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Posted at 9:18 PM ET, 01/25/2011

2011 State of the Union Live Fact Check

By Glenn Kessler

Please join the Fact Checker and Friends for live truth squadding of the State of the Union speech tonight. Fact Checker Glenn Kessler will be joined by some of the newsroom's top experts on domestic and foreign policy, including social policy reporter Amy Goldstein, education reporter Nick Anderson, international trade reporter Howard Schneider, energy reporter Steven Mufson, federal workforce reporter Ed O'Keefe, and investigative reporter James Grimaldi. The Fact Check team will analyze statements by the president for accuracy and exaggeration, as well as provide context for his remarks.

Readers are invited to flag errors, misleading claims or request clarification by contributing to the online discussion. You can also email Factchecker@washpost.com to contact us privately with statements that you think deserve to be checked out.

Since this is a live Fact Check, we will dispense with Pinocchio awards this evening, and focus on giving you a quick guide on the truthfulness or otherwise of the president's speech. (Scroll to the bottom and read in reverse order if you want to read the fact check in order of the president's delivery.)

***


"Because of a diplomatic effort to insist that Iran meet its obligations, the Iranian government now faces tougher and tighter sanctions than ever before. And on the Korean peninsula, we stand with our ally South Korea, and insist that North Korea keeps its commitment to abandon nuclear weapons."

Despite the president's tough words, neither policy is doing very well at the moment. The administration has mounted, with international cooperation, an impressive sanctions regime. But Iran's nuclear program continues apace, despite some possible setbacks. The administration's main goal in pushing sanctions is to get Iran to negotiate seriously on its nuclear program--and just last week talks collapsed between Iran and major powers. Iran, at the moment, evidentally feels little pressure to cut a deal. (For more on this, click here.)

North Korea also has continued along a belligerent path. For much of the Obama administration, officials have practiced what they call "strategic patience." But that appears to have only inspired North Korea to take increasingly risky steps. The administration inherited a bad hand on North Korea from the Bush administration, but the passage of two years has not brought any improvement.

--Glenn Kessler


"Health insurance reform will slow these rising costs, which is part of why nonpartisan economists have said that repealing the health care law would add a quarter of a trillion dollars to our deficit."

The president is referring to an estimate by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office--the official scorekeeper of legislation--that repealing the law for raise the defcit estimates by $230 billion. Republicans have challenged that estimate, noting (not without reason) that the legislation was crafted to ensure that a deficit target was reached. Some things that Democrats wanted to do, such as fixing a formula for doctor payments in Medicare, were dropped because they were too expensive, while other policy moves, such as expanding Medicaid eligibility, were done to help achieve cost savings. Overall, the health care bill raises much more revenue than it increases spending, another reason why it reduces the deficit. Obama did not pursue health care reform to decrease the deficit, but to greatly reduce the uninsured in the United States.

We took a more extensive look at this here.

--Glenn Kessler

"Already, we have frozen the salaries of hardworking federal employees for the next two years."

Obama referenced his decision to freeze the pay of "hardworking federal employees" over the next two years. The decision - announced just days after the midterm elections - earned wide praise from fiscal conservatives, but has irked the rank and file and their unions, who actively supported Obama's 2008 campaign.

Several close observers of the federal workforce fear the freeze could compel older employees to retire as the economy improves, leaving agencies void of experienced workers to train the new recruits.

And in a potentially perilous sign, the federal cutbacks appear to be impacting the normally robust Washington-area economy. According to Labor Department statistics released Tuesday, unemployment rates in December fell slightly in the District and held steady in Maryland and Virginia, but some experts said the numbers signal the beginning of a federal hiring slowdown.

--Ed O'Keffe


"We shouldn't just give our people a government that's more affordable. We should give them a government that's more competent and efficient. We cannot win the future with a government of the past."

Obama scored some easy laughs by ticking off examples of government redundancies, noting that 12 agencies deal with exports, at least five deal with housing policy and others deal with food safety.

The government's Export.gov lists 11 federal agencies that deal with exports: the Energy Department, Export-Import Bank, International Trade Association, the Foreign Agricultural Service, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the Small Business Administration, the State Department, U.S. Trade and Development Agency, the Office of Foreign Assets Control and the U.S. Trade Representative.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Agriculture Department's Rural Housing Service, the Federal Housing Administration, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, and offices at the departments of Defense, Treasury and Veterans Affairs also deal with housing issues.

