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Archive for Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fact check: Stumbles in latest presidential debate

October 16, 2012, 9:55 p.m. Updated October 17, 2012, 8:54 a.m.

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— In the rough-and-tumble of a town hall-style presidential debate, the facts took something of a beating Tuesday night.

Mitt Romney wrongly claimed that it took 14 days for President Barack Obama to brand the assault on the U.S. Consulate in Libya a terrorist act. Obama yet again claimed that ending the Afghanistan and Iraq wars makes money available to "rebuild America," even though it doesn't.

A look at some of their claims:

OBAMA: The day after last month's attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, "I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people and the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened. That this was an act of terror and I also said that we're going to hunt down those who committed this crime."

ROMNEY: "I want to make sure we get that for the record, because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror."

OBAMA: "Get the transcript."

THE FACTS: Obama is correct in saying that he referred to Benghazi as an act of terrorism on Sept. 12, the day after the attack. From the Rose Garden, he said: "No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. ... We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act."

But others in his administration repeated for several days its belief that the violence stemmed from protests over an American-made video ridiculing Islam. It took almost a month before officials acknowledged that those protests never occurred. And Romney is right in arguing that the administration has yet to explain why it took so long for that correction to be made or how it came to believe that the attack evolved from an angry demonstration.


OBAMA: "Let's take the money that we've been spending on war over the last decade to rebuild America, roads, bridges, schools. We do those things, not only is your future going to be bright, but America's future is going to be bright as well."

THE FACTS: What Obama didn't mention is that much of the money that has been paying for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was borrowed. In fact, the government borrows nearly 40 cents for every dollar it spends. Thus, using money that had been earmarked for wars to build schools and infrastructure would involve even more borrowing, adding to the federal deficit.


ROMNEY: "As a matter of fact, oil production is down 14 percent this year on federal land, and gas production was down 9 percent. Why? Because the president cut in half the number of licenses and permits for drilling on federal lands and in federal waters."

OBAMA: "Very little of what Governor Romney just said is true. We've opened up public lands. We're actually drilling more on public lands than in the previous administration and my — the previous president was an oilman."

THE FACTS: Both statements ring true, as far as they go. Obama more correctly describes the bigger picture.

According to an Energy Department study published in the spring, sales of oil from federal areas fell 14 percent between 2010 and 2011 and sales of natural gas production fell 9 percent, supporting Romney's point. The lower oil production was a result mainly of a moratorium on offshore drilling imposed by the Obama administration after the April 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

According to the same report, though, oil production from federal areas is up 13 percent since Obama took office despite last year's dip, and analysts say Gulf oil production is expected to soon exceed its pre-spill levels.

Natural gas production from federal areas has been declining for years because drillers have found vast reserves of natural gas in formations under several states that are cheaper to access than most federally controlled areas.


OBAMA: "For young people who've come here, brought here oftentimes by their parents, have gone to school here, pledged allegiance to the flag, think of this as their country and understand themselves as Americans in every way except having papers, we should make sure we give them a pathway to citizenship. And that's what I've done administratively."

THE FACTS: His administrative actions do not provide a pathway to citizenship. The administration is allowing as many as 1.7 million young illegal immigrants to apply to avoid deportation for up to two years and get a work permit. And the government has begun a policy of prosecutorial discretion under which illegal immigrants with longstanding ties to the U.S. and no criminal history are generally not arrested and deported by immigration authorities. But these steps do not extend legal status or a process resulting in citizenship.


ROMNEY: "I know he keeps saying, 'You want to take Detroit bankrupt.' Well, the president took Detroit bankrupt. You took General Motors bankrupt. You took Chrysler bankrupt. So when you say that I wanted to take the auto industry bankrupt, you actually did. And I think it's important to know that that was a process that was necessary to get those companies back on their feet, so they could start hiring more people. That was precisely what I recommended and ultimately what happened."

THE FACTS: What Romney recommended did not happen, and his proposed path probably would have forced General Motors and Chrysler out of business. He opposed using government money to bail out the automakers, instead favoring privately financed bankruptcy restructuring. But the automakers were bleeding cash and were poor credit risks. The banking system was in crisis. So private loans weren't available. Without government aid, both companies probably would have gone under and their assets would have been sold in pieces.


OBAMA: "And what I want to do is build on the 5 million jobs that we've created over the last 30 months in the private sector alone."

