FactChecking the 2012 Presidential Debates: Highlights Here

By Karyn:

We all know that politicians have a tendency to stretch the truth, so factchecking is basically a necessity if you really want to figure out your vote. Yet, there are a million different sources out there. Who do you trust?

Personally, I have turned to factcheck.org since high school. Consistently, I have looked into their claims and have never found them inaccurate. I conclude and suggest that factcheck.org is one of the best sources of non-biased information available on the web. Check out their coverage of presidential fast talk below.

Why haven’t we heard anything about the performance of our Congress?

Come back soon for our opinion regarding the missing discussion of Congress and how they have shaped our country since President Obama took office.

Over the last couple years, congress received some of the lowest approval ratings in history (10%). We wish the presidential candidates would discuss their plans for getting our rag-tag bunch of bozos in check and back to work for the American people (rather than their parties).

FactCheck.org Coverage

Summary of the first Presidential debate from factcheck.org:

We found exaggerations and false claims flying thick and fast during the first debate between President Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney.

  • Obama accused Romney of proposing a $5 trillion tax cut. Not true. Romney proposes to offset his rate cuts and promises he won’t add to the deficit.
  • Romney again promised to “not reduce the taxes paid by high-income Americans” and also to “lower taxes on middle-income families,” but didn’t say how he could possibly accomplish that without also increasing the deficit.
  • Obama oversold his health care law, claiming that health care premiums have “gone up slower than any time in the last 50 years.” That’s true of health care spending, but not premiums. And the health care law had little to do with the slowdown in overall spending.
  • Romney claimed a new board established by the Affordable Care Act is “going to tell people ultimately what kind of treatments they can have.” Not true. The board only recommends cost-saving measures for Medicare, and is legally forbidden to ration care or reduce benefits.
  • Obama said 5 million private-sector jobs had been created in the past 30 months. Perhaps so, but that counts jobs that the Bureau of Labor Statistics won’t add to the official monthly tallies until next year. For now, the official tally is a bit over 4.6 million.
  • Romney accused Obama of doubling the federal deficit. Not true. The annual deficit was already running at $1.2 trillion when Obama took office.
  • Obama again said he’d raise taxes on upper-income persons only to the “rates that we had when Bill Clinton was president.” Actually, many high-income persons would pay more than they did then, because of new taxes in Obama’s health care law.
  • Romney claimed that middle-income Americans have “seen their income come down by $4,300.” That’s too high. Census figures show the decline in median household income during Obama’s first three years was $2,492, even after adjusting for inflation.
  • Obama again touted his “$4 trillion” deficit reduction plan, which includes $1 trillion from winding down wars that are coming to an end in any event.

Romney sometimes came off as a serial exaggerator. He said “up to” 20 million might lose health insurance under the new law, citing a Congressional Budget Office study that actually put the likely number who would lose employer-sponsored coverage at between 3 million and 5 million. He said 23 million Americans are “out of work” when the actual number of jobless is much lower. He claimed half of all college grads this year can’t find work, when, in fact, an AP story said half either were jobless or underemployed. And he again said Obama “cut” $716 billion from Medicare, a figure that actually reflects a 10-year target for slowing Medicare spending, which will continue to grow.

More details here.

Summary of the Vice Presidential debate from factcheck.org:

Photo: The New Yorker

The Biden-Ryan debate was marked by some spirited claims that didn’t always match the facts.

