(NEW YORK) -- On Wednesday night, President Obama mounted a vigorous defense of his administration's record on jobs, a key issue as voters prepare for the midterm elections. But was everything the president said factual?
"The problem was we lost four million jobs before I was sworn in," Obama said. That's true. From December 2007 to January 2009, while President Bush was in office, the nation lost a total of 4.3 million jobs, more than half of the nearly eight million jobs that have disappeared since the recession began.
"Most of the jobs we lost were lost before the economic policies we put into place had any effect," Obama added. That, again, is true, but with a catch. More than half of the 7.6 million jobs lost disappeared before Obama was in office, and monthly job losses did begin to decline markedly last April. However, Obama is wrong to imply that the stimulus plan he pushed through Congress is the reason things began to turn around. Very little of the stimulus money had been spent when the job situation first started to get a little better.
"The Recovery Act took a lot of time to get into place, and the biggest criticism is that the spending has been inefficient and slow," said conservative economist Doug Holtz-Eaken in a Washington Post video. "So it's not the Recovery Act that's causing this."
On the Republican side, candidates have been quick to blame the president for the job losses, driving the message home in debates and on television ads with accusations that the Democrats are "killing" jobs. Looking at just this year, that would be false. While unemployment remains stuck at around 9.5 percent, the economy has added more than 600,000 jobs through September.
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