THE FACTS: As he has done before, Obama is cherry-picking his numbers to make them sound better than they really are. He ignores the fact that public-sector job losses have dragged down overall job creation. Also, he chooses just to mention the past 30 months. That ignores job losses during his presidency up until that point. According to the Labor Department, about 4.5 million total jobs have been created over the past 30 months. But some 4.3 million jobs were lost during the earlier months of his administration. At this point, Obama is a net job creator, but only marginally.


ROMNEY: "The proof of whether a strategy is working or not is what the price is that you're paying at the pump. If you're paying less than you paid a year or two ago, why, then, the strategy is working. But you're paying more. When the president took office, the price of gasoline here in Nassau County was about $1.86 a gallon. Now, it's $4 a gallon. The price of electricity is up. If the president's energy policies are working, you're going to see the cost of energy come down."

THE FACTS: Presidents have almost no effect on energy prices; most are set on financial exchanges around the world. When Obama took office, the world was in the grip of a financial crisis and crude prices — and gasoline prices along with them — had plummeted because world demand had collapsed. Crude oil prices have since risen even as U.S. oil production has soared in recent years because global demand is reaching new heights as the developing economies of Asia use more oil.

Other energy prices have fallen during Obama's term. Electricity prices, when adjusted for inflation, are down, and homeowners are finding it much cheaper to heat their homes with natural gas. That's because natural gas production has surged, reducing prices both for homeowners and for utilities that burn gas to generate electricity.


OBAMA: "What I've also said is, for (those earning) above $250,000, we can go back to the tax rates we had when Bill Clinton was president."

THE FACTS: Not exactly. The Bush tax cuts set the top income rate at 35 percent. Under Obama's proposal to raise taxes on households earning more than $250,000, the president would return the top rate to the 39.6 percent set during the Clinton administration. But he neglected to mention that his health care law includes a new 0.9 percent Medicare surcharge on households earning over that amount — and that tax would be retained. The health care law also imposes a 3.8 percent tax on investment income for high earners. So tax rates would be higher for the wealthiest Americans than they were under Clinton.


ROMNEY: "I'm going to bring rates down across the board for everybody, but I'm going to limit deductions and exemptions and credits, particularly for people at the high end, because I am not going to have people at the high end pay less than they're paying now."

THE FACTS: Romney is proposing to cut all income tax rates by 20 percent, eliminate the estate tax and the alternative minimum tax, maintain and expand tax breaks for investment income, and do it all without adding to the deficit or shifting the tax burden from the wealthy to the middle class. He says he would pay for the tax cuts by reducing or eliminating tax deductions, exemptions and credits, but he can't achieve all of his goals under the budget rules presidents must follow.

The Tax Policy Center, a Washington research group, says in a study that the tax cuts proposed by Romney would reduce federal tax revenues by about $5 trillion over 10 years. The study concludes that there aren't enough tax breaks for the wealthy to make up the lost revenue, so the proposal would either add to the deficit or shift more of the tax burden onto the middle class.

Romney's campaign cites studies by conservative academics and think tanks that say Romney's plan will spur economic growth, generating enough additional money to pay for the tax cuts without adding to the deficit or shifting the tax burden to the middle class. But Congress doesn't recognize those kinds of economic projections when it estimates the budget impact of tax proposals.


ROMNEY: "A recent study has shown that people in the middle class will see $4,000 a year in higher taxes as a result of the spending and borrowing of this administration."

THE FACTS: Romney's claim is based on an analysis by the conservative American Enterprise Institute that examines the amount of debt that has accumulated on Obama's watch and in a potential second term and computes how much it would cost to finance that debt through tax increases. Annual deficits under Obama have exceeded $1 trillion for each year of his term.

However, Obama is not responsible for all of the deficits that have occurred on his watch. Most of the federal budget — like Medicare, food stamps, Medicaid and Social Security — runs on autopilot, and no one in a leadership position in Washington has proposed deep cuts in those programs. And politicians in both parties voted two years ago to renew Bush-era tax cuts that have contributed to the deficit. Even under the strict spending cuts proposed by Romney, the debt would continue to rise, just not as quickly.


Associated Press writers Jonathan Fahey, Tom Krisher, Stephen Ohlemacher, Andrew Taylor, Bradley Klapper, Matthew Daly, Matthew Lee and Alicia A. Caldwell contributed to this report.

