Image: President Barack Obama, House Speaker John Boehner and Vice President Joe Biden
Charles Dharapak  /  AP
President Barack Obama acknowledges the audience before delivering his State of the Union address Tuesday, as Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner applaud.
By
updated 1/26/2011 8:44:42 AM ET 2011-01-26T13:44:42

The ledger did not appear to be adding up Tuesday night when President Barack Obama urged more spending on one hand and a spending freeze on the other. Obama spoke ambitiously of putting money into roads, research, education, efficient cars, high-speed rail and other initiatives in his State of the Union speech.

He pointed to the transportation and construction projects of the last two years and proposed "we redouble these efforts." He coupled this with a call to "freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years."

But Obama offered far more examples of where he would spend than where he would cut, and some of the areas he identified for savings are not certain to yield much if anything.

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For example, he said he wants to eliminate "billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies." Yet he made a similar proposal last year that went nowhere. He sought $36.5 billion in tax increases on oil and gas companies over the next decade, but Congress largely ignored the request, even though Democrats were then in charge of both houses of Congress.

A look at some of Obama's statements Tuesday night and how they compare with the facts:

OBAMA: Tackling the deficit "means further reducing health care costs, including programs like Medicare and Medicaid, which are the single biggest contributor to our long-term deficit. Health insurance reform will slow these rising costs, which is part of why nonpartisan economists have said that repealing the health care law would add a quarter of a trillion dollars to our deficit."

THE FACTS: The idea that Obama's health care law saves money for the government is based on assumptions that are arguable, at best.

To be sure, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated the law will slightly reduce red ink over 10 years. But the office's analysis assumes that steep cuts in Medicare spending, as called for in the law, will actually take place. Others in the government have concluded it is unrealistic to expect such savings from Medicare.

In recent years, for example, Congress has repeatedly overridden a law that would save the treasury billions by cutting deeply into Medicare pay for doctors. Just last month, the government once again put off the scheduled cuts for another year, at a cost of $19 billion. That money is being taken out of the health care overhaul. Congress has shown itself sensitive to pressure from seniors and their doctors, and there's little reason to think that will change.

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OBAMA: Vowed to veto any bills sent to him that include "earmarks," pet spending provisions pushed by individual lawmakers. "Both parties in Congress should know this: If a bill comes to my desk with earmarks inside, I will veto it."

THE FACTS: House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has promised that no bill with earmarks will be sent to Obama in the first place. Republicans have taken the lead in battling earmarks while Obama signed plenty of earmark-laden spending bills when Democrats controlled both houses.

Newsvine vote: Did Obama hit right tone on economy?

It's a turnabout for the president; in early 2009, Obama sounded like an apologist for the practice: "Done right, earmarks have given legislators the opportunity to direct federal money to worthy projects that benefit people in their districts, and that's why I've opposed their outright elimination," he said then.

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OBAMA: "I'm willing to look at other ideas to bring down costs, including one that Republicans suggested last year: medical malpractice reform to rein in frivolous lawsuits."

THE FACTS: Republicans may be forgiven if this offer makes them feel like Charlie Brown running up to kick the football, only to have it pulled away, again.

Slideshow: The State of the Union (on this page)

Obama has expressed openness before to this prominent Republican proposal, but it has not come to much. It was one of several GOP ideas that were dropped or diminished in the health care law after Obama endorsed them in a televised bipartisan meeting at the height of the debate.

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Republicans want federal action to limit jury awards in medical malpractice cases; what Obama appears to be offering, by supporting state efforts, falls short of that. The president has said he agrees that fear of being sued leads to unnecessary tests and procedures that drive up health care costs. So far the administration has only wanted to study the issue.

Trial lawyers, major political donors to Democratic candidates, are strongly opposed to caps on jury awards. But the administration has been reluctant to support other approaches, such as the creation of specialized courts where expert judges, not juries, would decide malpractice cases.

Video: Obama emphasizes cooperation, innovation

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OBAMA: As testament to the fruits of his administration's diplomatic efforts to control the spread of nuclear weapons, he said the Iranian government "faces tougher and tighter sanctions than ever before."

