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Fact Ceck: Stumbles in latest presidential debate

By Calvin Woodward

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 09:03 a.m. HST, Oct 17, 2012

WASHINGTON >> In the rough-and-tumble of a town hall-style debate, not all of the presidential candidates' claims stood up to scrutiny Tuesday.

Yet again, President Barack Obama claimed that ending the Afghanistan and Iraq wars makes money available to "rebuild America," even though it doesn't. And he pointed to a string of job creation while ignoring the job losses that came before it, on his watch.

Republican Mitt Romney actually corrected some of the errant claims he's made before, while stretching the facts on the auto bailout he opposed.

A look at some of their claims:

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: "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 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 $4.00 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 it 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 on to 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 the 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 fast.


Associated Press writers Tom Raum, Jonathan Fahey, Tom Krisher, Stephen Ohlemacher and Andrew Taylor contributed to this report.

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HD36 wrote:
So, no matter who we elect, they'll be one damm good liar.
on October 16,2012 | 07:20PM
kailua000 wrote:
Thats the job of politicians. Lie Lie Lie to get elected and dont do what you promised. Its all political, no one cares, they just want power. Mickey Mouse would do a better job.
on October 16,2012 | 07:58PM
Aquarius1 wrote:
Yes. Don't like that about any candidate, "I will do this." Bullocks!
on October 16,2012 | 09:44PM
Malani wrote:
on October 17,2012 | 07:33AM
peanutgallery wrote:
The left can assail Romney's character all they want, but the facts say something completely different. Let's not forget it was Obama who complained about the staggering debt. He has increased it by a mile. Obama complained about dependence on foreign oil. He has increased our dependence. The facts speak for themselves. Obama has been a complete failure, unless you're on of the 46 new people getting food stamps, and you don't give a rip about foreign policy.
on October 17,2012 | 09:23AM
hapaguy wrote:
Regarding Romney's character, the man has none. Romney will say or do anything to get elected President. He changes positions depending on who he is speaking to. Romney's got more positions than the Kama Sutra. The people that know him best won't even vote for him. He was a horrible Governer. Under Governor Romney, Massachusetts: - went from 36th to 47th in job creation (at a time of overal US growth). - lost over 40,000 manufactruing jobs (twice the US average) - raised taxes on the middle class while cutting taxes for the wealthiest MA residents - MA's debt burden grow to the highest per person in the nation - MA's spending increased every year and he left office with a $1B deficit Massachusetts polls show Obama leading Romney by a whopping 27 points (57-30)! That says alot when you can't even win your own home state.....
on October 17,2012 | 10:09AM
808BigE wrote:
on October 17,2012 | 10:10AM
Jonas wrote:
Great point! He says he knows how to balance a budget since he is a businessman. But he leaves Mass in the hole! According to the Wall St Journal, 22% of the companies acquired by Bain Capital either filed for bankruptcy or were liquidated within 8 years after acquisition.
on October 17,2012 | 11:06AM
Toneyuki wrote:
Don't forget to check the mail. Media Matters has sent out new talking points. Those are soo yesterday.
on October 17,2012 | 05:30PM
hapaguy wrote:
Those are the facts not talking points. If you have evidence that shows otherwise, I challenge you to provide it....
on October 17,2012 | 10:14PM
Toneyuki wrote:
Hmmmmm, interesting. Reply to this but not to me providing FACTS below.
on October 19,2012 | 09:36PM
808BigE wrote:
What makes you think Romney will do much better? Obama has ties and relations to one of the most profitable Presidents in history, His cabinet is excellent, and he knows theres no simple plan. But what's Romney's? All I keep hearing from Romney is that he had wild success in private industry, and he's hoping that the same approach and tactics will work for a nation. He by no means has the vision and knowledge to sustain a national economy. Honestly, between Romney and Palin...I'd take Palin all day. She's an idiot, but at least she's not arrogant.
on October 17,2012 | 10:09AM
Jonas wrote:
"The left can assail Romney's character all they want, but the facts say something completely different." Do the facts REALLY say something different? This guy has flip-flopped on almost every major issue. Just last night, he said he supports growing the Pell Grant program. REALLY? On May 23rd, Romney released a white paper saying that he would reverse the growth in Pell Grant funding. In fact, in the paper he criticized Obama for doubling funding for Pell Grants. Take a look at his current stance on assault weapons, abortion, women's equal pay rights, Obamacare, taxes for the middle class, then compare them to his prior views on these subjects. You will see that he has completely reversed his stance. The worst part is that during the Republican debates he would criticize the other candidates who shared his former views. This got so bad that even Newt Gingrich called him a liar! I think his charactre speaks for itself. How can I trust someone who says anything to get elected, then reverse his stance after the election?
on October 17,2012 | 11:02AM
Jonas wrote:
On that same note, Romney last night defended himself against the fact that Bain Capital invests in companies in China, saying they were managed by a "blind trust." Okay, here's the problem with that: in his 1994 campaign against Edward Kennedy, he criticized the senator for using a blind trust to manage his investments. Romney called it "an age-old ruse." and said "you can always tell the blind trust what it can and cannot do." Like the guys at ESPN say "C'mon Man!"
on October 17,2012 | 11:12AM
hapaguy wrote:
Amen brother....
on October 17,2012 | 11:51AM
HD36 wrote:
on October 16,2012 | 11:17PM
Toneyuki wrote:
Somebody needs to fact check this article. It's full of LIES.

