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REAL WORLD EVENT DISCUSSIONS
Fact Checking the Debate
Thursday, October 4, 2012 11:11 AM
Gettin' old, but still a hippie at heart...
Quote:Fact Check: Job creation versus unemployment
No issue has been hotter throughout the run-up to the election than jobs -- and both candidates took pains to tackle the issue during their first debate Wednesday at the University of Denver.
"Over the last 30 months, we've seen 5 million jobs in the private sector created," Democratic incumbent Barack Obama said.
In 2009, Obama's first full year in office, people in states across the country were losing their jobs at a startling clip. In Ohio, the unemployment rate was 10.6%.
But over the next few years, the nation saw slow increases in employment in the retail, education and health care sectors. Today, most states are gaining jobs. The key swing state of Ohio now has a 7.2% unemployment rate.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics confirms that a lot of jobs have been created under Obama's leadership -- 4.4 million by the bureau's latest count. What Obama did not say, however, was that the nation shed 4.3 million jobs during the early days of his term, and that the net gain since he took the oath of office in January 2009 is just 125,000 jobs.
Many voters blame that initial weakness on the fractured economy Obama inherited from his Republican predecessor, former President George W. Bush. But in terms of sheer numbers, Obama's assertion that he created 5 million jobs does not tell the whole story and is therefore false.
Also during the debate, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney said that 23 million people are out of work in the nation.
"There is suffering in this country," said Romney. "And we talk about evidence. Look at the evidence of the last four years. It's absolutely extraordinary. We've got 23 million people out of work."
When the recession began, workers in every category lost jobs, but those in the middle and higher wage groups lost more of them.
And when the jobs started coming back, the lower-wage jobs came back stronger. That means that, while the nation has replaced lost jobs, many of those new jobs pay less than the old ones did.
To reach his 23 million figure, Romney counts everyone who is unemployed, has stopped looking for work or is underemployed -- working for less money than before or able to find only a part-time job.
Romney is stretching his figures to the breaking point -- which makes his claim false.
Fact check: Oil and natural gas production under Obama: The facts show, and President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney agree, that U.S. production of oil and gas has increased over the past four years.
But is this rise because of Obama, or "in spite of his policies," as the former Massachusetts governor said at Wednesday night's debate?
"All of the increase in natural gas and oil has happened on private land, not on government land," Romney said. "On government land, your administration has cut the number of permits and licenses in half."
The Republican nominee's assertions can be broken down into two parts. The first has to do whether "all of the increases in natural gas and oil" under Obama are attributable to drilling on private land, rather than federal and Indian lands and offshore areas.
This statement raises a few questions. Firstly, has there been more oil and gas production, relatively, on private lands versus federal lands? Secondly, does the federal government, through regulations and license approvals, have any impact on oil and gas production on private land? And last, can "all" the increase in production be tied to production on private lands?
There is no dispute that natural gas production on private lands has increased. Adam Sieminski, head of the U.S. Energy Information Administration, told a congressional subcommittee in August that it went up "by 16.4 billion cubic feet per day" from fiscal year 2005 to fiscal year 2011, which ended September 30, 2011 -- a period that includes parts of the administrations of both President George W. Bush and Obama.
Meanwhile, natural gas production on federal and Indian lands has steadily fallen, a trend that began around fall 2002. This is due to a consistent decrease in offshore gas drilling, though such gas production onshore, on federal lands, is actually higher now than it was at the end of the Bush administration.
Overall, the percentage of U.S.-produced natural gas from federal lands -- relative to that produced from private ones -- fell significantly over the past eight years, from 35% to 21%, reported Sieminski.
Oil production is more a mixed bag. On state and private lands, oil production was actually going down in the 2000s, leveled off between fiscal years 2007 and 2010, then went up by 385,000 barrels a day in fiscal year 2011, when the most recent data are available, Sieminski said.
On federal and Indian lands, as well as federally approved offshore drilling sites, oil production went up from 1.6 million barrels per day to 2 million barrels per day between fiscal years 2008 and 2010. But it dropped to 1.8 million barrels per day for the last fiscal year available, a decrease that the U.S. Energy Information Administration attributes to the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Despite the one-year drop in production, oil production on federal and Indian lands from 2009 through 2011 totaled 2.027 million barrels. That's an average of 675,000 barrels per year during Obama's term, compared to an average annual production of 609,000 barrels annually during Bush's last term.
Now, moving onto the second part of Romney's statement -- that Obama's "administration has cut the number of permits and licenses in half."
During the last three fiscal years totally under Bush, there were 9,661 "new leases" granted for federal lands. For the three most recent fiscal years (which includes a few months of Bush's administration), there were 5,568 such new leases. This works out to a 42.4% decrease.
Take the same comparable periods for drilling permits on federal lands. There were 20,479 for the last three years under Bush, then 12,821 for the most recent three including much of Obama's first term. This is a 37.4% decrease.
There has been more oil and natural production on private lands than in federally controlled areas. So Romney is correct in pointing out an imbalance.
But it is an overstatement to say that "all of the increase" has been on private lands -- since, by definition, new permits and licenses have been granted for federal lands (bringing in more gas and oil).
Romney's claim that Obama's administration has "cut the number of permits and licenses in half" for federal lands is also not on the mark.
True, there has been a significant drop -- one tied, in part, to the unprecedented Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Yet the actual numbers of permits and licenses haven't been "cut ... in half." As mentioned above (and including data from part of the Bush administration), there has been a 42% decrease in leases and 37% decrease in drilling permits -- not 50%, as Romney implied.
Even the Institute for Energy Research acknowledged that "this decrease isn't a result of President Obama's policies exclusively, but it is the result of decades and policies that have systematically reduced energy production on federal lands."
Fact Check: Would repeal of Obamacare hike seniors' drug costs?
Health care was a huge topic during Wednesday's presidential debate. President Barack Obama said the repeal of Obamacare would cause seniors' prescription drug payments to rise.
"We were actually able to lower prescription drug costs for seniors by an average of $600," Obama said during his debate with GOP challenger Mitt Romney. He went on to say that if Obamacare were repealed, "those seniors right away are going to be paying $600 more in prescription care."
Nearly 5.4 million Medicare recipients saved more than $4.1 billion on prescription drugs as a result of the Affordable Care Act, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in an August news release.
"Seniors in the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap known as the 'donut hole' have saved an average of $768," she said.
The law helps make Medicare prescription drug coverage more affordable.
People with Medicare can pay a monthly premium for outpatient prescription drug coverage. In 2010, enrollees paid 100% of their drug costs up to $310. For costs above that figure, they paid 25% of the total until that total reached $2,800.
Once that figure had been reached, beneficiaries were responsible for the full cost of their drugs until they had spent $4,550 -- after which, their share usually dropped to 5%. That coverage gap is referred to as the "donut hole."
The Affordable Care Act changed the formula.
In 2010, Medicare recipients who hit the prescription drug donut hole received a $250 rebate.
Last year, people with Medicare who reached the donut hole got a 50 percent discount on covered brand-name drugs and a discount on generic drugs.
