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Fact-checking 7 claims in Bill Clinton's convention speech

(CBS News) CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- In his 49-minute speech Wednesday night at the Democratic National Convention, former President Bill Clinton cited several statistics and made a number of supposedly fact-based assertions. Here's a look at which claims hold up under scrutiny and which don't.

"Since 1961, the Republicans have held the White House 28 years, the Democrats 24. In those 52 years, our private economy produced 66 million private sector jobs. What's the jobs score? Republicans 24 million, Democrats 42."

Since 1961, there have been five Republican presidents and five Democratic presidents - serving, as Clinton said, a cumulative 28 years and 24 years, respectively. Here's a breakdown of the net job creation under each one, according to data available on the Bureau of Labor Statistics:


Richard Nixon: + 7.1 million

Gerald Ford: +1.3 million

Ronald Reagan: + 14.7 million

George H. W. Bush: + 1.5 million

George W. Bush: -646,000

Total jobs added: +23.9 million


John F. Kennedy: +2.7 million

Lyndon B. Johnson: +9.5 million

Jimmy Carter: +9 million

Bill Clinton: +20.6 million

Barack Obama: +332,000

Total jobs added: +42.1 million

Clinton's assertion, then, is true: For whatever reason, Democratic presidents have added approximately 42 million private sector jobs, cumulatively, while Republicans have added approximately 24 million.

Politifact points out that Clinton did not include public sector job growth in his calculations. Because Democrats are thought to historically add more government jobs than Republicans, adding those figures could have pumped up Democratic job growth figures even more, Politifact argues.

A Washington Post analysis, however, contends that the most comprehensive measurement of job growth would have been to measure the numbers relative to population growth and to factor in nonfarm payrolls. In the Washington Post's subsequent analysis including those factors, "only four times did growth in nonfarm payrolls outpace population growth: under LBJ, Carter, Reagan, and Clinton. All of which supports Clinton's contention that Democrats do better on job growth."

"President Obama started with a much weaker economy than I did. No President - not me or any of my predecessors could have repaired all the damage in just four years."

A review of various economic indicators does show that the economy at the time of President Obama's inauguration was worse than it was just ahead of President Clinton's.

In the fourth quarter of 2008, real gross domestic product decreased at an annual rate of 6.3 percent. In the final three months of 1991, gross domestic product grew .8 percent.

Personal income in December 2008 decreased .2 percent, but in December 1991 it jumped 1 percent.

Unemployment in January 2009 rose from 7.2 percent to 7.6 percent, while in January 1991 it was static at 7.1 percent.

"The Recovery Act saved and created millions of jobs...."

The White House predicted that the stimulus, also known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, would create 6.8 million jobs by the end of the 2009. The stimulus, however, has not had that kind of impact, according to numerous studies, but "millions" of jobs have been created.

The White House-created Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), created to report to the president on the economy, was tasked with providing a report on the impact of the stimulus. In their last report, CEA estimated that through the middle of 2011, the stimulus increased employment between 2.2 million and 4.2 million jobs. The CEA credits the turnaround followed "quite closely with the Recovery Act."

The CEA notes that jobs were being lost at an average of 784,000 per month in 2009 and the economy gained an average of 166,000 jobs per month in 2011, calling the reversal "the largest on record."

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office credits the stimulus with job creation as well. A May 2012 report says the stimulus lowered unemployment between 0.1 and 0.8 percentage points and increased the number of full-time jobs between 0.3 million to 1.9 million just in the first quarter of 2011.

Although the stimulus peaked in 2010, but its effects are likely to be felt through 2012, CBO says, creating 200,000 to 1.3 million jobs in 2012.

"... and cut taxes for 95 percent of the American people."

In the stimulus, $116 billion of the $787 billion was spent on an individual tax cut known as the "Making Work Pay" tax credit. Individuals earning less than $75,000 per year received a $400 tax cut and couples earning less than $150,000 received an $800 reimbursement. The money was added incrementally to each paycheck and was in effect for 2009 and 2010.

Although the "Making Work Pay" tax credit was the most expansive tax credit, only 74 percent of working people benefited from it. Additional tax cuts were also included in the stimulus, including an expansion of the Alternative Minimum Tax, tax cuts for people with children, an increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit and tax incentives to purchase homes and obtain higher education. Seniors also received a $250 dollar payment from the stimulus, bringing the number of people who benefited from the tax cuts to 93 percent, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

After the "Making Work Pay" tax cut expired at the end of 2010, it was replaced with a payroll tax cut in 2011 and extended in 2012. It reduces a workers share of Social Security tax contribution from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent. It also cut employers contribution by 2 percent as well. According to the Congressional Research Service, 159 million workers - or 94 percent of people collecting a paycheck - received the tax cut at an average of $717 per employee.

