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Fact Checking the State of the Union Address

WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Obama gave his first State of the Union Address since being elected to a second term last night in which he pointed to what he claimed as successes in his first term. Here are some of his direct statements from his address followed by a more careful examination of the facts.

“Every dollar we invest in high-quality early education can save more than $7 later on — by boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, even reducing violent crime.”

Numerous studies do show that children who graduate from Head Start are more likely to graduate high school than their peers who don’t have early childhood education. However, a Department of Health and Human Services study also shows that most of those early gains for Head Start graduates is all but lost by third grade. They have no explanation why such children saw a drop-off in performance or predict how they would fare as they aged.

“After years of grueling recession, our businesses have created over 6 million new jobs.”

As with most numbers, the facts are in the details not the big picture. The Obama administration doesn’t come up with that 6 million figure from when he entered office, but from the point half – way into his first term when job losses were at their highest. Private sector jobs have grown by 6.1 million since February 2010. But since he became president, the gain is a more modest 1.9 million. When job losses in the public sector employment are factored in, his overall jobs record is a gain of 1.2 million.

“I urge this Congress to pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on together a few years ago. But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will. I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.”

When both the Senate and House were controlled by the President’s own party, he failed to get a global warming bill passed. The odds of getting one through both houses now are practically nil.

“Already the Affordable Care Act is helping to reduce the growth of health care costs.”

Health care costs have abated somewhat, but most experts say that is because of a sluggish economy, not a health care bill that is far from fully in effect. The effect of the Affordable Health Care Act will not be fully realized for several years to come.

“Real reform means establishing a responsible pathway to earned citizenship — a path that includes passing a background check, paying taxes and a meaningful penalty, learning English and going to the back of the line behind the folks trying to come here legally.”

Sending illegal immigrants to the “back of the line” effectively has no difference than what legal immigrants face when following the immigration rules of the United States. In fact, people who enter this country illegally and are then given some middle ground provisional status will have a great advantage over applicants abroad who are in effect behind the “back of the line” of illegal immigrants that are allowed to stay under such potential law changes.

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