Comments

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

"OBAMA: “Let’s take the money that we’ve been spending on war over the last decade to rebuild America, roads, bridges, schools. We do those things, not only is your future going to be bright, but America’s future is going to be bright as well.”

THE FACTS: What Obama didn’t mention is that much of the money that has been paying for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was borrowed. In fact, the government borrows nearly 40 cents for every dollar it spends. Thus using money that had been earmarked for wars to build schools and infrastructure would involve even more borrowing, adding to the federal deficit."

This somehow assumes that no money has been spent on these wars, and nothing could be further from the truth. We've spent $trillion on these wars, with little or no bounce in the domestic economy. If all of those $trillions had instead been spent here on education, infrastructure, alternative energy and transportation and making our residential and commercial building stock more energy efficient, there would have likely never been an economic collapse, the deficit would be considerably smaller and we would be well on our way to energy self-sufficiency.

Bottomline-- not all deficit spending is the same, and sometimes deficit spending is exactly what's required to get the economy on track that would allow past deficits (used all too often to purchase idiotic things) to be paid down.

jayhawklawrence 2 years, 2 months ago

I am glad you pointed this out. I was annoyed everytime I saw this in print.

I thought the Fact Checker needed some fact checking.

jhawkinsf 2 years, 2 months ago

A trillion in debt here, a trillion in debt there. Pretty soon, we're talking about real money.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

But there is a huge difference between debt that's flushed down the toilet and debt that improves the economy and the standard of living, and also allows for increased tax collections that will make it possible to pay down the debt.

jhawkinsf 2 years, 2 months ago

Yes, there are different kinds of debt. I may borrow money to purchase a house, thinking it a good long term investment. Or I may max out my credit cards and then declare bankruptcy. The question is, who am I? Or, what type of person am I? Am a responsible borrower or an irresponsible borrower?

Now tell me Bozo, who are the people who have put us $16 trillion in debt? Did they make wise investments when they borrowed that money or did they spend it foolishly? And if given the opportunity to borrow additional money, are they more likely to spend the money wisely or are they more likely to spend the money foolishly? How you answer those questions will determine whether you think accumulating additional debt is good or bad. It's the difference between asking is debt good or bad in the real world vs. is debt good or bad in a theoretical sense.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

So your question is whether we will continue to borrow and spend foolishly. Unfortunately, powerful vested interests profit greatly from following this path. That means that if Romney is elected, the answer to your question is an unequivocal "yes," we will continue to borrow and spend irresponsibly and do nothing to take the necessary measures that will leave a livable world for future generations. With Obama, the answer is quite mixed, so hardly a positive one.

But that's the historical crossroads we face as a species-- will we act as intelligently as we think ourselves capable, or will we drive off the cliff because powerful vested interests can't let up on their lead foot?

jhawkinsf 2 years, 2 months ago

Quite frankly, Bozo, if you're trying to make an argument in favor of deficit spending, I don't think an argument like one guy will waste 100% while the other guy will waste only 95% is such a good argument.

BTW - Those powers that be, Lockheed, Haliburton, SECU, AARP, Exxon, NEA, you know, those powers that advocate for stuff we can't afford, perhaps we should politely ask that they live within the means we the taxpayers have. Or we can raise taxes to support all that they ask for. Those powerful vested interests that profit greatly ...

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

"I don't think an argument like one guy will waste 100% while the other guy will waste only 95% is such a good argument."

That's your argument, not mine. Forgive me for not trying to defend it.

But the straight-up fact is that no matter who is elected president, even if it were Ron Paul, there will not be a balanced budget for a long, long time. We can either use the borrowed money to do something useful that will move us to where we can begin to reduce the deficit, or we can just continue to flush money down the toilet.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

The erroneous assumption is that all deficit spending is somehow the same. As I pointed out, if that money had been spent on something actually useful to the American people, not only would the economy be in much better shape today, the overall deficit would be considerably smaller than it currently is.

As far as the stimulus spending package, I agree that much of it was flushed down the toilet-- in this case the Wall Street toilet. But much of it had exactly the intended effect, and by all honest, independent analyses, it stopped the free fall of the economy and likely saved or created 3 million jobs.

