Fact Checking The Sunday Shows - July 10, 2011

July 11, 2011 11:09 am ET

This week's Sunday political talk shows focused largely on the looming default crisis, with a chorus of Republican leaders singing the GOP talking points on the negotiations. In the wake of Speaker John Boehner's (R-OH) reported rejection of President Obama's proposal of trillions in deficit reduction for an increase in the debt ceiling, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) dishonestly told Fox News Sunday viewers that "Nobody is talking about not raising the debt ceiling." Also on Fox, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) defended his demand for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution by misleadingly stating that 49 states are required to balance their budgets every year. On CNN, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) misrepresented Senate Democrats' proposal for lowering the debt and wrongly claimed that federal revenues went up as a result of the Bush tax cuts. And on NBC's Meet the Press, presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty unleashed a series of false attacks on President Obama's economic record.

Fox News Sunday

CLAIM: Sen. McConnell Claimed Nobody Is Talking About Not Raising The Debt Ceiling

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL: Nobody is talking about not raising the debt ceiling. I haven't heard that discussed by anybody.

BRET BAIER (host): Some are.

MCCONNELL: Not in the Congress. Yea, nobody is talking about doing that.

FACT: Many Republican Members Of Congress Are Talking About  Not Raising The Debt Ceiling

Sens. Jim DeMint (R-SC), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Mike Lee (R-UT), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Rand Paul (R-KY), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Pat Toomey (R-PA), and Reps. Joe Walsh (R-IL), Ron Paul (R-TX), Jim Jordan (R-OH), Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), and Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) all signed a pledge not to raise the debt ceiling unless the "Cut, Cap, and Balance" plan is enforced.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) on Meet the Press, asked if he will vote to raise debt ceiling: "No, I won't."

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA): "Republicans are not going to vote for this increase in the debt limit unless there are serious spending cuts and reforms."

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY): "Don't raise the debt ceiling" and "just spend what comes in."

Rep. Paul Broun (R-TX): "Today, I introduced a unique bill that goes in a completely different direction than everything else we've been hearing out of Washington. It would force politicians to start practicing what they've been preaching by lowering the debt ceiling from $14.3 trillion back down to $13 trillion.

Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX): We should "refuse to raise the debt ceiling."

Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA): "It's not my intention to support an increase in the national debt."

Rep. Michele Bachmann's (R-MN) PAC petition: "Don't raise the debt ceiling."

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC): "I will not the vote for the debt ceiling increase until I see a plan in place that will deal with our long-term obligations, starting with Social Security."

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN): "I will not vote to increase the debt ceiling."

Tim Pawlenty: "I hope and pray and believe they should not raise the debt ceiling."

CLAIM: Sen. McConnell Suggested Casey Anthony Verdict Proves Terrorists Shouldn't Be Tried In Civilian Courts

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL: These foreign terrorists or enemy combatants, they should be taken to Guantanamo. They should be tried in military commissions, new legislation that we passed just three years go precisely with the purpose of dealing with foreign terrorists. These are not American citizens. We just found with the Caylee Anthony case how difficult it is to get a conviction in a US court. I don't think a foreigner is entitled to all the protections of the Bill of Rights. They should not be in U.S. courts. They should be at Guantanamo and before military commissions.

FACT: Civilian Trials Have Produced Longer Sentences For Terrorists Than Military Tribunals

Colin Powell: Of Three People Tried In Military Court In Eight Years, Two "Served Relatively Short Sentences And Are Free" And "One Guy Is In Jail." From the February 21 edition of CBS' Face the Nation:

COLIN POWELL: The issue about sending people to military commissions, we're not using military commissions like we should. Any time you lock somebody up or you catch a terrorist, let's give them the military commission. In eight years, the military commissions have put three people on trial. Two of them served relatively short sentences and are free. One guy is in jail.

Meanwhile the federal courts, our Article III regular legal court system has put dozens of terrorists in jail. And they're fully capable of doing it. So the suggestion that somehow a military commission is the way to go isn't born out by the history of the military commission.