Food safety is handled by the Agriculture Department, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institutes of Health, according to FoodSafety.gov.

Gary Bass, founder and executive director of OMB Watch, a group tracking government operations, said he was shocked by Obama's proposed reorganization.

"Even I don't know the various agencies involved in exports or housing," said Bass, who's tracked government management for almost three decades. "That's like asking how many agencies deal with kid's issues."

--Ed O'Keefe

"I'm willing to look at other ideas to bring down costs, including one that Republicans suggested last year: medical malpractice reform to rein in frivolous lawsuits."

Since his days in the U.S. Senate, President Obama has favored certain ways of trying to lower costs associated with medical malpractice.

Essentially, he has been a proponent of reducing the number of malpractice cases that reach the courts. In September of 2009, he announced that the Health and Human Services Department would start to give out $25 million in grants to encourage states to experiment with various ways to deter such lawsuits. These demonstration projects, now underway in 21 states, have built on hospital programs in which doctors who make a mistake apologize early and try to negotiate a payment. They also include screening systems in which states have formed panels of medical experts, who must rule that patients' complaints have merit before they may sue.

But Obama does not like all ideas for changing the medical malpractice system. Even though the president says in his speech that he wants to work with Republicans he has never been a fan of main step the GOP has long said would control malpractice costs: creating federal limits on the size of damage awards patients can collect in successful lawsuits. As Republicans have moved into the majority in the House this month, one of their top priorities is to try to abolish the massive law enacted last year to change the health care system -- and replace it with their own ideas. House Republicans have, once again, said that limits on medical liability awards are necessary.

So both the president and the GOP are in favor of lowering medical malpractice costs. They disagree sharply over how to do it.
--Amy Goldstein


"The Secretary of Defense has also agreed to cut tens of billions of dollars in spending that he and his generals believe our military can do without."

The president evoked Defense Secretary Robert Gates in this line, hoping for some inoculation against GOP claims that the Pentagon budget is being cut too much. Earlier this month, Gates surprised some in Congress when he said the Pentagon would contribute $78 billion in deficit reduction.

Some background: Gates announced in May that the military would seek $100 billion in efficiency savings, which the service chiefs would be aim to keep and reinvest. But then the White House budget office told Gates he needed to find a further $150 billion in savings, which he negotiated down to $78 billion.

Some $6 billion comes from reducing the size of the active Army and Marine Corps starting in fiscal years 2015, when the war in Afghanistan is supposed to be over, and another $4 billion comes a new production schedule for the joint strike fighter program.

The biggest chunk of savings --$54 billion--comes from what Gates called "DOD-wide overhead reductions and efficiencies ...which include a freeze on all government civilian salaries." Obama had already announced the freeze in civilian pay, so Gates in effect pocketed that savings. Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said pay freeze is worth about $12.5 billion. The rest comes from such items as a freeze on the number of civilian positions and other efficiencies.

Another $14 billion comes from changes in economic assumptions, such as a lower rate of projected inflation in later years. The Pentagon in the past has argued with the budget office that inflation is higher in the defense realm rather than in the rest of the economy, so it has tended to assume higher inflation than the Office of Management and Budget. Some might view this shift as a budget gimmick, since it involved changing a few variables--and no one really knows what inflation will be five years from now.

--Glenn Kessler


"Let me be the first to say that anything can be improved. If you have ideas about how to improve this law by making care better or more affordable, I am eager to work with you. We can start right now by correcting a flaw in the legislation that has placed an unnecessary bookkeeping burden on small businesses."

In inviting critics of the new health care law to suggest ways to improve it, but urging them not to try to abolish it, the president is employing the same talking points that House Democrats used last week when the House's Republican majority voted to repeal the entire legislation. So far, the law's requirement that small businesses file more tax forms than in the past -- a provision that does not directly affect health care -- is the only specific part of the law that the president has said he is willing to change. He does not go beyond that one provision in his speech.
--Amy Goldstein

"I'm not willing to tell Jim Houser, a small business owner from Oregon, that he has to go back to paying $5,000 more to cover his employees. As we speak, this law is making prescription drugs cheaper for seniors and giving uninsured students a chance to stay on their parents' coverage."