"In the last 29 months the economy has produced about 4.5 million private sector jobs."

According to data gathered from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the economy has created 4,517,000 private sector jobs since January 2010, 29 months ago.

The peak of private sector employment was in January 2008, when 115 million private sector jobs filled the economy. Job loss began the following month and jobs continued to decline until March of 2010, or 27 months ago, when the private sector began adding jobs.

"We could have done better, but last year the Republicans blocked the president's job plan, costing the economy more than a million new jobs. So here's another job score. President Obama: plus 4.5 million. Congressional Republicans: zero."

Republicans in Congress have largely rejected government-funded stimulus efforts. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 passed with the support of no House Republicans and three Senate Republicans. Since then, President Obama and Democrats in Congress have attempted to pass numerous bills meant to create jobs but efforts were blocked in the Republican-led House of Representatives.

The most significant of the bills was debated in October of 2011. President Obama and Democrats attempted to pass a $447 billion stimulus package that included tax cuts, unemployment insurance benefits, infrastructure funding and money for states to keep public sector workers employed. But a deeply divided Congress failed to pass the measure and that was the last major effort to pass additional spending.

Political and partisan efforts, however, have ensued. In July, Senate Democrats attempted to pass a measure that would have given a 20 percent corporate tax credit for bringing jobs back to the United States. But the legislation was largely seen as political as Democrats new it had little chance of passing.

Republicans, who oppose government spending to boost the economy, have instead called for less regulation, reduced government, deficit reduction and tax reform to create jobs. They have proposed at least two dozen pieces of partisan legislation addressing those issues, but as Republicans only have control of the House of Representatives, their proposals have been unable to receive enough support to pass the Senate.

However, Congress did come together in April to pass a bipartisan piece of jobs legislation that intends to make it easier for small businesses and start-up businesses to raise capital.

"Over that same period, more than more than 500,000 manufacturing jobs have been created under President Obama - the first time manufacturing jobs have increased since the 1990s."

A review of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that manufacturing jobs are, in fact, on the rise for the first time since the 1990s. And if one starts counting in 2010, when that upward trend started, more than 500,000 jobs have been created.

However, if one starts when Mr. Obama took office in January 2009, manufacturing jobs have declined overall. In January 2009, there were 12,552,000 manufacturing jobs. They hit a low point in January 2010 at 11,458,000. Since then, the number of manufacturing jos have been growing and in July 2012 hit 11,990,000.

"The auto industry restructuring worked. It saved more than a million jobs, and not just at G.M., Chrysler, and their dealerships, but in auto parts manufacturing all over the country. ... We all know that Governor Romney opposed the plan to save G.M. and Chrysler."

There's no argument that the auto industry bailout worked in the long term. However, Mr. Clinton and the other Democrats praising President Obama this week on the bailout and its benefits are neglecting to acknowledge the initial decisions of former President George W. Bush and the Democratic-led Congress to pump $13 billion into the automakers in December 2008.

In fact, talks between the automakers and Congress began months before, when Mr. Obama was still a presidential candidate.

Where Mr. Obama put his real stamp on the bailout was setting the parameters in March 2009, allocating General Motors and Chrysler an additional $4 billion in exchange for agreeing to major restructuring of their operations.

Romney did famously pen a New York Times op-ed in which he said the automakers should have declared bankruptcy before receiving aid. Bankruptcy was not off the table for Mr. Obama: in his March 2009 restructuring announcement, Mr. Obama gave GM and Chrysler one month to shape up or face bankruptcy. In fact, Chrysler did file for bankruptcy at the end of April 2009, GM shortly thereafter, though both emerged from bankruptcy stronger than before.

As for the one million jobs saved claim, Mr. Clinton is most likely referring to a November 2010 study that showed the bailout likely saved 1.14 million jobs.

"The agreement the administration made with management, labor and environmental groups to double car mileage over the next few years is another good deal: it will cut your gas bill in half, make us more energy independent, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and add another 500,000 good jobs."

The Department of Transportation says that as a result of new fuel efficiency standards "By 2025, the average car will achieve a fuel economy performance equivalent to 54.5 miles per gallon, nearly double that of cars on the road today."

The DOT also estimates that the new standards will "slash U.S. oil consumption by 12 billion barrels, dramatically reducing our reliance on foreign suppliers" and eliminate "six billion metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution."

By claiming fuel standards create 500,000 jobs, Clinton is likely citing a study by the BlueGreen Alliance and the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) which found that 570,000 jobs will be created across the United States by 2030. The report is not unbiased, however, as The BlueGreen Alliance is a left-leaning group consisting of unions and environmental organizations whose goal is to create "green jobs." And the ACEEE works to advance energy-efficiency policies, programs, technologies, investments, and behaviors.