I think a lot of people think just give them to the military and the military will hammer them. Well, guess what? Officers in the military are obliged to follow the Constitution. Military lawyers are obliged under their oath to give the best possible defense to the defendant no more whether he's a terrorist or not. And so you didn't get out of the military commissions what a lot of people thought at the beginning you would get and a lot of us did not think it was a good idea in the beginning. [Face the Nation, 2/21/10, via Nexis, emphasis added]

Chief Military Prosecutor From Guantánamo Bay Tribunals: Even If He Receives Minimum Sentence, Terrorist Convicted In Civilian Court Will Serve Longer Than 80 Percent Of Those Convicted By Military Tribunals. In a New York Times op-ed applying his experience as "chief prosecutor for the military commissions at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, from 2005 to 2007" to the verdict in the Ahmed Ghailani trial, Air Force Cl. Morris Davis (Ret.) wrote: "In any case, Mr. Ghailani now faces a sentence of 20 years to life. Even if he gets the minimum, his sentence will be greater than those of four of the five detainees so far convicted in military commissions. Only one defendant, Ali Hamza al-Bahlul, has been sentenced to life, and this was after he boycotted his tribunal and presented no defense. Of the four detainees who participated in their military commissions, Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen who was 15 when arrested, is serving the longest sentence after pleading guilty to murder. Yet he will serve no more than eight years behind bars, less than half of Mr. Ghailani's minimum incarceration. Salim Hamdan, Osama bin Laden's former driver, was sentenced to five and half years in 2008 but given credit for time served; five months later he was free. There is no reason to assume that a military commission sentence will be more severe than one from a federal court." [New York Times op-ed, 11/18/10, emphasis added]

CAP: "Criminal Courts Hand Out Tougher Sentences Than Military Commissions." According to the Center for American Progress:

The facts are clear: Criminal courts are a far tougher and more reliable forum for prosecuting terrorists than military commissions. [...]

The sample size of military commissions' sentences is very small, but there are some analogous cases in the criminal justice system to compare the length of sentences in the two forums. The allegations against David Hicks in a military trial were quite similar to those leveled against John Walker Lindh-the so-called American Taliban-in a criminal court, while comparable charges to the material support for terrorism conviction for Salim Hadman can also be found in criminal courts.

Hicks pleaded guilty to the charge of material support for terrorism with the underlying allegations that he trained at an Al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan and that he was an armed participant in numerous engagements with American and Northern Alliance forces. Lindh pleaded guilty to serving in the Taliban army and carrying weapons. Hicks received a nine-month sentence while Lindh got 20 years. Even if all of the time Hicks served prior to his plea bargain is counted, his total time in custody was only six years, less than one-third of the sentence Lindh received.

Hamdan was convicted of providing material support for terrorism for being Osama bin Laden's chauffer. In 2006, Ali Asad Chandia was convicted in a criminal court of material support for terrorism for driving a member of Pakistani extremist group Lashkar-e-Taibi from Washington National Airport and helping him ship packages containing paintball equipment back to Pakistan. Hamdan received a five-month sentence while Chandia got 15 years. Even if all of the time Hamdan served prior to his conviction in a military commission is counted, his total time in custody would be only eight years.

At most, Osama bin Laden's driver got a little more than half the sentence from a military commission that a criminal court doled out to someone for driving a low-level Pakistani extremist. [Center for American Progress, Criminal Courts Are Tougher on Terrorists than Military Detention1/20/10, emphasis added] 

CLAIM: Sen. DeMint Claimed 49 States Have To Balance Their Budget Every Year

DEMINT: But what we need to do, Bret — we're not going to get these programs reformed and all of this done in two weeks — is let's agree that the problem is spending and debt, and let's agree to stop spending more than we're bringing in. Not this year, not next year, but let the states decide if sometime over the next six to 10 years, is bring our budget in to balance. 49 states have to balance their budget, and they have to make the tough decisions every year. We never make the tough decisions because we don't have to balance our budget.

