FactCheck.org http://www.factcheck.org A Project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center Thu, 20 Nov 2014 20:47:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.1 The Great Premium Debate Continues http://www.factcheck.org/2014/11/the-great-premium-debate-continues/ Wed, 19 Nov 2014 22:51:30 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=90926 In the latest round of what’s-happening-to-health-care-premiums, Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann wrongly claims that we’re seeing “huge increases” in employer-sponsored plans, while President Obama touts historically low health care inflation, which experts say is mainly due to the slow economy, not the health care law.

Both Bachmann and Obama were making competing arguments about the success of the Affordable Care Act, specifically on costs to consumers.

We’ll start with Bachmann, who made her comments on Fox News’ “On the Record” on Nov. 17.

Bachmann: We are seeing huge increases in these premiums, not only in the Obamacare exchanges, but in the private market. Because remember, a lot of times it’s the private market where we are getting health care through our employers. It’s the private market that has to offset government programs, whether its Medicaid or whatever government program. So the costs are going through the roof.

Her comment that there have been “huge increases” in the private market “where we are getting health care through our employers” is low-hanging fruit for fact-checkers. Employer-sponsored insurance premiums have been growing at low rates for the past several years. The average annual family-plan premium went up 3 percent from 2013 to 2014, according to the latest annual employer survey from the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research & Educational Trust.

As the press release on the survey says: “Premiums increased more slowly over the past five years than the preceding five years (26 percent vs. 34 percent) and well below the annual double-digit increases recorded in the late 1990s and early 2000s. This year’s increase also is similar to the year-to-year rise in worker’s wages (2.3 percent) and general inflation (2 percent).”

We’ve explained before that a small increase in employer-sponsored premiums from 2010 to 2011 was linked to the Affordable Care Act’s elimination of preexisting condition exclusions for children, coverage of dependents on their parents’ plans up to age 26, free coverage of preventive care, and an increase in caps on annual coverage. At the time, experts estimated premiums had increased 1 percent to 3 percent due to those requirements.

Despite that, there has been a slow rate of growth for premiums for the 48 percent of Americans on employer plans recently.

While premiums have gone up slowly, deductibles also have increased. The percentage of covered workers on plans with a deductible was 63 percent in 2009 and had increased to 80 percent in 2014.

As we’ll explain, it’s unclear how much the Affordable Care Act has affected this slow growth of premiums. But, at any rate, it’s clear Bachmann is wrong when she says there have been “huge increases” and “costs are going through the roof.”

The president, meanwhile, talked about the growth of health care costs in a press conference on Nov. 16 in Brisbane, Australia, site of the G20 summit.

Obama: And contrary to some of the predictions of the naysayers, not only is the program working, but we’ve actually seen health care inflation lower than it’s been in 50 years, which is contributing to us reducing the deficit, and has the effect of making premiums for families lower that they otherwise would have been if they have health insurance.

Obama is right about health care inflation, or health care costs, and it’s a statistic the administration has cited several times. From 2009 to 2012, total health care expenditures for the U.S. have grown at rates under 4 percent per year (see Table 23). The journal Health Affairs noted that such rates are the lowest since the National Health Expenditure Accounts data was first compiled in 1960 by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The NHEA estimates total health care spending in the country.

But Obama implies that the ACA caused that slow growth, and experts say it’s mainly due to the slow economy. A 2013 statistical analysis of health spending by the Kaiser Family Foundation determined that “much of the decline in health spending growth in recent years was fully expected given what was happening more broadly in the economy.” The analysis estimated that “about three-quarters (77%) of the recent decline in health spending growth can be explained by changes in the broader economy.”

Similarly, experts at CMS said in a January article in Health Affairs that the health care law had a “minimal impact” on the slowdown. They wrote that the major reasons were the economy and its slow recovery, increased use of lower-cost generic prescription drugs, and a reduction in Medicare payments to skilled nursing facilities.

The ACA may have had some influence. Drew Altman, CEO of KFF, explained in a September 2013 column that the law may be having an indirect effect, though it’s difficult to prove. Altman wrote: “Historically, we have always seen the health-care marketplace respond by lowering costs when there is the threat of impending health reform legislation or government action on costs. Now we have not only the threat but the reality.”

The White House Council of Economic Advisers also issued a report in November 2013 saying the ACA is a “meaningful” contributor to the slowdown in spending, even if it’s not the sole or most important factor. The CEA said that the law’s reductions in Medicare spending would not only have an impact on slowing growth in Medicare but would have a “spillover effect” on overall health care spending.

So, the ACA may be a factor in the historically low growth in health care spending in recent years, but it’s certainly not the sole reason. CMS projects continued slow growth in total spending in 2013 “due to the modest economic recovery, the impacts of sequestration and continued slow growth in the utilization of Medicare services, and continued increases in cost-sharing requirements for the privately insured.”

But after that, the rate of growth is expected to increase, partly due to an increase in the number of insured individuals under the ACA. CMS projects average growth of 6 percent per year for 2015 through 2023, “largely as a result of the continued implementation of the ACA coverage expansions, faster projected economic growth, and the aging of the population.”

Obamacare Premiums

Bachmann also mentioned “huge increases” in premiums on the “Obamacare exchanges.” Are premiums on the state and federal marketplaces going up significantly? Overall, no, but some individuals face substantial increases unless they are willing to switch plans.

The New York Times analyzed the recent premium rate data on the marketplace plans released by the federal government and found that many with existing marketplace plans could see increases, as high as 20 percent, on their current plans. But it pays to shop around. “In a typical county, the price will rise 5 percent for the cheapest silver plan and 4 percent for the second cheapest,” the Times wrote.

The Times also looked at data from the McKinsey Center for U.S. Health System Reform and found that the premium for the cheapest Silver plan is 3.4 percent higher for 2015, compared with last year. But if consumers stayed put in the cheapest plan from 2014, they would see an average increase of 9.7 percent. In other words, the cheapest plan from 2014 is, in many cases, not the cheapest in 2015.

An interactive map created by the Times shows how the increases — and even decreases — in premiums vary widely across the country. Those renewing the cheapest Silver plan would see a drop in premiums in Maine, New Hampshire, New Mexico and most of Mississippi, as well as a few other areas across the country. But a much greater proportion of the country would see a decrease in premiums if consumers switched plans.

Similarly, the Kaiser Family Foundation’s analysis of HealthCare.gov data and state insurance rate filings found low overall increases in premiums on average — but geographic variation. For all U.S. counties, the second-cheapest Silver plan is up by 2 percent on average and the cheapest Bronze plan is up by 4 percent, KFF found.

