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Sorting out the truth in politics

PolitiFact: Obama stretches the truth on Boehner's "government jobs" quip

The statement

House Minority Leader John Boehner said the jobs of "teachers and nurses and police officers and firefighters" are " 'government jobs' that weren't worth saving."

President Barack Obama, in a speech on Labor Day

The ruling

In a campaign-style speech in Milwaukee on Labor Day, Obama sharply criticized Republicans in Congress, singling out House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio in particular.

"When we passed a bill earlier this summer to help states save jobs — the jobs of hundreds of thousands of teachers and nurses and police officers and firefighters that were about to be laid off — they said no. And the Republican who thinks he's going to take over as speaker … when he was asked about this, he dismissed those jobs as 'government jobs' that weren't worth saving. That's what he said, I'm quoting — 'government jobs.' "

We wanted to check Boehner's comments to see if Obama was making an accurate claim.

Obama signed the bill into law on Aug. 10. It sends $26.1 billion to states facing budget shortfalls, providing $10 billion for salaries and compensation for teachers and another $16.1 billion to help states pay for Medicaid. Since Medicaid is a major part of state budgets, Democrats say that this funding will help states avoid cuts to other parts of their budgets so states can pay for public employees like "nurses and police officers and firefighters." But the law only directly funds teachers.

In an Aug. 24 speech in Cleveland, Boehner criticized the Obama administration's economic policies, singling out the state aid package for criticism.

"He signed a $26 billion 'stimulus' spending bill that funnels money to state governments in order to protect government jobs. And even worse, the bill is funded by a new tax hike that makes it more expensive to create jobs in the United States and less expensive to create jobs overseas. Listen, this cannot continue," Boehner said.

So, Boehner did call the jobs the bill aimed to save "government jobs." But did Boehner say they "weren't worth saving"?

The quote above is the only time Boehner mentions that law in the speech, but he repeatedly condemns government spending and says real job creation must come from the private sector. He does not mention teachers, nurses, police or firefighters, and he never said that "government jobs" weren't worth saving.

We rate Obama's statement Barely True.

Angie Drobnic Holan, Times staff writer

Edited for print. For more, go to

PolitiFact: Obama stretches the truth on Boehner's "government jobs" quip 09/09/10 [Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 10:20pm]
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