FACT: Not All 49 States Have To Balance Their Budgets Each Year

PolitiFact: Impossible To Say How Many States Have Absolutely Binding Budget Requirements. According to PolitiFact Texas:

The report also shows a tabulation of states' balanced-budget provisions kept by the National Association of State Budget Officers that takes a narrower view of which states require a balanced budget.

According to the NCSL report, the association surveyed balanced-budget requirements in 2008, tallying which states require the governor to submit a balanced budget (43 total) and which require the legislature to pass a balanced budget (40). Thirty-eight states prohibit carrying deficits from one year to the next. We found 41 states have constitutional provisions requiring the governor to submit a balanced budget or the legislature to pass one, and five states that have a statutory requirement.

So that's 46 states, by the National Association of State Budget Officers' count, that have balanced budget requirements as a matter of law. However, as Snell said, "it's almost impossible to say" for how many states the balanced budget mandate is "an absolutely binding requirement."

Where does that leave us?

Only two states - not 49, as Cornyn says - have amended their constitutions to require balanced budgets. Counting amendments plus provisions tucked into original constitutions, however, 45 states have balanced-budget stipulations, according to NCSL's count. NASBO considers 46 states to have constitutional or statutory balanced-budget requirements.

Also, despite the letters of those statutory and constitutional strictures, they aren't universally viewed as mandatory. [PolitiFact.com, 12/25/10]

State Of The Union

CLAIM: Rep. McCarthy Claimed We Don't Have "A Revenue Problem" Because Discretionary Spending Has Increased 73 Percent Over The Last Three Years

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY: Look, when we have laid out from the very beginning. This is not a revenue problem, it's a spending problem. Discretionary spending has gone up 73 percent in the last three years.

FACT: Discretionary Spending Did Not Increase 73 Percent Over The Last 3 Years.

PolitiFact: Discretionary Spending Has ncreased Between 23.7 Percent and 26 Percent. According to PolitiFact's reviw of a similar claim by Rep. Robert Hurt (R-VA):

The Virginia Congressman said non-defense discretionary spending has climbed "by over 80 percent in the last two years." Unlike other Republicans who have made similar claims, he did not say that much of the increase came from the 2009 stimulus bill.

Republicans reach this number by putting all of the one-time discretionary stimulus money in the 2010 budget instead of 2009, when the stimulus was approved.

Moreover, data from the White House budget office provide strong evidence that the GOP has double-counted the stimulus.

The White House budget office shows non-defense discretionary spending rose 26 percent from 2008 to 2010. The CBO, which Hurt and other Republicans cite as their source, puts the increase at 23.7 percent.

That's a long way from the "over 80 percent" increase claimed by Hurt. We rate his statement False. [PolitiFact, 6/10/11]

FACT: We Do Have A Revenue Problem

Revenues Are At Their Lowest Level Since 1950. According to the Washington Post

Sure enough, the historical White House budget tables show that receipts (ie, taxes) in 2011 are estimated to be just 14.4 percent of GDP — the lowest level since 1950. But outlays (ie, spending) in 2011 are estimated to be 25.3 percent of GDP — the highest level since World War II. That yawning gap is the key reason why the deficit is so large—and why Republican claims that there is "no revenue problem" are worthy of a couple of Pinocchios.

The recession, of course, is a major reason why revenue has fallen so much — and why spending has soared. Obama came into office claiming he would roll back President George W. Bush's taxes for the top 2 percent of wage-earners, which would have helped with some of the revenue gap, but then he cut a deal last year with Republicans that extended the cuts for two years. [Washington Post, 4/14/11]

TPM: As A Percentage Of GDP Revenue Has Fallen Over The Last Decade. From Talking Points Memo:

We took the numbers and put them in a slightly different context, so you can see by what percentage spending and revenues have risen and fallen on a population adjusted basis over the last decade. Makes it pretty clear what is and is not the culprit of deficits and our supposedly out-of-control spending.

