Fact Checking President Obama's State of the Union Address


Ten years ago, in 2001, the country actually experienced a surplus but that trend started changing in 2002 when the country ran a budget deficit of $157.8 billion, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Politifact. But the deficit wasn't unique to the administration of President George W. Bush.

Historical data analyzed by Politifact shows that the country was under a budget deficit for more than two decades, from at least 1970 to 1998.

Today, the CBO reported that the 2011 budget deficit will shatter all records, at $1.5 trillion, or 9.8 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).

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. American combat patrols have ended, violence is 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.

July 2010, the month before most combat forces pulled out, was the deadliest month for Iraqi civilians in two years. In recent days, more than a hundred Iraqis have been wounded in attacks against Shiite pilgrims and other minorities.

War in Afghanistan:

"Thanks to our heroic troops and civilians, fewer Afghans are under the control of the insurgency. There will be tough fighting ahead, and the Afghan government will need to deliver better governance. But we are strengthening the capacity of the Afghan people and building an enduring partnership with them."

The president portrayed an optimistic picture of the war in Afghanistan, but on the ground, there is an alternative narrative that the war is not going so well.

A quarterly assessment of the war by the umbrella security office for nongovernmental organizations, or NGOs, in Afghanistan says there is "indisputable evidence" that conditions in Afghanistan are deteriorating.

Attacks have increased by two-thirds over already record levels in 2009, the "highest annual growth rate we have recorded," the Afghanistan NGO Safety Office says. "Their momentum would appear unaffected by U.S.-led counterinsurgency measures."

There was also a 42 percent increase in fatalities in 2010 from 2009.

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