In this section of his speech, the president is singling out some of the earliest parts of the law to take effect. Among them, he mentions the first small step towards eliminating an unpopular gap in coverage for Medicare drug benefits, known as the "doughnut hole," Under the law, the gap will shrink gradually until it disappears in 2020. By pointing out this and other parts of the law that took effect quickly, the president is continuing the administration's line of argument that the more Americans get a first-hand taste of the law's effects, the more popular the legislation will become -- a point that Republicans vehemently dispute.

What is equally interesting in this part of the speech is what Obama does not mention -- most notably, the law's requirement that, starting in 2014, most Americans must carry health insurance. Surveys show that this mandate is the least popular aspect of the law. During his 2008 presidential campaign, then-Sen. Obama argued that a mandate was not needed to accomplish a central goal of reducing the number of Americans who are uninsured. Today, the administration has become a staunch defender of the mandate. House Republicans have made this part of the law one of their main targets.

--Amy Goldstein

"What I'm not willing to do is go back to the days when insurance companies could deny someone coverage because of a pre-existing condition. I'm not willing to tell James Howard, a brain cancer patient from Texas, that his treatment might not be covered."

The president's mention of James Howard, invited to sit in the First Lady's box in the House gallery, is a reference to a part of the law that took effect last year. It created, on a temporary basis, special insurance plans known as high-risk pools for people who have been rejected by health insurance companies because of their medical history.

The law gave states the choice of creating their own such pool or letting their residents who qualify join a new federal pool created under the law. The law also devoted $5 billion in subsidies to help make that coverage more affordable. The arrangement is to last until 2014, when insurance companies no longer will legally be able to reject Americans because of their medical conditions. The idea of high-risk pools has long been favored by Republicans, who are suggesting that a slightly different version of them be made permanent.

The government's early figures show that this health insurance has been far less popular than anticipated -- at least during their first months. According to a report issued by Health and Human Services officials in early November, about 8,000 people had signed up. Last spring, the Medicare program's chief actually predicted that 375,000 people would enroll by the end of 2010. HHS officials contended that the enrollment would swell as the plans became better-known -- and as state officials had a chance to tinker with the benefits and the price.

Other health policy experts -- and some people who had hoped to buy such coverage -- said the plans are simply too expensive. They also have said that one of the eligibility requirements -- that people must have been uninsured for at least six months -- is a problem for some sick people who otherwise might want to join. HHS officials have said they plan to release updated enrollment figures soon.
--Amy Goldstein


"Over the years, a parade of lobbyists has rigged the tax code to benefit particular companies and industries. Those with accountants or lawyers to work the system can end up paying no taxes at all. But all the rest are hit with one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world."

Big companies often complain that the United States 35 percent top rate for companies is one of the highest in the world. But a recent University of North Carolina study of the period from 2003 to 2007, spotlighted in Bloomberg BusinessWeek, suggests that the effective tax rate--what multinationals pay after credits, deductions and tax strategies--in the United States is really not much different than the rest of the world. U.S. multinationals paid about 26 percent on average, compared to a global average of 25 percent. Some companies fared rather well, such as General Electric, with an effective tax rate of 11.5 percent, and Pfizer, with a tax rate of 18.7 percent.

--Glenn Kessler


"To help businesses sell more products abroad, we set a goal of doubling our exports by 2014 - because the more we export, the more jobs we create at home. Already, our exports are up. Recently, we signed agreements with India and China that will support more than 250,000 jobs in the United States. And last month, we finalized a trade agreement with South Korea that will support at least 70,000 American jobs."

The administration has made doubling exports a top goal of its economic policy, and, as a general rule, contends that each additional $1 billion worth of exports supports about 6,000 jobs. That figure is based on complicated models of the U.S. economy, but it also rests on assumptions that are in steady flux.

During the recession, for example, companies pared their work force and have found ways to increase output during the recovery with fewer employees. This increased productivity is a good thing in some ways -- it means American goods are being produced more efficiently -- but it also is one reason why the unemployment rate remains "sticky."

The dynamic holds true for exporters as well: if big international companies are able to rely on idle capacity or underused workers to fill new orders, the employment impact of increased exports may be muted, at least until companies are sure that their investment in new employees is necessary to meet rising demand. In addition, the billion-dollars-equals-six-thousand-jobs equation does not account for inflation. The U.S. is heading for a bumper year in agricultural sales, but some of that is due to rising commodity prices, as opposed to an increase the amount of corn or soybeans being sold (and thus in the amount of equipment, chemicals and workers needed to produce it).

