State of the Union 2011: Fact Checking President Obama's Speech


The new health care law provides some tax credits for small businesses, but they vary depending on the size of the company. Small businesses with 25 employees or less whose average annual salary is less than $50,000 are eligible for tax credits of up to 35 percent of employer cost between 2010 and 2013, and up to 50 percent after 2014, if the employer purchases insurance through the exchange. That still leaves out a majority of businesses that are defined as small by the Small Business Administration.

Medicare and Medicaid:

"This means further reducing health care costs, including programs like Medicare and Medicaid, which are the single biggest contributor to our long-term deficit. Health insurance reform will slow these rising costs, which is part of why nonpartisan economists have said that repealing the health care law would add a quarter of a trillion dollars to our deficit."

According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, implementing the changes in Medicare, Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program mandated under the Affordable Care Act would actually cost the administration $5 billion to $10 billion over the next decade. CBO did, however, estimate that Medicare spending would increase significantly more slowly during the next two decades compared to the past two decades.

But a report by economic experts at the Department of Health and Human Services in April found that Medicare cuts in the law may be unrealistic and unsustainable and may not control costs that the president hoped would be the case. The report by Medicare's Office of the Actuary projected that Medicare cuts could drive about 15 percent of hospitals and other institutional providers into the red, "possibly jeopardizing access" to care for seniors.

State of the Union 2011 Fact Check

Trade Deals:

"Before I took office, I made it clear that we would enforce our trade agreements, and that I would only sign deals that keep faith with American workers, and promote American jobs. That's what we did with Korea, and that's what I intend to do as we pursue agreements with Panama and Colombia, and continue our Asia Pacific and global trade talks."

Obama hailed a new free trade agreement with Korea in December as a "win for American workers," saying it would boost U.S. exports by $11 billion and support 70,000 American jobs. But one group of workers the agreement leaves out is American cattle farmers and beef exporters.

While the Free Trade Agreement calls for all tariffs on U.S. beef to be eliminated, the South Koreans won't let any U.S. beef products into their country from an animal older than 30 months. They blocked imports in 2003 after the "mad cow" outbreak caused alarm over U.S. beef and the ban has frustrated U.S. beef producers ever since.

Iraq Troop Withdrawal:

"Look to Iraq, where nearly 100,000 of our brave men and women have left with their heads held high; where American combat patrols have ended; violence has come down; and a new government has been formed."

The United States withdrew most of its combat forces from Iraq in August and plans to pull back the remaining 50,000 troops by the end of 2011, as part of the Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq. But violence in the war-torn country is far from abating.

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