Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

October 6, 2012

Fact Check: Dubious Denver debate declarations

Summary

We found exaggerations and false claims flying thick and fast during the first debate between President Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney.

n Obama accused Romney of proposing a $5 trillion tax cut. Not true. Romney proposes to offset his rate cuts and promises he won't add to the deficit.

n Romney again promised to "not reduce the taxes paid by high-income Americans" and also to "lower taxes on middle-income families," but didn't say how he could possibly accomplish that without also increasing the deficit.

n Obama oversold his health care law, claiming that health care premiums have "gone up slower than any time in the last 50 years." That's true of health care spending, but not premiums. And the health care law had little to do with the slowdown in overall spending.

n Romney claimed a new board established by the Affordable Care Act is "going to tell people ultimately what kind of treatments they can have." Not true. The board only recommends cost-saving measures for Medicare, and is legally forbidden to ration care or reduce benefits.

n Obama said 5 million private-sector jobs had been created in the past 30 months. Perhaps so, but that counts jobs that the Bureau of Labor Statistics won't add to the official monthly tallies until next year. For now, the official tally is a bit over 4.6 million.

n Romney accused Obama of doubling the federal deficit. Not true. The annual deficit was already running at $1.2 trillion when Obama took office.

n Obama again said he'd raise taxes on upper-income persons only to the "rates that we had when Bill Clinton was president." Actually, many high-income persons would pay more than they did then, because of new taxes in Obama's health care law.

n Romney claimed that middle-income Americans have "seen their income come down by $4,300." That's too high. Census figures show the decline in median household income during Obama's first three years was $2,492, even after adjusting for inflation.

n Obama again touted his "$4 trillion" deficit reduction plan, which includes $1 trillion from winding down wars that are coming to an end in any event.

n Romney sometimes came off as a serial exaggerator. He said "up to" 20 million might lose health insurance under the new law, citing a Congressional Budget Office study that actually put the likely number who would lose employer-sponsored coverage at between 3 million and 5 million. He said 23 million Americans are "out of work" when the actual number of jobless is much lower. He claimed half of all college grads this year can't find work, when, in fact, an AP story said half either were jobless or underemployed. And he again said Obama "cut" $716 billion from Medicare, a figure that actually reflects a 10-year target for slowing Medicare spending, which will continue to grow.

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