President Barack Obama accused Republicans of paying for wars "on the nation's credit card" even though he has used the same plastic for the same purpose, and for many others. Mitt Romney defied logic and statistics in claiming the huge stimulus package did not create private-sector jobs.
In dueling speeches from Ohio on Thursday, the presidential contenders at times offered skewed accounts of the nation's economic course and the record of recent years.
A look at some of their claims and how they compare with the facts:
ROMNEY: "That stimulus didn't work. That stimulus didn't put more private-sector people to work."
THE FACTS: There is no doubt that Obama's $800 billion-plus stimulus, enacted in February 2009, created both public-sector and private-sector jobs, even if not as many as its sponsors had hoped. The director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, Douglas Elmendorf, recently estimated that the stimulus saved or created more than 3 million jobs. Princeton University economist Alan Blinder and Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, estimated that the stimulus, together with the bank bailout started by President George W. Bush and continued by Obama, saved or created more than 10 million jobs.
Part of the stimulus was directed toward retaining teachers and other public workers. But the package included plenty of construction and other "shovel-ready" projects with private workers, not public employees, wielding the shovels.
OBAMA: "Our businesses have gone back to basics and created over 4 million jobs in the last 27 months."
THE FACTS: True as far as it goes, but the claim inflates Obama's record of private-sector job creation by ignoring huge losses early in his presidency.
By going back 27 months, Obama starts counting at the low point of employment for the private sector in February 2010 and tracks how far it has come. But counting farther back, since the end of the recession in June 2009, private-sector job gains have been much more modest, 3.1 million. That's a more meaningful measurement to economists.
Overall, the economy has lost 1.37 million jobs _ 784,000 in the private sector _ since Obama was inaugurated.
ROMNEY: "China and the nations of the European Union over the last 3 1/2 years have made real inroads in Latin America and other places in the world with trade agreements and negotiated trade agreements, 44 different trade agreements being negotiated by China and European nations with other nations around the world. Guess how many trade agreements our president's negotiated? None. None."
THE FACTS: To be sure, Obama hasn't opened new trade negotiations, but he's finished several big ones, overcoming opposition from fellow Democrats to do so. Under his watch, the United States has made inroads in Latin America, too. Continued...