Fact Check: Bill Clinton and Warren at the DNC

Fact-checking the Democrats on the second night of the 2012 DNC

Sept. 6, 2012 -- intro: It's official: Barack Obama is the Democratic presidential nominee for president in 2012. Former President Bill Clinton formally nominated him Wednesday night -- before delivering his signature electric stump speech -- and the delegates stayed on the floor into this morning to make it official.

Obama greeted Clinton on the convention stage after the latter's speech, sharing a big and somewhat unlikely embrace that sent the Democrats in attendance into a pitched frenzy.

There's no disputing what's above. There were, however, a few controversial lines to come out of the Democratic convention's second night. Here's a quick fact check:

quicklist: 1

title: Bill Clinton: 'So here's another job score. President Obama: plus 4.5 million, congressional Republicans: zero.'

text: In January 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 106.8 million Americans in paid jobs. In July of this year, the figure came in at 111.3 million. That's a gain of 4.5 million. The problem: President Obama was sworn in to office in January 2009. On his first day in office, the private payroll count stood at 111 million. So if Obama is to take full responsibility for all his time in office, his administration has only created a net of 300,000 jobs.

The more realistic number probably falls somewhere in between.

quicklist: 2

title: Bill Clinton: 'Since 1961 ... our private economy produced 66 million private-sector jobs. So what's the jobs score? Republicans 24 million, Democrats 42 million.'

text: The numbers, simply stated, are right on, and even more impressive when you consider the GOP has held the presidency for four more years than the Democrats. But it can't be -- and isn't -- so simple. First, check out Politifact's term-by-term accounting of private-sector jobs created during every presidency since John F. Kennedy.

Again, the figures check out. The question is how much credit a president can take for the economic climate during his term. If Democrats would have you believe, as noted above, that there's a year or so lag between the inauguration and when the president starts being responsible for job growth or loss, then these stats might come out dramatically different.

For instance, would it be fair to say that President Obama is responsible for the financial crisis that began during the George W. Bush administration but was, most economists agree, set into motion a decade earlier when Clinton-era legislation deregulated the financial markets, creating "too big to fail" banks? The answer, you'd probably agree, is no, that's not Obama's fault. And so, it's hard to cut up the U.S. economy into four-year pieces and judge them independent of what came before. For that reason, these numbers are, for Democrats, probably little more than a happy accident.

quicklist: 3

title: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi: 'Democrats will preserve and strengthen Medicare. Republicans will end the Medicare guarantee.'

text: However you want to parse it, the Romney-Ryan plan to re-make Medicare in a decade would drastically change the way the popular government health care program is administered. But, would it end the "guarantee"? Depends on what you consider to be guaranteed to you. Romney and Ryan would, for people not yet 55, revolutionize the way seniors pay for their health care.

Today, they are treated or seen by a doctor who is reimbursed for his work by Medicare. The government does the paying. Under the Republican plan, seniors would be given money ("vouchers," Democrats say) to use in picking a private health insurer to provide coverage. Democrats say the government stipend would inevitably fall behind the cost of care; Republicans argue that Medicare will go bankrupt if nothing changes. Neither party disputes the latter point. The question lies in how to avoid that fate, while also properly caring for U.S. seniors.

quicklist: 4

title: Senate Candidate Elizabeth Warren: 'I talk to small-business owners all across Massachusetts. Not one of them - not one - made big bucks from the risky Wall Street bets that brought down our economy.'

text: Not one? Trickle-down economic theory on a macro level has been widely discredited, but the idea that no one in the Bay State, so close to New York and Wall Street, benefitted from bankers' profligacy is off the mark. Massachusetts did well during the boom that came before the inevitable financial crisis. And even if small-business owners hold no fault for what happened in Lower Manhattan boardrooms, surely many of them profited from the initial bonanza in the form of something like low mortgage rates.

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