Checking the Facts of Obama's State of the Union


With this being President Obama's first State of the Union address, most expected him to get some points for style. But what about substance?

Here's a bit of fact checking.

"Starting in 2011, we are prepared to freeze government spending for three years," Obama said during his speech. "Spending related to our national security, Medicare, Medicaid and social security will not be affected. But all other discretionary government programs will."

"Like any cash-strapped family, we will work within a budget to invest in what we need and sacrifice what we don't," he continued. "And if I have to enforce this discipline by veto, I will."

Bill Adair of PolitiFact.com called this statement a major flip-flop. He points out that the president is adopting the same freeze he criticized John McCain for in 2008.

"Last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests-- including foreign corporations-- to spend without limit in our elections," Obama said. "Well I don't think American elections should be bank rolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities."

The statement brought a headshake and a "not true" from Justice Samuel Alito.

"I think Justice Alito knew that that's not what the court had said. The president was maintaining that the ruling opens the door to unlimited spending by foreign corporations. But the ruling doesn't say that," Adair explained. "In fact, the ruling specifically says that is not the case. It would not address the foreign spending. So we gave Obama a 'barely true' on the Truth-O-Meter.

And on tax cuts Obama made bold claims.

"We cut taxes for 95 percent of working families," he said. "We cut taxes for small businesses. We cut taxes for first-time homebuyers."

Here, Adair said the president was mostly right, but it may not paint an accurate picture.

Adair and the other fact-checkers know there will be much more to monitor as 2010 unfolds.

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