Friday, November 28th, 2014

Truth-O-Meter keeps rolling

Republican Party delegates whoop it up at the party's national convention in Tampa.

The speeches keep coming and our Truth-O-Meter keeps rolling.

The Republican National Convention in Tampa scheduled hours of back-to-back speeches pounding President Barack Obama on what they say is his inability to bring about change we can believe in.

Who can get the job done? We’ll let you guess the GOP’s answer. And here’s a hint: The theme of Wednesday's session was "We Can Change It."

GOP luminaries focused on fiscal responsibility and the economy, which was good news for PolitiFact. Those are two of our favorite subjects. And speaking of the economy, we added a fact-check of a top Obama campaign official who made a claim about Mitt Romney’s position on a popular tax policy.

Read these summaries of our latest checks below.

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Obama campaign official Stephanie Cutter: "Mitt Romney’s platform ...won't protect the mortgage interest (tax) deduction for middle-class families."

The Democrat said this in an email the Obama campaign sent Wednesday.

Romney has talked about eliminating the deduction for on second homes, but the campaign later said that he was floating ideas.

The Republican Party platform lays out its position in a section called "Protecting The Taxpayers: ‘No More Too Big to Fail.’ " It says at the top of Page 25 that "we strongly support tax reform; in the event we do not achieve this, we must preserve the mortgage interest deduction."

Romney wants to limit some tax deductions in exchange for rate cuts, but he hasn’t said which deductions he wants to end. The platform's general wording leaves open the possibility of changes to the deduction, but specifically expresses support for it. We rate Cutter’s claim as Mostly False.


New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie: Says they said "it was impossible to balance a budget at the same time, with an $11 billion deficit" and "we did it."

The Republican said this during his Tuesday address to show that he steered his state back onto the path of fiscal responsibility.

The New Jersey Constitution requires a balanced budget every year. Christie met that obligation, but the deficit he cites remains.

The deficit figure Christie cites refers to a $10.7 billion projected structural deficit, a figure that measures how much money the state would need if current services and revenue remained the same and all spending obligations required by statute were fully funded.
   
But the state does not have to meet all its obligations, so Christie didn’t.

The next year, the state still had a projected structural deficit, but Christie dismissed it as an old way of budgeting.

Still, he used this figure to his advantage.

Christie’s statement lacks important context, so he earns a Half True.

 

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.: Wealthy taxpayers, not middle-income earners, get "most of the deductions" in the tax code.

Ryan pushed back against Democratic claims that the middle class would see a tax increase under Mitt Romney’s proposals, saying the reality of the tax code doesn’t square with that.
   
Ryan fielded questions about the tax plan in a Fox News interview as he headed to the Republican National Convention in Tampa.
   
"The people who get most of the deductions are the people in the top tax brackets, the wealthy, not middle-income taxpayers," Ryan explained. "And so what we’re saying is by getting rid of these deductions that higher-income earners get, more of their income is subject to taxation, and that means we can lower tax rates for everybody."

Ryan is on target, with the caveat that it partly depends on the definition of "wealthy." Wealthier people pay higher tax rates and tend to get more benefit from deductions than lower-income earners.

We give Ryan’s statement a Mostly True.


U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.: "Household income in America has gone down for families an average of $4,000 in the last four years" while it "went up $5,000" under Mitt Romney when he was governor of Massachusetts.  

Ryan made this statement as he put the focus back on Americans’ pocketbooks at a send-off rally in his hometown.

Romney, too, has hammered on this theme.

Earlier in the campaign, when Romney made these two claims separately, we found them partially accurate.

But when they are combined, they leave a false impression. One is adjusted for inflation, while the other is not.

Applying the same inflation-adjusted methodology that Ryan chose to show the $4,000 household income drop under President Barack Obama, median incomes actually fell $589 under Romney during his earlier stint as governor.

Ryan also affixes too much blame or credit on Obama and Romney. These leaders have limited control over their constituents’ household incomes.

We rate this statement False.