Four familiar facts from Barack Obama’s speech

President Barack Obama waves after giving a speech on the economy at Knox College  in Galesburg, Ill. (AP Photo)
President Barack Obama waves after giving a speech on the economy at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill. (AP Photo)

President Barack Obama invoked some familiar facts in support of his vision for the U.S. economy on Wednesday.

We’re taking a closer look at claims from his speech at Knox College, and invite you to suggest lines for us to check on Twitter with #PolitiFactThis and at [email protected].

In the meantime, here are four lines from the speech that Obama (and other Democrats) love to trot out — and what’s behind them.

"We doubled wind and solar power."

Federal statistics generally back this up. Net electricity generation from wind and from solar each more than doubled between 2008 and 2011. We looked at the numbers when the president flubbed the line, incorrectly claiming last year in Florida that the nation had doubled its use of all types of renewable energy. (Not so much — there’s more to renewable energy than just wind and solar! The increase for all types of renewables was about 25 percent.)

"The cost of health care is growing at its slowest rate in 50 years."

Growth in health care spending is indeed at its lowest level since we started keeping track in the 1960s. The president made a more accurate claim than Rep. Nancy Pelosi did in May, when she said Obamacare was bringing down health care costs. Spending is up. Growth in spending is down. And it’s not yet entirely clear why, though some health economists calculate it’s more than just the recent economic downturn.

"Over the past four years, for the first time since the 1990s, the number of American manufacturing jobs has actually gone up, instead of down."

Obama loves to talk about growth in manufacturing jobs, noting (accurately) this year that the country had created half a million of them in three years. Such positions had been falling since the 1990s, but have experienced a modest upswing since 2009.

"I capped (student) loan repayments at 10 percent of monthly incomes for responsible borrowers."

It’s a claim similar to one touted by former President Bill Clinton at the Democratic National Convention. Obama did sign a 2010 law that lowered caps on student loan payments. The government already had in place an "income-based repayment plan" that let students cap payments at 15 percent of their income above living expenses, and forgave remaining debt if they made those payments for 25 years. Under the new law, payments dropped to 10 percent, with debt forgiven after 20 years, or half that long for some public service workers such as teachers.