1. Auto industry. "probably.... " is NOT A FACT.

2. Energy. The Obama administration is doing everything it can to limit traditional energy. To say that it doesn't effect the prices of energy is shibai. Just look at your electric bill.

3. Taxes. The study that claimed "5 trillion" has been debunked and retracted. And they aren't Bush tax "cuts". They are rates. If they go back up that is a tax INCREASE.

on October 17,2012 | 06:23AM
hapaguy wrote:
Please cite your sources especially for your claim that the $5T has been debunked, and try not to use right wing sources like Limbaugh, Drudge, The Heritage Foundation, or The American Enterprise Institute.
on October 17,2012 | 08:24AM
hawaiikone wrote:
And use left wing sources instead? That's typical. If you don't like to hear something, flip the channel until someone sounds better.
on October 17,2012 | 03:19PM
hapaguy wrote:
Please tell me where in my reply to Toneyuki I cite any "left wing" sources? I just want to see him back up his claims. I see that you post a lot of right wing talking points. You care to provide some unbiased evidence backing Toneyuki's claims? Give it your best shot brother!
on October 17,2012 | 04:03PM
Toneyuki wrote:
Why? http://thf_media.s3.amazonaws.com/2012/pdf/bg2735.pdf

Just because a source is "right wing" doesn't make it false. But here you go.

So, if Romney raises tax revenue elsewhere over the next 10 years to offset the $4.8 trillion loss in revenue, then there is no “$5 trillion tax cut.” Both statements — Romney’s and Mitchell’s — are accurate. Only Obama’s claim that Romney “calls for a $5 trillion tax cut” is wrong.

Source http://factcheck.org/2012/10/the-facts-according-to-obama-and-romney-ads/

on October 17,2012 | 05:56PM
808BigE wrote:
Agreed. I felt like I was reading a blog throughout this article.
on October 17,2012 | 10:04AM
palani wrote:
Who fact checks the fact checkers?

Obama lied about the very real 50% reduction in federal oil and gas permits under his administration. The "fact checker" buys into Obama's assertion that gas prices were low at the start of his term because of the recession. The truth is, from 2000-2004, prices averaged under $2 per gallon, while from 2004-2008, they averaged under $3 per gallon. The President has aggressively opposed new drilling, transportation, and refining initiatives. This sends a message that supplies will be artificially constrained, leading to higher prices, consistent with Obama Energy Secretary Stehen Chu's statement that "[s]omehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe". Obama never answered the direct question from Romney as to whether he agreed with this objective.

