President Barack Obama visited Minnesota today to raise some campaign money and to deliver a speech at Honeywell International in Golden Valley on the economy and a new plan to help veterans find jobs.
PoliGraph checked claims from Obama’s speech and from Tim Pawlenty, a surrogate for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and found some truth and some exaggeration.
President Barack Obama, in his speech at Honeywell International:
Giving a speech about the economy and job creation on a day when the Labor Department announces less than impressive jobs numbers isn’t ideal.
But that’s exactly the position Obama found himself in. Though the unemployment rate increased and only 69,000 jobs were created in May, the fewest in a year, Obama played up the fact that millions of jobs have been created since February 2010, the low point of the recession.
“Our businesses have created almost 4.3 million new jobs over the last 27 months,” Obama said.
That’s true of private sector employment according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, though it’s important to note that total non-farm employment has increased by only 3.8 million largely due to declines in public sector employment.
And while 4.3 million jobs sounds good, it’s still about 4.6 million below where it was in January 2008, the high point of private sector employment before the recession.
So the president’s statement is accurate, but it lacks some context.
Obama also talked about specifically about manufacturing jobs.
“Manufacturing is consistently adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s,” he said.
The last time the manufacturing industry created jobs was 1997, when 288,000 positions were added in the sector, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
But subsequently, the manufacturing sector experienced a net loss every year.
In 2010, things started to turn around. That year, the industry created a net 117,000 jobs; in 2011, a net 181,000 jobs were created; and so far in 2012, 93,000 manufacturing jobs have been created.
The president’s statement is accurate.
Tim Pawlenty, on a conference call with reporters:
Pawlenty told reporters that even the president’s host for the day is critical of his record.
“In an interesting twist, the CEO of Honeywell, one of the facilities that the president is going to visit today in Minnesota, a Honeywell facility, has specifically cited the president’s inability and lack of progress in tackling the deficit and debt in this country as a leading factor for why the economy is not recovering and why it’s being stifled,” Pawlenty said.
Pawlenty is talking about Honeywell CEO David Cote, a member of Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. Pawlenty’s talking point comes from a GOP brief on Cote’s comments about the debt and deficit, which he has called the “seeds of the next recession.”
Cote has made clear many times that he believes solving the nation’s debt problem is critical to create jobs, saying, for instance, that the biggest thing government could do “is to get that debt problem sorted out because if they just remove the uncertainty blanket that’s over everything right now, that would do more to stimulate demand and to stimulate confidence.”
He’s expressed frustration that Washington failed to reach a deal on the debt ceiling last year, and that the Bowles-Simpson Plan, a proposal that Cote helped create as part of Obama’s fiscal commission that encourages spending cuts and tax increases to solve the debt crisis, has been largely ignored by leaders from both parties, including the president.
But Cote hasn’t singled the president out for criticism. In fact, Obama and Cote appear to have a good relationship. Cote was with Obama during his speech, and he has spoken favorably of Obama’s stimulus plan. The Wall Street Journal called him “one of President Barack Obama’s go-to CEOs.”
When asked by a reporter Pawlenty even conceded later in the call that Cote never criticized Obama directly.
“I don’t think he did by name, but he did highlight the problem,” said Pawlenty. “And the problem has undeniably been worsened by President Obama.”
So, it’s true that Cote has criticized Washington in general for not acting to deal with the nation’s debt, and that includes the president. But he has not specifically said it’s Obama’s fault, as Pawlenty implied. That makes Pawlenty’s claim misleading.
Republican National Committee, Is the Debt King Listening, May 31, 2012
The White House, President Obama Names Members of Bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, Feb. 26, 2010
Fox Business, Honeywell CEO on the Debt Talks, Jul 27, 2011
Fox Business, Honeywell CEO: Debt is a Huge Issue, Jan. 24, 2012
Honeywell, Dave Cote Introduces President Obama at White House Media Briefing on U.S. Recovery Plan, Jan. 27, 2009
The Wall Street Journal, Honeywell Takes the Lead in Political Giving, by Andy Pasztor and Brody Mullins, Oct. 13, 2010
The Associated Press, As unemployment nudges up, Republicans pounce, by Christopher S. Rugaber, May 31, 2012
The Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics, private and total non-farm employment data, accessed May 31, 2012
The Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics, total manufacturing employment data 1990-2012, accessed May 31, 2012
FactCheck.org, The State of Obama’s Facts, January 26, 2012