Recipients will pay less and less until 2020, when they will be responsible for only 25% of the cost of their drugs until they reach the yearly out-of-pocket spending limit, according to a 2010 posting on healthcare.gov by Jonathan Blum, director for the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Conclusion: Seniors, on average, would pay the $600 cited by Obama -- and then some, according to Medicare figures, if the Affordable Care Act was not in place.
Fact check: Are half of 'green' energy firms helped by stimulus out of business?
Republican nominee Mitt Romney has frequently railed against efforts championed by President Barack Obama steering money to promote "green energy."
He continued that line of attack Wednesday night, decrying what he described as "$90 billion in breaks to the green energy world."
"These businesses, many of them have gone out of business -- I think about half of them -- of the ones that have been invested in have gone out of business," the former Massachusetts governor said.
So are Romney's assertions correct, both about the size of the "green energy" program and what happened to those companies that got money from it?
The Department of Energy proudly touts that the 2009 stimulus authorized $90 billion "in government investments and tax incentives to lay the foundation for the clean energy economy of our future."
But not all that money has been spent, and not all of it -- in fact, not even half of it -- is being directed to upstart green businesses.
Part of 2009's much larger $787 billion stimulus package, this money went toward things like the weatherization of more than 770,000 homes and cleaning 688 square miles of land formerly used for Cold War-era nuclear testing.
Many individual companies did benefit directly. The government website that tracks stimulus spending lists 27,226 individual awards under the "Energy/Environment" section, totaling just shy of $34 billion.
The Department of Energy this June specified "33 clean energy projects" of a larger scale as part of its "loans program." Of those, financing had been "closed" on 20 of them. The intent was to promote new technologies and approaches, not necessarily old ones.
There are also other things such as high speed rail and smart meters -- which are listed elsewhere, under "Infrastructure," as part of the same overarching stimulus legislation. Accounting for things like that, a report from the Brookings Institution non-partisan think tank this April tabbed the total green stimulus spending at $51 billion.
Then, there's the matter of whether half of those companies that have gotten money "have gone out of business."
A few recipients of the government funds have hit hard times. The most well-known of them is solar panel maker Solyndra, which received a $535 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy. Two years later, it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Fact Check: Oil and natural gas production under Obama
Still, it is unclear where Romney got his figure that "half" those businesses are no longer operating.
The Energy Department cites several success stories like one of the world's largest wind farms in eastern Oregon, massive solar power plants in Arizona and grants to Ford to produce fuel-efficient cars.
In fact, of the 28 funded projects -- involving 23 companies -- listed in a 2012 congressional report, only four involve businesses that were either sold or are not in operation.
It is fair to say that the 2009 stimulus authorized $90 billion for green energy, as Romney asserted. Whether or not one terms these as "breaks" is subjective, and one shouldn't assume that all the funds went to specific businesses like Solyndra.
Most of the large projects that benefited from the Department of Energy loan program remain in operation -- contrary to Romney's assertion that "almost half" of them had closed.
Fact Check: Is Donald Trump a small business?
President Barack Obama invoked Donald Trump's name during Wednesday's presidential debate, claiming that GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney would consider the mogul's empire a small business.
"Under Governor Romney's definition, there are a whole bunch of millionaires and billionaires who are small businesses," President Obama said. "Donald Trump is a small business. Now, I know Donald Trump doesn't like to think of himself as small anything -- but that's how you define small businesses if you're getting business income."
While there is no universally accepted definition of a small business, the federal government defines it as any business that employs fewer than 500 people.
The Trump Organization employs 22,000 people. But Trump also runs a number of other companies that employ fewer than 500, meaning that -- under the federal government's definition -- he qualifies as a small business.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, which uses the 500-worker maximum in its definition, such firms employ half of all private-sector workers and pay 44% of the total U.S. private payroll. In 2009, there were 27.5 million businesses in the nation, 99.7% of which were small firms.
IRS data on the highest-income people in the country underscores that small business does not necessarily mean small profits. Of the top 400 people — who got $19.8 billion in S corporation and partnership net income in 2009 — 237 count as small businesses.
An analysis by the Urban Institute-Brookings Tax Policy Center finds that extending tax cuts for people who make more than $250,000 per year ($200,000 for single filers) would disproportionately help the richest taxpayers: 82% of the cut would go to people with more than $1 million in adjusted gross income, who would get an average tax cut of $164,000 apiece.
Romney's plan does not single out small businesses for special treatment. His plan attempts to lower taxes on all businesses -- big or small.
Conclusion: While Romney's plan does not define who is or is not a small business, some of Donald Trump's companies would qualify as a small business because they have fewer than 500 employees. http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/politics/fact-check/index.html
Quote: President Barack Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney spun one-sided stories in their first presidential debate, not necessarily bogus, but not the whole truth.
They made some flat-out flubs, too. The rise in health insurance premiums has not been the slowest in 50 years, as Obama stated. Far from it. And there are not 23 million unemployed, as Romney asserted.
Here's a look at some of their claims and how they stack up with the facts:
OBAMA: "I've proposed a specific $4 trillion deficit reduction plan. ... The way we do it is $2.50 for every cut, we ask for $1 in additional revenue."
THE FACTS: In promising $4 trillion, Obama is already banking more than $2 trillion from legislation enacted along with Republicans last year that cut agency operating budgets and capped them for 10 years. He also claims more than $800 billion in war savings that would occur anyway. And he uses creative bookkeeping to hide spending on Medicare reimbursements to doctors. Take those "cuts" away and Obama's $2.50/$1 ratio of spending cuts to tax increases shifts significantly more in the direction of tax increases.
Obama's February budget offered proposals that would cut deficits over the coming decade by $2 trillion instead of $4 trillion. Of that deficit reduction, tax increases accounted for $1.6 trillion. He promises relatively small spending cuts of $597 billion from big federal benefit programs like Medicare and Medicaid. He also proposed higher spending on infrastructure projects.
ROMNEY: Obama's health care plan "puts in place an unelected board that's going to tell people ultimately what kind of treatments they can have. I don't like that idea."
THE FACTS: Romney is referring to the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a panel of experts that would have the power to force Medicare cuts if costs rise beyond certain levels and Congress fails to act. But Obama's health care law explicitly prohibits the board from rationing care, shifting costs to retirees, restricting benefits or raising the Medicare eligibility age. So the board doesn't have the power to dictate to doctors what treatments they can prescribe.
Romney seems to be resurrecting the assertion that Obama's law would lead to rationing, made famous by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's widely debunked allegation that it would create "death panels."
The board has yet to be named, and its members would ultimately have to be confirmed by the Senate. Health care inflation has been modest in the last few years, so cuts would be unlikely for most of the rest of this decade.
OBAMA: "Over the last two years, health care premiums have gone up—it's true—but they've gone up slower than any time in the last 50 years. So we're already beginning to see progress. In the meantime, folks out there with insurance, you're already getting a rebate."
THE FACTS: Not so, concerning premiums. Obama is mixing overall health care spending, which has been growing at historically low levels, and health insurance premiums, which have continued to rise faster than wages and overall economic growth. Premiums for job-based family coverage have risen by nearly $2,400 since 2009 when Obama took office, according to the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. In 2011, premiums jumped by 9 percent. This year's 4 percent increase was more manageable, but the price tag for family coverage stands at $15,745, with employees paying more than $4,300 of that.
