PolitiFact finds some truth in claims on economy, Obamacare


PolitiFact last week looked at claims about economic growth under President Barack Obama, corporate profits under President Donald Trump and the number of Georgians uninsured under Obamacare. Here are abbreviated versions of our fact checks. Full versions can be found at www.politifact.com.

In economic growth, “Obama’s best year was slower than Bill Clinton’s worst year.”

— Newt Gingrich on Sunday, July 23rd, 2017 in an interview on Fox News

We found that Gingrich’s talking point is correct, though he leaves out some important context.

Annual economic growth is typically measured by the change in gross domestic product from year to year, after adjusting for inflation. This data is collected by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. As it turns out, Clinton had two years tied for last place — 1993 and 1995. In both years, GDP grew by 2.7 percent. Obama’s best annual showing came in 2015, with 2.6 percent.

So by the primary measure, Gingrich’s statement is correct. However, when in terms of GDP growth per capita, Obama exceeded Clinton’s worst annual performance during four years (2010, 2012, 2014, 2015).

Our ruling

Measured by the annual change in inflation-adjusted GDP — the typical measurement — Gingrich is correct. But it’s worth noting that if you strip out the impact of population growth, the Clinton-Obama comparison is more mixed.

We rate the statement Mostly True.

“Corporations have NEVER made as much money as they are making now.”

— Donald Trump on Tuesday, August 1st, 2017 in a tweet

In January 2017, corporate profits totaled $1.81 trillion on an annualized basis, according to the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis. That is the highest in history in raw dollars. But the high profits Trump is touting came during President Barack Obama’s tenure.

Experts say measuring raw dollars is not as illustrative as analyzing corporate profits as a percentage of overall gross domestic product. That number in January 2017, 9.5 percent, is impressive but not unprecedented. The current level of corporate profits as a share of GDP was exceeded once during Harry Truman’s presidency, five times under President George W. Bush, and a 14 times under President Barack Obama. In fact, that was almost half of the quarters during Obama’s tenure (44 percent).

Our ruling

In raw dollars, corporations are making more money as of January 2017 than ever before. It’s worth noting that the data isn’t in yet for a Trump-only quarter. And as a share of the broader economy, corporate profit levels are not unprecedentedly high — in fact, for almost half of the quarters under Obama, the share was even higher.

We rate the statement Half True.

Because of the failure to pass a repeal bill, “Obamacare remains the law of the land … This means more than 300,000 Georgians below the poverty line will still not have access to the insurance Obamacare promised.”

— David Perdue on Friday, July 28th, 2017 in a statement

The data we found showed Perdue correctly stated that even with Obamacare, 300,000 Georgians below the poverty line can’t get insurance.

Experts say the Republican replacement bills would not have solved this problem but would have made it worse. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 309,000 people in Georgia are in the “coverage gap” — with income above current Medicaid eligibility but below the lower limit for premium tax credits for plans purchased on the ACA’s online marketplaces. The independent Congressional Budget Office estimated the deductible for a typical plan under the Senate bill would be $6,000, likely making it “unaffordable for a person with income under the poverty level,” one expert said. For the House bill, the CBO estimated that a low-income older person “could face net premiums in the range of $13,600 to $16,100, even after accounting the tax credits available.”

The CBO concluded that the Senate bill would leave 22 million fewer Americans insured by 2026 than current law and the House bill would see 23 million fewer insured. As for Georgia, the Senate bill would have increased the number of uninsured Georgians by 376,000 in 2022, according to an analysis by the Urban Institute.

Our ruling

Perdue has a point: Even with Obamacare, 300,000 Georgians below the poverty line can’t get insurance. However, in the context of decrying the failure of the Republican bills to advance in Congress, this observation is misleading. While the Senate and House bills would have offered tax credits to the poor, independent analysts agree those tax credits wouldn’t open the door to affordable insurance.

We rate the statement Half True.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Homepage