What do free trade agreements have to do with this? The recently renegotiated Korea Free Trade Agreement is a case in point. Korean goods generally can come into the United States with comparatively low duties: Americans already buy hundreds of thousands of Korean made cars, and Korean brands like Samsung and LG have become successful staples in electronics and other home consumer goods. Korea, however, still imposes some stiff taxes and other barriers that keep many U.S. goods out (or make them more expensive). So the basic logic is to even the playing field so more American goods go overseas -- and even the United Auto Workers and major car companies like Ford now agree that the renegotiated treaty seems to provide an opportunity.

Is there room for skepticism? Sure. Some American companies may find it more economical to locate in Korea rather than export goods or services there (just like Hyundai has begun building cars in the U.S.) And while a promised reduction in tariffs is hard to fudge, many of the complaints about market access in Korea involve nontariff restrictions, such as regulations that might favor a Korean company over a U.S. or European one.

Culture also plays a role. Americans have become accustomed, since the early waves of Japanese auto imports in the 1970s, to buying whatever car suits their budget and taste, with little hometown bias. Koreans still speak about the subtle pressure they feel to keep at least one Hyundai or Kia parked in front of their house, even if they have a Ford tucked in the garage. American companies will still have to work hard to build a market in Korea, even if the duties disappear.
--Howard Schneider


"Now, clean energy breakthroughs will only translate into clean energy jobs if businesses know there will be a market for what they're selling. So tonight, I challenge you to join me in setting a new goal: by 2035, 80% of America's electricity will come from clean energy sources. Some folks want wind and solar. Others want nuclear, clean coal, and natural gas. To meet this goal, we will need them all - and I urge Democrats and Republicans to work together to make it happen."

Obama highlights three energy areas: support for new clean energy technology, boosting the number of "advanced technology" vehicles such as electric cars, and shrinking coal-fired power plants' share of electricity generation by more than half by 2035. Much of these are retreads of earlier ideas. And without more details, it's hard to know just how much is new.

Overall what's notable, says Jason Grumet, head of the Bipartisan Policy Center, isn't what's new but that Obama wants to protect or increase some of the government's clean energy spending programs for research, promotion of electric cars and more - even in the midst of calls for big cuts in spending.

Clean energy: The support for new clean energy technology - a favorite idea of Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Obama - is familiar. The administration had proposed several "energy innovation hubs" in 2009, but settled for fewer in the negotiations with Congress. Now Obama wants a doubling in the number of hubs, essentially renewing his earlier request. He reiterates the goal of getting solar energy costs down to $1 a watt, a target that even Chu admits will be challenging. And he says he'll do that by "a more than 85 percent increase in renewable energy investment," but it remains unclear what's included in that figure. He says his budget will propose a one third boost in clean energy technology funding, but the government provides only a modest share of the entire economy's spending in this area.

Cars: As the administration notes, it was 2008 when Obama first set a goal of putting 1 million "advanced technology" vehicles on the road by 2015. Nothing new there. But he now says he will seek "a new effort to support electric vehicle manufacturing and adoption ...through improved consumer rebates, investments in R&D, and competitive programs to encourage communities that invest in electric vehicle infrastructure."

It's not clear what this will include. The federal government already provides a $7,500 tax credit for buyers of electric vehicles, though tweaking the form of that rebate might help car buyers who don't have the spare cash to spend while waiting for the tax credit. The federal government is already providing the electric car industry lots of other help such as $2.4 billion investment in the development of batteries and other electric-car technology in the United States -- an enormous bet on a product that has yet to gain broad commercial success. The administration has provided nearly $2.6 billion in advanced technology loans to Nissan, Tesla Motors and Fisker to establish electric-vehicle manufacturing facilities.

Even with a new push, electric cars might not catch on enough to reach Obama's 1 million car target in five years. Hybrid cars took about eight years to reach the million-unit sales mark in the United States, according to Energy Department figures. Hybrids, though they have been around for a decade, represent less than 1 percent of the nation's roughly 250 million-vehicle fleet.