  • Ryan said Obama’s proposal to let tax rates rise for high-income individuals would “tax about 53 percent of small-business income.” Wrong. Ryan is counting giant hedge funds and thousands of other multimillion-dollar enterprises as “small” businesses.
  • Biden exaggerated when he said House Republicans cut funding for embassy security by $300 million. The amount approved for fiscal year 2012 was $264 million less than requested, and covers construction and maintenance, not just security.
  • Ryan was wrong when he said a rise in the jobless rate in Biden’s hometown was “how it’s going all around America.” The rate nationally has sunk back to where it was when Obama took office. And in Ryan’s hometown, it’s more than 4 percentage points lower that it was at the start of Obama’s term.
  • Biden seemed to question Ryan’s assertion that administration officials called Syrian President Bashar Assad “a reformer” even when he was killing his own civilian countrymen. Ryan was right. Early in the bloody Syrian uprising Hillary Clinton called Assad a “different leader” who many in Congress believe is “a reformer.”
  • Ryan claimed the Obama administration spent stimulus money on “electric cars in Finland.” Not true. Although the cars have been assembled in Finland, the money went for work in the United States.
  • Biden quoted Romney as saying that he would not “move heaven and earth” to get Osama bin Laden. What Romney said was that he’d go after other terrorists as well.
  • Ryan misquoted a Medicare official as saying “one out of six hospitals and nursing homes are going to go out of business” as a result of the Affordable Care Act. Not quite. The official said that many could become “unprofitable,” and the the situation could be monitored to head off bad outcomes.
  • Ryan claimed that the ACA contains “taxpayer funding” of abortion. In fact the law provides no direct funding of abortion except in cases of rape or incest or to save the mother’s life. And it’s a matter of interpretation whether subsidized private insurance would amount to indirect federal support for abortion.
  • Ryan was off base when he said of a cost-saving panel created by the Affordable Care Act, “not one of them even has to have medical training.” Actually, the board must include physicians and other health care professionals among its members.

Ryan at one point ground out a collection of shopworn misstatements about the health care law that we’ve had to rebut time and again, claiming “20 million people … are projected to lose their health insurance” (not true), that premiums have gone up $3,000 (no, they haven’t) and that 7.4 million seniors “are going to lose” Medicare Advantage plans (maybe, but they’d still be covered by traditional Medicare).

And both Biden and Ryan continued to twist the facts about Romney’s tax plan. Biden again misrepresented the findings of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, and Ryan repeated a misleading claim that “six studies have verified” that the plan is mathematically possible.

Summary of the second Presidential debate from factcheck.org:

The second Obama-Romney debate was heated, confrontational and full of claims that sometimes didn’t match the facts.

  • Obama challenged Romney to “get the transcript” when Romney questioned the president’s claim to have spoken of an “act of terror” the day after the slaying of four Americans in Libya. The president indeed referred to “acts of terror” that day, but then refrained from labeling it a terrorist attack.
  • Obama claimed Romney once called Arizona’s “papers, please” immigration law a “model” for the nation. He didn’t. Romney said that of an earlier Arizona law requiring employers to check the immigration status of employees.
  • Obama falsely claimed Romney once referred to wind-power jobs as “imaginary.” Not true. Romney actually spoke of “an imaginary world” where “windmills and solar panels could power the economy.”
  • Romney said repeatedly he won’t cut taxes for the wealthy, a switch from his position during the GOP primaries, when he said the top 1 percent would be among those to benefit.
  • Romney said “a recent study has shown” that taxes “will” rise on the middle class by $4,000 as a result of federal debt increases since Obama took office. Not true. That’s just one possible way debt service could be financed.
  • Romney claimed 580,000 women have lost jobs under Obama. The true figure is closer to 93,000.
  • Romney claimed the automakers’ bankruptcy that Obama implemented was “precisely what I recommend.” Romney did favor a bankruptcy followed by federal loan guarantees, but not the direct federal aid that Obama insists was essential.
  • Romney said he would keep Pell Grants for low-income college students “growing.” That’s a change. Both Romney and his running mate, Ryan, have previously said they’d limit eligibility.

Both candidates repeated false or misleading claims they have made, and we have rebutted, many times before. Obama repeated his claim that he wouldn’t put tax rates for affluent families higher than they were under Bill Clinton. Actually, he’s already signed two new taxes that will also fall on those same high-income persons. And Romney accused Obama of saying “no” to the Keystone XL pipeline. Actually, no final decision has been made, and the company says it expects to win approval and start construction early next year.

More details here.

Please share your thoughts, all are welcome and will receive a thoughtful response.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s