is on track to double during Obama’s presidency."

We rated that claim Mostly True.

Documents from Obama’s own administration indicated the debt is on pace to double in raw dollars, the way the debt is commonly reported, though not as a percentage of gross domestic product. Walker aptly indicated that Obama bears part of the blame.

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