THE FACTS: That is true, and it reflects Obama's promise one year ago that Iran would face "growing consequences" if it failed to heed international demands to constrain its nuclear program. But what Obama didn't say was that U.S. diplomacy has failed to persuade Tehran to negotiate over U.N. demands that it take steps to prove it is not on the path toward a bomb. Preliminary talks with Iran earlier this month broke off after the Iranians demanded U.S. sanctions be lifted.

Associated Press writers Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Jim Drinkard, Andrew Taylor, Stephen Ohlemacher and Robert Burns contributed to this report.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Obama to Congress: Let's 'move forward' together

  1. Closed captioning of: Obama to Congress: Let's 'move forward' together

    >>> obama's state of the union address . he heads to wisconsin today bringing the message he laid out in the speech directly to voters. savannah guthrie has details. good morning.

    >> reporter: good morning to you, meredith. aids say they were trying to do something different with the state of the union . more broad themes. less of a laundry list of policy proposals. but with republicans and democrats sitting side by side , there was a different feel in the room.

    >> mr. speaker, the president of the united states ! [ cheers and applause ]

    >> reporter: the president entered into a new era in washington with a nod to the new republican speaker and a moment for the arizona congresswoman who couldn't be there.

    >> we are also mindful of the empty chair in this chamber and we pray for the health of our colleague and our friend gabby giffords . [ applause ]

    >> reporter: giffords' husband watched the speech from her hospital room holding her hand while the parents of 9-year-old victim christina taylor green watched from the guest box. members wore black and white ribbons in giffords' honor.

    >> there is a reason the tragedy gave us pause. we are still bound together as one people. we share common hopes and a common creed that the dreams of a little girl in tucson are not so different than those of our own children and that they all deserve the chance to be fulfilled.

    >> reporter: amidst calls for more civility there was a different tone in the room. gone were the partisan cheers of the past several years. dozens of republicans and democrats chose to sit together. senators mccain and kerry, thune and gillibrand.

    >> what comes of this moment is not whether we can sit together tonight but whether we can work together tomorrow.

    >> reporter: the pitch, increased spending in energy, infrastructure and innovation to create jobs and keep america competitive with countries like china and india.

    >> we need to outinnovate, outeducate and outbuild the rest of the world .

    >> reporter: in a room full of republicans brought into power on a no spending platform, the president called for a five-year freeze in the domestic nonsecurity budget.

    >> every day families sacrifice to live within their means. they deserve a government that does the same. i recognize that some in this chamber have already proposed deeper cuts, and i'm willing to eliminate whatever we can honestly afford to do without, but let's make sure we're not doing it on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens.

    >> reporter: the president also called for reforming the corporate tax code and just days after house republicans voted to repeal the president's health care law , mr. obama defended it.

    >> if you have ideas about how to improve this law by making care better or more affordable, i am eager to work with you. instead of refighting the battles of the last two years let's fix what needs fixing and move forward.

    >> reporter: republicans had what amounted to duelling responses. paul ryan offered the official gop response.

    >> the debt will soon eclipse our economy and grow to catastrophic levels in the years ahead.

    >> reporter: while michelle bachmann took to the internet. she later told brian williams she was not trying to divide the party.

    >> this wasn't competition with what the gop official response was.

    >> reporter: closing his speech, the president saved the traditional line for the end.

    >> it's because of our people that our future is hopeful, our journey goes forward, and the state of our union is strong.

    >> reporter: the president plans to sell his message about winning the future in the coming weeks. it starts in wisconsin today. matt, watch this space, literally. we may get a personnel announcement about a new press secretary briefing from this room as early as tomorrow.