Obama also skirted around his administration's coverup of the attack on our Libyan embassy resulting in the murder of our ambassador. Next week's debate will focus more on foreign policy, so he better practice his dance steps. Yes, Osama is dead, but so is our ambassador.

on October 17,2012 | 06:47AM
Malani wrote:
With Obama not coming up for air its a wonder that Romney even had a chance to speak. Obama knows if his mouth can go 2/40 he would not give a direct answer to any question asked of him. The problem is it does not bother Obama if he skirts around not answering because he hears only himself talking.
on October 17,2012 | 07:42AM
palani wrote:
True, and Obama managed to get 3 more minutes overall than Romney. I guess it takes more time to dance around the questions when you don't want to answer and you have a friendly moderator.
on October 17,2012 | 08:24AM
hapaguy wrote:
No it takes more time to explain something than it does to lie...
on October 17,2012 | 09:05AM
808BigE wrote:
Agreed. play the debate back. Romney only provided answer to 3 questions. The rest he just dodged, and ducked around (told stories, life experiences, "I'm a mormon", "I made a fortune in the private sector, and it should work for the country right?"). Fact is, that if a candidate stays on topic, the moderator has incentive to allow those extra 10-15 seconds here and there. so Romney's lack of structure and direction during his responses is his own downfall for losing those 3 minutes to obama.
on October 17,2012 | 10:03AM
Toneyuki wrote:
Obama interrupted Romney 28 times. And the biased hack of a moderator was debating Romney too.
on October 17,2012 | 05:59PM
hapaguy wrote:
She probably couldn't stand to hear any more of Romney's lies also.....
on October 17,2012 | 10:46PM
Toneyuki wrote:
But she didn't care about Obama's whoppers?

Romney didn't lie as was proved the next day, but regardless, it's not the moderators job to refute statements. It's the moderators job to make sure that the rules are followed. And equal time is allowed. (which she failed at too)

on October 19,2012 | 09:38PM
Jonas wrote:
And Romney answers every question asked of him? where are the details on his economic plan? Why do we have to wait until AFTER the election to hear of them? If he's truly concerned about 100% of the citizenry and his plan will save us all, then why not share it?
on October 17,2012 | 10:29AM
Toneyuki wrote:


You may not agree with him, but it's false to say that there aren't details.

on October 17,2012 | 06:04PM
hapaguy wrote:
Wall Street Speculators drive up the price of gas not anything our Presidents do. Currently, Wall Street speculators control about 80% of the oil futures market. When the ecoomy collapsed, demand went down, when demand went down, the gas speculators stopped betting therefore prices went down. So Obama did NOT lie when he said gas prices went down due to the recession Bush created. On July 30, 2008 the average US gas price was $4.12 per gallon which dropped precipitiosly to under $2 per gallon (US average) on Dec 28 ,2008. You yourself said that gas prices have been rising about a dollar a gallon every 4 years so using your own figures we should be at approx. $4 per gallon average for 2008-2012 and approx. $5 per gallon for 2012-2016. The truth is that gas will ever be cheap again. The tipping point for oil has passed...
on October 17,2012 | 08:59AM
Toneyuki wrote:
Actually the two main reasons that gas prices are high are 1. taxes. and 2. That the envirowhackos and the EPA have stopped new refineries. If we built 10 new state of the art refineries across the country prices would drop like a rock.
on October 17,2012 | 06:06PM
hapaguy wrote:
Wrong again Toneyuki. Taxes account for only 28% of the gas price. Let me see if I can explain this to you in a way you can understand since you don't seem to be the brightest bulb in the pack. Oil prices are set by commodities traders who buy and sell futures contracts on the commodities exchanges.Commodities traders create a self-fulfilling prophecy by bidding up oil futures prices. When traders think oil will be high, they bid it up even higher. This causes rising gas prices.With regards to building new refineries, who is going to build them? The oil companies won't build them because it is in their best interest to keep the refining market tight. Why spend the money?
on October 17,2012 | 10:44PM
Jonas wrote:
According the the Bureau of Land Management, from 2008 - 2011 drilling permits are down 35%.
on October 17,2012 | 10:48AM
hapaguy wrote:
Yeah I see that 35% figure on the USA Today Fact Check. But the bigger question is down from what? According to BLM, If you average the permits issued under Bush's Presidency you get approx. 3,885 permits/yr. Under Obama the average has been 4,274 permits/yr issued. Are they using Bush's peak year of 2004 to say drilling permits are down? Permits issued is really a red herring by the Repubs anyway. Whats more important is "New Wells Started". The average New Wells Started for Bush is approx 2,744 wells/year compared to Obama's 3,231 new wells/year.
on October 17,2012 | 11:49AM
Jonas wrote:
good point!
on October 17,2012 | 12:04PM
Taimalie12 wrote:
Obama/Biden 2012!
on October 17,2012 | 08:30AM
Toneyuki wrote:
Obama/Biden Unemployed in 2013!!!!
on October 17,2012 | 06:08PM
st1d wrote:
i thought it was a strange moment when obama asked the moderator to read a transcript and she pulled it out and read it. if that is not proof of collusion, what is. and even reading it, she got it wrong.
on October 17,2012 | 11:47AM
hapaguy wrote:
I'm glad she proved Romney is a liar. If you ask me the media has been too soft on all the Republican liars over the last decade or so......
on October 17,2012 | 11:53AM
Jonas wrote:
on October 17,2012 | 12:03PM
hawaiikone wrote:
You do realize his comment is questioning Obama's fairness, or lack thereof.
on October 17,2012 | 03:22PM
Toneyuki wrote:
She "proved he is a liar"? HAHAHAHAHA Do you mean about the TERRORIST ATTACK in Libya? Romney was RIGHT.


