PoliGraph: Obama jobs bill claim mostly true

President Barack Obama unveiled his plan to grow jobs earlier this month, and he said it’s getting great reviews from economists.

“When you look at what independent economists are saying about the American Jobs Act… uniformly what they are saying is this buys us insurance against a double-dip recession, and it almost certainly helps the economy grow and will put more people back to work,” he said in an interview with NBC News’s Brian Williams.

Uniform approval? No. Lots of compliments with a few important caveats? Yes.

The Evidence

Among other things, Obama’s job plan would extend and expand the Social Security payroll tax cut; give businesses a $4,000 tax break for hiring the long-term unemployed; extend unemployment benefits; and increase spending on public works projects.

Many economists say they like Obama’s plan, and that the plan would help stave off a second recession and create jobs.

For instance, Mark Zandi, chief economist with Moody’s Analytics and former economic adviser to Sen. John McCain, called it a “laudable effort” that would “go a long way toward stabilizing confidence, forestalling another recession, and jump-starting a self-sustaining economic expansion.”

He estimates that Obama’s plan would add nearly 2 million jobs to the workforce, reduce the unemployment rate by a percentage point, and boost economic growth by 2 percentage points next year.

An estimate by another firm called Macroeconomic Advisers was similarly optimistic, saying the plan would boost GDP by total of 1.3 percent and create roughly 1.3 million jobs by the end of 2012.

Still, even economists who support the plan have some qualms. Some expressed concern that it doesn’t deal with mortgage debt, which many economists say is the root of the nation’s financial woes.

Others question whether consumers will spend the extra cash they get from the payroll tax cut. And if they do, some suggest that the money will end up creating jobs overseas because the nation imports a lot of goods.

Of course, the plan has critics, too. James Sherk of the conservative-leaning Heritage Foundation wrote that unemployment benefits should not be extended because they do little to boost the economy.

And Peter Morici, a professor at the University of Maryland’s business school, wondered in an op-ed how the plan’s $447 billion price tag fits into the long-term goal of dealing with the deficit.

The Verdict

Obama exaggerated a bit by saying that, uniformly, economists say his plan will work; some take serious issue with the proposal. Still, many have mostly good things to say about the strategy, and at least two estimates support the underlying goal of Obama’s plan, which is to grow jobs and boost the economy.

For his first PoliGraph test, Obama’s claim leans toward accurate.


NBC News, Obama: Jobs plan is insurance against a ‘recession’, Sept. 12, 2011

The White House, Fact Sheet and Overview, Sept. 8, 2011

The Los Angeles Times, Economists give Obama’s jobs plan mixed reviews, By Don Lee and Jim Puzzanghera, Sept. 8, 2011

The Washington Post, Obama jobs plan: Economists give good reviews but say more needed on mortgage debt, by Zachary A. Goldfarb, Sept. 9, 2011

USA Today, Many economists say Obama jobs plan will help, by Paul Wiseman

National Public Radio, Economists weigh effectiveness of Obama jobs plan, by Marilyn Geewax, Sept. 9, 2011

Moody’s Analytics, An analysis of Obama’s jobs plan, by Mark Zandi, Sept. 9, 2011

Macroeconomic Advisers, American Jobs Act: A Significant Boost to GDP and Employment, Sept. 8, 2011

UPI, Will Obama put Americans’ jobs ahead of his own?, by Peter Morici, Sept. 16, 2011

The Heritage Foundation, Extended UI Payments Do Not Benefit the Economy, by James Sherk, Sept. 8, 2011

  • Ralph Crammedin

    An accurate synopsis of the President’s assertions, and a fair sample of economists’ concerns.