Facts went astray on tax cuts, negative campaign advertising and oil imports when Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain engaged Wednesday in their third and final presidential debate.
OBAMA: "Every dollar that I've proposed, I've proposed an additional cut, so that it matches."
THE FACTS: The bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates that his programs would add $281 billion to the deficit at the end of his first term. The analysis includes Obama's proposals for saving money.
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McCAIN: "We have to stop sending $700 billion a year to countries that don't like us very much."
THE FACTS: This is a reference to U.S. spending on oil imports. McCain has repeatedly made this claim. But the figure is highly inflated and misleading. According to government agencies that track energy imports, the United States spent $246 billion in 2007 for all imported crude oil, a majority of it coming from friendly nations including neighboring Canada and Mexico. An additional $82 billion was spent on imported refined petroleum products such as gasoline, diesel and fuel oil. A majority of the refined products come from refineries in such friendly countries as the Netherlands, Canada, the United Kingdom, Trinidad-Tobago and the Virgin Islands.
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OBAMA: "One hundred percent, John, of your ads - 100 percent of them - have been negative."
THE FACTS: The statement is mostly true when it comes to McCain's current commercial spots. But by saying McCain's ads "have been" 100 percent negative, Obama ventures into misleading territory. A recent study by the Wisconsin Advertising Project at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that in the first week of October "nearly 100 percent" of McCain's ads were negative. The study also reported, however, that to date 73 percent of McCain's ads have been negative and that 61 percent of Obama's ads have been negative.
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McCAIN: "Sen. Obama is spending unprecedented amounts of money in negative attack ads on me."
THE FACTS: Obama is spending unprecedented amounts of money on ads, period - negative or otherwise. Obama is outspending McCain and the Republican Party by more than 2-to-1 in presidential ads. At one point in August, 90 percent of the ads Obama was airing were against McCain. The study by the Wisconsin Advertising Project found that about 34 percent of Obama's ads are now negative.
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OBAMA: "I want to provide a tax cut for 95 percent of working Americans, 95 percent."
THE FACTS: Obama constantly says this. But the independent Tax Policy Center says his plan cuts taxes for 81.3 percent of all households in 2009.
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McCAIN: Said of Obama's running mate Sen. Joe Biden: "He had this cockamamie idea of dividing Iraq into three countries."
THE FACTS: Biden actually proposed dividing Iraq into three semiautonomous regions, not separate countries. He was a prime sponsor of a nonbinding Senate resolution that called for Iraq to have federal regions under the control of Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis in a power-sharing agreement similar to the one that ended the 1990s war in Bosnia.
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OBAMA: "We can cut the average family's premium by $2,500 a year."
THE FACTS: If that sounds like a straight-ahead promise to lower health insurance premiums, it isn't. Obama hopes that by spending $50 billion over five years on electronic medical records and by improving access to proven disease management programs, among other steps, consumers will end up saving money. He uses an optimistic analysis to suggest cost reductions in national health care spending could amount to the equivalent of $2,500 for a family of four. Many economists are skeptical those savings can be achieved, but even if they are, it's not a certainty that every dollar would be passed on to consumers in the form of lower premiums.
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MCCAIN: Warned a small business owner that he would be fined under Obama's health care plan if he did not provide health insurance for workers.
THE FACTS: Obama's health care plan does not impose mandates or fines on small business. He would provide small businesses with a refundable tax credit of up to 50 percent on health premiums paid on behalf of their employees. Large as well as medium-sized businesses that do not offer meaningful coverage or contribute to the cost of coverage would be required to pay a percentage of payroll toward the costs of a public insurance plan. But small businesses would be exempt from that requirement.