When it comes to insurance rebates under Obama's health care law, less than 10 percent of people with private health insurance are benefiting.
More than 160 million Americans under 65 have private insurance through their jobs and by buying their own policies. According to the administration, about 13 million people will benefit from rebates. And nearly two-thirds of that number will only be entitled to a share of it, since they are covered under job-based plans where their employer pays most of the premium and will get most of the rebate.
ROMNEY on the failure of Obama's economic policy: "And the proof of that is 23 million people out of work. The proof of that is 1 out of 6 people in poverty. The proof of that is we've gone from 32 million on food stamps to 47 million on food stamps. The proof of that is that 50 percent of college graduates this year can't find work."
THE FACTS: The number of unemployed is 12.5 million, not 23 million. Romney was also counting 8 million people who are working part time but would like a full-time job and 2.6 million who have stopped looking for work, either because they are discouraged or because they are going back to school or for other reasons.
He got the figure closer to right earlier in the debate, leaving out only the part-timers when he said the U.S. has "23 million people out of work or stopped looking for work." But he was wrong in asserting that Obama came into office "facing 23 million people out of work." At the start of Obama's presidency, 12 million were out of work.
His claim that half of college graduates can't find work now also was problematic. A Northeastern University analysis for The Associated Press found that a one-fourth of recent graduates were probably unemployed and another quarter were underemployed, which means working in jobs that didn't make full use of their skills or experience.
OBAMA: It's important "that we take some of the money that we're saving as we wind down two wars to rebuild America."
THE FACTS: This oft-repeated claim is based on a fiscal fiction. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were paid for mostly with borrowed money, so stopping them doesn't create a new pool of available cash that can be used for something else, like rebuilding America. It just slows down the government's borrowing.
ROMNEY: "At the same time, gasoline prices have doubled under the president. Electric rates are up."
THE FACTS: He's right that the average price has doubled, and a little more, since Obama was sworn in. But presidents have almost no influence on gasoline prices, and certainly not in the near term. Gasoline prices are set on financial exchanges around the world and are based on a host of factors, most importantly the price of crude oil used to make gasoline, the amount of finished gasoline ready to be shipped and the capacity of refiners to make enough to meet market demand.
Retail electricity prices have risen since Obama took office—barely. They've grown by an average of less than 1 percent per year, less than the rate of inflation and slower than the historical growth in electricity prices. The unexpectedly modest rise in electricity prices is because of the plummeting cost of natural gas, which is used to generate electricity.
OBAMA: "Gov. Romney's central economic plan calls for a $5 trillion tax cut—on top of the extension of the Bush tax cuts, that's another trillion dollars—and $2 trillion in additional military spending that the military hasn't asked for. That's $8 trillion. How we pay for that, reduce the deficit, and make the investments that we need to make, without dumping those costs onto middle-class Americans, I think is one of the central questions of this campaign."
THE FACTS: Obama's claim that Romney wants to cut taxes by $5 trillion doesn't add up. Presumably, Obama was talking about the effect of Romney's tax plan over 10 years, which is common in Washington. But Obama's math doesn't take into account Romney's entire plan.
Romney proposes to reduce income tax rates by 20 percent and eliminate the estate tax and the alternative minimum tax. The Tax Policy Center, a Washington research group, says that would reduce federal tax revenues by $465 billion in 2015, which would add up to about $5 trillion over 10 years.
However, Romney says he wants to pay for the tax cuts by reducing or eliminating tax credits, deductions and exemptions. The goal is a simpler tax code that raises the same amount of money as the current system but does it in a more efficient manner.
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.
ROMNEY: "What would I cut from spending? Well, first of all, I will eliminate all programs by this test, if they pass it: Is the program so critical it's worth borrowing money from China to pay for it?"
THE FACTS: China continues to be portrayed by Romney and many other Republicans as the poster child for runaway federal deficits. It's true that China is the largest foreign holder of U.S. debt, but it only represents about an 8 percent stake. And China has recently been decreasing its holdings, according to the Treasury Department. Some two-thirds of the $16 trillion national debt is owed to the federal government, with the largest single stake the Federal Reserve, as well as American investors and the Social Security Trust Fund.
OBAMA: "Independent studies looking at this said the only way to meet Gov. Romney's pledge of not ... adding to the deficit is by burdening middle-class families. The average middle-class family with children would pay about $2,000 more."
THE FACTS: That's just one scenario. Obama's claim relies on a study by the Tax Policy Center, a Washington research group. The study, however, is more nuanced than Obama indicated.
The study concludes it would be impossible for Romney to meet all of his stated goals without shifting some of the tax burden from people who make more than $200,000 to people who make less.
In one scenario, the study says, Romney's proposal could result in a $2,000 tax increase for families who make less than $200,000 and have children.
Romney says his plan wouldn't raise taxes on anyone, and his campaign points to several studies by conservative think tanks that dispute the Tax Policy Center's findings. Most of the conservative studies argue that Romney's tax plan would stimulate economic growth, generating additional tax revenue without shifting any of the tax burden to the middle class. Congress, however, doesn't use those kinds of projections when it estimates the effect of tax legislation.
ROMNEY: "Right now, the CBO says up to 20 million people will lose their insurance as Obamacare goes into effect next year."
THE FACTS: Romney is making selective use of the Congressional Budget Office's March findings on how employers might adjust to the new health law. The neutral Washington scorekeeper actually gave Congress four scenarios—ranging from a net increase in employer-provided coverage for 3 million people to the decrease of 20 million that Romney cited.
Here's why: The law offers tax incentives for companies with more than 50 workers that provide coverage and penalties for those that don't. The analysis says it's difficult to say how companies will behave, with some making a purely economic calculation and others concluding that continuing coverage may be essential to pleasing workers in a competitive environment. "As a result, any projections of those effects are clearly quite uncertain," the study's authors concluded.
ROMNEY on cutting the deficit: "Obamacare's on my list. ... I'm going to stop the subsidy to PBS. ... I'll make government more efficient."
THE FACTS: Romney has promised to balance the budget in eight years to 10 years, but he hasn't offered a complete plan. Instead, he's promised a set of principles, some of which—like increasing Pentagon spending and restoring more than $700 billion in cuts that Democrats made in Medicare over the coming decade—work against his goal. He also has said he will not consider tax increases.
He pledges to shrink the government to 20 percent of the size of the economy, as opposed to more than 23 percent of gross domestic product now, by the end of his first term. The Romney campaign estimates that would require cuts of $500 billion from the 2016 budget alone. He also has pledged to cut tax rates by 20 percent, paying for them by eliminating tax breaks for the wealthiest and through economic growth.
To fulfill his promise, then, Romney 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.
But he's offered only a few modest examples of government programs he'd be willing to squeeze, like subsidies to PBS and Amtrak. He does want to repeal Obama's big health care law, but that law is actually forecast to reduce the deficit.
ROMNEY: "Simpson-Bowles, the president should have grabbed that."
OBAMA: "That's what we've done, made some adjustments to it, and we're putting it before Congress right now, a $4 trillion plan."
