Depending on which side of the fence you’re on, the reaction to President Obama’s final State of the Union address was either a testimony to his great achievements or, as Donald Trump tweeted, “The #SOTU speech is really boring, slow, lethargic – very hard to watch!” Promising the speech would be short, it was long enough to take us down the rabbit hole of the usual embellished facts.
According to Breitbart Tuesday, there were many. Three from a list of 10 of the top fact checked shortcomings of the address are:
- “[W]e’ve done all this while cutting our deficits by almost three-quarters.” This is pure fiction. Obama has doubled the national debt, and it’s not because he cut the deficit. Rather, he spent staggering amounts of money in his first months in office–which he assigns, dishonestly, to the previous fiscal year, under George W. Bush. He “cut” (i.e. spent more gradually) from that spending, but only under protest, after Republicans took the House in 2010. (It is true that Obama’s 2015 budget deficit was about 25% of his 2010 deficit. But he referred to “deficits,” plural. Until last year, all of Obama’s deficits were worse than all of Bush’s deficits except for the last two.)
- “Anyone claiming that America’s economy is in decline is peddling fiction.” With that line, Obama took a shot at his would-be Democratic successors, as well as his Republican critics. But the truth is that despite the slow recovery–the slowest since World War II–labor force participation is the lowest it has been in decades. Wages are stagnant, household incomes still have not recovered from the recession, and young people see a bleak future.
- “That’s what the Affordable Care Act is all about. It’s about filling the gaps in employer-based care so that when we lose a job, or go back to school, or start that new business, we’ll still have coverage.” That is a cruel joke, given that Obamacare canceled insurance coverage for millions of Americans who did not change jobs. It also raised deductibles and premiums so high that many insurance companies are leaving the Obama exchanges totally.
USA Today also pointed out factual discrepancies in the president’s address. Obama cited there “more than 14 million new jobs,” but neglected to mention that’s only private sector jobs and only since the job losses hit bottom in February 2010. In boasting of the nearly 900,000 manufacturing jobs “in the past six years,” Obama omitted part of his presidency. When in fact, over his entire time in office, manufacturing jobs have gone down by 230,000.
Obama was clearly seeking to use one of his final addresses to the nation to help Democrats hold on to the White House in 2016 as he took jabs at several GOP presidential candidates. Obama took a shot at New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for what he called “over-the-top claims that this is World War III,” referring to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The president also took aim at Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas), saying the U.S. answer to ISIS “needs to be more than tough talk or calls to carpet bomb civilians.” And it was a clear shot at Trump when he stated at times of great change, America has never given in to “those who told us to fear the future” or promised “to restore past glory if we just got some group or idea that was threatening America under control,” reports The Hill.
Obama didn’t waste the opportunity to defend Muslims in America. He said insulting Muslims hurt the United States and “betrayed” its identity. “When politicians insult Muslims … that doesn’t make us safer,” he said, drawing applause from the crowd in the House of Representatives chamber. “It’s just wrong. It diminishes us in the eyes of the world. It makes it harder to achieve our goals.” Exactly what goals is he referring to?
At 10:25:44 p.m. President Obama wrapped up his final State of the Union address with a forceful statement of confidence in the future of the United States. “I believe in change because I believe in you,” Obama said in his closing remarks, generating a standing ovation. “That’s why I stand here as confident as I have ever been that the State of our Union is strong.”
It should be noted that while Obama received about a dozen standing ovations during his address, just a handful were fully bipartisan.