Comment
0
Tweet
0
Print
RSS Feeds

FACT CHECK: Obama pushes plans that flopped before

Wednesday - 1/25/2012, 3:58am  ET

By CALVIN WOODWARD
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - It was a wish list, not a to-do list.

President Barack Obama laid out an array of plans in his State of the Union speech as if his hands weren't so tied by political realities. There can be little more than wishful thinking behind his call to end oil industry subsidies _ something he could not get through a Democratic Congress, much less today's divided Congress, much less in this election year.

And there was more recycling, in an even more forbidding climate than when the ideas were new: He pushed for an immigration overhaul that he couldn't get past Democrats, permanent college tuition tax credits that he asked for a year ago, and familiar discouragements for companies that move overseas.

A look at Obama's rhetoric Tuesday night and how it fits with the facts and political circumstances:

___

OBAMA: "We have subsidized oil companies for a century. That's long enough. It's time to end the taxpayer giveaways to an industry that's rarely been more profitable, and double-down on a clean energy industry that's never been more promising."

THE FACTS: This is at least Obama's third run at stripping subsidies from the oil industry. Back when fellow Democrats formed the House and Senate majorities, he sought $36.5 billion in tax increases on oil and gas companies over the next decade, but Congress largely ignored the request. He called again to end such tax breaks in last year's State of the Union speech. And he's now doing it again, despite facing a wall of opposition from Republicans who want to spur domestic oil and gas production and oppose tax increases generally.

___

OBAMA: "Our health care law relies on a reformed private market, not a government program."

THE FACTS: That's only half true. About half of the more than 30 million uninsured Americans expected to gain coverage through the health care law will be enrolled in a government program. Medicaid, the federal-state program for low-income people, will be expanded starting in 2014 to cover childless adults living near the poverty line.

The other half will be enrolled in private health plans through new state-based insurance markets. But many of them will be receiving federal subsidies to make their premiums more affordable. And that's a government program, too.

Starting in 2014 most Americans will be required to carry health coverage, either through an employer, by buying their own plan, or through a government program.

___

OBAMA, asking Congress to pay for construction projects: "Take the money we're no longer spending at war, use half of it to pay down our debt, and use the rest to do some nation-building right here at home."

THE FACTS: The idea of taking war "savings" to pay for other programs is budgetary sleight of hand. For one thing, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been largely financed through borrowing, so stopping the wars doesn't create a pool of ready cash, just less debt. And the savings appear to be based at least in part on inflated war spending estimates for future years.

___

OBAMA: "Through the power of our diplomacy a world that was once divided about how to deal with Iran's nuclear program now stands as one."

THE FACTS: The world is still divided over how to deal with Iran's disputed nuclear program, and even over whether the nuclear program is a problem at all.

It is true that the U.S., Europe and other nations have agreed to apply the strictest economic sanctions yet on Iran later this year. But the global sanctions net has holes, because some of Iran's large oil trading partners won't go along. China, a major purchaser of Iran's crude, isn't part of the new sanctions and, together with Russia, stopped the United Nations from applying similarly tough penalties.

___

OBAMA: "Tonight, I want to speak about how we move forward, and lay out a blueprint for an economy that's built to last - an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values."

THE FACTS: Economists do see manufacturing growth as a necessary component of any U.S. recovery. U.S. manufacturing output climbed 0.9 percent in December, the biggest gain since December 2010. Yet Obama's apparent vision of a nation once again propelled by manufacturing _ a vision shared by many Republicans _ may already have slipped into the past.

Over generations, the economy has become ever more driven by services; not since 1975 has the U.S. had a surplus in merchandise trade, which covers trade in goods, including manufactured and farm goods. About 90 percent of American workers are employed in the service sector, a profound shift in the nature of the workforce over many decades.

   1 2 3  -  Next page  >>