CNN Fact Check: State of the Union
Editor's Note: This fact check was researched by the CNN Political Unit.
President Bush addresses Congress.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush touched on many different areas in his State of the Union address Tuesday. Here is a CNN Fact Check of some of the statements he made:
ABORTION RATE AT 30-YEAR LOW
Assertion: "There are fewer abortions in America than at any point in the last three decades."
CNN Fact Check: There is little reliable data available on the number of abortions performed in recent years. The president most likely is citing a report that estimates the number of abortions through 2002 (the first two years of Bush's term), which does indeed suggest that the abortion rate in 2002 was at its lowest since 1975.
The study was conducted in May 2005 by the non-partisan Alan Guttmacher Institute, a non-profit organization that has conducted a periodic census of all known abortion providers since 1973. The institute reviewed data in 44 states and estimated that roughly 1.3 million abortions were performed in 2002, down from a high of 1.6 million in the 1980s.
As for the reliability of the AGI study, FactCheck.org at the University of Pennsylvania says the institute's statistics are "widely used and respected by all sides in the abortion debate." The federal Centers for Disease Control also compiles abortion statistics, but the data is older than that of AGI.
FEWER TEENAGE MOTHERS
Assertion: "The number of children born to teenage mothers has been falling for a dozen years in a row."
CNN Fact Check: This claim is essentially accurate on a national level taking the 12 years as a whole. According to the Centers for Disease Control, "teen birth rates have declined significantly" nationwide since 1991.
In some states, however, the rate has not decreased each year during that 12-year period. From 2002 to 2003, for example, the teen birth rate fell significantly in 13 states and remained essentially unchanged in the rest of the country.
LESS VIOLENT CRIME
Assertion: "Violent crime rates have fallen to their lowest levels since the 1970s."
CNN Fact Check: This claim is accurate, according to data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the number-crunching arm of the Justice Department.
According to a 2005 bureau study, the violent crime rate reached its lowest level ever recorded in 2004. The violent crime rate has declined overall in the past 30 years, with occasional spikes from 1973 to 1994. But the rate has steadily declined each year starting in 1994, under President Clinton. In 2004, the number of violent crimes per 1000 people was 21.1. This is less than half the 1973 level of 47.7 per 1000 people.
CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS KNEW OF DOMESTIC SPY PROGRAM
Assertion: "Appropriate members of Congress have been kept informed" of the NSA wiretapping program.
CNN Fact Check: Whether the White House kept the necessary members of Congress informed of the NSA wiretapping program is under considerable debate.
The White House briefed the so-called "Gang of Eight" (the House and Senate leadership of both parties and the chairmen and ranking members of both Intelligence Committees) on the program, although there is disagreement over the extent of the details they were given about the National Security Agency's eavesdropping without a warrant.
While the president says that "appropriate members" were kept informed, a report by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service suggests that informing only the "Gang of Eight" may not have been enough to satisfy the law. According to the CRS report: "If the NSA surveillance program were to [be] considered an intelligence collection program, limiting congressional notification of the NSA program to the Gang of Eight, which some Members who were briefed about the program contend, would appear to be inconsistent with the law, which requires that the 'congressional intelligence committees be kept fully and currently informed of all intelligence activities,' other than those involving covert actions."
SELECTIVE VETO POWER
Assertion: "I am pleased that members of Congress are working on earmark reform - because the federal budget has too many special-interest projects. And we can tackle this problem together, if you pass the line-item veto."
CNN Fact Check: This is the latest in a long line of State of the Union addresses where the president has asked Congress for a line-item veto, or the ability to strike individual items in a piece of legislation, usually a spending bill, rather than vetoing the whole bill.
Most state governors have line-item veto power. The president was briefly granted line-item veto power in the mid-1990s. On April 9, 1996, President Clinton signed the Line Item Veto Act, which allowed him to sign a piece of legislation but selectively strike spending he opposed. But two years later, on June 25, 1998, the Supreme Court struck down Line Item Veto Act as unconstitutional.
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