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FACT CHECK: GOP Debate


WASHINGTON (AP) - When Mitt Romney and Rick Perry thumped their
chests over their job-creation records as governor during the
Republican presidential debate Wednesday night, they left the bad
parts out.
Yes, employment has grown by more than 1 million since Perry
took office in Texas. But a lot of those jobs are not well paid.
True, unemployment dropped to 4.7 percent when Romney was
Massachusetts governor. But the state's employment growth was among
the nation's worst.
A look at some of the claims in the debate, and how they compare
with the facts:
PERRY: "Ninety-five percent of all the jobs that we've created
have been above minimum wage."
THE FACTS: To support the claim, the Perry campaign provided
federal statistics for December 2010 showing only 5.3 percent of
all jobs in Texas pay the minimum wage.
But those figures represent all workers, not just the new jobs,
for which data are unavailable. And that does not account for
low-wage jobs that may be barely above the minimum wage. According
to the Texas Workforce Commission, 51 percent of all Texas workers
make less than $33,000 a year. Only 30 percent make more than
$50,000 a year. Nationally, Texas ranked 34th in median household
income from 2007 to 2009.
About 9.5 percent of Texas hourly workers, excluding those who
are paid salaries, earn the minimum wage or less, tying Mississippi
for the highest percentage in the nation.
---
ROMNEY: "At the end of four years, we had our unemployment rate
down to 4.7 percent. That's a record I think the president would
like to see. As a matter of fact, we created more jobs in
Massachusetts than this president has created in the entire
country."
THE FACTS: To be sure, 4.7 percent unemployment would be a
welcome figure nationally. But Romney started from a much better
position than President Barack Obama did. Unemployment was only 5.6
percent when Romney took office in 2003, meaning it came down by
less than 1 percentage point when he left office in 2007. Obama
inherited a national unemployment rate of 7.8 percent.
---
PERRY: "Michael Dukakis created jobs three times faster than
you did, Mitt."
ROMNEY: "Well, as a matter of fact, George Bush and his
predecessor created jobs at a faster rate than you did, governor."
PERRY: "That's not correct."
ROMNEY: "Yes, that is correct."
THE FACTS: Romney was correct.
Romney accurately stated that George W. Bush - even without his
predecessor - saw jobs grow at a faster rate during his 1994-2000
years as governor than Perry has during his 11 years governing
Texas. Employment grew by about 1.32 million during Bush's six
years in office. Employment during Perry's years has grown about
1.2 million, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
As for Perry's claim about Romney's record and that of Dukakis,
he was at least in the ballpark.
Democratic Gov. Dukakis saw Massachusetts employment grow by
500,000 jobs during his two divided terms, 1975 to 1979, and 1983
to 1991, a rate of more than 41,000 jobs a year.
Romney, governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007, saw
employment grow from 3.23 million to 3.29 million, growth of about
60,000 jobs, or a rate of 15,000 a year. That means Dukakis' job
growth rate was nearly three times Romney's.
---
MICHELE BACHMANN: "Obamacare is killing jobs. We know that from
the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, but I know it
firsthand from speaking to people. We see it this summer. There are
47 percent of African-American youth that are currently without
jobs, 36 percent of Hispanic youth."
THE FACTS: The health care law that Obama pushed and Congress
passed last year has long been labeled a job killer by Republicans,
who often cite a Congressional Budget Office analysis to buttress
their claims. But the CBO at no point said the law would result in
job losses. Instead it made the more nuanced assertion that fewer
people would chose to work.
"The legislation, on net, will reduce the amount of labor used
in the economy by a small amount - roughly half a percent -
primarily by reducing the amount of labor that workers choose to
supply," the CBO said in an analysis. That's not job-killing,
that's workers choosing not to work because of easier access to
health care. The budget office said some people might decide to
retire earlier because it would be easier to get health care,
instead of waiting until they become eligible for Medicare at age
65.
The Minnesota congresswoman also states the percentages of
unemployment among minority youth. But there is no evidence that
the health care law is responsible for that level of unemployment.
In fact, the health care law is still largely unimplemented, with
some of its key provisions not taking effect until 2014.
---
PERRY: On global warming, "The science is not settled on this.
The idea that we would put Americans' economy at jeopardy based on
scientific theory that's not settled yet, to me, is just, is
nonsense. ... Find out what the science truly is before you start
putting the American economy in jeopardy."
THE FACTS: The scientific consensus on climate change is about
as settled as any major scientific issue can be. Perry's opinion
runs counter to the view of an overwhelming majority of scientists
that pollution released from the burning of fossil fuels is heating
up the planet. The National Academy of Sciences, in an
investigation requested by Congress, concluded last year: "Climate
change is occurring, is very likely caused primarily by human
activities, and poses significant risks to humans and the
environment."
---
BACHMANN: "It's wrong for government, whether it's state or
federal government, to impose on parents what they must do to
inoculate their children."
THE FACTS: She was correct that Perry supported mandatory
immunization of girls to reduce future risks of cervical cancer,
although the measure was blocked by Texas lawmakers and parents
would have had some ability to file a conscientious objection to
the requirement. Perry signed an executive order in 2007 directing
his state health department to make the human papillomavirus
vaccine available to "mandate the age-appropriate vaccination of
all female children" before they enter sixth grade. Texas would
have been the first state to require the immunizations.
---
PERRY: "What I find compelling is what we've done in the state
of Texas, using our ability to regulate our clean air. We cleaned
up our air in the state of Texas, more than any other state in the
nation during the decade." He specifically mentioned successes in
reducing nitrous oxide emissions by 58 percent and ozone levels by
27 percent.
THE FACTS: Texas has reduced emissions as Perry described, but
most of those reductions were required under the federal Clean Air
Act. However, the Environmental Protection Agency recently
rescinded the state's authority to grant some air pollution permits
because the state did not comply with federal regulations. Texas,
home to America's oil and gas industry, still emits more carbon
dioxide - the chief greenhouse gas - than any other state in the
country, according to government data. Several metropolitan areas
in Texas still violate health-based limits for smog, and the county
that is home to Houston is one of the biggest emitters of hazardous
air pollution in the country. The Texas Legislature also passed,
and Perry signed, a law that will delay enforcing stiffer clean air
regulations by two years.
---
Associated Press writers Chris Tomlinson in Austin, Texas; Steve
Peoples in Exeter, N.H.; Dina Cappiello in Washington; and Brian
Bakst in St. Paul, Minn., contributed to this report.


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