The nonprofit also looked at rates in 51 cities in the U.S., and the change in the second-cheapest Silver plan for a 40-year-old nonsmoker. Premiums for those plans are going up by just 2.5 percent in Birmingham, Alabama, but up by 28.4 percent in Anchorage, Alaska, and down by 10 percent in Phoenix, Arizona. The biggest discrepancy is between those Anchorage rates and a 25.5 percent drop in premiums in Jackson, Mississippi.

It remains to be seen to what extent consumers will shop around for lower-cost plans. In the past, the individual market has experienced a lot of turnover, with some of those purchasing their own insurance doing so for only short periods of time. It also was a market that saw substantial premium increases. In 2010, the last year KFF surveyed people in the individual market about premiums, it found that more than three-quarters of consumers reported that their insurers had requested a premium increase of 20 percent on average.

Most who faced a premium increase elected to stay with the plan anyway. But 16 percent of all those on the individual market switched plans and ended up paying 3 percent less on average than they had before. That group also may have been motivated by more substantial price increases — KFF’s survey found the plan-switchers had faced an average premium increase of 31 percent.

That market was also one in which consumers could be denied coverage, or charged higher rates, for preexisting health conditions. Insurers are no longer allowed to deny coverage or base premiums on health status, so there’s no longer that risk in shopping around.

An FAQ on the KFF website explains that it’s important to at least update one’s application for tax credit purposes; those subsidies are based on family income and also the cost of benchmark exchange plans. In most cases if an application isn’t updated by Dec. 15, the tax credit will automatically continue and the plan will be renewed.

One last thing: Bachmann went on to say that “President Obama promised us that our health insurance premiums would reduce $2,500 a year. Put your hand up if your health care premiums reduced $2,500 a year. No one’s did.” We’ve long questioned this old claim from Obama, calling it “overly optimistic” and “misleading” when he first posited on the campaign trail in 2008 that a shift to electronic medical records would lead to such savings.

Though he didn’t make it clear, Obama was talking about a reduction in spending compared with what would have happened in the absence of the law — or a slower growth. And he was counting trickle-down savings in the form of lower taxes and higher wages.

In the years since, we’ve shot down other White House versions of the $2,500 claim.

– Lori Robertson

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Obama’s Immigration Amnesia http://www.factcheck.org/2014/11/obamas-immigration-amnesia/ Tue, 18 Nov 2014 22:55:46 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=90919 President Barack Obama tried to rewrite history by claiming that his position had not changed regarding legal authority for executive orders on immigration that he is now considering.

During a press conference in Brisbane, Australia, Obama was asked what had changed since he made comments in 2013 that he was “not king” and “not the emperor” in response to questions about stopping deportations and providing temporary legal status to undocumented workers — much as he is now contemplating.

Obama replied that his “position hasn’t changed” and that the questions then were about him unilaterally enacting comprehensive immigration changes similar to the Senate bill that passed in 2013, but stalled in the House. But those questions in early 2013 weren’t about a comprehensive immigration overhaul, they were about Obama taking the kinds of executive actions he is now mulling.

Here’s how the question was raised in Australia on Nov. 16:

Jim Avila of ABC News, Nov. 16: Following up on immigration — in 2010, when asked by immigration reform advocates to stop deportations and act alone on providing legal status for the undocumented, you said, “I’m President, I’m not king. I can’t do these things just by myself.” In 2013, you said, “I’m not the emperor of the United States. My job is to execute laws that are passed.” Mr. President, what has changed since then? And since you’ve now had a chance to talk since July with your legal advisors, what do you now believe are your limits so that you can continue to act as president and not as emperor or king?

Obama: Well, actually, my position hasn’t changed. When I was talking to the advocates, their interest was in me, through executive action, duplicating the legislation that was stalled in Congress. And getting a comprehensive deal of the sort that is in the Senate legislation, for example, does extend beyond my legal authorities. There are certain things I cannot do. There are certain limits to what falls within the realm of prosecutorial discretion in terms of how we apply existing immigration laws.

But the questions posed to Obama earlier were very specific. They asked the president whether he had the authority to do the very kinds of things he is considering now. For weeks, Obama has been saying that if Congress fails to act on immigration, he will “do everything I can lawfully with my executive authority to make sure that we don’t keep on making the system worse.” According to the New York Times, Obama plans to lift the threat of deportation from as many as 5 million immigrants in the country illegally — mainly the relatives of people already in the country legally — and to offer many of them work permits.

Obama’s action would not permanently change a person’s immigration status and would not provide a pathway to citizenship, as was proposed in the Senate immigration bill that stalled. Obama is correct that that kind of lasting, comprehensive immigration overhaul has to come through Congress. But that’s not what was asked of him in the interviews back in early 2013.

The “I’m not a king” comment came during an interview of Obama on Univision on Jan. 30, 2013.

Maria Elena Salinas of Univision: Now I know that you have reduced, this is another concern on Twitter, the number of deportations of non-criminals. However, in 2012 more than 184,000 non-criminals were deported. In the spirit of your push for immigration reform, would you consider a moratorium on deportations of non-criminals? Remember, these are your words: “This is not about policy. It’s about people.”

Obama: Well, I think it is important to remind everybody that, as I said I think previously, and I’m not a king. I am the head of the executive branch of government. I’m required to follow the law. And that’s what we’ve done. But what I’ve also said is, let’s make sure that we’re applying the law in a way that takes into account people’s humanity. That’s the reason that we moved forward on deferred action. Within the confines of the law we said, we have some discretion in terms of how we apply this law. The same is true with respect to the kinds of the length of time that people have to spend outside of the country when their spouses are already here for example.

The “I’m not the emperor of the United States” comment came during a Google Hangout interview two weeks later, on Feb. 14, 2013, (starting at the 18:42 mark).

Jacky Guerrero of California: Your administration has deported a record high number of 1.5 million undocumented immigrants, more than your predecessor. And I know your administration took some steps last year to protect unintended undocumented immigrants from being deported. However many people say that those efforts weren’t enough. What I’d like to know is what you’re going to do now until the time immigration reform is passed, to insure that more people aren’t being deported and families aren’t being broken apart.

Obama: Well, look Jacky, this is something that I’ve struggled with throughout my presidency. The problem is that, you know, I’m the president of the United States. I’m not the emperor of the United States. My job is to execute laws that are passed, and Congress right now has not changed what I consider to be a broken immigration system.

And what that means is is that we have certain obligations to enforce the laws that are in place, even if we think that in many cases the results may be tragic. And what we have been able to do is to make sure that we’re focusing our enforcement resources on criminals, as opposed to somebody who’s here just trying to work and look after their families.

