If you’re like me, you were probably stunned by the lack of push-back by President Obama during the first presidential debate. It seemed (and not just to me) that Romney was allowed to backtrack just about every position he’s ever held, make assertions he couldn’t back up with figures, distort the President’s record, and basically lie with impunity. Perhaps President Obama was thrown by Governor Romney’s apparent willingness to flat-out deny every principle he campaigned on for nearly two years.
I’ve reviewed most of the online “fact checks” of Wednesday night’s debate, and naturally, while most try to play the “both sides do it” game, Romney provided them with far more to be critical about. I ignored fact-checks from sites like HuffPo and Slate (not because of untrustworthiness, but because they tend to focus on only one candidate), and a definite pattern emerged (See FactCheck.org’s position on Obama’s “5-Million private sector jobs” claim #3 below for a laugh.) It seems to me that many of these “fact checks” went out of their way to “question” some Obama claims in order to create the appearance of “both sides were equally untruthful”. See if you agree.
- Obama accused Romney of proposing a $5 trillion tax cut.
- FactCheck.org, DailyBeast, USA Today, PolitiFact all say “Not true” (PolitiFact says “Half True”) because Romney has promised to offset those cuts by closing tax loopholes (then they admit Romney has yet to define those loopholes/deductions).
- Washington Post questions Obama’s claim as well, despite acknowledging Romney’s lack of detail and reports calling it “mathematically impossible” (even acknowledging that the “six other studies” Romney cited as supporting his claim that it can be done… DON’T in fact say that), but WaPo is willing to trust Romney when he said that he would “repeal his cuts if they increased the deficit.” This is nonsense. The proof? The Bush Tax Cuts were supposed to be “temporary” and have unquestionably failed, yet we still have them 11-years later, with the GOP calling their sunset “a tax increase”. So does ANYONE believe Romney will “repeal” his cuts if they fail? No, they’ll just argue they haven’t been in place long enough, that things would have been “worse without them” and their repeal would hurt the economy.)
- Politico however says “Romney’s numbers don’t add up”, pointing out “the Tax Policy Center found that it was “mathematically impossible” to cover the $5 trillion reduction by eliminating tax breaks solely on high-income taxpayers.” (Romney has repeatedly proposed a 20% across-the-board tax cut and to “make the Bush Tax Cuts permanent”, so he starts out in a $5-Trillion dollar hole before he even begins increasing the Pentagon budget by $2-Trillion dollars.)
- FactCheck.org says this is “false” and that in fact, premiums increased by only $1,300 per family in 2010/2011, down from $1,700 between 2009-2010 [sic, they wrote “2009-2011”].
- But PolitiFact says Romney is correct because Romney said Obama “promised to CUT premiums by $2,500” and they were only cut in half.
- FactCheck.org criticizes Obama’s claim as “almost half a million jobs short” because some of those jobs “won’t be counted until next year” but that in the meantime he has only created “4.6-Million jobs.”
- USA Today cites (without comment) the same “4.6-million jobs created” figure, including noting 5.1 million under “preliminary revisions.”
- FactCheck.org and PolitiFact say this is true, citing a decline in production between 14%-17% on public lands, but both acknowledge that many Gulf Coast rigs shut themselves down during hurricane season, not because of any policy of the Obama Administration. (ThinkProgress notes that oil companies are sitting on over 7,000 public leases waiting on the price of oil to go up before they use them. The actual number of public lands opened for drilling has gone UP under Obama [ibid]. The oil companies simply aren’t using them. I’d be interested in knowing just how “President Romney intends to force these companies to drill?)
- Washington Post was the only fact-checker on this, saying, “The math does not add up”, noting that “$90-Billion” to Green Industries divided by “$4-Billion” per year in oil subsidies comes to 22.5 years, not fifty; The $90-Billion was not all in “subsidies” but includes “a combination of loans, loan guarantees and grants through the stimulus program” and “spread out over several years rather than one”. And $23-Billion of that $90-Billion went to “clean coal”. (I would also point out that the burgeoning Green Energy sector needs support to get off the ground to compete with imports. Oil does not.)
- FactCheck.org: True of “overall health care spending”, but not “premiums”. And decline in spending is more likely due to the poor economy because most of ObamaCare hasn’t even been implemented yet.
- Washington Post likewise comes to the same conclusion as FactCheck.org, but also cites Romney for incorrectly blaming that rise in premiums on “ObamaCare” despite it hasn’t been fully implemented yet.
- FactCheck.org – Not true. The board only recommends cost-saving measures for Medicare, and is legally forbidden to ration care or reduce benefits.
- PolitiFact… which rated “Death Panels” their “lie of the year” in 2010… rated Romney’s claim “Mostly False” (Wha???) Why only “mostly”? I haven’t a clue after reading their explanation twice.
- The Washington Post makes the same observation of how Romney’s claim “mirrors” Palin’s “Death Panels”, adding that the board Romney is criticizing that looks for wasteful spending to cut “appears aimed at doing the same thing as the House Republican Medicare plan”.