Electricity: Finally, Obama sets a goal of getting 80 percent of electricity from "clean energy sources," but he includes nuclear power, "clean coal," and natural gas. What he calls "clean coal" is really coal plants attached to carbon capture and storage operations, which are currently wildly uneconomic. They aren't clean, they just store carbon dioxide underground. Natural gas is also an emitter of greenhouse gases, but it burns with twice the efficiency of coal and thus emits less carbon dioxide. Moreover, recent discoveries of shale gas - controversial in many states - has made gas cheaper than before and many utilities are shifting to gas for economic reasons alone.

It appears that Obama is proposing to cut coal-fired power plants' share of total electricity generation from just under 50 percent today to 20 percent by 2035. How hard that is depends on how much electricity you think the country will use by 2035. In the past, electricity consumption has risen about 1 percent a year as the economy and population increase. During the recession, usage fell and is slowly rising again. A massive effort at energy efficiency could hold consumption steady, or even reduce consumption, many experts say. But it would require an effort several orders of magnitude greater than what's been done in the past.

If consumption levels stayed constant through 2035 - when the economy will be more than twice as big - the United States would still need to replace 180,000 megawatts of coal capacity with other energy sources. That might be doable, but not at today's rates of wind, solar and nuclear construction.

--Steve Mufson

"Over the next ten years, with so many Baby Boomers retiring from our classrooms, we want to prepare 100,000 new teachers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math."

President Obama's call for 100,000 new teachers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (known in education as the STEM fields) over the next decade is not new.

On Sept. 27, the White House said in a news release that Obama wanted to recruit 10,000 such teachers over two years. "This announcement will move the country forward on the Obama Administration's ambitious goal of preparing 100,000 STEM teachers over the next decade," the White House said at the time.

In 2006, President George W. Bush voiced a similar goal in his State of the Union speech: "Tonight I propose to train 70,000 high school teachers to lead advanced-placement courses in math and science, bring 30,000 math and science professionals to teach in classrooms, and give early help to students who struggle with math, so they have a better chance at good, high-wage jobs."

The key issues here are how many STEM teachers there are now, what is the shortage of such teachers, and what is the turnover rate. Administration officials say that the demand for STEM teachers is part of a larger question about teacher turnover as baby boomers retire. In addition, some independent experts note that public schools have trouble recruiting qualified STEM teachers because starting teacher salaries are not competitive with what graduates in those fields can earn from private industry.

In 2007 a group known as the Business-Higher Education Forum sounded an alarm about the STEM teaching workforce. The forum, based in Washington, is composed of business executives, college presidents and other leaders.

In the report, "An American Imperative: Transforming the Recruitment, Retention and Renewal of our Nation's Mathematics and Science Teaching Workforce," the forum called for a major campaign on the issue. It cited an estimate that the nation would need 280,000 new math and science teachers by 2015. It found that students who face economic disadvantages are more likely to have unqualified or minimally qualified math and science teachers. And it found that math and science teachers turn over at a higher rate than peers in other subject areas.

William E. Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland, said the president's goal is on target. STEM teachers, he said, are "absolutely, desperately needed." He said the Maryland system aims to triple what he called a "pathetically small" number of STEM teachers it produces each year. Currently, about 120 STEM teachers emerge each year from the Maryland public universities, he said, and the goal is to raise that figure to 350 annually.

Kirwan warned that goals must be backed up with funding. "Sometimes the rhetoric is ahead of the actual allocation of resources to achieve the goal," Kirwan said.

Francis Eberle, executive director of the National Science Teachers Association, said 100,000 new STEM teachers over a decade --or 10,000 a year--is an ambitious goal but in line with needs. He estimated there are about 600,000 public secondary school science teachers. "We've got a long way to go," to meet demand, Eberle said.


--Nick Anderson

"Race to the Top is the most meaningful reform of our public schools in a generation. For less than one percent of what we spend on education each year, it has led over 40 states to raise their standards for teaching and learning."

In his speech, President Obama makes expansive claims about the impact of a $4.35 billion grant program known as Race to the Top. That program, which he launched in 2009, is at the core of his education agenda.

Is Race to the Top "the most meaningful reform" of schools in a generation? That's debatable. Some might argue that the 2002 No Child Left Behind law enacted under President George W. Bush should get the nod. That law required for the first time that public schools test all students in reading and math every year in grades three through eight and once in high school. Parents and teachers across America have strong opinions about all of that standardized testing and what it has done to public education. It marked a huge expansion in assessment and the birth of a culture of school accountability. What is certain is that the Bush-era law set in motion a cascade of actions to close student achievement gaps that the test scores revealed in greater detail than ever before. The law is still reverberating in numerous ways.