What we have tried to do is administratively reduce the burdens and hardships on families being separated. And what we’ve done is, obviously, pass the deferred action which made sure that the DREAMers, young people who were brought here and think of themselves as Americans, are American except for their papers, that they’re not deported.

Having said all that, we’ve kind of stretched our administrative flexibility as much as we can. And that’s why making sure we get comprehensive immigration reform done is so important.

In both cases, the president was asked about executive actions to remove the threat of deportations from a much larger group, to prevent the breakup of families — the very thing Obama is proposing to do now. Then, Obama said, “[W]e’ve kind of stretched our administrative flexibility as much as we can.” Now, he believes he has the legal authority to do it.

In a similar analysis of Obama’s claim that his “position hasn’t changed,” Washington Post Fact Checker Glenn Kessler noted two other instances in which Obama previously claimed he lacked the authority to extend a freeze of deportations to a larger class of immigrants in the country illegally, or to grant temporary status.

The first came in a Univision town hall meeting on March 28, 2011, in which Obama was asked if he could “grant temporary protective status, TPS, to undocumented students.” Obama said that he could not.

Obama, 2011: With respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that’s just not the case, because there are laws on the books that Congress has passed — and I know that everybody here at Bell is studying hard so you know that we’ve got three branches of government. Congress passes the law. The executive branch’s job is to enforce and implement those laws. And then the judiciary has to interpret the laws.

There are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system that for me to simply through executive order ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as president.

The other example cited by Kessler was an interview with Noticias Telemundo on Sept. 17, 2013, during which Obama was specifically asked if he would “at least consider unilaterally freezing the deportations for parents of deferred-action kids.” Again, Obama said he could not.

Obama, Sept. 17, 2013: My job in the executive branch is supposed to be to carry out the laws that are passed. Congress has said, here’s the law when it comes to those who are undocumented, and they allocate a whole bunch of money for enforcement.

Obama continued to say that he had made the legal argument that the government did not have the resources to deport so-called DREAMers — people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as young children. But he didn’t think it was legally possible to extend that policy beyond DREAMers.

“But if we start broadening that, then essentially I would be ignoring the law in a way that I think would be very difficult to defend legally,” Obama said. “So that’s not an option. I do get a little worried that advocates of immigration reform start losing heart and immediately thinking, well, somehow there’s an out here — if Congress doesn’t act, we will just have the president sign something and that will take care of it, and we won’t have to worry about it. What I have said is that there is a path to get this done and that is through Congress.”

According to the New York Times, White House officials insist the evolution of Obama’s comments reflects a change in emphasis, rather than a change in opinion, and that at the time Obama was focused on convincing Congress to pass comprehensive immigration legislation.

We take no position on whether Obama has the legal authority to enact the kinds of immigration changes he is considering via executive authority. Ultimately, that may have to be decided in federal courts (as Republicans have threatened a legal challenge). But then, Obama said he lacked the legal authority to suspend deportation of family members. Now, he says he has just such legal authority.

– Robert Farley

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Biden’s Boasts http://www.factcheck.org/2014/11/bidens-boasts/ Tue, 18 Nov 2014 16:54:33 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=90859 Vice President Joe Biden went too far in boasts about job growth and deficit reduction.

Biden was the keynote speaker at the AFL-CIO and American Federation of Teachers Summit on Career and Technical Education and Workforce Development on Nov. 13. His comments centered on job opportunities and education, and they included some exaggerations.

  • Biden said manufacturing jobs were expected to grow by 1.8 million, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates they will decline by 73,100 between 2010 and 2020.
  • He said the administration had reduced the federal deficit, as a share of GDP, more quickly than at any time since World War II. Not true. The deficit shrank at a faster rate in the 1990s.
  • Biden said the unemployment rate was 10 percent “when we took office.” It was 7.8 percent.

Manufacturing Jobs

Biden overstated manufacturing job growth, something we caught the vice president doing two years ago as well.

Biden: Manufacturing jobs are not only back 728,000 since we’ve been in office, in the last five years, but it’s expected to grow by another million, 800 thousand manufacturing jobs – more than any time, including in the 90s, if we meet the projections that are ahead of us. (Listen at the 1:05:20 mark.)

Manufacturing jobs haven’t gone up by 728,000 “since we’ve been in office,” but they have gone up that much in the “last five years” or nearly five years.

According to BLS data, there were 12.56 million manufacturing employees in January 2009, compared with 12.18 million manufacturing workers in October 2014, for a net loss of 379,000 jobs. Biden is measuring job growth from the low point in February 2010 — when there were 11.45 million manufacturing jobs. Since then, 728,000 manufacturing jobs have been added.

More puzzling is Biden’s claim that manufacturing jobs are “expected to grow” by another 1.8 million.

We’re not sure where Biden gets his statistic, and his office did not respond to our questions. One possible source is a 2012 study by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, a bipartisan think tank, which said then that if the pace of manufacturing job growth continued, “it would take until 2020 to return to where the economy was in terms of manufacturing jobs at the end of 2007.” The think tank was calling the pace of growth too slow. It said the U.S. had gained back about 166,000 of the 2 million manufacturing jobs that were lost during the Great Recession. That left another 1.8 million jobs to be gained by 2020.

A 2012 report from BLS, however, estimated that manufacturing employment would shrink — not grow — from 2010 to 2020, with a net loss of 73,100 jobs (see Table 1). That report is another possible source for the 1.8 million statistic, but it contradicts Biden’s claim.

While BLS estimated manufacturing jobs would drop, it projected a nearly 1.8 million increase in jobs in the “goods-producing sectors.” Manufacturing is the “dominant industry,” the report says, among those sectors. But manufacturing jobs are still expected to decrease. The growth in “goods-producing sectors” is expected to come mostly from the construction industry.

Deficit Reduction

The administration has reduced the yearly federal deficits — the 2009 deficit was running at $1.2 trillion the day Obama took office, and this year’s deficit is projected to be $483 billion. But the rate of reduction is not as quick Biden claimed.

Biden: We’ve reached a federal deficit as a share of GDP; we’ve reduced it by 70 percent — the fastest reduction since World War II. (1:05:10 mark.)

Biden’s half right. The deficit was 9.8 percent of GDP in fiscal year 2009. It declined by 6 percentage points to 2.8 percent of GDP in fiscal year 2014. That’s a 71 percent reduction, but it’s not the fastest rate of reduction since the 1940s.

Looking at the six years from 1992 to 1997, the deficit as a percentage of GDP went from 4.5 percent to 0.3 percent (Table H-1). That’s a 93 percent reduction. There were also six-year periods during the 1990s and early 2000s when budget deficits became surpluses.