    >> savannah guthrie in washington, thank

Photos: State of the Union

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  1. President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address on Capitol Hill in Washington. Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio applaud at rear. (Pablo Martinez Monsivias / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. This photo from the office of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords shows her husband, Mark Kelly, watching the State of the Union address with Giffords in her hospital room in Houston on Tuesday, Jan. 25. Giffords was critically wounded in a shooting in Tucson that left six people dead, and she has been moved to Houston for rehabilitation. (Office Of U.s. Rep. Gabrielle Gi / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. First lady Michelle Obama waves as, from left to right, John, Dallas and Roxanna Green, family of the late Christina Taylor Green of Tucson, take their seats before the address. Christina, 9, was killed in the attack that left Rep. Gabrielle Giffords critically injured. (Alex Wong / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Ramon Diaz Castellon sits in the back of the pickup he is living in as he watches the speech in Miami. Castellon said he is unemployed after losing his job working at a restaurant that went out of business. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi takes her seat next to Republican Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, left. They agreed to sit next to each other in a spirit of bipartisanship on the floor of the House for the president's speech. (Jim Young / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. President Barack Obama is greeted on Capitol Hill in Washington before his speech. (Charles Dharapak / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Vice President Joe Biden, left and House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio wear black and white ribbons in honor of those killed and wounded in the Tucson attack. The white band represents hope for a peaceful, nonviolent society. The black is in remembrance those who have died or been injured as a result of violence. (Jim Watson / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. The president's motorcade drives toward Capitol Hill for his State of Union speech on Tuesday. (Jewel Samad / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. Image: Barack Obama, John Boehner, Joe Biden
    Pablo Martinez Monsivias / AP
    Above: Slideshow (8) The State of the Union
  2. Image: President Obama Hold Town Hall Meeting In Ohio
    J.D. Pooley / Getty Images
    Slideshow (65) Obama's first years in office - Second year
  3. USA presidential inauguration
    Chuck Kennedy / Pool via EPA
    Slideshow (68) Obama's first years in office - First year

Explainer: State of the union: by the numbers

  • After President Barack Obama's delivery of the annual State of the Union address to Congress, here is a look at some of the facts and figures that shape American life and how they have changed in the past decade (based on the latest available data, compiled from multiple sources).

  • Economy and Business

    Unemployed workers, January 2000: 4.0%
    Unemployed workers, January 2011: 9.4%

    Dow Industrial Average, Jan. 25, 2000:11,029
    Dow Industrial Average, Jan. 20, 2011:11,822

    U.S. federal debt, September 2000:$5,674,178,209,886
    U.S. federal debt, September 2010:$13,561,623,030,891

    Median new home price, January 2000: $163,500
    Median new home price, November 2010: $213,000

    Household income (top 5%), 2000:$252,400
    Household income (top 5%), 2009:$295,388

    Household income (bottom 5%), 2000:$10,157
    Household income (bottom 5%), 2009:$11,552

    Total U.S. population, 2000: 281,421,906
    Total U.S. population, 2010:308,745,538

    Number of U.S. millionaires, 2000:6.3 million
    Number of U.S. millionaires, 2010:7.8 million

    Price of admission to Forbes 400 list, 2000:$725 million
    Price of admission to Forbes 400 list, 2010:$1 billion

  • Politics

    Congressional approval, December 2000:55% approve; 30% disapprove     
    Congressional approval, September 2010:
    20% approve, 73% disapprove

    Confidence in national news media, December 2000:40% have little or no confidence
    Confidence in national news media, January 2011:42% have little or no confidence

    Confidence in the federal government, December 2000:19% have little or no confidence
    Confidence in the federal government, January 2010:
    35% have little or no confidence

    Hispanic/Latino electorate in 2000 election:7%
    Hispanic/Latino electorate in 2008 election:9%

    Women serving in Congress, 2000: 67
    Women serving in Congress, 2011: 93

    African-American members in U.S. Senate, 2000:0
    African-American members in U.S. Senate, 2011:0

  • Health

    Life expectancy at birth, 2000:76.8 years
    Life expectancy at birth, 2010:78.3 years, projected

    Number of uninsured Americans, 2000: 38.4 million
    Number of uninsured Americans, 2010:
    50.7 million

    Cancer deaths, all causes, 2000:553,091
    Cancer deaths, all causes, 2010:
    569,490

  • Travel

    Average price of a gallon of gas, 2000:$1.51/gallon
    Average price of a gallon of gas, 2011:
    $3.08/gallon

    Average airfare, 2000:$339
    Average airfare, 2011: $335 (through second quarter of 2010)