Here are some facts on Race to the Top. The Education Department designed the program and funded it with money Congress provided through the 2009 economic stimulus law. States and the District of Columbia were eligible to apply. But there was a catch: the reform plans had to dovetail with a detailed set of criteria established by the Obama administration. The adminstration gave points to states with plans to adopt common academic standards, link teacher evaluation to student achievement, expand quality charter schools, intervene in low-performing schools and other measures that the president supports.

Some critics said the administration's criteria were off-base. They said the administration should have done more to encourage equity in education funding, for instance, or efforts to reduce class size. Other critics said that the program set up an unhealthy dynamic of winners and losers in education funding.

The program's funding level was indeed less than 1 percent of the commonly accepted estimate of about $500 billion spent each year by state, federal and local governments on public education.

All of the Race to the Top funding was awarded last year. About $350 million was set aside to fund the development of tests and assessments. That left $4 billion to fund state reform plans. Winners in a first round of competition were Delaware and Tennessee. Winners in a second round were the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Rhode Island.

The winners included some surprises, among them Maryland, Ohio and Hawaii. Some analysts suggested that those states had done little to challenge the power of teachers unions. Lousiana and Colorado, among others, were cited as examples of states with bolder plans that were left out of the winner's circle. The bottom line is that there is still strong debate about which states deserved win.

Whether Race to the Top produces meaningful change depends in part on whether states follow through with their plans, which are just getting under way. If they don't, the administration could withhold the money. It is therefore somewhat early to gauge the impact of the awards for the winners.

Even so, the administration contends that a raft of changes to state law occurred because of the contest--in essence, reform by incentive

Some advocates of charter schools caution that the changes spawned by Race to the Top do not amount to a major national policy shift. But the administration is justified in claiming that there has been a flurry of action on charters at the state level--actions that might otherwise not have happened.

It is true that teacher evaluation reform has become a major movement in education. Race to the Top certainly helped encourage states to take significant actions on tenure, evaluation and related issues--actions that might have been politically unthinkable a few years ago. But it was not the only instigator of such actions. Many teachers have long complained that evaluation systems are broken.

Lastly, it is true that Race to the Top helped encourage a state-led movement toward common standards in English language arts and math. It is true that more than 40 states and the District in the past last year have adopted--provisionally or fully--what are now national academic standards. But the standards movement, pushed by governors and state school chiefs, preceded the launch of Race to the Top. And the impact of the new standards will only be measured in years to come after experts assess how much states actually revise curriculum, teacher training and testing to make the benchmarks become an educational reality.

--Nick Anderson


"I'm asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies. I don't know if you've noticed, but they're doing just fine on their own."

The biggest energy fuss in Obama's energy proposals may be caused by Obama's proposal to once again try to eliminate the $4 billion a year of tax subsidies for oil, gas and other fossil fuel producers. Tuesday morning the American Petroleum Institute tried to make a preemptive strike, highlighting the industry's capital investments and jobs. Cutting these subsidies has been frequently proposed in the past, but the industry has key supporters in the Congress who have preserved those tax breaks so far.
--Steve Mufson


"Half a century ago, when the Soviets beat us into space with the launch of a satellite called Sputnik¸ we had no idea how we'd beat them to the moon."

Obama wasn't born yet when Sputnik was launched in 1957 so maybe the details are hazy for him. But the race to the moon was not really on the priority list at the time for the United--certainly not for the Eisenhower administration. A moon landing only became a U.S. priority in 1961 when John F. Kennedy--under the prodding of his vice president, Lyndon Johnson--announced the goal of "before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth."

--Glenn Kessler

Follow The Fact Checker on Twitter @GlennKesslerWP

By Glenn Kessler  | January 25, 2011; 9:18 PM ET
Categories:  Barack Obama, Live Fact Check  
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Next: Fact Checking Ryan and Bachmann

Comments

no doctors?

guess the wapo is predicting no comments about obamacare.

Posted by: docwhocuts | January 25, 2011 7:03 PM | Report abuse

no doctors?

guess the wapo is predicting no comments about obamacare.

Posted by: docwhocuts | January 25, 2011 7:03 PM | Report abuse

I'm an Obama supporter, but even when you are checking up on him (as you should) I truly appreciate this feature. It's one of the best things at the Post. Thank you for cranking it out so prolifically in such a short time. Excellent work (though I haven't read it all yet)!