We checked a similar statement from President Obama in August 2013. Back then, the White House was looking at the four-year period from 2009 to 2012.

Job Growth

Biden correctly said the unemployment rate “is down to 5.8 percent,” but then added, “It was at 10 percent when we took office” (1:05:05 mark). No, it wasn’t. It was 7.8 percent when Obama and Biden took office in January 2009, and it climbed to 10 percent by October of that year.

He also exaggerated the job growth under this presidency by cherry-picking his numbers.

Biden: There have been 10.6 million jobs created in the private sector. Fifty-six straight months — the longest streak of constant employment in the history of the United States of America. (1:04:50 mark.)

That’s correct, at least since 1939, which is the earliest year for which we have Bureau of Labor Statistics data. From February 2010 through October 2014, there were 56 months of private-sector job growth and 10.6 million private jobs created. But there hasn’t been consecutive growth for 56 months for all jobs. Biden ignores government jobs.

Total nonfarm employment declined from June through September 2010. In terms of all jobs, 9.4 million have been created over 49 straight months, which is still the longest streak of continuous employment growth since BLS data was first collected.

His figures leave out all of 2009, which consisted entirely of monthly job losses. All told under the Obama presidency, 5.7 million jobs have been created.

– Lori Robertson and D’Angelo Gore, with Alexander Nacht

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FlackCheck.org Video: Spotting Bogus Claims http://www.factcheck.org/2014/11/flackcheck-org-video-spotting-bogus-claims/ Mon, 17 Nov 2014 21:16:24 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=90889 “That Chain E-mail Your Friend Sent to You Is (Likely) Bogus. Seriously.”

That’s the title of a special report we published in 2008 encouraging readers to be highly skeptical of any chain emails that landed in their inboxes. “Assume all such messages are wrong, and you’ll be right most of the time,” we said then.

Well, that report now has a companion video courtesy of FlackCheck.org, our sister website for political literacy. It’s the same cautionary advice, just in video form.

Feel free to forward both the video, and the report, far and wide.

]]> Checking Inhofe’s Energy Statistics on China http://www.factcheck.org/2014/11/checking-inhofes-energy-statistics-on-china/ Fri, 14 Nov 2014 16:53:09 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=90818 Sen. Jim Inhofe scoffed at the suggestion that China could shift 20 percent of its energy to non-fossil fuels by 2030, in part, he said, because China “has no known reserves of natural gas.” But Inhofe is wrong about that.

China ranks 12th in the world with just under 2 percent of the world’s known natural gas reserves. And it intends to use natural gas to meet 10 percent of its energy needs by 2020.

Whether China can meet the targets promised in a climate change agreement reached between President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping remains to be seen, of course, and Inhofe was on target with other claims related to China’s increasing reliance on coal-fired power.

Shortly after the China-U.S. deal was reached, Inhofe, a Republican senator from Oklahoma who is in line to take control of the Environment and Public Works Committee in January, released a blistering statement condemning the deal as one-sided and a “non-binding charade.”

Inhofe, Nov. 12: In the President’s climate change deal, the United States will be required to more steeply reduce our carbon emissions while China won’t have to reduce anything. It’s hollow and not believable for China to claim it will shift 20 percent of its energy to non-fossil fuels by 2030, and a promise to peak its carbon emissions only allows the world’s largest economy to buy time. China builds a coal-fired power plant every 10 days, is the largest importer of coal in the world, and has no known reserves of natural gas. This deal is a non-binding charade.

It’s true, as Inhofe said, that the deal is not a legally binding treaty, which would need Senate ratification. Rather in a “U.S.-China Joint Announcement on Climate Change” released on Nov. 11, the two sides said they “intend to achieve” specific targets.

U.S.-China Joint Announcement on Climate Change, Nov. 11: The United States intends to achieve an economy-wide target of reducing its emissions by 26%-28% below its 2005 level in 2025 and to make best efforts to reduce its emissions by 28%. China intends to achieve the peaking of CO2 emissions around 2030 and to make best efforts to peak early and intends to increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 20% by 2030.

Indeed, in the joint announcement, the two sides pledged to “work together, and with other countries, to adopt a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all Parties at the United Nations Climate Conference in Paris in 2015.”

While many Republicans criticized the deal, White House officials told the Washington Post they believe Obama — and future presidents — can reach the targets “without additional authorization from Congress.”

As for Inhofe’s claim that as part of the deal, “China won’t have to reduce anything,” that’s true, but it doesn’t mean China doesn’t have a lot of work to do to meet its end of the deal. According to the Washington Post, China “must add 800 to 1,000 gigawatts of nuclear, wind, solar and other zero-emission generating capacity by 2030 — more than all the coal-fired power plants that exist in China today and close to the total electricity generating capacity of the United States.”

We were particularly curious about Inhofe’s three-part claim: “China builds a coal-fired power plant every 10 days, is the largest importer of coal in the world, and has no known reserves of natural gas.”

We’ll start with the one that is wrong, that China “has no known reserves of natural gas.” In fact, it does have known reserves of natural gas, and it is intending to rely more heavily on those reserves in coming years.

In an analysis of China’s energy use, the U.S. Energy Information Administration states that, according to the Oil and Gas Journal, China “held 155 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of proven natural gas reserves as of January 2014, 14 Tcf higher than reserves estimated in 2013 and the largest in the Asia-Pacific region.” The report goes on to say that China has tripled natural gas production between 2002 and 2012, and plans to produce even more in the future.

EIA, Feb. 4: The Chinese government anticipates boosting the share of natural gas as part of total energy consumption to around 8% by the end of 2015 and 10% by 2020 to alleviate high pollution resulting from the country’s heavy coal use.

OPEC, BP and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency all state proven natural gas reserves in cubic meters (instead of cubic feet), and they all put China’s proven natural gas reserves at about 3.2 trillion cubic meters, representing 1.8 percent of the total global share and ranking China 12th in the world.

Inhofe also claims that “China builds a coal-fired power plant every 10 days.” The statistic first appeared in a New York Times article in 2006, and the statistic was repeated by the Washington Post this year.

New York Times, June 11, 2006: Every week to 10 days, another coal-fired power plant opens somewhere in China …

Washington Post, Nov. 12: China completes a new coal plant every eight to 10 days …

We could not independently confirm this statistic precisely with the EIA. But it may be accurate, based on a World Resources Institute report in November 2012 that said China had proposed 363 new coal-fired power plants (India proposed 455). World Coal reported in August that coal-fired plant installations in China slowed to 42 gigawatts in 2013, but were expected to have a “mini renaissance” in 2014 and 2015 “before starting back on the overriding long-term downward trajectory.”