THE FACTS: At first, the president did largely ignore the recommendations made by his deficit commission headed by Democrat Erskine Bowles and Republican Alan Simpson. He later incorporated some of the proposals, largely the less controversial ones. He did not endorse some of the politically troublesome recommendations, such as trimming popular tax deductions like the one for home mortgage interest. http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_21696057/fact-check-presidential-debate-missteps?source=most_viewed
Quote: Romney: “Health-care costs have gone up by $2,500 a family.”
Factcheck.org, the Annenberg Public Policy Center’s accuracy policy, say this is false. They cite a Kaiser Family Foundation survey (PDF) that found that between 2010 and 2011, the average health-insurance premium cost for families increased by $1,300, not $2,500, and point out that even between 2009 and 2011 the increase in average cost was only $1,700.
Romney: “I’m not going to cut education funding. I don’t have a plan to cut education funding.”
Trip Gabriel at The New York Times notes that, contrary to this statement, Mitt Romney has suggested in the past that he would, in fact, cut the education budget. Back in the spring, reporters heard Romney tell a group of Florida donors that, as president, he would merge another federal agency with the Education Department, “or perhaps make it a heck of a lot smaller.” While the Romney-approved House budget does not specify how cuts would affect particular federal programs, the White House’s own study (PDF) on the budget finds that it drops 200,000 children from Head Start as well as other early education programs, and gets rid of 38,000 teachers and aides at underprivileged schools as well as 27,000 special-education teachers.
Obama: “I put forward a specific $4 trillion deficit-reduction plan. It’s on a website. You can look at all the numbers. What cuts we make and what revenue we raise.”
Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler argues that this statement isn’t exactly true. First of all, $1 trillion of the $4 trillion the president says his budget plan will cut from the deficit was already reached a year ago, so that’s $1 trillion that’s already cut regardless of who wins the election. Kessler also points out that Obama’s $4 trillion figure includes $848 billion saved by ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—money that, since ending the wars have been in the works for a while, the administration had never intended to spend in the first place. “Imagine someone borrowing $50,000 a year for college—and then declaring that they have an extra $500,000 to spend over the next decade once they graduate,” is how Kessler explains it.
Obama: “Governor Romney’s central economic plan calls for a $5 trillion tax cut on top of the extension of the Bush tax cuts, so that is another trillion dollars. And $2 trillion in additional military spending that the military hasn’t asked for. That is $8 trillion.”
ABC News’s Amy Bingham and Jon Karl point to Mitt Romney’s own campaign website (PDF) to counter the president’s argument here, calling it “mostly fiction.” Despite Romney’s repeated insistence that his tax plan would be “revenue-neutral,” the only real reason Obama’s claim that his opponent would add $5 trillion to the debt isn’t exactly true is because Mitt has never specified how his tax plan would be paid for. So, as Bingham explains, “Romney’s tax plan could add $5 trillion to the deficit. But that is an estimate on an incomplete tax plan ... The issue is that no one knows what those provisions are just yet.”
Romney: President Obama brought up a nonpartisan Tax Policy Center Study (which has been declared mostly true) that says Mitt Romney’s “revenue-neutral” plan to cut taxes for all Americans by 20 percent is impossible without raising taxes on the middle class.
In response to this, Romney claimed five other studies prove the legitimacy of his plan.
The Washington Post, Salon, and Politifact all say this claim is false because these so-called studies are not exactly studies. “One was a Wall Street Journal article from Martin Feldstein, a Harvard economist and an adviser to the Romney campaign; one was from Harvey Rosen, an economist at the Griswold Center for Economic Policy Studies at Princeton University; one was by Matt Jensen, an economist with the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank; and two were Wall Street Journal editorials,” Politifact explains.
Obama: Romney will turn Medicare into a “voucher program.”
Factcheck.org disputes this. “The fact is, [Romney’s plan] is structured the same as the system Obama’s health-care law sets up for subsidizing private insurance for persons under the age 65,” the site argues.
Romney: “On Medicare for current retirees, [Obama’s] cutting $716 billion from the program.”
PolitiFact says this claim—a major talking point in the Denver debate—is half true. While $716 is not a made-up number, it refers to how much the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, would take away from Medicare spending—mostly to hospitals and insurers—over 10 years. Obamacare does not, as Romney insinuated, take $716 billion away from current Medicare recipients. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/10/04/obama-vs-romney-presidential-debate-fact-check-who-lied.html
Quote: $5 Trillion Tax Cut: The president said Romney was proposing a $5 trillion tax cut and Romney said he wasn’t. The president is off base here — Romney says his rate cuts and tax eliminations would be offset and the deficit wouldn’t increase.
To be clear, Romney has proposed cutting personal federal income tax rates across the board by 20 percent, in addition to extending the tax cuts enacted early in the Bush administration. He also proposes to eliminate the estate tax permanently, repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax, and eliminate taxes on interest, capital gains and dividends for taxpayers making under $200,000 a year in adjusted gross income.
By themselves, those cuts would, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, lower federal tax liability by “about $480 billion in calendar year 2015” compared with current tax policy, with Bush cuts left in place. The Obama campaign has extrapolated that figure out over 10 years, coming up with a $5 trillion figure over a decade.
However, Romney always has said he planned to offset that massive cut with equally massive reductions in tax preferences to broaden the tax base, thus losing no revenue and not increasing the deficit. So to that extent, the president is incorrect: Romney is not proposing a $5 trillion reduction in taxes.
The Impossible Plan
However, Romney continued to struggle to explain how he could possibly offset such a large loss of revenue without shifting the burden away from upper-income taxpayers, who benefit disproportionately from across-the-board rate cuts and especially from elimination of the estate tax (which falls only on estates exceeding $5.1 million left by any who die this year). The Tax Policy Center concluded earlier this year that it wasn’t mathematically possible for a plan such as Romney’s to cut rates as he promised without either favoring the wealthy or increasing the federal deficit.
Except for saying that his plan would bring in the same amount of money “when you account for growth,” Romney offered no new explanation for how he might accomplish all he’s promised. He just repeated those promises in some of the strongest terms yet.
But he didn’t say how he’d pull off all those things at once.
‘Six Other Studies’
When the president referred to the Tax Policy Center’s criticisms, Romney claimed it was contradicted by several others.
That’s not quite true, as we previously reported when the count was at five. We found that two of those “studies” were blog items by Romney backers, and none was nonpartisan.
The only one of those “studies” by someone not advising Romney was done by Harvey Rosen, a Princeton economics professor who once served as chairman of President George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers.
Rosen concluded that Romney could pull off his tax plan without losing revenue assuming an extra 3 percent “growth effect” to the economy resulting from Romney’s rate cuts. That’s an extremely aggressive assumption, and in conflict with recent experience. Despite Bush’s large tax cuts in 2001 and 2003, for example, real GDP grew by 3 percent or more for only two of his eight years in office. The average of the year-to-year changes was just over 2 percent.
Furthermore, Bush’s cuts reduced the total tax burden on the economy because they were not offset by base-broadening measures. In theory, at least, Romney’s revenue-neutral rate cuts would have even less of a stimulative effect than Bush’s cuts did.
Overselling the Health Care Law
Obama wrongly said that over the last two years, health care premiums have “gone up slower than any time in the last 50 years.” That’s true of health care spending, not premiums. But even if Obama had worded the claim correctly, he still would have been off in suggesting the Affordable Care Act had caused the slower growth in spending.