[Talking Points Memo, 7/4/11]

Krugman: "Revenue Has Plunged." According to Paul Krugman's New York Times blog:

For all those commenters saying that we must have had a surge in government spending — I mean, look at the deficit! — a simple picture:


Government spending has continued to rise more or less on its pre-crisis trend. Revenue has plunged, because the economy is deeply depressed. [New York Times, 10/17/10]

Face the Nation

CLAIM: Sen. Sessions Claimed Leaked Senate Budget Has Two Dollars Of Tax Increases For Every Dollar Of Spending Cuts

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS: If he's [Speaker John Boehner] got tax increases like the Senate budget that just leaked out the Democrats have not made it public but their outline was made public. It has two dollars of tax increases for every one dollar of— of spending cuts. That's miniscule.

FACT: Leaked Senate Budget Has A One-To-One Ration Of Spending Cuts To Tax Increases

The Senate Budget Plans To Reduce Borrowing By $4 Trillion, Including $2 Trillion In Tax Increases. According to the Washington Post:

Senate Democrats have drafted a sweeping debt-reduction plan that would slice $4 trillion from projected borrowing over the next decade without touching the expensive health and retirement programs targeted by President Obama.

Instead, Senate Democrats are proposing to stabilize borrowing through sharp cuts at the Pentagon and other government agencies, as well as $2 trillion in new taxes, primarily on families earning more than $1 million year, according to a copy of the plan obtained by The Washington Post. [Washingtonpost.com, 7/8/11, hyperlink removed]

CLAIM: Sen. Sessions Claimed Revenue Increased Every Year After Bush Tax Cuts

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS: Revenue went up every single year after those [Bush] tax cuts were put in.

FACT: Lower Revenues Were A Direct Result Of The Bush Tax Cuts

Income Tax Revenues Dropped Precipitously After The Bush Tax Cuts Were Enacted. From Think Progress:

The graph tracks tax receipts as a percentage of GDP, complete with the precipitous drop following the Bush tax cuts:

Think Progress Tax Receipts

Even in total dollars, tax receipts were lower in 2002 and 2003 than they were in 2001. And the slight uptick that occurs around 2005, which still doesn't come close to paying for the cost of the cuts, is simply the housing bubble inflating. So if conservatives want to take credit for that rise, then they have to own the bubble too. As Paul Krugman wrote, "everything you've heard about how revenues have boomed since the Bush tax cuts is wrong. What really happened was that revenue plunged, as a percent of GDP, in the early Bush years, then staged a partial, but only partial, recovery." [Think Progress, 7/14/10]

PolitiFact: "On Its Face," The Claim That Revenues Go Up After Tax Cuts "Is Not Accurate." From a PolitiFact fact check of Rep. Joe Walsh's (R-IL) claim that "Every time we've cut taxes, revenues have gone up, the economy has grown": "We should first note that on its face, Walsh's statement is not accurate. The White House Office of Budget and Management publishes detailed tables of government collections of income taxes. There was a small dip in 1983, after President Ronald Reagan signed off on a tax cut in 1981, though tax revenues increased the next year and all through the 1980s. More significantly, income tax revenues fell in 2001, 2002 and 2003, as President George W. Bush successfully pursued tax cuts." [PolitiFact.com, 4/17/11]

Heritage Foundation Budget Guru: Bush Tax Cuts Played Some Role In Lower Revenues. As the Heritage Foundation's Brian Riedl admits: "the 2001/2003 tax cuts played some role in keeping revenues below their historical average for most of the 2000s, but the country was also recovering from a recession at that time, too." [Heritage Foundation, 7/29/10]

Present "Huge Deficits" Partly Due To Bush Tax Cuts. As the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities explains: "If not for the Bush tax cuts, the deficit-financed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the effects of the worst recession since the Great Depression (including the cost of policymakers' actions to combat it), we would not be facing these huge deficits in the near term." [CBPP.org, 5/10/11]