As for Inhofe’s claim that China “is the largest importer of coal in the world,” that’s true by quite a large margin. As EIA put it in February, “China is the world’s top coal producer, consumer, and importer and accounted for about half of global coal consumption.”

Update, Nov. 19: During a speech from the Senate floor on Nov. 18, Inhofe said he was misinformed and corrected his statement about China having “no known natural gas reserves.”

Inhofe, Nov. 18: I made a speech last week, I said that China has no known reserves of natural gas. And I was wrong. I was wrong due to some misinformation we got. The fact that they are not able to realize these reserves is very significant. And that shouldn’t distract from the fact that China has a difficult road ahead in developing affordable sources of fuel to meet its energy demands.

Inhofe went on to talk about some of the problems China has had with natural gas extraction, and reiterated his larger point that it will be “impossible” for China to accomplish its stated goal of capping CO2 emissions around 2030 “because of its current domestic energy mix and heavy reliance on coal for affordable electricity to its power.”

Inhofe’s office also issued a corrected press statement.

– Robert Farley

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Rick Perry’s Talking Point on Defense Cuts http://www.factcheck.org/2014/11/rick-perrys-talking-point-on-defense-cuts/ Fri, 14 Nov 2014 16:17:48 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=90819 Rick Perry says the U.S. is at risk because “our spending on defense has declined 21 percent over four years.” But that includes war funding, which has sharply declined now that U.S. combat troops are out of Iraq and leaving Afghanistan.

The base defense budget, which does not include war funding, has declined by a more modest 6 percent (12 percent when adjusted for inflation) from a post-World War II high set four years ago in fiscal year 2010.

The Texas governor, who is considering running for president, talked about defense cuts in speeches on Oct. 27 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Nov. 10 in New Hampshire (typically home of the first presidential primary).

At the Reagan Library, he warned that a “hollowing out of our military” will invite U.S. enemies to attack “at home and overseas” (beginning at the 17:27 mark of the library’s video).

Perry, Oct. 27: When you see the military buildup of China, the depletion of our own military forces, with a reduction of spending of some 21 percent in the last four years, how can you not think of a previous era soon after the end of the war in Vietnam, and wonder if we’re not once again inviting threats to our interests at home and overseas by allowing the hollowing out of our military.

He repeated the 21 percent figure when speaking at an event in New Hampshire celebrating the founding of the U.S. Marines. He again cited the steep decline in defense spending in the context of threats abroad.

Perry, Nov. 10: Today, our spending on defense has declined 21 percent over four years. Today, threats are not in retreat, they are on the rise — from Russia’s aggression in Ukraine to Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, to the emergence of ISIS and the continued struggle to secure Afghanistan.

We asked the governor’s office how he arrived at the 21 percent figure, and it cited an analysis of the fiscal year 2015 defense budget released in September by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, Sept. 4: Adjusting for inflation (using the GDP price index), the base DoD budget grew 61 percent from its most recent low in FY 1998 to its most recent high in FY 2010 — higher than the previous peak in FY 1985 of $552 billion in FY 2015 dollars. Since FY 2010, however, the base defense budget has fallen by 12 percent in real terms through FY 2014. When war funding is included, the total DoD budget has fallen by 21 percent since FY 2010.

First, let’s note that the 21 percent cited by Perry includes war funding — a category of funding that the Pentagon calls overseas contingency operations, or OCO.

Fiscal year 2010 — the baseline used in the report and cited by Perry — began on Oct. 1, 2009. At the time, the U.S. was fighting two wars. Overseas contingency operations cost $162.4 billion in fiscal 2010 to help support 168,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to defense budget documents.

But U.S. combat troops left Iraq in December 2011, and combat operations are winding down in Afghanistan and will end by December of this year. President Obama has announced that the U.S. will leave a residual force of 9,800 in Afghanistan.

Not surprisingly, the U.S. in fiscal 2014 spent $85.2 billion in war funding — roughly half what it did in 2010. The administration has requested $59 billion for fiscal 2015, which began Oct. 1.

Todd Harrison, the author of the report cited by Perry, says “the base budget is a more appropriate measure to use if the point is to show how much the military has been ‘hollowed out.’ ”

The base defense budget declined 6 percent in the last four years, from $527.9 billion in fiscal 2010 to $496 billion in fiscal 2014, according to the fiscal year 2015 budget overview released in March by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller)/Chief Financial Officer. (See Figure 1-2 in chapter one, page 4.) Adjusted for inflation, the base budget was down 12 percent in four years, according to Harrison’s report.

But, as Harrison’s report also showed, the decline in base defense funding over the last four years is from a post-World War II record amount. Harrison analyzed defense funding since fiscal 1948 and found that the base defense budget adjusted for inflation peaked in fiscal year 2010.

There is no question that total defense spending (including war funding) and the base defense budget (without the war funding) are down compared with four years ago. And Pentagon officials are among those who aren’t happy about it. But Perry’s selective use of budget data distorts the scope of the cuts by comparing today’s total defense spending with fiscal year 2010, a year when the U.S. was fighting two wars and had a base defense budget that reached a post-World War II high.

– Eugene Kiely, with Lauren Shapiro

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Midterm Mudslinging Not Yet Over http://www.factcheck.org/2014/11/midterm-mudslinging-not-yet-over/ Fri, 07 Nov 2014 23:03:08 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=90747 An ad from the National Republican Senatorial Committee continues the relentless effort to tie Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu to President Barack Obama, who is not very popular in Louisiana. But the ad stretches the facts on several points.

  • The ad accuses Landrieu of “weakening immigration,” based on her vote to block an amendment aimed at curbing Obama’s use of executive orders to address immigration. But Landrieu also voted to allow consideration of such a bill weeks later, and she has stated her opposition to addressing immigration by executive order.
  • The ad accuses Landrieu of “raising our taxes,” based on her vote for the Affordable Care Act. The law includes about $1 trillion worth of new taxes — with the heaviest burden falling on high-income taxpayers — but it also includes over $1 trillion worth of health care tax credits. So, the law includes both tax increases and tax cuts.
  • The ad also accuses her of “taking away our Second Amendment rights,” based on her support for a bill that would expand background checks to include sales by unlicensed individuals at gun shows and over the Internet. Despite the ad’s sweeping claim, Landrieu has been a staunch protector of a citizen’s right to own guns.

