WASHINGTON (AP) — On Day 2 of the Democratic National Convention, speakers cherry-picked employment numbers to make President Barack Obama’s record on jobs look better than it is and misrepresented Republican proposals on Medicare to cast them in the worst light.
A look at some of the claims from the stage, in speeches preceding former President Bill Clinton’s featured address Wednesday night, and how those assertions compare with the facts:
Rep. NANCY PELOSI of California, House Democratic leader: “Democrats will preserve and strengthen Medicare. Republicans will end the Medicare guarantee.”
REP. STEVE ISRAEL, D-N.Y., chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee: “Paul Ryan wrote the budget that turns Medicare into voucher care and could charge seniors $6,400 more every year, while funding tax breaks for millionaires. Here’s their economic plan: if you’re a millionaire, you win the lottery. If you’re a senior, you lose your Medicare guarantee.”
THE FACTS: Both are on shaky ground in declaring that Republicans will end the “Medicare guarantee,” and Israel’s figure for how much more seniors could pay is outdated. It’s actually based on a Congressional Budget Office analysis of the 2011 version of Rep. Paul Ryan’s Medicare proposal, different in several important ways from the Republican vice presidential candidate’s latest 2012 version.
The latest Ryan plan would offer future retirees the choice of a government program modeled on Medicare or private plans subsidized by government. That’s not a proposal to end a Medicare guarantee. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office does, though, estimate future retirees would get less from the government under the Ryan plan than if current law continues. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has endorsed Ryan’s Medicare ideas in broad terms while saying the White House agenda will be his own, not his running mate’s, if they win.
Ryan’s plan only affects people joining the program in 2023 or later. It’s expected that private health insurance plans serving seniors would have to guarantee some basic level of benefits, yet to be spelled out. Finally, there’s no such thing as a “guaranteed” Medicare benefit for the ages, because Congress can change the laws.
PELOSI: “Under President Obama, we’ve gone from losing 800,000 jobs a month to adding 4.5 million private sector jobs over the last 29 months.”
STEVE WESTLY, former California state controller and chief financial officer: “President Obama understands that future. He knows that this election is about creating jobs today. That’s why he’s helped create 4.5 million of them, growing the economy from the middle out, not the top down.”
THE FACTS: While that figure has become a White House talking point, it’s only part of the story. It’s a selective number that refers just to private sector jobs created in the last 29 months, from the trough of the recession through July. Governments — especially state and local ones — have continued shedding jobs. And the claim ignores job losses during Obama’s term before the employment picture bottomed out.
The economy lost 8.8 million jobs from the time employment peaked in January 2008 until it hit bottom in February 2010. Between then and this July — the most recent month for which there are figures — just 4 million jobs have been recovered. Never since World War II has the economy been so slow to recover all the jobs lost in a downturn.
PEDRO PIERLUISI, non-voting member of the House from Puerto Rico: “The president is a champion of comprehensive immigration reform and is preventing the deportation of thousands of young men and women who were brought here as kids, have played by the rules and have done nothing wrong. Indeed, they are doing everything right by getting an education or serving in the military. But if Mitt Romney gets into office, he has vowed to overturn that action and veto the Dream Act if it ever passes Congress.”
THE FACTS: During the Republican primaries, Romney did pledge to veto the DREAM Act, a bill that would provide a path to citizenship for many young illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children. But Romney has not said what he would do with Obama’s deferred action policy, which allows many young illegal immigrants to avoid deportation for two years and get a work permit. Romney has only said that he would work to create a “civil but resolute” long-term fix to illegal immigration.
CECILE RICHARDS, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America: “When Mitt Romney says he’ll get rid of Planned Parenthood, and turn the clock back on a century of progress, it has real consequences for the 3 million patients who depended on Planned Parenthood last year. “
THE FACTS: Romney has proposed to eliminate federal money for Planned Parenthood but not get rid of the organization. Planned Parenthood’s budget is roughly $1.1 billion, and it receives about $75 million in federal financing, which cannot be used to pay for abortions.
PELOSI: “Democrats passed health reform to allow Americans the freedom to pursue their passion; to make health care a right, not a privilege.”
THE FACTS: Access to health insurance is essentially becoming a right under Obama’s health care law, although one that most people will pay for, and that right comes with a mandate to obtain coverage. Those who don’t will be penalized. It is true that insurers will no longer be able to deny coverage to people who have been sick or charge them exorbitant rates, once the law takes full effect.
EDITOR’S NOTE _ An occasional look at statements by political candidates and how well they adhere to the facts