Posted by: B2O2 | January 25, 2011 11:35 PM | Report abuse

Amy missed Obama talking about tort reform. Get on her case fact checkers.

Posted by: jameschirico | January 26, 2011 12:07 AM | Report abuse

Obama was specific on innocent doctors get costs paid, while Amy vaguely said there was a difference between them only showing the caps the GOP wanted.

Posted by: jameschirico | January 26, 2011 12:12 AM | Report abuse

If Chevy can produce enough Volts to meet demand in addition to the articles points, 2015 goals could be met.

Posted by: jameschirico | January 26, 2011 12:17 AM | Report abuse

The 12th agency dealing with exports is the one that runs the Export.gov website - The Department of Commerce

Posted by: SamsontheCat | January 26, 2011 5:46 AM | Report abuse

Where are the "Fact Checks" of the republican responses?

Posted by: mrwx | January 26, 2011 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Where are the "Fact Checks" of the republican responses?

Posted by: mrwx | January 26, 2011 11:16 AM | Report abuse

NPR yesterday said that:
1) Obama's approach to Iran's nuclear program has been mostly sabotage;
2) the results have halted and set back progress.
Isn't this success? Please comment Mr. Kessler.


Posted by: skeptik3 | January 26, 2011 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Kessler, you call Obama's Sputnik memory "hazy" b/c we didn't initially plan a moon-mission; but the statement "we had no idea how we'd beat them to the moon" is still a true one. We may not have planned but we surely had no ideas.
I appreciate your toughness, but please be fair.

Posted by: skeptik3 | January 26, 2011 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Who is the author of the UNC study on effective corporate tax rates?

Posted by: Howard19 | January 26, 2011 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Who is the author of the UNC study on effective corporate tax rates?

Posted by: Howard19 | January 26, 2011 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Well, I am with Obama on the issue of reforming malpractice awards. If I don't trust the legislature to come up with limits on wages or prices, I certainly don't trust them to come up with limits on damages.

Amendment VII gives us the right to a trial by jury in civil suits. That is a basic right as important and as priviledged as the right to free speech and owning a gun. How would you like for all criminal cases to be decided by the legislature instead of a jury? It is so fundamental as to be a basis of liberty.

Neither the system of jury trials for criminals nor a jury decision in civil suits is perfect. But, a jury is better than the alternative, which is too much power entrusted to too few, some sort of elite who deign to know better than you and I.

Posted by: amelia45 | January 26, 2011 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Part 1 of 2

Reaganomics failed and now the bill is due.

Stop cutting our society apart. The problem is NOT too much spending, it is too little taxation.

They got rich from the Reagan/Bush tax cuts and W's massive rich-people welfare program. It is time they pay for it. Tax the rich now!

Put back the regulations removed by Contract On America. Civilization works when everyone follows the rules, and regulations are the rules that make the economy work for everyone. Deregulation didn't work in 2007 or 1983 or 1929. It will not work in the future. If nothing else, Reagan proved Big Business is not capable of self-regulation or even moderation when greed is the driving emotion resulting in anarchy and economic collapse, again.

Massive budget cuts mean massive layoffs. Millions of jobs are at risk for millions of families. Make government work for the people, and fight the people who work against the government. Americans need help from our government, not a sentence of abject poverty. The American spirit is about helping our neighbors, not stratifying society and condemning the less fortunate to endless suffering.

Stop outsourcing government jobs! The only people who tell you Big Business could do the job better and cheaper are the Big Business people who get the jobs then jack the bill up. Lying for dollars, the new Big Business past-time. It costs the American taxpayers billions every year.

End the corporate tax loopholes and make them pay their fair share. Make them pay the same income taxes the middle-class must pay. Tax corporations for every job they send overseas.

Enough with this stupidity. Tax gasoline at a realistic rate. Tax vehicles by their weight, age and documented gas mileage and exhaust profile. SUVs pollute and are destroying our streets. Tax small engine sales and usage, too, since they pollute more than vehicles. Tax breaks for two-wheeled vehicles. Better yet, ban SUVs and stop wasting precious resources.