Wait, you say, aren’t the midterm elections over? Not in Louisiana, where the top two vote-getters on Nov. 4, Landrieu and Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy, will compete in a Dec. 6 runoff.

Landrieu got the most votes in the Nov. 4 election, edging out Cassidy 42.1 percent to 41 percent. But polls suggest Landrieu will have a tougher time in the runoff, as many of the 13.8 percent who voted for tea party Republican Rob Maness are expected to switch their allegiance to Cassidy. One bad sign for Landrieu: the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee recently cancelled $1.8 million worth of TV ad time it had reserved to support Landrieu.

The NRSC Attack

Two days after the Nov. 4 election, the NRSC launched its latest ad attacking Landrieu as a rubber stamp for President Obama, whose job approval rating is low in Louisiana.

“Do you agree with your spouse 97 percent of the time? Your kids? The ref at the game?” the narrator in the ad asks. “Chances are, no. But amazingly, Mary Landrieu has agreed with Obama 97 percent of the time, including on destroying our health care, raising our taxes, weakening immigration and taking away our Second Amendment rights.”

It’s true that, in 2013, Landrieu voted with Obama 97 percent of the time, while Cassidy backed Obama just 8 percent of the time, according to CQ Weekly. But as far as party loyalty, CQ found Landrieu was less likely to back her fellow Democrats in the Senate (which she did 90 percent of the time) than Cassidy was to back his fellow Republicans in the House, which he did 96 percent of the time. Which begs the question: Does Cassidy agree with his spouse and kids 96 percent of the time? But we digress.

 ’Weakening Immigration’

We’ll start with the weakest of the ad’s claims, that Landrieu agreed with Obama on “weakening immigration.” As backup, the NRSC points to a procedural vote cast on July 31, blocking the Republicans’ ability to add an amendment to an emergency supplemental appropriations bill to respond to a surge of unaccompanied children from Central America being apprehended at the southwest border. The Republicans had hoped to add an amendment from Sens. Jeff Sessions and Ted Cruz that sought to block Obama from carrying out his promise to take executive action to protect many immigrant families from the threat of deportation.

Minutes later, Landrieu also voted against the underlying $2.7 billion emergency supplemental appropriations bill. It was one of the few instances in which Landrieu parted ways with the Obama agenda this year.

Landrieu, July 30: I stand willing to work with members of both parties to craft a solution that addresses the emergency of unaccompanied children crossing our southwest border. However, I cannot support spending significant taxpayer money without strong accountability and clear goals to ensure that we get the results we all want. Unfortunately, the proposal before the Senate does not go far enough to ensure that these children are reconnected in the countries of origin with safe and protective families.

But there’s a gaping hole in the NRSC’s argument. It ignores Landrieu’s vote on Sept. 18 on yet another procedural vote aimed at blocking Republicans from forcing consideration of the Sessions-Cruz amendment to block executive-action protections for immigrants living in the country illegally. The vote this time fell 50-50, and prevented consideration of the Republican amendment. But Landrieu voted for the motion, along with all Senate Republicans.

The Hill noted that Landrieu, as well as Democratic Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Kay Hagan — all of  whom were embroiled in tough reelection bids — broke ranks with their party to back the motion. One could argue that it was a political calculation. Nonetheless, Landrieu can rightly claim to have supported it.

Landrieu also has stated publicly that she opposes the president tackling immigration reform via executive order. At a press conference after a debate on Oct. 14, Landrieu told Breitbart News that she supported the bipartisan Senate immigration bill passed in 2013 that provided a pathway to citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally. “So, I do not support executive action,” Landrieu said. “I support congressional action. I have already voted for that bill.”

‘Raising Our Taxes’

The ad’s claims about Landrieu agreeing with Obama on “destroying our health care” and “raising our taxes” both refer to Landrieu’s vote for the Affordable Care Act.

We’re not going to get into the debate about whether the Affordable Care Act is “destroying our health care,” as that amounts to political opinion. The ad, does, however, cite a Dec. 30, 2013, story in The Advocate that reported that 92,793 insurance plans in Louisiana were discontinued because they did not meet the law’s minimum coverage standards. However, after Obama allowed insurance companies to continue to offer older plans that didn’t meet ACA standards for one more year, about 31,000 of the original number were able to keep their insurance plans.

Also worth noting, Landrieu introduced the Keeping the Affordable Care Act Promise Act, which would have gone even farther than Obama did. It sought to require insurance companies to offer renewals of the canceled plans, rather than giving the companies the option to renew them.

The Hill, Nov. 5, 2013: “We said to people that if they have insurance they like, they can keep it,” Landrieu said. “We didn’t say that if they have insurance they like that doesn’t meet the standards or that meets the minimum standards, they can keep it.

“We said, and the president said over and over, that if people have insurance, and they like the insurance they have, they can keep it. That is my bill. That is the single focus of my bill.”

The bill did not advance out of committee.

The claim that Landrieu supported “raising our taxes” also relates to her vote for the Affordable Care Act. It is accurate to say that the bill includes $1 trillion worth of new taxes over the 2013-2022 time period, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of a proposal to repeal the law.

An analysis from the House Ways and Means Committee provides a rough breakdown of those new taxes. Much of the new tax burden — $318 billion — will fall on high-income earners. For example, the ACA includes an additional 0.9 percent Medicare payroll tax and a new 3.8 percent tax on investment income — both for individuals making more than $200,000, and couples making more than $250,000. There is also a tax on so-called “Cadillac” high-cost health care plans beginning in 2018; a tax on drug manufacturers; a tax on manufacturers of certain medical devices; a tax on health insurance providers; and, of course, taxes related to the employer and individual mandates.

However, the law also will provide more than $1 trillion worth of health care subsidies, over that same period of time, that will come via refundable tax credits. In an Aug. 14, 2013, report, the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation estimated that “about half (48%) of people now buying their own insurance would be eligible for a tax credit that would offset their premium.”

In other words, the law cuts two ways — increasing taxes for some, but decreasing taxes for others who qualify for health care subsidies. The NRSC ad only refers to one side of the equation.

‘Taking Away Our Second Amendment Rights’

So, how did Landrieu take away people’s Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms?

The NRSC ad cites her vote in favor of an amendment crafted by Sens. Joe Manchin, a Democrat, and Pat Toomey, a Republican, in the wake of the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, that would have expanded background checks to private sales by unlicensed individuals at gun shows and over the Internet.

In a vote of 54 to 46, the Manchin-Toomey amendment failed to garner the 60 votes needed to move forward — despite Landrieu’s support.

The National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action argues that a vote for the Manchin-Toomey amendment “constitutes a vote to take away gun rights.”