The growth in employer-sponsored family premiums has fluctuated in recent years. It went up just 4 percent from 2011 to 2012, according to an annual survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, but it increased 9 percent the year before, a big jump from the mere 3 percent increase between 2009 and 2010. Clearly the growth rate over the last two years isn’t a 50-year low — it was sitting around 5 percent from 2007 to 2009. However, the growth of health care costs is at a 50-year low for the past two years.
President Bill Clinton used this statistic, correctly, in his speech at the Democratic National Convention, also implying that the federal health care law deserved credit. But as we said then, most of the law hasn’t even been implemented yet. And experts say it’s the sluggish economy that’s mainly responsible for the slower rate of spending. As the Washington Post reported, experts with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said that many lost employer-sponsored insurance when they lost their jobs, and other individuals chose to “forgo health-care services they could not afford.”
The New York Times quoted experts saying that consumers’ and medical professionals’ behavior could be changing in anticipation of the law, but it was still the economy that was the leading factor.
As for that increase in health care premiums, experts told us the federal health care law has had a limited impact on those, too, but the impact was to increase costs. They said the law was responsible for a 1 percent to 3 percent increase last year because of more generous coverage requirements.
Romney repeatedly claimed that a new government board was “going to tell people ultimately what kind of treatments they can have.” Not true. It could make some binding recommendations about such things as what drugs or medical devices would be paid for by Medicare, but it has no legal power to dictate treatment or ration care.
The board is a 15-member panel that’s tasked with finding ways to slow the growth of Medicare spending. So, its work concerns Medicare, not everyone seeking health care. And, according to the law, the board can’t touch treatments or otherwise “ration” care, or restrict benefits.
What’s officially called the Independent Payment Advisory Board, made up of appointed health care experts, medical professionals, and consumer representatives, would make binding recommendations to reduce the growth of spending. Congress could override them with a three-fifths majority in each house.
An analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation determined that the IPAB was limited to finding savings from “Medicare Advantage, the Part D prescription drug program, skilled nursing facility, home health, dialysis, ambulance and ambulatory surgical center services, and durable medical equipment.”
5 million jobs?
Obama claimed that “over the last 30 months, we’ve seen 5 million jobs in the private sector created.”
Obama’s figure is nearly half a million jobs short, according to current Bureau of Labor Statistics figures. But he’s including in his count a preliminary revision of jobs figures that BLS will not finalize until next year.
The current BLS numbers are based on monthly surveys of businesses and government entities and count how many workers are on the payroll. Those figures show that the number of private-sector jobs grew by 4.63 million between February 2010 and August of this year.
But BLS often revises those figures. Each year, the agency looks over companies’ tax records in an effort to get a more accurate number, a process that takes several months. In late September, BLS released a preliminary estimate for its revised numbers, adding 453,000 private-sector jobs to its count for the time period between April 2011 and March 2012. BLS will release its final numbers in February.
The addition of the preliminary estimate brings the number of private-sectors jobs to more than 5 million.
Obama ‘Doubled’ Deficit?
It’s not true that Obama “doubled” the deficit. He inherited a $1.2 trillion deficit and deficits have remained at or above that level, as Romney said, every year since then. Romney is right, however, that Obama has not kept his promise to cut the deficit in half.
Here’s the budget history in brief: The 2009 fiscal year began Oct. 1, 2008, when George W. Bush was president, and ended Sept. 30, 2009 with Obama as president. By the time Obama took office in January 2009, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office had already estimated that the federal government would end fiscal 2009 with a $1.2 trillion deficit because of higher spending and lower revenues.
Obama added to the 2009 deficit, but not by much. We found that Obama was responsible at most for an additional $203 billion. The government ended $1.4 trillion in the red that year. The deficits were about $1.3 trillion each year for the next two years, and this fiscal year just ended with a shortfall of nearly $1.2 trillion.
So, Obama didn’t double the deficits. But the president did pledge to cut them in half by the end of his first term during his State of the Union address on Feb. 24, 2009. A Congressional Budget Office analysis of the president’s latest budget plan doesn’t show the deficit being cut in half until 2014.
Same Rates as Under Clinton?
Obama repeated a favorite talking point, saying that his tax plan would return rates for the wealthy back to where they were during economically prosperous times under President Bill Clinton. But those making over $250,000 a year would actually pay more than they did under Clinton due to new taxes imposed on upper-income people to pay for the health care law.
Obama is referring to his plan to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire for higher-income taxpayers. The top federal income-tax rate would be allowed to rise from the current 35 percent to 39.6 percent, which was the rate that prevailed after Clinton’s 1993 tax increase, and before Bush’s tax cuts. The next-highest rate would go back to the Clinton-era 36 percent, starting with family income over $250,000 (or $200,000 for singles), up from the Bush rate of 33 percent.
But Obama did not account for the new taxes on those same upper-income taxpayers included in his Affordable Care Act. Starting next year, there will be a new 3.8 percent tax on “unearned” net investment income — such as capital gains from the sale of stocks or real estate, dividends, interest income, annuities, rents and royalties. Also starting Jan. 1 is a new 0.9 percent Medicare surcharge on top of the current Medicare payroll tax. Both taxes apply to taxable compensation that exceeds $200,000 for singles, or $250,000 for couples filing jointly. Those two taxes combined are projected to bring in nearly $210 billion over the next seven years, according to the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation.
As he has done a number of times recently, Romney inflated the loss of income for middle-income Americans under Obama.
Romney: Middle-income Americans have seen their income come down by $4,300. This is a — this is a tax in and of itself. I’ll call it the economy tax. It’s been crushing.
Romney didn’t clarify whether he was talking about household or family income, but either way, the number is inflated.
The latest figures from the Census Bureau for 2011 show that real household income (inflation-adjusted) fell by $2,492 during Obama’s first three years in office. Real family income (again, inflation-adjusted) fell by $3,290.
There’s also some reason to think the income decline bottomed out a year ago. Sentier Research, which Romney has in the past cited as his source, says in its latest report — issued Sept. 10, that household income rose in the year since September 2011, when Sentier’s Seasonally Adjusted Household Income Index hit its lowest point.
As part of the same riff on the hardships facing middle-income Americans, Romney also noted that “gasoline prices have doubled under the president.” That’s true, but as we have noted before, the price of gasoline was unusually low when Obama took office due to the recession and financial crisis.
The average price for regular gasoline was $3.80 last week, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, a bit more than double the $1.84 average the week Obama took office. But the average exceeded $4 a gallon for seven weeks during the summer of 2008, and it has never reached $4 under Obama.
Obama’s $4 Trillion Reduction Plan
Obama: I’ve put forward a specific $4 trillion deficit reduction plan. It’s on a website. You can look at all the numbers, what cuts we make and what revenue we raise.
Nonpartisan and bipartisan budget analysts have been critical of the methodology Obama employed to get to the $4 trillion in cuts outlined in “The President’s Plan for Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction.” Specifically, the plan’s inclusion of “more than $1 trillion in savings over the next 10 years from our drawdowns in Afghanistan and Iraq,” was criticized by Maya MacGuineas, president of the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, as a “gimmick.”