Stop the idiotic war on science! To bad if you don't like the facts. That is what they are – facts! Repeatable, verifiable and irrefutable facts. You cannot change them. You can not hide them. You cannot twist them. If you think you can make up your own facts to fit your own ideological world then you are either insane or a delusional right-winger. Either way, get some help.

Posted by: TaxTheRichNow | January 27, 2011 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Part 1 of 2

Reaganomics failed and now the bill is due.

Stop cutting our society apart. The problem is NOT too much spending, it is too little taxation.

They got rich from the Reagan/Bush tax cuts and W's massive rich-people welfare program. It is time they pay for it. Tax the rich now!

Put back the regulations removed by Contract On America. Civilization works when everyone follows the rules, and regulations are the rules that make the economy work for everyone. Deregulation didn't work in 2007 or 1983 or 1929. It will not work in the future. If nothing else, Reagan proved Big Business is not capable of self-regulation or even moderation when greed is the driving emotion resulting in anarchy and economic collapse, again.

Massive budget cuts mean massive layoffs. Millions of jobs are at risk for millions of families. Make government work for the people, and fight the people who work against the government. Americans need help from our government, not a sentence of abject poverty. The American spirit is about helping our neighbors, not stratifying society and condemning the less fortunate to endless suffering.

Stop outsourcing government jobs! The only people who tell you Big Business could do the job better and cheaper are the Big Business people who get the jobs then jack the bill up. Lying for dollars, the new Big Business past-time. It costs the American taxpayers billions every year.

End the corporate tax loopholes and make them pay their fair share. Make them pay the same income taxes the middle-class must pay. Tax corporations for every job they send overseas.

Enough with this stupidity. Tax gasoline at a realistic rate. Tax vehicles by their weight, age and documented gas mileage and exhaust profile. SUVs pollute and are destroying our streets. Tax small engine sales and usage, too, since they pollute more than vehicles. Tax breaks for two-wheeled vehicles. Better yet, ban SUVs and stop wasting precious resources.

Stop the idiotic war on science! To bad if you don't like the facts. That is what they are – facts! Repeatable, verifiable and irrefutable facts. You cannot change them. You can not hide them. You cannot twist them. If you think you can make up your own facts to fit your own ideological world then you are either insane or a delusional right-winger. Either way, get some help.

Posted by: TaxTheRichNow | January 27, 2011 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Part 2 of 2

I understand the misguided belief that private citizens should own guns. I believe in the Easter Bunny, too. So be it. Own your gun. Tax gun ownership! $100 a year for every hand gun. If we cannot outlaw them again tax every assault weapon $500 a year. Failure to pay or register your weapon is an automatic $10,000 fine per weapon plus surrendering the weapon and community service. Tax ammo sales at $1 per round. $10,000 fine per weapon exported or sold to anyone who cannot document United States residency. No limit on ownership numbers. You get to won your guns and the Americans get some money. Everyone happy.

The right-wing agenda has destroyed our competitiveness, our education system, our health care system, our journalism, our infrastructure and our international credibility. Listening to right-wing politicians droning on with the same failed Reaganesque mantra has gone beyond annoying and has reached insane levels. Letting Reaganites make fiscal policy again is like giving car keys to an habitual drunk. All of us are going to get hurt even worse than before.

Bring accountability back to the United States. Hold criminals undermining our nation to the highest standards, not the lowest, especially the ideologues looting our national treasury.

Outlaw the lobbyists. Make vote buying and selling a capital crime at all levels. It has corrupted our government and threatens our society. It is an affront to sensible citizens and makes for very bad laws. Americans should not be subjected to the worst government Big Business can buy. Laws are to protect citizens, not service corporations.

Remove the right-wing ideologues from every court bench in the land. A judge's highest calling must be the law. Our courts must be impartial and fair for all. Judges must not belong to the highest bidder, nor follow the ideology of a failed political cult. And conservative societies always fail. THAT is a fact.

Take America back from the right-wingers! Their regressive policies destroy societies. If they can't or won't add constructive, helpful contributions to the conservation then stop listening to them. You cannot compromise or negotiate with habitual liars. Trying to will only frustrate you further. Remember what happened when Democrats tried to stop the banking crisis – lies and obstructions. Tell the anarchist mob to sit down and shut up. They screwed it up for all of us over the last 30 years and now the Americans need to fix it. Either that or let them go somewhere else and screw up that society.

Posted by: TaxTheRichNow | January 27, 2011 10:14 AM | Report abuse

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