The Pardu

The Pardu
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Saturday, March 14, 2015

FORWARD PROGRESSIVES: Fact Checking Obama's SOTU Speech

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January 23, 2015 By Allen Clifton 

Following his annual State of the Union speech, many Republicans have been quite critical of the supposed “arrogance” President Obama displayed while giving his address. Then again, what’s new? Republicans have been trying to paint the president as arrogant and “out of touch” for years. 

But like with all recent SOTU speeches, fact-checking organizations usually work overtime in an attempt to investigate whether or not what the president said during his speech was factually accurate. And this year was no different. 

And when it comes to the “Truth-O-Meter” over at Politifact, President Obama’s SOTU speech scored extremely high marks for accuracy and truth. 

When he said that America is number one in wind power, that was rated as “Mostly True” with the only caveat being that China technically has the capacity to produce more wind power, but we convert more of it into electricity. 

Then there was when the president said we’re creating more jobs than at any other time since 1999, Politifact rated that as 100 percent “True.” We all remember 1999, right? You know, the last time we had a Democrat in the White House. 

When he talked about our unemployment rate he claimed that it’s now below where it was before the financial crisis hit our economy. That statement was rated as “Mostly True,” though Politifact claims they need clarification based upon how many people have simply stopped looking for work. That’s a statistic that’s nearly impossible to measure considering the reasons why people stop looking for work are varied and often have nothing to do with the strength of the economy. “Real unemployment” is a never taken into account when factoring in the unemployment rate, so using that as a variable to downgrade the honesty of a statement didn’t make much sense to me. But nevertheless, Obama’s statement is still factually accurate based on the same measure we’ve used for decades. 

Who remembers all of the right-wing rhetoric over the last few years about Obama making the U.S. more dependent on foreign oil, which would then weaken our national security and could possibly threaten to send gas prices over $5 per gallon? It really is laughable to look back at all of the ridiculous claims Republicans have made against the president over the years. Well, during his SOTU speech the president proudly claimed that America is the number one producer of oil and gas. That’s another statement that was rated as completely “True.” 

So, not only has Obama pushed the U.S. to convert more wind energy to electricity than any other nation on the planet, but we’re also producing more oil and gas than anyone else. Funny, George W. Bush couldn’t do that in eight years; President Obama did it in six. 

Then when he said that the U.S. is the only developed country on Earth without a paid maternity leave, he was absolutely right. This was another statement that was rated as “Mostly True.” The only discrepancy found in his claim is that three states in the U.S. (California, New Jersey, Rhode Island) do mandate it. Just think about that for a moment. Many Americans claim that this is the “greatest nation on Earth,” yet we’re the only developed nation on Earth that doesn’t require paid maternity leave.

When he said our deficits have been cut by two-thirds, he was also factual about that as well. That statement received a “Mostly True” rating. The main “issue” being that it’s true if you base it off 2009 numbers when deficits were extraordinarily high and some are projecting deficits to eventually increase within the next few years, mainly due to the lack of revenue increases (such as tax hikes) and entitlement reform. 

But even when you go beyond just his SOTU speech to a few other comments they’ve fact-checked of his leading up to his speech:
U.S. auto industry has created 500k new jobs in the last five years:  True  
More factories are opening their doors today than two decades ago: Mostly True  
We’ve doubled our production of clean energy since 2009: Mostly True  
Since negotiating with Iran, we’ve seen the first year and a half that they haven’t made advancements in their nuclear program: Mostly True 
And these are all very recent statements. But what do they tell us about the president? Well, he’s dramatically boosted our clean energy; moved us closer toward energy independence; presided over a half million jobs being created in the auto industry; massively reduced our deficits; has used diplomacy to make strides in the international community as opposed to just going to war; and we’ve seen the best period of job growth since the last time a Democrat lived in the White House. 

By the way, none of this includes the fact that he ordered the killing of Osama bin Ladin and we’ve seen stocks hit numerous record highs (proving trickle-down economics doesn’t work). 

So, when Republicans say that President Obama has been the “worst president in history,” they clearly don’t have a clue what the heck they’re talking about. 

Allen Clifton 
Allen Clifton is from the Dallas-Fort Worth area and has a degree in Political Science. He is a co-founder of Forward Progressives, and author of the popular Right Off A Cliff column. He is also the founder of the Right Off A Cliff facebook page, on which he routinely voices his opinions and stirs the pot for the Progressive movement. Follow Allen on Twitter as well, @Allen_Clifton.

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