“Drawing down spending on wars that were already set to wind down and that were deficit financed in the first place should not be considered savings,” MacGuineas said. “When you finish college, you don’t suddenly have thousands of dollars a year to spend elsewhere – in fact, you have to find a way to pay back your loans.”
And as we have noted, even if you accept Obama’s $4 trillion claim, the president’s own Office of Management and Budget projected annual federal deficits would never be lower than $476 billion. That’s higher than any year of the Bush administration except for the $1.4 trillion shortfall for fiscal 2009, for which Obama himself bears some responsibility. And under Obama’s plan, deficits would again rise during the last three years of the 10-year period, reaching $565 billion in 2021 (see table S-1).
20 Million ‘Lose Their Insurance’?
Romney said “the CBO says up to 20 million people will lose their insurance as Obamacare goes into effect next year.” The Congressional Budget Office said that may happen under a very pessimistic scenario. But the agency said it is more likely that about 3 million to 5 million fewer people, on net, would obtain health insurance from their employer under the law. The CBO also said that it was possible that more people would be covered by employers, not fewer, under a more optimistic scenario.
What’s more, these individuals wouldn’t necessarily “lose … insurance” entirely. Many would qualify for federal subsidies to buy policies offered through the new state exchanges established by the law, or qualify for Medicaid.
23 Million ‘Out of Work’?
Romney overstated the number of unemployed Americans when he said that there were “23 million people out of work.” There were 12.5 million unemployed Americans in August, the most recent figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Romney meant to refer to the unemployed, plus those working part-time who want full-time work (8 million) and those who are considered “marginally attached” to the labor force because they have not looked for work in the past four weeks (2.6 million). All of that adds up to 23.1 million. Romney got his talking point closer to the truth when he said, “We’ve got 23 million people out of work or stopped looking for work in this country.” But he still left out the 8 million who are working part-time for economic reasons.
Romney said that “50 percent of college graduates this year can’t find work.” That’s not correct. Romney is likely referring to an analysis of government data conducted for the Associated Press that found that — in 2011 — 53.6 percent of bachelor’s degree-holders under the age of 25 were unemployed or underemployed that year. But it’s not correct to say that a person who is underemployed — meaning that they have a part-time job, or a job for which they were overqualified — can’t find work. It’s also a figure that applies to last year, not “this year” as Romney said.
Romney continued to repeat his misleading claim that Obama’s Affordable Care Act “cut Medicare $716 billion for current recipients.” That’s a reduction in the future growth of Medicare spending over 10 years, not a $716 billion slashing of the current budget.
$716 Billion, Again
Romney went on to say, “I want to take that $716 billion you’ve cut and put it back into Medicare.” But the fact is, the money isn’t being taken away from Medicare. Instead, Medicare would spend it, but over a longer period of time than was expected before the health care law. The law extends the solvency of the Medicare Part A trust fund.
As we’ve explained before, most of this reduction in spending comes in Medicare Part A, or hospital coverage, through a reduction in the growth of payments to hospitals. Medicare payroll taxes, which fund Part A, are either immediately spent by Medicare as they come in, or they’re put in a trust fund. Medicare gets a bond for that tax money from Treasury. And any time Medicare wants to cash in that bond, it can. Treasury has to pay it — even if Treasury already spent the original money on something else.
Cutting the growth of Medicare spending is a good thing — without these $716 billion cuts, Part A’s trust fund is expected to be depleted in 2016. But with them, that date is pushed back to 2024. At that point, Medicare’s payroll tax revenue would only be enough to cover 87 percent of benefits.
That’s if the reductions in spending growth are actually instituted as the law envisions. Medicare’s actuaries are skeptical. They have said that many experts believe the “price constraints would become unworkable and that Congress would likely override them.”
Romney said: “Some 15 percent of hospitals and nursing homes say they won’t take any more Medicare patients under that scenario.” That’s close to what Medicare’s chief actuary, Richard Foster, said in congressional testimony in January 2011. Foster said that his office’s economic simulations “suggest that roughly 15 percent of Part A providers would become unprofitable within the 10-year projection period as a result of the productivity adjustments.” He added: “Although this policy could be monitored over time to avoid such an outcome, changes would likely result in smaller actual savings than described here for these provisions.” http://factcheck.org/2012/10/dubious-denver-debate-declarations/
Quote:President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney traded barbs Wednesday night on taxes, jobs, health care and the economy — and often stretched the facts.
"Mr. President," Romney said, "you're entitled as the president to your own airplane and to your own house, but not to your own facts."
Romney also would have benefited from that advice.
We're combing through the pair's remarks from the University of Denver's Ritchie Center, where moderator Jim Lehrer focused on the economy, health care, the role of government and governing.
Here's what we've checked so far:
• Obama said that Romney's plan "calls for a $5 trillion tax cut." The figure accounts for only half of Romney's plan, and it's cumulative over 10 years. The governor says he will offset those lost revenues by reducing tax deductions and eliminating loopholes. However, he hasn't specified what those changes would be. The president made a misleading statement about an incomplete plan, but he did describe what the plan was missing and that Romney would not fill in the gaps. We rated the claim Half True.
• Obama said that "independent studies" looking at Romney's tax plan say the only way to meet Romney's goal of not adding to the deficit is by "burdening middle class families." A reputable study from the Tax Policy Center found that to meet Romney's deficit goal, middle class taxpayers might lose exemptions and deductions worth about $2,000. So we previously have rated Mostly True a claim that Romney is proposing a tax plan "that would give millionaires another tax break and raise taxes on middle class families by up to $2,000 a year."
• Romney said six tax studies look at a study that Obama described and "say it's completely wrong." Previously, Romney has claimed that five studies back his tax plan. We found that Mostly False. We saw no more than two independent studies out of the five claimed.
• Obama said he "lowered taxes for small businesses 18 times." When we examined his claim last summer that his administration had "provided at least 16 tax cuts to small businesses," we rated it Mostly True, noting that conservative tax specialists say the statistic ignores proposed and enacted tax hikes on small businesses.
• Romney claimed that Obama had said he would "cut the deficit in half." That's the case. It's right there on YouTube. True.
• Obama said he put forward "a specific $4 trillion deficit reduction plan." We found he was cherry-picking some numbers to include savings from last year's budget and his deficit reduction agreement with Congress. Half True.
• Romney said part of his plan to create jobs includes North American energy independence. He said that while oil and gas production might be up, Obama shouldn't get credit — the increase was on private lands, not public. We have previously found that oil production on public lands dropped 14 percent in one year, but that's not the whole story. It was small snapshot, and partly because of hurricanes. We rated a claim from Crossroads GPS that oil "production's down where Obama's in charge" Half True. Our reporting confirmed Romney's claim that Obama shouldn't get credit — but neither, perhaps, should President George W. Bush.
• Romney said half of college graduates can't find a job. We've previously rated that Mostly True — about a quarter of recent college grads can't find a job, while another quarter found jobs that don't require college degrees.
• Romney claimed "on Medicare for current retirees, (Obama is) cutting $716 billion from the program." That amount refers to Obama's reductions in Medicare spending over 10 years, primarily in what's paid to insurers and hospitals. But the statement gives the impression that the law takes money already allocated to Medicare away from current recipients. We rated Romney's claim Half True.
