WASHINGTON - The term cherry-picking is often applied to presidents who use inaccurate, narrowly-drawn, fuzzy statistics and claims to coverup their economic failures.
President Obama did that a lot in his fact-challenged, State of the Union address Tuesday night in which he made exaggerated claims that do not stand up to serious scrutiny.
The Washington Post ran a story the next morning by the capital's chief fact checker, Glenn Kessler, under this headline:
"Sifting through some questionable claims by the president."
The Associated Press ran a lengthy fact-checking story, too, with this editor's note at the bottom: "An occasional look at political claims that take shortcuts with the facts or don't tell the full story."
The biggest whopper: Obama's claim that businesses have created "more than 8 million jobs" over the last four years."
"The president is cherry-picking a number that puts the improvement in the economy in the best possible light," Kessler says.
Obama chooses to use only job figures since February 2010, when the economy reached its low point in jobs, and that produces a gain of about 8 million. But his presidency began in 2009 and the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that only 3.2 million jobs have been created since then.
And even this number is about 1.2 million fewer "than when the recession began in December 2007," Kessler adds.
As he's done in all of his speeches about the economy, Obama talked about a "manufacturing sector that's adding jobs for the first time since 1990s."
Yes, there's been a gain of 570,000 jobs since January 2010. But the BLS factory data shows "that the number of manufacturing jobs is still 500,000 lower than when Obama took office," Kessler says. And it's still 1.7 million jobs lower since the recession began.
He claimed the budget deficits have been "cut by more than half." But Kessler correctly notes "that's not much to brag about."
What Obama didn't say was the deficits soared under his presidency in his first term by more than $1 trillion a year as a result of lower revenues and massive spending increases that included his failed $800 billion stimulus bill.
The more than $600 billion deficit in 2013 is still "higher in nominal terms and as a percentage of gross domestic product than it was in 2008, and a debt much greater as a percentage of overall than it was" before the recession.
Obama claims that more than 9 million Americans "have signed up under the new law for private health insurance or Medicaid coverage."
He didn't say they signed up for Obamacare but he seemed to suggest that.