FACT: Economists Agree That Tax Cuts Don't Increase Revenue

Even Conservative Economists Agree That Tax Cuts Do Not Pay For Themselves. As Time explains: "If there's one thing that economists agree on, it's that these claims are false. We're not talking just ivory-tower lefties. Virtually every economics Ph.D. who has worked in a prominent role in the Bush Administration acknowledges that the tax cuts enacted during the past six years have not paid for themselves--and were never intended to. Harvard professor Greg Mankiw, chairman of Bush's Council of Economic Advisers from 2003 to 2005, even devotes a section of his best-selling economics textbook to debunking the claim that tax cuts increase revenues." [Time, 12/6/07]

The Economist: "No Serious Economist Believes Mr Bush's Tax Cuts Will Pay For Themselves." From The Economist: "Even by the standards of political boosterism, this is extraordinary. No serious economist believes Mr Bush's tax cuts will pay for themselves. A recent study from the Congressional Budget Office suggested that, after ten years, up to one-third of the cost of a 10% cut in income taxes can be recouped from higher economic growth. That fraction may be higher for cuts in taxes on capital alone. But it is nowhere near 100%." [The Economist, 1/12/06]

2003 Economic Report Of The President: Lost Tax Revenue Won't Be Completely Recovered. The 2003 Economic Report of the President written by the Council of Economic Advisors points out: "Although the economy grows in response to tax reductions (because of higher consumption in the short run and improved incentives in the long run), it is unlikely to grow so much that lost tax revenue is completely recovered by the higher level of economic activity." [Economic Report of the President, February 2003]

AEI Economist: "Revenue Is Lower Than It Would Be Without The Bush Tax Cuts." According to PolitiFact: "'There is no real dispute among economists that broad-based federal income tax cuts reduce revenue (except when tax rates are much higher than they are now),' said Alan D. Viard of the conservative American Enterprise Institute. 'Revenue is lower than it would be without the Bush tax cuts -- liberal and conservative economists are in accord on this question.'" [PolitiFact, 11/7/10]

Chairman Of Bush Council of Economic Advisors : "I Certainly Would Not Claim That Tax Cuts Pay For Themselves." From the Christian Science Monitor:

Another supply-side theory, now less popular, was voiced by Bush in February 2006: "You cut taxes, and the tax revenues increase."

The theory is that with lower marginal tax rates, people work harder and longer, thereby raising their income - and paying more taxes on it.

But even top Bush economic advisers now reject that thesis.

"I certainly would not claim that tax cuts pay for themselves," Edward Lazear, the current chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, has stated. [Christian Science Monitor, 6/25/07, via Lexis]

Wall Street Journal: Bush Tax Cuts Return 10 Times Less Than They Generate In Added Tax Revenue From Economic Growth. From a 2006 Wall Street Journal editorial: "The congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, using conventional analyses, says making the president's tax cuts permanent would reduce federal revenues in 2016 by $314 billion. That is more than 10 times what the Treasury analysis suggests tax cuts would generate by prompting more hours of work, more savings and investment and more efficient use of resources." [Wall Street Journal, 7/11/06]

Meet the Press

CLAIM: Tim Pawlenty Suggested Obama Promised Unemployment Wouldn't Go Over 8 Percent If The Stimulus Passed

TIM PAWLENTY: How is the Obama promise working? When he ran for President of the United States, he went around the country, made all these grand promises, this soaring rhetoric. He got to implement his plan, a stimulus bill, 800-plus billion dollars. He said unemployment could go up to eight percent if they didn't pass it. Now, how is it working? The answer is, it's not. 

FACT: Those Blaming Obama For 8 Percent Prediction Are Taking A 2009 Report Out Of Context

"Not An Official Government Assessment, Nor Even An Analysis Of An Actual Plan That Had Passed Congress." From a Washington Post fact check of a similar claim by Tim Pawlenty:

Pawlenty is referring to a projection issued on Jan. 9, 2009 - before Obama even took the oath of office - by two aides: Christina Romer, the nominee to head the Council of Economic Advisers, and Jared Bernstein, an incoming economic adviser to Vice President-elect Biden.

The 14-page report thus was not an official government assessment, nor even an analysis of an actual plan that had passed Congress. Instead, it was an attempt to assess the impact of a possible $775 billion stimulus package and what difference it would make compared to doing nothing. The president-elect had articulated a goal of passing a plan that would "save or create 3 million jobs by the end of 2010."

