Spinning facts and figures is as old as politics itself, but Wednesday night, Sen. John Kerry marshaled a mountain of distortions to create his own America?one that exists only as a figment of his imagination.
Seemingly evoking his running mate?s primary campaign theme of the ?two Americas,? Kerry talked about the haves and the have-nots, the supposed increased tax burden on the middle class, the swelling ranks of the uninsured, and the decrease?and then the increase?in Pell Grants for college students.
But a quick fact check involving statistics from sources such as the U.S. government, the Federal Reserve of Chicago, nonpartisan outfits, and even liberal organizations reveals that Kerry needed to alternately stretch and break the truth in order to complete his caricature.
Here?s the rundown, reserved for purposes of clarity and brevity to the areas of economy and jobs, health care, and college costs:
Economy and Jobs
· Kerry claimed that during the Bush administration, ?1.6 million jobs [were] lost.? In truth, the figure is half that. Only 800,000 net jobs have been lost, and even that number is widely expected to be revised downward to 600,000. Considering that 9/11 wiped out 1 million jobs right away, and 1.5 million within a year?all coinciding with the inherited recession and the stock market correcting its irrational exuberance?Bush?s record on this count is, in fact, impressive.
· Kerry: ?He?s the only president to have incomes of families go down for the last three years.? According to official U.S. Commerce Department figures, per-capita after-tax income is up 6% since December 2000?and that?s not even counting the results from the economic growth of 2004.
· Repeating a populist?and untrue?line from his stump speeches, Kerry said, ?The jobs the president is creating pay $9,000 less than the jobs that we?re losing.? This sounds like a devastating indictment, and it plays right into the urban legend that disappearing manufacturing jobs are replaced by burger-flippers. According to the nonpartisan FactCheck.org, ?Higher-paid occupations, like managers (who can be in any industry) and health professionals, are growing faster.? This claim is largely based on Federal Reserve of Chicago study released last month.
Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.
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