Barack Obama- SelectUSA Business Summit 2015: Analysis

On March 23, 2015 President Obama hosted the second SelectUSA Investment Summit of 2015 to promote investment and economic growth in the U.S. He was introduced by Commerce Secretary, Penny Pritzker.

Pritzker spoke for five minutes about the president’s accomplishments and goals for SelectUSA and the country’s economy. Pritzker repeated many terms and specific words to get her point across, without really saying anything.

The first word she placed emphasis on was the word “all”. Pritzker said, “Where prosperity reaches businesses of all sizes, workers in all markets, and middle class families in all communities.”

“All” is a vague term and hard to believe, solid numbers and facts would have made this more credible. Next she began to use “spur” in terms of economy and innovation within the U.S. No mention was made of how economy and innovation were being spurred.

Penny Pritzker speaking at the SelectUSA Investmant Summit. Photo Courtesy: Commerce.gov

Pritzker moved onto emphasizing a “strong economy” which she mentioned a least three times. Although she did not tell the audience what it means to have a “strong economy”.

The phrase “swift, bold action” was used twice to describe Obama’s efforts, but she didn’t expand on what the swift, bold actions were.

Lastly, the main theme for her introduction was, “the president understands, as you do in business, that a strong economy…” She then would say some factor that made the economy strong without really saying anything.

For example she says, “We and his entire staff have taken targeted,specific steps to make this vision a reality.” There is no explanation of the steps or what they were. She says it and moves on. Her introduction sounded good and exciting but really didn’t say anything of value.

After Pritzker’s closing remarks Obama was welcomed on stage and listed off a long list of “facts” and statements about United States’ successes.

His first claim was that America just got out of “the worst economic recession since the Great Depression.” This claim was half true.

According to Politifact.com, while the Dow Jones fell at a faster rate from October 2007 to March 2009 than in the Great Depression (which took 3.5 years to bottom out), the economy began to recover quicker during the recession.

By 1932, the Dow had lost 89 percent of it’s pre-cash value, compared to only a 54 percent lost during the recession. Also, the unemployment rate was much worse during the Great Depression with a 24.9 percent rate compared to the highest unemployment for the recession at 10 percent.

While the recession was bad, it wasn’t nearly as bad as the Great Depression like Obama ensued.

The next fact to check in Obama’s speech was, “…the longest streak of private sector job growth on record, for 60 straight months. Twelve million new jobs.”

This was true according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics which provided a table of the growth and showed steady increase for the last five years. Twelve million new jobs in the private sector is also true according to DPCC.gov. In September 2014, The White House reported that 10 million jobs has been created in the last 54 months, which adds up.

latest_numbers_CES0500000001_2005_2015_all_period_M02_data

Courtesy of Bureau of Labor Statistic

“Our unemployment rate was fallen from ten percent to 5.5 percent today,” said Obama. The Bureau of Labor Statistics proved this to be true on their graph ranging from January 2005 to January 2015.

unemployment

Unemployment rates Courtesy Bureau of Labor Statistics

When talking about manufacturing jobs, the president said, “In the last five years manufacturers have added jobs at rates not seen since the 80’s.” While the rate of manufacturing jobs has increased over the last few years, this is only half true.

According to Politifact.com, between March 1998 and December 2009, manufacturing employment fell a third. From January 2010 to January 2013, about 490,000 manufacturing jobs were created. So while the rise in jobs it’s impressive, it has only replaced less than 10 percent of the jobs lost during the “decade of decline.”

Obama also states that the high school graduation rate is at an all time high, which is correct. In February 2015, the U.S. Department of Education reported that the high school graduation rate was 81 percent for the 2012-13 school year, a new record high.

He went on to say that “more people are now earning college degrees,” which is not true according to ACT.org. Based on a study from 1983-2014, four year college students who earn a degree within five year of entry was lower in 2014 with 52.6 percent than in 1983 which was 54.3 percent.

Obama then mentioned the country’s deficit. Deficit is the difference between what the government collects in revenue and spends in a year, as reported by Politifact.com. At the summit Obama said, “deficits have shrunk by two-thirds.”

This is actually true. In 2009 the deficit was $1.4 trillion dollars and it was recorded by the Congressional Budge Office figures in 2014 to have dropped to $486 billion, about a 66 percent decrease or two-thirds.

President Obama speaking at the 2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit. Photo Courtesy: Getty Images

His next claim was, “health care costs are flattening out for the first time in half a century.”  This “fact” is mostly true. In 2009, the average family health care premium was $13,375. In 2014, it was $16,834. That’s an increase of $3,459.

However, according to Politifact.com, health care costs have been adjusted for inflation, which means it really only increased by 10.3 percent, compared to health care costs under the Bush Administration which increased 19.5 percent from 2003-2008.

Finally, the president Obama concludes and provides two more national “facts”. The first was that, “The U.S. is the best place in the world to do business” and the second was “the best universities in the world.”

The U.S. is not the best country in the world to do business, Denmark is, according to Forbes. In fact, the U.S isn’t even in the top five best countries to do business.

Obama’s second remark about having the best universities is true. America has the top four best universities with Harvard, MIT, UC-Berkley and Stanford, reported by U.S. News – Education. The U.K. comes in next with spots five and six on the list.

Much of what the president had to say at the summit was true for the most part he just lacked detail and specific numbers to his statements which would have given him more credibility.

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