• Romney also claimed that Obama used those Medicare savings to pay for his health care law. We've previously rated Romney's claim that Obama took that money from Medicare "to pay for Obamacare" Half True. The new health care law uses a number of measures to try to reduce the rapid growth of future Medicare spending. Those savings are used to offset costs created by the health care law — especially coverage for the uninsured — so that the overall law doesn't add to the deficit.
• Obama claimed that the "essence" of Romney's plan for retiree health care was to "turn Medicare into a voucher program." Romney would give seniors a premium support payment toward private insurance, to replace the current system of government payments to doctors and hospitals. Generally, we think "voucher program" is a fair way of describing to voters the vision for Medicare under a Romney-Ryan administration. We rated Obama's claim Mostly True.
• Obama recycled an outdated number about vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan's original Medicare proposal, saying that "because the voucher wouldn't necessarily keep up with health care inflation, it was estimated that this would cost the average senior about $6,000 a year." That ignores a more recent Ryan proposal that pegs the size of the voucher to the second-cheapest plan available on a Medicare exchange. We rated the claim Half True.
• Romney said that Obama failed to cut health care premiums by $2,500. That's true. On our Obameter, which tracks Obama's 2008 campaign promises, we've rated that a Promise Broken.
• Obama said that Romney used the same advisers to create his Massachusetts health plan that Obama later did for his health care law. Rick Santorum once claimed that a "Romney adviser admits Romneycare was the blueprint for Obamacare." If Santorum's ad had said "former adviser," that would have been True.
• Obama claimed that Romney said his Massachusetts law was a "model for the nation." Romney later fired back that he said it was a model "state by state," not from the federal government down. We've previously found that an early version of Romney's book No Apology did advocate the Massachusetts model as a strong option for other states, as Romney said.
• Politicians often cite the Congressional Budget Office, the nonpartisan research arm of Congress, to back up their claims. Romney used that tactic in a claim that CBO "says up to 20 million people will lose their insurance as Obamacare goes into effect next year." We found that was a large exaggeration and rated it False.
• Romney said that Obama "put in place a board that can tell people ultimately what treatments they're going to receive." Romney avoided the more inaccurate and harsher wording of some other critics, who have falsely described the board as "rationing" care. But Romney's claim can leave viewers with the impression that the board makes health care decisions for individual Americans, and that's not the case. We rated his statement Mostly False. http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2012/oct/03/fact-checking-denver-presidential-debate/
Quote: Here’s POLITICO’s guide to sorting through some of the edgiest claims, and what the independent experts off the stage have had to say about what the two candidates claimed:
The $5 Trillion Tax Cut
Romney: “I’m not looking for a $5 trillion tax cut. … I won’t put in place a tax cut that adds to the deficit. That’s part one. So there’s no economist that can say Mitt Romney’s tax plan adds $5 trillion if I say I will not add to the deficit with my tax plan. ... .I will not reduce the taxes paid by high-income Americans.”
Obama: “Governor Romney’s central economic plan calls for a $5 trillion tax cut….For 18 months he’s been running on this tax plan. And now, five weeks before the election, he’s saying that his big, bold idea is, ‘Never mind.’”
Independent analysts say Romney’s numbers don’t add up. The rate cuts and other changes he’s proposing would indeed total almost $5 trillion over 10 years, and though he said Wednesday he’d pay for those cuts by reducing deductions and credits, a study by 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.
In an interview earlier this week, Romney said he might cap deductions at $17,000. During the debate, he suggested such a cap might kick in at $25,000 or $50,000. However, it’s not clear how those limits would get around the problem the Tax Policy Center study noted. The Romney camp contends that study is biased and points to others with different results.
Romney acknowledged Wednesday that the bare numbers of his tax plan might not be revenue-neutral, but he said growth and new jobs created by his policies would generate added revenue to cover the gap.
Obama: “We’ve [taken the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction plan,] made some adjustments to it, and we’re putting it forward before Congress right now, a $4 trillion plan.”
Obama made the deficit-cutting plan he’s offered sound comparable to the plan from the chairmen of the Simpson-Bowles debt cutting commission. But it’s not: His proposal doesn’t save as much money as Simpson-Bowles and doesn’t offer the kinds of detailed entitlement cuts the panel’s leaders did.
The president’s $4 trillion plan, including $3 trillion in spending cuts and $1 trillion in tax hikes from allowing the Bush-era tax cuts to expire, is spread over 10 years — a year longer than Simpson-Bowles. It sounds like a minor difference, but cuts and spending balloon in the so-called out years.
Also, Obama doesn’t touch Social Security in his plan. And the tax changes and war spending are accounted in ways that make Obama’s plan substantially less aggressive.
“The president’s budget falls well short of the savings claimed by the [Simpson-Bowles] commission,” according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. The committee, the kind of wonky group Obama loves to cite, said Obama’s plan provided only about two-thirds of the savings Simpson-Bowles proposed over a comparable period with comparable assumptions.
Romney: “Pre-existing conditions are covered under my [health care] plan.”
Romney’s health care plan covers “individuals with pre-existing conditions who maintain continuous coverage.” That’s an important caveat: It doesn’t help sick people who have had a break in coverage or couldn’t get it before. It’s also fairly close to what the law already provided before “Obamacare” — people who moved from job to job were already covered.
Romney’s advisers have said he would expand those protections to the individual and small group markets, so his plan would go beyond current law. But there’s another significant issue his plan hasn’t addressed: Coverage can be expensive for people with pre-existing conditions, and he hasn’t said how he would make sure they don’t get charged premiums they can’t afford.
Romney: The Dodd-Frank financial reform law “designates a number of banks as too big to fail, and they’re effectively guaranteed by the federal government…This is the biggest kiss that’s been given to — to New York banks I’ve ever seen.”
Romney has said he’d repeal the 2010 Dodd-Frank reform law. Wednesday he argued that this was in part because he didn’t think the law was tough enough because it’s actually a gift to big banks by setting up a system that could bail them out in the future.
But Dodd-Frank provides no promise that too-big-to-fail banks will be bailed out. Only Congress could take such a step by passing a new law like TARP — and there is almost no chance of that happening, since the law has remained politically unpopular since it passed in 2008.
Romney seems to be hanging his argument on the idea that big banks do get some benefits under the law by virtue of new regulation. The law singles out large banks for increased regulation and oversight by regulators. This special treatment includes a new process, run by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., for liquidating the biggest banks if they were to run into trouble outside of bankruptcy courts. This translates into lower borrowing costs for these banks, the argument goes, because markets believe that if one of these banks wobbled, the government would ultimately step in and bail out investors as Washington did during the financial crisis.
But critics of Wall Street say Dodd-Frank actually does crack down on the big banks — and want the law kept in place for that reason.
On Wednesday, though, even researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York said investors increasingly believe that the new law will not lead to bailouts and big bank funding advantages are lessening.
Romney: “Gasoline prices have doubled under the president”
There’s no doubt that a gallon of gas costs twice as much as when Obama took office in January 2009: $1.89 a gallon then to $3.87 a gallon now.
