Fact-Checking Clinton's "Jobs Score"

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Sept. 6 2012 9:27 AM

When Bill Clinton Pointed to the "Jobs" Scoreboard, He Was Right

Bill Clinton speaks on stage during day two of the Democratic National Convention at Time Warner Cable Arena on Wednesday

Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images.

***Read the rest of Slate’s coverage of the Democratic National Convention.***

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

As should come as no surprise to anyone who's been following this presidential campaign, last night's round of convention speeches contained their fair share of half-truths and misinformation. But the most surprising fact of the night—Bill Clinton's "jobs score"—appears to check out.


Here was the quote, as it was prepared for delivery:

"Well since 1961, the Republicans have held the White House 28 years, the Democrats 24. In those 52 years, our economy produced 66 million private sector jobs. What's the jobs score? Republicans 24 million, Democrats 42 million!"

Bloomberg crunched the numbers back in May, and this is what they found (emphasis ours):

"The BGOV Barometer shows that since Democrat John F. Kennedy took office in January 1961, non-government payrolls in the U.S. swelled by almost 42 million jobs under Democrats, compared with 24 million for Republican presidents, according to Labor Department figures.
"Democrats hold the edge though they occupied the Oval Office for 23 years since Kennedy’s inauguration, compared with 28 for the Republicans. Through April, Democratic presidents accounted for an average of 150,000 additional private-sector paychecks per month over that period, more than double the 71,000 average for Republicans."

As for some of the less-accurate claims thrown about last night, the New York Times does the dirty work:

"Speakers at the Democratic National Convention used an out-of-context quote on Wednesday night to give the misleading impression that Mitt Romney enjoys firing people, and some referred imprecisely to his tax proposals. The party’s platform also contained questionable assertions about President Obama’s record on civil liberties." Read the details here.

The Washington Post, meanwhile, takes a closer look at Clinton's defense of the Affordable Care Act’s Medicare cuts and finds a few problems. A snippet:

FALSE: “So if [Romney is] elected, and if he does what he promised to do, Medicare will now go broke in 2016.”
Here, Bill Clinton is referring to the Medicare Trustees’ 2012 report, which estimated that the Medicare Trust Fund would be exhausted in 2016 without the Affordable Care Act’s changes.
There’s a huge difference, however, between exhausting the Medicare Trust Fund and the program going broke. The trust fund is essentially an accounting mechanism, a balance sheet for what the Medicare program takes in (via taxes and premiums) and what it spends out on benefits. If Medicare were running short on cash, there’s nothing to stop Congress from chipping in with extra dollars.

***Read the rest of Slate’s coverage of the Democratic National Convention.***



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