    First-bag fee, 2000: None
    First-bag fee, 2010:$20-25 (on most major U.S. carriers)

    Average hotel, 2000:$85.89/night
    Average hotel, 2011:$97.89/night (through September 2010)

    One-day ticket to Walt Disney World, 2000:$46
    One-day ticket to Walt Disney World, 2011:$82

  • Tech and Science

    Google searches per day, 2000: 30 million
    Google searches per day, 2011:
    Over 1 billion

    Wireless phone subscribers in U.S., 2000:97 million (34% of population)
    Wireless phone subscribers in U.S., 2011:293 million (93% of population)

    Facebook users, worldwide, 2000: 0
    Facebook users, worldwide, 2011:600 million

    Federal spending on research and development, 2000:$99 billion (actual spending)
    Federal spending on research and development, 2011:$148 billion (proposed)

    NASA science missions in operation, 2000: 38
    NASA science missions in operation, 2011:67

  • Education

    Public schools that require student uniforms, 1999-2000:12%
    Public schools that require student uniforms, 2007-2008:18%

    Public schools reporting the use of one or more security cameras, 1999-2000:19%
    Public schools reporting the use of one or more security cameras, 2007-2008:55%

    Nationwide graduation rates at public high schools, 2000-2001:71.7%
    Nationwide graduation rates at public high schools, 2007-2008:74.9%

    Average salary for public high school teachers, 1999-2000:$42,546
    Average salary for public high school teachers, 2008-2009:$53,724

    Minorities enrolled in 4-year institutions, 2000:1.5 million
    Minorities enrolled in 4-year institutions, 2007:1.8 million

    Average college tuition for 4-year private institutions, 1999-2000:$20,706
    Average college tuition for 4-year private institutions, 2009-2010:$26,273

    Science and math literacy (U.S. ranking on OECD PISA test given to 15-year-olds), 2000:14th in science, 19th in math
    Science and math literacy (U.S. ranking on OECD PISA test given to 15-year-olds), 2009:23rd in science, 31st in math

  • Sports

    Highest paid athletes (includes salaries, bonuses, prize money, endorsements and appearance fees), 2000:Michael Schumacher, $59 million
    Highest paid athletes (includes salaries, bonuses, prize money, endorsements and appearance fees), 2010:Tiger Woods, $105 million

    Cost of a Super Bowl ad, 2000:$2.1 million
    Cost of a Super Bowl ad, 2011:$3 million

    Rose Bowl payout (amount paid to each participating team), 2000:$12 million
    Rose Bowl payout (amount paid to each participating team), 2011:$21.2 million

    Average cost of an NFL ticket, 2000:$45.63
    Average cost of an NFL ticket, 2011:$76.47

  • Entertainment and Lifestyle

    Average movie ticket price, 2001: $5.66
    Average movie ticket price, 2011: $7.95

    Golden Globe winner for best picture, 2001:"A Beautiful Mind"
    Golden Globe winner for best picture, 2011:"The Social Network"

    Number of wide-release 3-D movies, 2001: 1
    Number of wide-released 3-D movies, 2011:30+

    Oprah Winfrey net worth, 2001:$800 million
    Oprah Winfrey net worth, 2011:$2.7 billion

    Number of children in the Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar family, 2001: 13
    Number of children in the Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar family, 2011: 19

    Most-watched TV show, 2001-2002:"Friends," 24.46 million average
    Most-watched TV show, 2010:"American Idol," 29.8 million average

    Highest-paid TV actor, 2001:Kelsey Grammer, $1.6 million per episode
    Highest-paid TV actor, 2011:Charlie Sheen, $1.25 million per episode

    Number of reality shows in Nielsen top 10, 2001: 2
    Number of reality shows in Nielsen top 10, 2010: 5

    Top-earning concert act, 2001:U2, estimated ticket sales $109.7 million
    Top-earning concert act, 2010:Bon Jovi, estimated ticket sales $201.1 million

    Average concert ticket price, 2001:$43.86
    Average concert ticket price, 2010:$55

    Popularity rank of the names "Malia" and "Sasha," 2000:498, 476
    Popularity rank of the names "Malia" and "Sasha," 2009:192, 261

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