But context matters. Gas prices actually peaked at $4.11 a gallon — an all-time high — in July 2008 but had fallen in late 2008, due to the financial meltdown, before Obama took office.
Most energy experts agree that there’s not much any president has to do with gas prices, and Obama has tried to make that point himself while under fire for the rising prices.
During the debate, Romney said he’d get both energy projects moving, while Obama noted his own efforts to increase domestic energy supplies. “Oil and natural gas production are higher than they’ve been in years,” he said.
Green energy loans
Romney: “I think about half of [the green energy projects the federal government has] invested in, have gone out of business. A number of them happened to be owned by people who are contributors to your campaigns.”
Not quite 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.
Several of the others, in fact, have thrived, including the maker of a Kansas cellulosic ethanol plant and one of the world’s largest wind projects in Oregon. About a dozen of the companies just got their awards in the fall of 2011, so the projects are still getting off the ground.
Romney’s campaign explained that he was including other troubled stimulus grant winners in his claim, including Raser Technologies, a Utah company that filed for bankruptcy protection despite winning $33 million in stimulus grants and ECOtality, an electric vehicle charging station manufacturer and developer that has acknowledged its under an SEC investigation.
Then there’s Solyndra. Not only was the loss huge — $535 million in taxpayer money to the now bankrupt California solar company — but the ties to the Obama campaign are deep. One of its private investors, George Kaiser, was an Obama ’08 bundler, though none of the internal emails released by the administration have showed favoritism toward the Tulsa oil billionaire. Other campaign contributors landed jobs handling stimulus money for the Energy Department, but they weren’t owners of any of the winning companies.
Out-of-work college grads
Romney: Obama’s economic policies are “not working….The proof of that is that 50 percent of college graduates this year can’t find work.”
That’s an oversimplification. Romney was probably referring to an Associated Press analysis from earlier this year, which found that 53.6 percent of people under age 25 with bachelor’s degrees were unemployed or underemployed.
But, according to the AP report, only about half of those 1.5 million young college graduates had no jobs. The other half were considered underemployed, which isn’t the same as saying they “can’t find work” since they were, by definition, employed. And although the term underemployed is sometimes used to mean people who can’t find enough work, the AP research considered graduates underemployed if they were working in a job that doesn’t normally require a college degree.
While the statistics may seem grim on their face, a substantial percentage of recent college graduates have trouble finding work even during economic booms. In 2000 — at the height of the dot-com bubble — 41 percent were unemployed or underemployed.
Rising Medicare costs
Obama: The Republican Medicare plan “would cost the average senior about $6,000 a year.”
This might be a stretch. Obama covered himself by pointing out that this estimate applied to Paul Ryan’s original Medicare plan. At the time, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal think tank, estimated that the plan would shift nearly $6,400 in costs to seniors. But that plan had a hard limit on how much could be spent on Medicare each year — and Romney’s campaign says his plan has no such limit.
Obama doesn’t buy Romney’s argument that competition among private plans alone will bring down costs. He argued that “Medicare has lower administrative costs than private insurance does,” and that “if you are going to save any money through what Governor Romney’s proposing … is that the money has to come from somewhere.” But he did acknowledge that Romney’s plan is different from the Ryan plan — and that “in fairness, what Governor Romney has now said is he’ll maintain traditional Medicare alongside it.” http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1012/82002.html
Quote: Fact Check: Tax break for shipping jobs overseas? Well, sort of
"No idea what you're talking about." That was Mitt Romney's retort when President Obama repeated the claim during Wednesday's debate that companies are exploiting a loophole to ship jobs overseas. In one of the most memorable moments of the night, Romney said he's never heard of such a tax break in all his years in business.
So who's right?
Technically, companies can claim a deduction for the costs associated with moving jobs overseas.
However, the deduction is not a special loophole afforded only to companies moving work out of America, as the president sometimes makes it sound. Rather, the deduction is written into the tax code pertaining to any cost companies face in the course of doing business.
That means a company can claim the deduction whether it's moving operations to Bangalore or Boston, to Kuala Lumpur or Kansas City.
"Any cost of doing business is deductible," said Doug Holtz-Eakin, former director of the Congressional Budget Office who advised Republican Sen. John McCain in the 2008 presidential race. "There's no special (incentive to move jobs overseas)."
What Democrats want to do is end the deduction for firms moving overseas, in order to create a disincentive to offshore. What they say, though, makes it sound like the tax code is currently luring companies out of the U.S.
"But I also want to close those loopholes that are giving incentives for companies that are shipping jobs overseas. I want to provide tax breaks for companies that are investing here in the United States," Obama said Wednesday.
He went on to say: "Right now, you can actually take a deduction for moving a plant overseas. I think most Americans would say that doesn't make sense. And all that raises revenue."
Closing the tax break just for those moving operations overseas does not necessarily mean a windfall of revenue. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimated doing so would bring in $168 million over the next decade.
Romney countered at the debate that he wasn't familiar with the deduction.
"Look, I've been in business for 25 years. I have no idea what you're talking about. I maybe need to get a new accountant," Romney said. "But the idea that you get a break for shipping jobs overseas is simply not the case."
Obama was incredulous about that claim during a rally Thursday in Denver. "Never heard of tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas?" Obama told the crowd. He claimed the "real Mitt Romney" invested in "pioneers of outsourcing," suggesting he should know about the deduction.
Democrats have pushed legislation that would deny any tax deduction for opening up shop overseas at the expense of jobs in the U.S.
They have also pushed to eliminate the ability of companies to defer taxes on income earned overseas.
Holtz-Eakin said that's another piece of the tax code that Obama could have been referencing. Currently, U.S. companies operating overseas are supposed to pay both U.S. taxes and the taxes of the country they're operating in. To lessen the burden, U.S. tax code allows companies to defer the U.S. chunk of that until the money is brought back into America. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/10/04/fact-check-tax-break-for-shipping-jobs-overseas/
Friday, October 5, 2012 7:37 AM
Friday, October 5, 2012 6:22 PM
Down the centuries you have slurred the meaning of the words, WE THE PEOPLE...
Saturday, October 6, 2012 1:17 AM
America loves a winner!
Quote:Originally posted by Niki2:
I see nobody's interested in this thread. Can't blame you; it's terribly long and somewhat repetitive
Sunday, October 7, 2012 6:01 AM
Sunday, October 7, 2012 6:51 AM
Quote:Originally posted by Niki2:
I see nobody's interested in this thread.
Monday, October 8, 2012 6:21 AM
Quote:Originally posted by AURaptor:
Romney didn't lie. This entire issue goes back to the Left's intentional misrepresentation, distortion, spin on such things as Mitt's 47% comment,
Monday, October 8, 2012 6:37 AM
"We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false." -- William Casey, Reagan's presidential campaign manager & CIA Director (from first staff meeting in 1981)
Quote:Originally posted by AURaptor:
Quote:Originally posted by Niki2:
I see nobody's interested in this thread. Can't blame you; it's terribly long and somewhat repetitive
Monday, October 8, 2012 7:26 AM
Quote:Just like he "didn't lie" when he said his health care plan covers pre-existing conditions, even though it's never been in his plan, and his own staff says has never been part of the plan?
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