FACT CHECK: Vice President Joe Biden on jobs and Medicare

WASHINGTON - Vice President Joe Biden cited job gains under President Barack Obama while ignoring overall job losses, standard fare at the Democratic National Convention. And he laced into Republicans for pitching a Medicare plan that bears little resemblance to their actual proposals.

A look at some of his statements Thursday night in a speech to the gathering in Charlotte, N.C., preceding Obama's address to the crowd:

BIDEN: "After the worst job loss since the Great Depression, we've created 4.5 million private sector jobs in the past 29 months."

THE FACTS: This seems to be a favorite statistic, because many speakers at the convention cited it. But it's misleading -- a cherry-picked figure that counts jobs from when the recession reached its trough and employment began to grow again. It excludes jobs lost earlier in Obama's term, and masks the facts that joblessness overall has risen over his term so far.

As well, in the same 29 months that private sector jobs grew by 4.5 million, jobs in the public sector declined by about 500,000, making the net gain in that period about 4 million.

Overall, some 2 million jobs were lost during the recession that began in December 2007 in President George W. Bush's term and ended officially in June 2009 with Obama as president.

Never since World War II has the economy been so slow to recover all the jobs lost in a downturn.
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BIDEN: "What they didn't tell you is that the plan they've put down on paper would immediately cut benefits to more than 30 million seniors already on Medicare. What they didn't tell you is the plan they're proposing would cause Medicare to go bankrupt by 2016."

THE FACTS: Biden wasn't referring to any Medicare plan of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney or running mate Paul Ryan, but apparently to the consequences of fully repealing Obama's health care law, which is unpopular with seniors even though it has sweetened Medicare in certain ways. A Medicare plan put forward by Ryan in Congress would have no immediate effect because it would apply only to future retirees.

Obama's health care law improved Medicare benefits, adding better coverage for beneficiaries with high prescription costs as well as removing co-pays for a set of preventive benefits. If the law is repealed, those benefits would be lost unless Congress decides otherwise.

Similarly, Romney's promise to restore Obama's $716 billion in Medicare cuts could have unintended consequences for the program. The cuts don't affect seniors directly, instead falling on hospitals, insurers and other service providers. Restoring the higher payments to providers would accelerate the depletion of Medicare's trust fund for inpatient care, from 2024 currently to 2016, unless Congress acts to stave that off.
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Associated Press writer Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar contributed to this report.

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