But my point stands-- not all deficit spending is the same.

troll 2 years, 2 months ago

When we start checking the fact checkers then who will be checking the fact checker checkers?

jhawkinsf 2 years, 2 months ago

The fact checkers' fact checkers' fact checker, that's who. Just don't ask who will be fact checking them. Psst, it'll be Wikipedia.

BlackVelvet 2 years, 2 months ago

I guess this is what you get when one liar debates another liar.

Richard Payton 2 years, 2 months ago

At the United Nations the Presidential Administration mentioned the you tube video six times as the cause of the Benghazi, Libya attack. After, the debate Candy said Romney chose the wrong words but was mainly correct about the embassy attack. John King mentioned the word attack was used by the President in the Rose Garden but it was more a general statement. I thought Candy should have never played umpire in the debate. She favored Obama and it was so over the top.

JohnBrown 2 years, 2 months ago

"She favored Obama and it was so over the top."

Romney is a windsock. Whichever way the wind blows that's what he says he believes.

In fact, Romney again lied about what O'Bama said in the Rose Garden and Candy simply told him what she heard when she was in the Rose Garden too.

Telling the truth is "over the top"????

The only use Romney serves the RINOs is to sign extreme legislation passed by those who have been dedicated to not give O'Bama any legislation that would recover the economy before the 2012 elections.

After all, their stated goal in 2009 was to "defeat O'Bama in 2012", not do what's right for the country.

The only way to do that was to not pass any useful recovery legislation, and instead, let the country suffer so ion 2012 they could blame it all on O'Bama.

It's borderline treason what the Tea Party republicans (= RINOs) have put this country thru for the past four years...all so they could enhance their political power in 2012.

JohnBrown

JohnBrown 2 years, 2 months ago

Sorry, your pulling a Romney...just not true. O'Bama said, the day after the Benghazi incident ...well, just check out this link: http://www.forextv.com/forex-news-story/full-transcript-of-obama-s-rose-garden-speech-after-sept-11-benghazi-attack

JohnBrown

BitterClinger 2 years, 2 months ago

"Mitt Romney wrongly claimed that it took 14 days for President Barack Obama to brand the assault on the U.S. Consulate in Libya a terrorist act. Obama yet again claimed that ending the Afghanistan and Iraq wars makes money available to "rebuild America," even though it doesn't." Here's a link on you tube to Obama's Rose Garden speech. Obama starts speaking around 1:32. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Z0wllKURCq8#!

Mitt was right. Obama called it an "attack", "senseless violence", "brutal acts", "terrible act" Obama called them "attackers." He referred to 911 as just an "attack" not a terrorist attack.

Not once did Obama used the phrase "terrorist attack" or "terrorists".

The the only time Obama mentioned the word "terror" was around 5:54. "No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation." He was not referring to Benghazi.

deec 2 years, 2 months ago

Are you seriously arguing that "acts of terror" doesn't mean the same thing as "terrorist acts?"

Here's that part of the quote in context:

" Our country is only as strong as the character of our people and the service of those both civilian and military who represent us around the globe.

No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done."

deec 2 years, 2 months ago

According to the story I posted above, it seems the terrorists decided to strike in response to the video.

Bob Forer 2 years, 2 months ago

"Binders full of women" - another lie, of course.

What actually happened was that in 2002—prior to the election, not even knowing yet whether it would be a Republican or Democratic administration—a bipartisan group of women in Massachusetts formed MassGAP to address the problem of few women in senior leadership positions in state government. There were more than 40 organizations involved with the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus (also bipartisan) as the lead sponsor.

They did the research and put together the binder full of women qualified for all the different cabinet positions, agency heads, and authorities and commissions. They presented this binder to Governor Romney when he was elected.

Romney’s claim last night, that he asked for such a study, is false.

Oh, and once he had those binders? He hired women for agencies he then cut the funding for.

There were actually fewer women in executive positions when Romney left office than there were when he started.

That scant man can't tell the truth about anything.

Bob Forer 2 years, 2 months ago

Photobucket A mean-spirited, spoiled, petulant and whupped Mittens walks away mad. If it had been a game, Mitt would have taken his ball and went home

Bob Forer 2 years, 2 months ago

I am sick and tired of all the liberturds and their lies that Governor Romney's tax plan is void of specifics. They are right here. Check it out yourself.

http://www.romneytaxplan.com/

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