Fact-Checking the State of the Union

President pointed to some debatable stats
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 21, 2015 8:35 AM CST
Fact-Checking the State of the Union
President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill on Jan. 20, 2015, in Washington.   (AP Photo/Mandel Ngan, Pool)

Last night's State of the Union address has been described as "defiant" and "assertive," but how about "accurate"? The media this morning is questioning a few of President Obama's bigger claims. Among the shakier ones:

  • "Our combat mission in Afghanistan is over." Not if you define "combat" as direct confrontation with the enemy. In addition to helping train Afghan forces, the US is still tasked with preventing a resurgence of al-Qaeda and other militant groups in Afghanistan, Politico reports.
  • "Our economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999." The US Bureau of Economic Analysis says that the most recent figures available—for the third quarter of last year—show the real GDP was growing at an annual rate of 5.0%. It was actually higher than that in 2003, at 6.9%, and 2000, at 7.8%. And regarding the speed of job growth, that appears to have been a reference to a preliminary, not a final, figure for 2014, USA Today reports.

  • "Since 2010, America has put more people back to work than Europe, Japan, and all advanced economies combined." Well, that figure comes from the International Monetary Fund's list of “advanced economies," which includes some spots, like Hong Kong, that aren't independent countries—and it doesn't count China, the Washington Post reports.
  • "We can continue to protect the technologies that have unleashed untold opportunities for people around the globe." This line in cybersecurity is highly questionable, Politico reporters write: "There are no guarantees, even with the best-written bill, that hackers can be stopped from wreaking havoc on government departments or private companies."
  • "In the past year alone, about 10 million uninsured Americans finally gained the security of health coverage." Here, Obama may actually be underselling himself, Politico reports. The study in the New England Journal of Medicine that offers the 10 million figure doesn't include sign-ups under ObamaCare since November.
(More President Obama stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.