Fact Check: Bill Clinton's 'jobs score' of parties claim rings true

The Kansas City StarSeptember 7, 2012 

Former president Bill Clinton delivered a 48-minute defense of President Barack Obama during his speech Wednesday at the Democratic National Convention.

The address was packed with facts and figures, as well as political claims and arguments.

Here’s a fact check of some of Clinton’s statements.

CLAIM: “For 52 years now, the Republicans have held the White House 28 years, the Democrats, 24. In those 52 years, our private economy has produced 66 million private sector jobs. So what’s the job score? Republicans, 24 million; Democrats, 42 (million).”

ANALYSIS: The claim is accurate, according to figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Here’s the breakdown: Kennedy-Johnson: 12.1 million jobs added; Nixon-Ford: 8.4 million jobs; Carter: 9 million jobs; Reagan-Bush: 16.1 million jobs; Clinton: 20.8 million jobs; Bush: 646,000 jobs lost; Obama: 332,000 jobs added through July of this year.

But note the recent performance. Of all presidents since John Kennedy, Barack Obama has had the second worst record for private sector job creation. George W. Bush’s was worse largely because of the 2008 economic collapse at the end of his second term.

And half of the jobs claimed for Democratic presidents actually came during Clinton’s own administration, in which Republicans controlled Congress.

CLAIM: “The Recovery Act saved or created millions of jobs and cut taxes ... for 95 percent of the American people. And, in the last 29 months, our economy has produced about 4.5 million private sector jobs.”

ANALYSIS: The Recovery Act, also known as the stimulus program, did cut taxes. But those tax cuts went to taxpayers who had jobs outside the home, not to 95 percent of the American people, as Clinton claimed.

It is true that the American economy has added 4.5 million private sector jobs in the last 29 months, as Clinton claimed. But if you calculate private job growth from the beginning of the Obama administration — roughly 44 months ago — the net growth is only 332,000 private jobs, as noted above.

And the unemployment rate remains high largely because of reductions in public sector jobs, such as teachers and public safety officers, because of spending cuts at the state and local levels. Clinton never mentioned that, or the unemployment rate.

It is impossible to know for sure how many jobs the stimulus “saved.”

CLAIM: “We all know that Governor Romney opposed the plan to save GM and Chrysler.”

ANALYSIS: In a column written early in the Obama presidency, Mitt Romney argued for what he called a “managed bankruptcy” for stressed car makers. He wanted to negotiate with labor unions and other stakeholders for reductions in pay and benefits in return for government help.

“A managed bankruptcy may be the only path to the fundamental restructuring the industry needs,” he wrote. “It would permit the companies to shed excess labor, pension and real estate costs. The federal government should provide guarantees for post-bankruptcy financing and assure car buyers that their warranties are not at risk.”

Eventually, both GM and Chrysler underwent managed bankruptcies — although in a different manner than Romney proposed. And rather than provide private loan guarantees, the federal government bought stock in new car companies formed as a result of the bankruptcies. The government still owns some of that stock.

President George W. Bush also provided emergency help for the car makers and some believe he should share the credit, or blame, for the state of those companies today.

CLAIM: “First, both Governor Romney and Congressman (Paul) Ryan attacked the president for allegedly robbing Medicare of $716 billion ... But it’s not true ... What the president did was to save money by taking the recommendations of a commission of professionals to cut unwarranted subsidies to providers and insurance companies.”

ANALYSIS: As The Star reported last week, the Affordable Care Act contemplates reductions in the growth of spending for Medicare Advantage, a program that allows seniors to buy additional coverage, of roughly $500 billion over 10 years. That estimate has grown to $716 billion over the next 10 years.

Republicans argue those reductions will result in less coverage for seniors, and thus constitute a “cut” in Medicare. Democrats maintain that the reductions will mean less money for providers and insurance companies, but should not affect the quality of care.

In any case, the Paul Ryan budget plan anticipates similar savings over 10 years. In Ryan’s plan, the money would go to reduce the deficit, while the Affordable Care Act uses the savings to provide additional drug benefits for seniors and to cover the non-elderly poor.

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