October 4, 2012 (San Diego's East County)--Nonpartisan and independent media fact checking reveals that both candidates in last night’s presidential debate on domestic issues told some whoppers or to be charitable, exaggerated and misstated facts. Romney was inaccurate on the deficit, while Obama overstated impacts of Romney's tax cuts, among other notable examples.
For details and fact-checking links, scroll down.
Governor Mitt Romney’s most blatant inaccuracy was his repeated accusation that Obama doubled the federal deficit. That’s not true; the annual deficit was $1.2 trillion when Obama took office, roughly the same as it is today. Romney was correct, however, in stating that Obama has not fulfilled his campaign pledge to cut the deficit in half, however that is in large part due to the fact that Republicans in Congress blocked Obama’s efforts to repeal Bush-era tax cuts for wealthy Americans.
President Barack Obama’s most glaring exaggeration was hammering his opponent by stating that “Governor Romney’s central economic plan calls for a $5 triliion tax cut” on top of Bush tax cuts. While its true that Romney wants to cut income tax rates 20% and extend Bush tax cuts (as well as eliminating the estate tax, taxes on interest, capital gains and dividends and more) those tax cuts amount to about $480 billion a year, still substantial, but $5 trillion is based on a full decade following implementation.
As to the substance of Romney’s tax proposal, Factcheck called it “The Impossible Plan” because he failed to explain how he could possibly offset such a large loss of revenue without raising taxes on the middle class. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has concluded it’s not mathematically possible for Romney to cut rates as promised without either favoring the wealthy or increasing the federal deficit.
The Sacramento Bee agrees,, noting “The knock on Romney’s plan, which Obama accurately cited, is that Romney has refused to say which tax breaks he would eliminate to pay for the lower rates.”
The Bee further finds that to fulfill Romney’s promises “would require cuts to other programs so deep—under one calculation requiring cutting many areas of the domestic budget by one-third within four years—that they could never get through congress. Cuts to domestic agencies would have to be particularly deep.”
Romney al so deceptively cited “six studies” that claim to contradict the Tax Policy Center’s findings. But Factcheck reveals that nearly all of those studies were done by Romney advisors and backers including two bloggers, as well as one study by the former chair of President George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisors. “None was nonpartisan,” Factcheck notes.
Obama however overstated his case on healthcare reforms, claiming health care premiums “have gone up slower than any time in the last 50 years.” That’s true of healthcare spending but not premiums; in fact premiums have continued to rise, including a 4 percent rise last year.
The Sacramento Bee notes that the President promised a $4 trillion deficit reduction plan, but that includes $2 trillion in cuts already enacted last year. The Bee also found Obama relied on “creative bookkeeping” to hide spending on Medicare reimbursements to doctors. In addition, the Bee notes that Obama’s plan to use war spending to reduce the deficit glosses over the fact that much of the spending on the wars, which started under his predecessor’s administration, were paid with borrowed funds.
Romney distorted one element of Obama’s healthcare reform by stating that a new government board will “tell people ultimately what kind of treatment they can have.” The board can make binding recommendations about what drugs or medical devices can be paid for by Medicare, but has no legal power to dictate treatment or ration care.
Obama downplayed the impacts of his tax plan on the wealthy, stating he would return rates for the wealthy back to what they were under President Bill Clinton. But those making over a quarter million dollars a year would actually pay several percent more than under Clinton, if you factor in the new taxes in his Affordable Care Act – specifically, the 3.8 percent tax on capital gains and other unearned net investment income, as well as a 0.9 percent Medicare surcharge.
So which candidate came closer to truthfulness overall?
Romney also inflated income loss for middle-income Americans during Obama’s presidency and exaggerated unemployment numbers, among other overstatements, leading Factcheck.org to conclude that “Romney sometimes came off as a serial exaggerator.”
A majority of voters polled after the debate, however, gave the edge to Romney whose performance was smooth overall. On style, both candidates showed signs of nervousness at times, Romney blinking frequently as Obama critiqued his proposals, Obama glancing down at his notes when Romney was on the attack.
Both candidates likely boosted their presidential image, however, by giving lip service to working across the aisle and by claiming they would strive to help struggling middle class voters.
For more information and fact-check sourcing, see http://factcheck.org/2012/10/dubious-denver-debate-declarations/ and http://www.sacbee.com/2012/10/03/4879782/fact-check-presidential-debate.html.
To view a complete video or read a transcript of the full debate, see http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1012/81994.html