Page 5 of the report included a chart that showed that unemployment would peak at 8 percent in 2009, compared to 9 percent in 2010 if nothing was done. But the report also contained numerous caveats and warnings because, after all, it was merely a projection. At the time, other economists had similar forecasts - Romer and Bernstein were in the mid-range - but the economy turned out to be in deeper trouble than most people thought. [Washington Post, 5/26/11]

Report Included "Heavy Disclaimers" About Unemployment Projections. According to PolitiFact:

But what we saw from the administration in January 2009 was a projection, not a promise. And it was a projection that came with heavy disclaimers.

"It should be understood that all of the estimates presented in this memo are subject to significant margins of error," the report states. "There is the more fundamental uncertainty that comes with any estimate of the effects of a program. Our estimates of economic relationships and rules of thumb are derived from historical experience and so will not apply exactly in any given episode. Furthermore, the uncertainty is surely higher than normal now because the current recession is unusual both in its fundamental causes and its severity."

There's also a footnote that goes with the chart that states: "Forecasts of the unemployment rate without the recovery plan vary substantially. Some private forecasters anticipate unemployment rates as high as 11% in the absence of action." [PolitiFact, 2/28/11]

Higher Unemployment Reflects Economic Conditions That Were Worse Than Were Expected — Not A Failure Of The Stimulus. From a Washington Post fact check of a similar claim by Tim Pawlenty:

Romer, when she left the White House last year, said that the estimate of the impact of the stimulus bill was accurate but the 8-percent "prediction was so far off" because economic conditions were so much worse. "We, like virtually every other forecaster, failed to anticipate just how violent the recession would be in the absence of policy, and the degree to which the usual relationship between GDP [gross domestic product] and unemployment would break down," she said.

Economic projections by their nature are uncertain. It's absurd to claim that this is a presidential "promise," especially when the projection was not even about the stimulus bill that ultimately passed Congress. [Washington Post, 5/26/11]

FactCheck.org: Original Prediction Was "In Line With What Private Economists Were Forecasting." According to FactCheck.org:

Back in July of last year we wrote, "the original projections from President Obama's economic advisers on what would happen with and without the stimulus plan are still off - and significantly so." But nobody "promised" that unemployment would remain below 8 percent.

As we also wrote in June of last year, the White House explanation was simple: "They say President George Bush left them a worse mess than they realized" when Obama's advisers came up with their predictions. And that's true. The original chart - produced Jan. 9, 2009 - was based on economic projections that were in line with what private economists were forecasting. Those forecasts were being revised for the worse even before any stimulus money was spent. [FactCheck.org, 9/24/10]

PolitiFact: "There Is An Inherent Uncertainty In Economic Forecasting." According to PolitiFact: "But there is an inherent uncertainty in economic forecasting. And how can you ever prove that if the unemployment rate got to X percent, it would or would not have gotten a point or two higher if not for the stimulus? The implication of Allen's comment is that a rising unemployment rate in 2009 proves the stimulus didn't work. Many economists don't agree -- and argue that without the stimulus, unemployment would have been worse -- but it's difficult to empirically prove one way or the other. [PolitiFact, 2/28/11]

FACT: Recovery Is Lagging Because The Recession Was The Worst Since The Great Depression

"Longest And Deepest U.S. Recession Since The Great Depression." From Bloomberg: "The longest and deepest U.S. recession since the Great Depression ended in June 2009, lasting 18 months, the National Bureau of Economic Research said. ... Marked by a collapse in housing and sub-prime mortgage lending that triggered a global meltdown in financial markets, the downturn trailed the 43-month Great Depression that lasted from 1929 to 1933, surpassing the 16-month contractions of 1973- 75 and 1981-82. More than 8 million workers lost their jobs as a result of the recession, a slump that may take years to fix." [Bloomberg, 9/20/10]