"President Obama's 'all of the above' energy plan is helping too - the boom in oil and gas production combined with greater energy efficiency has driven oil imports to a near 20 year low and natural gas production to an all time high. Renewable energy production has also doubled."

Oil imports can be measured in at least two ways - net imports (total imports minus exports) or as total imports. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) states, "[N] a clearer indication of the fraction of oil consumed that could not have been supplied from domestic sources and is thus the most appropriate measure."

John Cogan, spokesman for the EIA told CBS News, "If we look at net imports (important minus exports) for the first 7 months of 2012 it is 7,839,000 barrels per day and the last time we saw the figure at that level, on an annual rate of imports, was in 1993 when it was 7,618,000 barrels per day."

"The use of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing in shale and other tight rock formations played an important role in the increase of oil and natural gas reserves," said EIA Administrator Adam Sieminski. Although 2011 and 2010 saw the highest levels of natural gas production in more than 35 years, the amount has fluctuated little over the past four decades. The mid-1980s saw the lowest levels of natural gas production with 17,270 billion cubic feet per year in 1985, but consumption was also at its lowest level, too. In the first 11 months of 2011, the United States produced 22,030 billion cubic feet of natural gas, which is the first year since 1985 the U.S. consumed less than it produced.

The United States has nearly doubled its increase of renewable energy since 1973 - a time when most of renewable energy came from hydroelectric power and the U.S. used negligible amounts of solar, wind and geothermal energy. Since 2005, halfway through the Bush administration, the use of renewable energy increased - but not doubled - from 6.2 quadrillion BTU to 8.3 quadrillion But in the first 11 months of 2011.

"When Congressman Ryan looked into that TV camera and attacked President Obama's Medicare savings as, quote, 'the biggest, coldest power play,' I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Because that $716 billion is exactly to the dollar the same amount of Medicare savings that he has in his own budget! He attacked President Obama, too, but he actually wants to repeal those savings and give the money back to the insurance company. He wants to go back to the old system, which means we'll reopen the donut hole and force seniors to pay more for drugs, and we'll reduce the life of the Medicare trust fund by eight full years. So if he's elected, and if he does what he promised to do, Medicare will now go broke in 2016. Think about that. That means after all we won't have to wait until their voucher program kicks in, in 2023, to see the end of Medicare as we know it."

In his remarks at the Republican National Convention, Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan accused President Obama of funneling $716 billion away from Medicare at the expense of the elderly - which he referred to as "the biggest, coldest power play of all." But Ryan, as Clinton points out, and as CBS News has noted in various fact-checks, included the same cuts in his most recent budget plan, which would overhaul the Medicare system to a voucher program. Under the Obama administration's plan, the $716 billion comes in large part from savings to the Medicare Advantage Plan, as well as in hospital reimbursements and in payments to other providers, and the Affordable Care Act offers some additional benefits to Medicare recipients. Insurance companies would bear the brunt of many of those savings - particularly those targeting Medicare Advantage Plans, in which providers were previously thought to be overpaid by the government.

Romney says that if elected, he would restore the $716 billion in Medicare savings implemented by the Obama administration, and that Ryan, would fall in line with that plan. That means that, as Clinton said, repealing those savings would give money back to the insurance companies. Moreover, because the $716 billion in reductions would extend the solvency of Medicare by an estimated 8 years, and because new provisions by the Obama administration would close the prescription drug donut hole for seniors, Clinton's statement that the Romney-Ryan plan would "force seniors to pay more for drugs, and... reduce the life of the Medicare trust fund by eight full years."

The notion that Ryan "wants to go back to the old system," however, is only true in the sense that Romney has pledged to restore the $716 billion in Medicare reductions. Following Ryan's lead, Romney has pledged that a Romney-Ryan administration would overhaul the nation's Medicare system to a voucher program, which would be unprecedented.

According to the 2011 Medicare Trustee Report, the Medicare trust fund could be insolvent as early as 2016. With the $716 billion in reductions, however, experts estimate the trust fund could remain solvent for another eight years. So under the Romney-Ryan plan, which would not include those reductions, the trust fund could indeed become insolvent by the date Clinton mentioned. Does that mean Medicare itself would "go broke"? Depends how you define the terms. Working Americans would still be paying in to Medicare through a payroll tax, but not quickly enough to keep up with the costs of Medicare. Ultimately, that means that potentially, people would have to pay more into the program, or Congress would allow Medicare to reduce its payments to hospitals - or both.


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