The task of fact-checking the Democrats at their recent convention at first might appear onerous. But after reviewing the various speeches, you will find that all of the speakers were working from the same song sheet in the liberal choir.
Perhaps, the most used statistic was the number of jobs that were created by the Obama administration. Uniformly, all of the speakers insisted that “4.5 million private sector jobs were created in the past 29 months.”
Most media outlets point out that the figure was cherry-picked by the Democrats. It actually counts jobs from the lowest point to the point where employment began to grow again. It excludes all of the jobs that were lost earlier in Obama’s term.
According to the Associated Press, not exactly an anti-Obama outlet, “Overall, roughly 7.5 million jobs were lost during the recession that began in December 2007 and ended officially in June 2009.” Although you wonder if it ended three years ago, what’s happening now?
This material was used by almost every major speaker, including the Vice President and the President. Bill Clinton even used this employment figure to burnish Obama’s image as a job creator. “So here’s the jobs score: President Obama, plus 4.5 million; Congressional Republicans, zero.”
Notice that the former President counts private sector jobs rather than overall jobs. This paints Obama’s numbers favorably, since government jobs have declined during much of Obama’s term. If you count from the start of Obama’s term, private-sector jobs have increased by 332,000, but total jobs have decreased by 316,000 due to losses of government jobs.
There is also a dispute over the number of jobs the stimulus law saved or created. The White House insists on a figure of one million while a Bloomberg survey of 34 economists taken in September 2011 came up with a median estimate of 270,000 jobs saved or created over two years.
Virtually all of the speakers used the same figures since they were provided to them by the campaign and all of their speeches (except Clinton’s) were vetted by the campaign.
The issue of the administration’s recent welfare reform changes was another point of contention. Clinton insisted that President Obama was not ending the welfare-to-work requirement that his administration, supported by Republican majorities in the House and the SEnate, had enacted. “They can keep the waivers only if they increase employment. The requirement was for more work, not less.”
This is true if states believe that they can come up with a better plan for getting welfare recipients to work. If it is more effective than the federal system then Secretary of HHS Kathleen Sebelius will waive the rule and approve the plan.
Let’s move on to the hot button issue of Medicare. Kathleen Sebelius was the administration’s main point person, attacking the Romney Plan on the basis that it would give seniors a voucher costing seniors as much as $6,400 more a year. One problem: the $6,400 figure is neither in the Romney-Ryan plan nor in the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) data.
Rather it is a figure that is an interpretation of CBO data based on Ryan’s initial plan. The Republicans have continually pointed out that the original Ryan plan is no longer operable. It also points out one of the CBO’s real problems: attempting to predict individual and business’ behavior over ten years.
In his speech Bill Clinton credited Obamacare with keeping the level of increases below 4% but many economists believe that the new law is not the main factor for this. Rather, they see the slow growth economy as the main driver of healthcare costs with many people simply staying away from doctors unless absolutely necessary.
The $716 billion Medicare savings were praised by Clinton as a move that helped seniors save money on prescriptions and added eight years to the trust fund. Both of these facts may be true but Republicans contend that the Obama administration is double-counting the savings, since it will go straight from the trust fund toward helping to pay for health insurance for 30 million uninsured. It simply can’t do both.
Once again, Obama wants to count unspent war funding after 2014 as a cost saving but at the same time use it for infrastructure improvements. The Democrats double-counting trick has now migrated to a spending account that simply will not exist after we withdraw from Afghanistan. Jonah Goldberg’s famous pony gap example from an older post. Obama is creating money out of thin air and no one seems to notice.
Then we have Obama’s assertion that he can cut $4 trillion out of the national debt. Of that $4 billion, he’s counting $1 trillion negotiated out a year ago. Then we have the $700 billion Iraq/Afghanistan war savings that he’s counting twice (see above). There are fictitious savings in interest on the debt for over $800 billion.
Then he has a $300 billion tax increase for those making over $250,000 a year. Another $900 billion would come from program cut including agricultural subsidies to rental assistance to airport construction. some $320 billion in health program cuts. The federal government would pay less to drug makers and nursing homes. In reality, neither the Democrats nor Obama have the political will to make the hard choices.
As usual, politicians at most political conventions shade the truth and cast their programs in a good light with the voting public. The Democrats are no different except that this time they seemed to have played with the truth more than usual.
Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at the Republicans in a comparison.