US & Canada

Fact-checkers dissect Democratic convention speeches

Former US President Bill Clinton at the podium in Charlotte, North Carolina 5 September 2012
Image caption Some fact-checkers said Bill Clinton's comments on Medicare might be taken out of context

Fact-checkers have been scrutinising claims made by Bill Clinton and other Democrats in speeches at the party convention in North Carolina.

Although Mr Clinton's speech was deemed mostly factually accurate, analysts disputed his attempt to credit Mr Obama for lower healthcare costs.

Assertions by Nancy Pelosi were among those also judged to be misleading.

At last week's Republican convention in Florida, vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan was accused of errors.

According to Factcheck.org, the most serious inaccuracy in Mr Clinton's speech on Wednesday was his suggestion that the historically low rate of growth of US healthcare spending was due to the 2010 Affordable Care Act, a signature bill signed by Mr Obama.

"For the last two years, healthcare spending has grown under 4%, for the first time in 50 years," Mr Clinton told a packed convention floor. "So, are we all better off because President Obama fought for it and passed it? You bet we are."

The fact-checking group says Mr Clinton's figures are correct, but they cannot simply be credited to the healthcare law, many parts of which have not yet taken effect.

Instead, many economists say healthcare costs have grown more slowly in recent years because of the weak economy.

The Washington Post's fact-checker blog noted that Mr Clinton's assessment of Mr Obama's job-creation record had plucked some key figures out of context.

Mr Clinton said more than 500,000 manufacturing jobs were created under Mr Obama, but the former president was referring to jobs created after February 2010.

Taken from the beginning of Mr Obama's term, the sector has seen more than 500,000 jobs lost as a result of steep, long-term decline as well as the effect of the recession.

The newspaper's fact-checkers also pointed out Mr Clinton's assertion that Mr Obama created 4.5 million private sector jobs was a cherry-picked number.

It makes no mention of job losses in the public sector and only includes jobs added from February 2010, not the beginning of his term.

Fact-checkers also gave some of Mr Clinton's claims a clean bill of health.

He said that since 1961, the private US economy had created 66m jobs - 42m under Democratic administrations compared with 24m when there was a Republican in the White House.

According to Politifact.com, the number stands up to scrutiny.

The Washington Post reported that when Mr Clinton claimed "more than three million young people between 19 and 25 are insured for the first time because their parents' policies can cover them", he was framing the matter more accurately than the president himself.

Also speaking on Wednesday, the top Democrat in the House of Representatives, California Representative Nancy Pelosi, said under a Republican administration the elderly would lose their guarantee under the health programme, Medicare.

The claim was repeated by New York Representative Steve Israel, who said seniors could be charged $6,400 (£4,000) more each year under Mr Ryan's plan.

But the figures are out of date and reflect an analysis of Mr Ryan's 2011 budget plans, which were changed significantly in his 2012 proposal.

The vice-presidential candidate would offer the elderly a choice between something similar to the popular Medicare programme or a private plan subsidised by the government, said fact-checkers.