President Obama's first speech to a joint session of Congress was stuffed with signals about the new direction his budget will take and meant-to-be reassuring words about the economy. But it was also peppered with exaggerations and factual misstatements.
He said "we import more oil today than ever before." That's untrue. Imports peaked in 2005 and are substantially lower today.
He claimed his mortgage aid plan would help "responsible" buyers but not those who borrowed beyond their means. But even prominent defenders of the program including Fed Chairman Bernanke and FDIC chief Bair concede foolish borrowers will be aided, too.
He said the high cost of health care "causes a bankruptcy in America every 30 seconds." That's at least double the true figure.
He flubbed two facts about American history. The U.S. did not invent the automobile, and the transcontinental railroad was not completed until years after the Civil War, not during it.
He claimed that his stimulus plan "prevented the layoffs" of 57 police officers in Minneapolis. In fact, it's far more complicated than that, and other factors are also helping to save police jobs.
One line in Obama’s speech certainly sounded plausible – given the widespread concern about foreign oil – but he got it wrong:
Obama: We have known for decades that our survival depends on finding new sources of energy, yet we import more oil today than ever before.
Not true. We’re importing less than we were just a few years ago. This chart from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows that weekly imports of crude oil and petroleum products (in thousands of barrels per day) have been dropping. Imports reached a high point of 15,217,000 barrels per day the week of Nov. 4, 2005. Most recently, they totaled 11,577,000 the week of Feb. 20, 2009. EIA charts on monthly and annual imports show the same trend.