on October 17,2012 | 06:13PM
hapaguy wrote:
Romney accused Obama of not calling it a "Terrorist Attack", which Candy Crowley verified on the transcript that Obama did call it "...an act of terror..." in his speech that he gave the night of the attack. So what was Romney right about?
on October 17,2012 | 10:25PM
Toneyuki wrote:
spin all you want he never called it an act of terror. And for over a week after word he and his administration REFUSED to acknowledge who was really responsible.
on October 19,2012 | 09:40PM
hapaguy wrote:
The Star Advertiser needs to "Spell Check" the title of this article....lol
on October 17,2012 | 12:19PM
Jonas wrote:
lol - you mean "spell ceck"
on October 17,2012 | 02:50PM
hapaguy wrote:
This is how Republicans see things: XYZ Media: "Mr President what color is this apple? The President: "It appears to be red." Right wing echo chamber: "The President never said it was red!" Right wing trolls on media websites: "The President lies! It's a fact that he never said it was red because I saw it on Drudge". XYZ Media: "According to our transcript, the President did say the apple was red." Right wing trolls: "There goes the lamestream media again, backing President Obama...."
on October 17,2012 | 04:29PM
Toneyuki wrote:
Problem is that the XYZ media was holding up a banana.
on October 19,2012 | 09:42PM
KKSAKO wrote:
What is missing in this article is coverage on Obama's view of when he finally called the Libya incident an act of terrorism. Both Obama & the moderator came up with a factually incorrect account. Was there a cover up by bending the facts? This was not even mentioned in this article even though it is one of the most important issues of the debate that night. Why? It is a working example of character (or the lack of) during a crisis which almost every president will face. The real news here is not the debate. It is the coverage. I wish the media would act more professionally & leave their politics behind when reporting. The Star Advertiser does not have to be like FOX or MSNBC. I prefer apolitical coverage. Frank Fasi used to complain about the quality of the news coverage in the Advertiser. He said that the only use he had for that paper is to swat flies with it. He preferred the Wall Street Journal. I hope the Star Advertiser can find articles that are professionally reported. Bias is revealed not only by what is covered, but by what is obviously ignored. This article's lack of coverage of an event that I witnessed live is much less than professional. It is disgraceful.
on October 17,2012 | 10:17PM
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