FACT: The Recovery Act Helped Turn Private-Sector Growth Around, Even While The Public Sector Sheds Jobs

Since Summer 2009, The Private Sector Has Added Jobs While The Public Sector Has Shrunk. Political Correction prepared a chart based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data showing cumulative job gains and losses in the public and private sectors since summer 2009 (click to enlarge):

Public- and private-sector jobs

Since July 2009, The Private Sector Has Gained Over 1.3 MILLION Net Jobs. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, there were 107,649,000 private-sector jobs in July 2009. As of June 2011, the most recent report available, the data show that total is up to 108,953,000 — a net gain of 1,304,000 jobs in the private sector. [BLS.gov, accessed 7/10/11]

Since July 2009, The Public Sector Has Lost 480,000 Net Jobs. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, there were 22,544,000 jobs in the government sector in July 2009. As of June 2011, the most recent report available, the data show 22,064,000 government jobs — a net loss of 480,000. [BLS.gov, accessed 7/10/11]

BLS: The Private Sector Added 2.1 Million Jobs From February 2010 To April 2011. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics: "Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 244,000 in April, and the private sector added 268,000 jobs. Employment rose in a number of service-providing industries, manufacturing, and mining. Since a recent low in February 2010, total payroll employment has grown by 1.8 million. Private sector employment has increased by 2.1 million over the same period." [BLS.gov, 5/6/11]

There Have Been 15 Consecutive Months Of Private-Sector Job Growth. Below is a graph prepared by the Office of the Democratic Leader showing monthly private-sector job gains and losses:

15 months of private-sector job growth

[Office of the Democratic Leader, 6/3/11, via Flickr]

CBO: The Recovery Act Created Jobs, Lowered Unemployment, And Boosted GDP. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office:

On that basis, CBO estimates that ARRA's policies had the following effects in the fourth quarter of calendar year 2010:

  • They raised real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) by between 1.1 percent and 3.5 percent,
  • Lowered the unemployment rate by between 0.7 percentage points and 1.9 percentage points,
  • Increased the number of people employed by between 1.3 million and 3.5 million, and
  • Increased the number of full-time-equivalent jobs by 1.8 million to 5.0 million compared with what would have occurred otherwise, as shown in Table 1. (Increases in FTE jobs include shifts from part-time to full-time work or overtime and are thus generally larger than increases in the number of employed workers). [CBO,February 2011]

CLAIM: Tim Pawlenty Claimed Businesses Say Tax And Regulatory Policies "Are Suffocating Their Entrepreneurial Spirit And Their Desire To Grow Jobs."

TIM PAWLENTY: We've got tax policy and regulatory policies that our private businesses say are suffocating their entrepreneurial spirit and their desire to grow jobs in this country and he's got us on the wrong track. You've got to do the things like I did in Minnesota: cut taxes, you've got to bring down spending, you've got to get those things in line with respect to health care that are going to bring down costs, not just expand access and the like. Those are the things that people who actually know what they're talking about, who are providing jobs in this country, would say would make a difference.

FACT: Businesses Are Much More Worried About Weak Consumer Spending Than Government Actions

Study By "The Most Right Wing Of The Major Business Groups" Shows Businesses Much More Afraid Of Weak Demand Than Taxes And Regulations. As Ezra Klein of the Washington Post reported:

The National Federation of Independent Businesses -- a small-business trade association that is considered the most right wing of the major business groups -- continually polls its members and releases the results. Here's what they say is their single most important problem:


As you can see, sales -- that is to say, demand for their products -- dominate the chart, while fear of taxes is lower than in the '90s. The concern over sales is understandable. Not only is the economy bad. But as the next chart shows, it keeps underperforming what the businesses assume will happen.


So, if anything, businesses have been too optimistic over the past few years.