NRA-ILA, Oct. 3: Currently, gun owners in most states enjoy the right to privately transfer firearms. They often do so by facilitating such transfers at gun shows and by advertising through online and print publications. The private transfer restriction amendment would have outlawed this activity, making firearm transfers more difficult, and therefore less likely to occur.

As we wrote when the NRA made a similar claim in an earlier ad attacking Landrieu, it’s a long stretch from a debate about the inconvenience of background checks at gun shows to the blanket claim that Landrieu wants to take away people’s Second Amendment right to own a gun.

Landrieu has co-sponsored and voted for legislation to allow people with permits to carry concealed weapons in states other than their own; has repeatedly opposed a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips; and voted to prevent the seizure of firearms during a state of emergency. Landrieu also praised a decision by the Supreme Court to repeal a ban on carrying handguns in Washington D.C.; and voted in 2009 to “restore Second Amendment rights in the District of Columbia” and to repeal its ban on semi-automatic weapons.

In other words, she has consistently shown support for protecting Americans’ right to own guns.

– Robert Farley

 

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Nov. 7: Campaign Donors, Jobs Bills, Taxes http://www.factcheck.org/2014/11/nov-7-campaign-donors-jobs-bills-taxes/ Fri, 07 Nov 2014 22:57:10 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=90844
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Boehner’s ‘Bipartisan’ Bunk http://www.factcheck.org/2014/11/boehners-bipartisan-bunk/ Fri, 07 Nov 2014 22:07:55 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=90753 House Speaker John Boehner exaggerates when he says “almost all” of the 46 “jobs bills” awaiting action in the Senate “passed the House on a bipartisan basis.” Exactly half of those bills got less than 20 Democratic votes, including two that got no votes and 12 others that got 10 or fewer votes. That’s out of 201 House Democrats.

Republicans, particularly House members, have been waging a #StuckInTheSenate campaign for months. They blame gridlock on Senate Democrats for failing to take up legislation passed by the House. The number of bills “sitting on Harry Reid’s desk,” as Republicans are fond of saying, varies from person to person, ranging from a low of 278 (Rep. Patrick Meehan) to a ballpark figure of 300-plus (Sen. Roy Blunt) to a high of 387 (Rep. Marsha Blackburn).

Now that the Republicans have won control the Senate, Boehner and other Republicans say the Senate will pass legislation that will get the country moving in the right direction. “We have a majority in the U.S. Senate, where we’ll move those 300 bills off Harry Reid’s desk finally and get a vote,” Sen.-elect David Perdue said on election night.

Bipartisan ‘Jobs Bills’?

We will get to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s cluttered desk in a minute, but let’s first deal with Boehner’s specific claim about the “46 jobs bills.” He made his statement on Nov. 6 during his weekly briefing with reporters (at about the 12 minute mark of the C-SPAN video).

Boehner, Nov. 6: [L]et’s take the 46 jobs bills that are sitting in the United States Senate that have been held up by the Democrat majority in the Senate. Almost all of those passed the House on a bipartisan basis. And I believe that almost all of them enjoy bipartisan support in the United States Senate.

Boehner has a very broad definition of “bipartisan.” He’s correct that almost all — 44 of the 46 — received at least 1 Democratic vote. But does that make a bill bipartisan?

Merriam-Webster defines “bipartisan” as cooperation and compromise between the two parties. It says bipartisan is “of, relating to, or involving members of two parties <a bipartisan commission>; specifically: marked by or involving cooperation, agreement, and compromise between two major political parties.”

Some high-profile examples of bipartisan legislation negotiated between the two parties during this period of gridlock would include:

By contrast, Boehner’s list of 46 bills includes 23 — exactly half — that received votes from less than 20 of the 201 House Democrats:

Boehner can call these bills bipartisan, but they are not. In fact, the White House Office of Management and Budget issued veto threats in 2013 and 2014 for 28 of the 45 bills on Boehner’s list that would have required Obama’s signature (the budget resolution does not). The OMB also issued statements opposing all or parts of four other bills and calling for negotiations on a fifth.

It takes a two-thirds majority to override a presidential veto and all 33 of the bills that OMB objected to didn’t pass with veto-proof majorities in the House, so they likely would have gone nowhere even if the Republicans controlled the Senate — unless Republicans and the White House reached a compromise on true bipartisan bills.

We sent the list of 46 bills to Norm Ornstein, a congressional expert at the American Enterprise Institute, for his review. He told us that the “bipartisan game” is played by both parties.

“Both parties have played the ‘bipartisan’ game by picking off one or two strays from the other side and claiming the high ground, but it is a big stretch,” he said. “These are not bipartisan by any reasonable definition of the term. It may be an even bigger stretch to call most of those bills ‘jobs’ bills.”

Matthew J. Slaughter, a former member of George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers, told the New York Times that some of the GOP bills on Boehner’s list may help, but they won’t create many jobs.

New York Times, Oct. 22: “Some of those things will help,” Matthew J. Slaughter, an economics professor at Dartmouth College, said after reviewing nearly four dozen measures that House Republicans have labeled “jobs bills.” He cited some business tax cuts, for example, even as he cautioned about the cost of such actions.

“But,” added Mr. Slaughter, who served on President George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers, “it just struck me as sort of a compendium of modest expectations. If you ask me, ‘What’s your ballpark guess for how many jobs are going to be created?,’ it’s just not many.”

Harry Reid’s Cluttered Desk

We’d like to make a few points about the other bills on Harry Reid’s desk.

Despite Republican complaints that Reid is the cause of gridlock, the Washington Post in August did an analysis of the past 20 congressional terms and found that the number of House-approved bills awaiting action in the Senate this session isn’t that unusual.

“In 11 of the past 19 Congresses — more than half — more than 300 bills were waiting for Senate action by the time the Congress completed its work,” Philip Bump wrote.

In fact, as Washington Post Fact Checker Glenn Kessler noted, the biggest backlog occurred in the 110th Congress in 2007-2008, when the Senate failed to act on more than 700 bills. And that was when the Democrats controlled both chambers.

GovTrack — a nonpartisan website that tracks legislation — also did an analysis and found that the percentage of Senate bills being ignored by the House isn’t that much better. It found that the Senate has passed 124 House bills, or 26 percent of all House bills, while the House has passed 40 Senate bills, or 37 percent.

“I know 37 is bigger than 26, but in the big picture these numbers are actually pretty close. I wouldn’t read much into the difference,” writes Josh Tauberer, founder of GovTrack.

One last thing: the number of bills sitting on Harry Reid’s desk that will have an impact on the direction of the country is not as large as the Republicans declare.