- Only FactCheck.org rated this: “Not true. The annual deficit was already running at $1.2 trillion when Obama took office.”
- Only FactCheck.org rated this one as well, citing: The addition of taxes in “ObamaCare” could mean they actually pay more than they did under Clinton. The Affordable Care Act includes an increase of $318-billion in Payroll Taxes over 10-years, extending the life of the program to 2021.
- FactCheck.org: 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.
- USA Today (without comment): The “median household income” has declined $4,416 “since in December 2007.” Now maybe it’s just me, but I’m fairly certain “December of 2007” was 13 months before Obama took office. But they do note the decline began a full decade before he became president.
- FactCheck.org: “includes $1 trillion from winding down wars that are coming to an end in any event.” – Not if “100 years” McCain had been elected or Iran-Hawk Romney (who wants to restore $2-Trillion in Defense spending) should become president.
- The Washington Post takes issue with the “$4 trillion” figure for a different reason: $1 trillion of that reduction was already agreed to last year in Congress, “leaving only another $3.5-trillion over the next ten years” to be cut (Simpson-Bowles wanted an $4-trillion over “nine” years.)
- The Daily Beast: “contrary to this statement, Mitt Romney has suggested in the past that he would, in fact, cut the education budget.” Last Spring, Romney told a group of Florida donors that, as president, he would merge another federal agency with the Department of Education, “or perhaps make it a heck of a lot smaller.”
- FactCheck.org claims that ObamaCare is “structured the same way” by “subsidizing private insurance for persons under age 65.” So, to FactCheck.org, subsiding the poor & disabled is basically the same thing as ending Medicare and handing Grandma a coupon to try her luck in the private marketplace. And BTW, when the President labeled it as “a voucher program… you call it ‘premium support'”, Romney did not deny it, only saying that was only for “future” retirees.
- PolitiFact rates the claim as “Mostly true”.
- The Washington Post complains the “$6,000 out of pocket” figure Obama claimed was based on the OLD Ryan Plan, and that the vouchers in Romney’s NEW plan are increased to keep up with inflation (yet note, they don’t deny Medicare recipients would receive vouchers to hunt for private insurance.)
- PolitiFact: “Half True”. Yes Obama cuts this amount, but Romney is suggesting it’s $716 Billion in cuts to benefits, which is false.
- USA Today: “Not true” to suggest these cuts to providers would be to beneficiaries.
- USA Today: Depends upon what figure Romney is basing his numbers on. The “Index of Economic Freedom” puts Spain’s spending at 45.8% of GDP and the U.S. at 42.2%… but that includes “state and local” spending, which the Federal government has no control over. Take that out of the equation, and the number is actually only 24%.
- Politico points out (as I have) that… while the National Average price of gas was indeed only $1.82/gal the day of Obama’s inauguration (already up a dime in two months), it broke $4/gal for the first time just six months before, and the price of gasoline plunged only because the economy collapsed. As the economy recovered, the price rebounded. The price of gas today has more to do with “oil speculators” reacting to unrest in the Middle East in Syria & Iran than it has to do with supply. And don’t look to Romney for regulation of Speculators or to stabilize relations with Iran.
- Politico: Not half, not even close. Of the 26 winners of Department of Energy loan guarantees under the stimulus, a total of three have gone belly up: Solyndra, Abound Solar and Beacon Power.
- The Washington Post calls this “fantasy money” because (they say) President Obama is claiming savings from wars that are “ending anyway”. Really WaPo? Because if we had elected McCain (who didn’t want to end the war in Iraq) or if we elect Mitt Romney… who thinks were are leaving Afghanistan too quickly and is threatening the use of force against Iran, I’d argue that those “saving” from ending our wars is hardly “fantasy money”.
Romney: “I’ve been in business for 25 years. I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
- WaPo: “Obama is right, there is such a provision that allows companies to deduct such expenses–but it is not a specific loophole or incentive”, it’s a provision in reimbursing businesses for relocation expenses, whether it be in the U.S. or outside. It’s also not a very big amount. Closing that loophole “only saves” $168-Million over ten years.
- Fortune Magazine: Actually, “196 banks have failed”, not 122. But there little to no evidence it had anything to do with the passage of Dodd-Frank. In the two years prior, “256 banks failed”, and bank failures are due to bad loans, not the lending restrictions in Dodd-Frank. In fact, “[t]he four biggest banks have increased lending slightly faster since Dodd-Frank than their smaller rivals, 4% vs. 1%.”
I have no doubt I missed plenty of “facts” waiting to be checked, but that’s just what the ones I’ve found online so far. By my count, Romney’s had more of his “facts” challenged, many of the challenges to Obama’s claims are fairly dubious, and the magnitude of Romney’s “lies” seem far more significant. But that’s just my opinion.
Oh, and for Romney’s tax plan to work, “Big Bird Must Die”? Really?
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