It’s the final GOP debate before the Iowa caucuses. Let’s take a tour of the factually dubious statements made by the candidates, in the order in which they said them. As is our practice, we do not award Pinocchios during debate round-ups, though we will mention if a candidate has repeated something that we have previously rated.
“I balanced the budget for four straight years, paid off $405 billion in debt — pretty conservative. The first entitlement reform of your lifetime — in fact, the only major entitlement reform to now is welfare.”
— Newt Gingrich
Gingrich loves to make this claim, but it is simply not correct and is lacking context.
Listening to Gingrich, you would be forgiven for forgetting there was a president (Bill Clinton) in office at the time the nation started running a budget surplus.
“The Keystone energy project would create tens of thousands of American jobs.”
— House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Dec. 10, 2011
“At a time when many are without work, it is time that we come together in a bipartisan way to pass this legislation which will create tens of thousands of new jobs.”
— Rep. Dan Boren (D-Okla.), Dec. 12, 2011
“The privately financed Keystone XL pipeline project is projected to create tens of thousands of U.S. jobs in construction and manufacturing.”
— Mark H. Ayers, president of the building and construction trade department, AFL-CIO, Nov. 3, 2011
"My administration will stand behind the Keystone pipeline, creating more than 100,000 American jobs while reducing our dependence on overseas imports."
— Former Utah governor Jon Huntsman (R), Nov. 1, 2011
There is bipartisan consensus: The Keystone XL pipeline means jobs, jobs, jobs.
The Obama administration last month announced that it was taking more time to consider how to balance environmental concerns and economic issues in deciding whether to approve the pipeline, which would carry heavy crude oil from Canada’s Alberta province to the Gulf Coast. (Skeptics would suggest the White House wanted to avoid angering two key allies during an election year.)
Ever since, advocates of the pipeline have pressed the case that thousands of shovel-ready jobs are being delayed by the administration’s inaction, with House Republicans including a shortened timeline for a permit in legislation extending the payroll tax cut.
We’ve repeatedly warned that many “job creation” statistics are often guesstimates of estimates, and should be viewed skeptically. By some accounts, the number of jobs that would be created could be as many as 150,000. But the State Department in August put the number of construction jobs at just 5,000 to 6,000.
TransCanada Corp., which is pushing to build the pipeline, claims that Keystone XL “was poised to put 20,000 Americans to work to construct the pipeline.” The company also cites another figure — 118,000 spin-off jobs Keystone XL would create through increased business for local restaurants, hotels and suppliers — that comes from a study commissioned by the company. The study even suggested that under “normal” oil price assumptions, the number of permanent jobs would top 250,000.