Barack Obama urges audience to 'do a fact-check.' We oblige
President Barack Obama may be angling for our job.
During a Feb. 20, 2015, address to the winter meeting of the Democratic National Committee, Obama urged the audience to "do a fact check" on the state of the economy, particularly in light of longstanding Republican criticisms of his policies.
Here’s an excerpt from Obama’s speech:
"Now, sometimes, because the news cycle is so quick, we forget how all this came about and the debates that we had last year, or two years, or four years, or six years ago. I just want everybody to remember that at every step as we made policies, as we made this progress, we were told by our good friends, the Republicans, that our actions would crush jobs, and explode deficits, and destroy the country. I mean, I want everybody to do a fact-check and go back to 2009, 2010, ’11, ’12, ’13 -- just go back and look at the statements that were made each year by these folks about all these policies. Because apparently they don’t remember.
"But the facts are before us. The economy kept growing. The stock market has more than doubled, restoring the 401(k)s of millions of people. Our deficits are down by two-thirds. I always find it curious that when a Democrat is president, deficits go down; a Republican is president and then deficits are going up, and yet they try to take on the mantle of fiscal probity.
"Our auto industry is firing on all cylinders. None of this is an accident. It’s not an accident that America is creating jobs faster than at any time since the last time a Democrat was president. It’s not an accident that our manufacturers are creating jobs for the first time since the last time a Democrat was president. It’s not an accident that health care inflation is running at the lowest rate in almost 50 years, and that our deficits are falling faster than they have in 60 years."
We have indeed checked many Republican claims over the years about Obama’s policies. Some, such as the assertion that bills Obama supported will be "job killers," didn’t fare so well on the Truth-O-Meter, while others on deficits and debt ranged from mixed to largely accurate.
But what about Obama’s own claims in the speech about the economy’s performance during his tenure? They check out pretty well, as it turns out, with the caveats that other statistics may not be so rosy, and that the Obama administration doesn’t always deserve full credit for the results. (The fate of the national economy depends on international and demographic trends, not just government policy.)
Here’s a rundown of some of Obama’s claims in the speech:
• The "economy kept growing." Official data on gross domestic product from the Commerce Department shows that the economy has been growing robustly in recent months. (Here’s a summary chart.) In fact, it’s been growing so robustly that Republicans have been trying to claim credit for it, a view we have been skeptical of.
• The "stock market has more than doubled." On Jan. 20, 2009, the day Obama took office, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 7,949.09. On Feb. 19, 2015, it stood at 17,985.77. That’s more than twice as much.
• "Deficits are down by two-thirds." We recently checked Obama’s claim that we've seen "our deficits cut by two-thirds" and found it Mostly True.
• "America is creating jobs faster than at any time since the last time a Democrat was president." We recently checked Obama’s claim that the economy is "creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999," which is when Bill Clinton, a Democrat, was president. We rated Obama’s claim True.
• "Our manufacturers are creating jobs for the first time since the last time a Democrat was president." We didn’t check this claim before, but a quick look at Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that, except some small and brief upward blips in 2004, Obama is right. Manufacturing employment has been rising, slowly but surely, since 2010. We have also checked Obama’s claim that "factories are opening their doors at the fastest pace in almost two decades." We rated that Mostly True.
• "Health care inflation is running at the lowest rate in almost 50 years." We have reported that data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis that shows health care inflation, as of the end of 2013, was about 1 percent per year — the lowest since the early 1960s.
• "Our deficits are falling faster than they have in 60 years." When Obama claimed that "our deficits are falling at the fastest rate in 60 years," we rated it True. (And for readers seeking a refresher course on the "deficit" and the "debt," here’s a rundown.)