[Washington Post7/22/10]

Companies Anticipate Years Of Debt Reduction Instead Of Increased Spending. According to the Washington Post: "Many Democrats say the economy needs more stimulus. Business lobbyists and their Republican allies say it needs less regulation and lower taxes. But here in the heartland of America, senior executives say neither side's assessment fits. They blame their profound caution on their view that U.S. consumers are destined to disappoint for many years. As a result, they say, the economy is unlikely to see the kind of almost unbroken prosperity of the quarter-century that preceded the financial crisis. Across the industrial parks and office towers of the Chicago region, in a more than a dozen interviews, senior executives said they see Americans for years ahead paying down debts incurred during the now-ended credit boom and adjusting spending to match their often-reduced incomes." [Washington Post8/21/10, emphasis added]

  • Washington Post: Executives Can't Draw Specific Link Between Government Actions And Hiring Decisions.According to theWashington Post: "Fundamentally, executives objected to Obama's policies on the grounds they would make the United States a less competitive place to operate in the long run. But when [manufacturing CEO Jason] Speer and other executives were pressed on the role that tax and regulatory policies play in hiring, they drew only vague connections. Speer said his decision whether to hire is driven primarily by demand for his products. Orders are coming in strong enough that he is running about 20 hours a week of overtime. So he is weighing whether to hire two or three additional manufacturing workers.None of the executives interviewed linked a specific new government initiative with a specific decision to refrain from hiring." [Washington Post,8/21/10, emphasis added]

CLAIM: Tim Pawlenty Claimed Obama Is Responsible For Tripling Federal Debt And Making The Deficit "Exponentially Worse" 

TIM PAWLENTY: President Obama made the deficit exponentially worse and the debt worse. He essentially tripled it. In March of 2009, David, he looked the American people in the eye and said I will cut the deficit in half during my first term. [...] When President Bush left office the deficit was 500 billion or so and now it's 1.5 trillion or so. So now, President Obama has tripled, he promised to cut it in half.

FACT: When President Bush Left Office, The Deficit Was Already Projected To Be $1.2 Trillion

Total Federal Debt Has Not Even Doubled, Much Less Tripled, From 2009 To 2013. From FactCheck.org: "As for the debt held by the public, the president's budget projects that it will reach $12.8 trillion in FY 2013. That's a nearly 71 percent increase from the $7.5 trillion public debt for fiscal year 2009. That's a significant increase, but it's not "double," as the Budget Committee claimed. That would require a 100 percent increase. If you look at the total federal debt, which includes money the government owes itself, it still doesn't amount to a doubling over the same time period ($11.9 trillion in FY 2009 and $17.8 trillion in FY 2013)." [FactCheck.org, 2/16/11]

PolitiFact: When Bush Left Office, CBO Projected The Deficit Would Be $1.2 Trillion. According to PolitiFact: "On Jan. 7, 2009, two weeks before Obama took office, the CBO reported the deficit was projected to be $1.2 trillion." [PolitiFact.com, 1/15/10]

CBO: Current Budget Deficit Projected To Be $1.5 Trillion. According to the CBO: "Economic developments, and the government's responses to them, have-of course-had a big impact on the budget. We estimate that, if current laws remain unchanged, the budget deficit this year will be close to $1.5 trillion, or 9.8 percent of GDP." [CBO.gov, 1/26/11]

FY 2009 Numbers Include The $1.2 Trillion In Debt President Bush Left Behind Before President Obama Took Office. As reported by the Washington Times: "The Congressional Budget Office announced a projected fiscal 2009 deficit of $1.2 trillion even if Congress doesn't enact any new programs. [...] About the only person who was silent on the deficit projection was Mr. Bush, who took office facing a surplus but who saw spending balloon and the country notch the highest deficits on record." [Washington Times1/8/09, emphasis added]

  • Before President Bush Took Office, There Was A Projected Surplus Of $128 Billion. As reported by CNN: "President Bush inherited abudgetsurplus of $128 billion when he took office in 2001 but has since posted a budget deficit every year." [CNN.com, 7/28/08]

The Bush Tax Cuts Are The Primary Driver Of Federal Budget Deficits Over The Next Decade. Below is a chart from CBPP showing the deficit impacts of war spending, financial recovery spending, the recession itself, and the Bush tax cuts:


[CBPP.org, 5/10/11]