As we mentioned, Republicans give different figures for the number of bills “collecting dust” but the one we have seen most frequently is 387.

Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican, used the 387 figure on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Oct. 19, when asked about the problem of congressional gridlock.

Blackburn, Oct. 19: Yes, you know, I think that what you have in the House is bipartisan frustration with Harry Reid in the Senate. You know, we have 387 House-passed bills, 98 percent of them bipartisan, 298 of those bills veto-proof. And they’re sitting on Harry Reid’s desk.

And we find it very frustrating that the Senate has not been able to get the work done. We wish they would come back and that they would do that. It would help the country and it would get some things passed that need to be passed.

In a Nov. 3 op-ed, Republican Rep. Richard Hudson of North Carolina wrote: “My colleagues and I have advanced countless solutions to grow our economy and create jobs, but 387 House-passed bills remain collecting dust on Sen. Harry Reid’s desk.”

Blackburn’s office referred us to a list of 387 bills on House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s website. There are indeed 387 bills and resolutions on the list, but it is safe to say that that number is inflated.

The list contains dozens of ceremonial or parochial bills — including 31 bills to name or rename post offices or federal buildings, at least nine bills to authorize a study, such as whether Mill Springs Battlefield in Kentucky should be included in the National Park System, and at least 13 that deal with federal land (transferring or exchanging, or expanding boundaries, for example). There are also two bills to strike commemorative coins, and a third to award a gold medal to golfer Jack Nicklaus.

We also found 21 bills that actually became law through other vehicles, including 10 appropriations bills that became part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014.

The list also contains five concurrent resolutions, which are nonbinding and do not go to the president, and two bills (HR 4250 and HR 5161) that had Senate-approved versions waiting for action in the House.

We spent way too much time poring through the list, but the examples above add up to 84 bills and resolutions that either shouldn’t be on the list or would have little or no impact on the course of the nation.

We do not doubt that some of the 387 bills on McCarthy’s list are substantive and that some of the 46 bills on Boehner’s list may help the economy. But any suggestion that there are 387 bills being ignored that could “grow our economy” or even would “help the country” is an exaggeration, and so is the speaker’s statement that “almost all” of the 46 “jobs bills” are bipartisan.

– Eugene Kiely, with Zachary Piaker, Lauren Shapiro and Eden Everwine.

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No ‘New World Order’ http://www.factcheck.org/2014/11/no-new-world-order/ Wed, 05 Nov 2014 22:06:28 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=90688 Q: Did President Obama call for a “new world order” in a speech in Europe?

A: No. Video of Obama’s speech was edited to change the meaning of what he said.

FULL QUESTION

Did Obama, in a televised speech with German subtitles, utter these words: ”Ordinary men and women are too small minded to govern their own affairs. That order and progress can only come when men and women surrender their rights to an all-powerful sovereign”?

I had to listen to this three times to make sure I had not misunderstood what he said! The American people are too small minded to govern themselves???? Please listen to this!

As you know “our leader” is just back from Europe for a NATO meeting. The German press is reporting on his speech. It is disgusting — this 19 second clip tells it all. Interesting that our press is not reporting this, not even Fox. This is enough to turn your stomach.

Subject: Watch and Listen closely to this 19 sec clip!  Listen carefully to these words. Is this what you voted for?

This is the most Un-American statement ever uttered by any American President. He is selling us down the river! He says we are too small minded to govern our own affairs and we must surrender our individual rights to the World Order?

Only 19 seconds long. PLEASE WATCH. Not reported by US media — the German Press had to do it.  The German caption reads: “Obama declares the New World Order.”

http://stg.do/mfuh

FULL ANSWER

Our inbox is full of emails from readers wondering if President Obama made some ominous remarks advocating for a totalitarian government. We can assure you he didn’t.

A viral email claims that Obama made “the most Un-American statement ever uttered by any American President.” It also provides a link to a 19-second YouTube video of remarks the president supposedly made during a speech in Europe in March. This was “Not reported by US media — the German Press had to do it,” the email says.

The title of the video, posted by a German group, translates to “Obama explained shortly the New World Order in 2014 — Compilation,” according to Google Translate. The video purportedly shows Obama saying: “And for the international order that we have worked for generations to build. Ordinary men and women are too small-minded to govern their own affairs. That order and progress can only come when individuals surrender their rights to an all-powerful sovereign.”

That does sound frightening. But it’s not what Obama said.

The creators of the video selectively edited the president’s words, combining clips from two different parts of his speech in a way that completely changed the meaning of what he said.

Here, in proper context, is what Obama said during the March speech to European youth in Brussels, Belgium — not Germany. The parts included in the edited video are in bold:

Obama, March 26: Leaders and dignitaries of the European Union; representatives of our NATO Alliance; distinguished guests: We meet here at a moment of testing for Europe and the United States, and for the international order that we have worked for generations to build.

Throughout human history, societies have grappled with fundamental questions of how to organize themselves, the proper relationship between the individual and the state, the best means to resolve inevitable conflicts between states. And it was here in Europe, through centuries of struggle — through war and Enlightenment, repression and revolution — that a particular set of ideals began to emerge: The belief that through conscience and free will, each of us has the right to live as we choose. The belief that power is derived from the consent of the governed, and that laws and institutions should be established to protect that understanding. And those ideas eventually inspired a band of colonialists across an ocean, and they wrote them into the founding documents that still guide America today, including the simple truth that all men — and women — are created equal.

But those ideals have also been tested — here in Europe and around the world. Those ideals have often been threatened by an older, more traditional view of power. This alternative vision argues that ordinary men and women are too small-minded to govern their own affairs, that order and progress can only come when individuals surrender their rights to an all-powerful sovereign. Often, this alternative vision roots itself in the notion that by virtue of race or faith or ethnicity, some are inherently superior to others, and that individual identity must be defined by “us” versus “them,” or that national greatness must flow not by what a people stand for, but by what they are against.

It’s clear Obama wasn’t saying that “ordinary men and women are too small-minded to govern their own affairs,” or that “individuals [should] surrender their rights to an all-powerful sovereign.” Rather, he ascribed that worldview to an ideology he explicitly rejects.

To see the full video of Obama’s speech, watch the official White House version.

Zachary Piaker

Sources

Wahrheitsbewegung. “Obama erklärt in kürze die Neue Welt Ordnung 2014 ^^ – Zusammenschnitt.” YouTube video. 26 May 2014.

White House. “Remarks by the President in Address to European Youth.” 26 Mar 2014.

White House. “President Obama Speaks at Palais Des Beaux Arts.” Video. 26 Mar 2014.

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