Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

Articles from October, 2012

A campaign full of red-hot statements

By Jim Tharpe PolitiFact Georgia   In politics, there are truths. There are falsehoods. And there’s Pants on Fire. PolitiFact and the AJC Truth-O-Meter complete hundreds of fact checks every year. And a few fall into that fiery netherworld of the ridiculously misleading. The 2012 campaign between President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has produced some memorable misstatements. Below are abbreviated versions of some of the top Pants on Fire rulings of the campaign. Look for the complete fact checks at the PolitiFact online sites. Want to comment on our Truth-O-Meter rulings? It’s easy. Just go to our Facebook page:  www.facebook.com/politifact.georgia?fref=ts. Readers can follow us on Twitter at: PolitiFactGA.  

Obama and Romney on women's issues

Women are a key demographic of this presidential campaign. Both Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama have targeted this swing group, trying to sway female voters on issues such as contraception, equity pay and employment. The focus on females has produced some of the most memorable statements during the campaign from both men and their running mates, Vice President Joe Biden and vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan. Below are abbreviated versions of fact checks about the candidates’ statements during the campaign. Look for the complete fact checks at the PolitiFact online sites. Want to  comment on our Truth-O-Meter rulings? It’s easy. Just go to  our Facebook page:  www.facebook.com/politifact.georgia?fref=ts. Readers can follow us on Twitter at: PolitiFactGA.

Obama and Romney on taxes

Taxes have been a major focus of this presidential campaign. Both President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney have different ideas on the issue, and each has a specific tax plan. Democrats have criticized Romney’s plan as being vague and a potential burden on middle-income families. Republicans have complained that Obama’s tax policies will keep the country mired in an economic slump. Along the way, both men -- and their running mates, Vice President Joe Biden and vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan -- have kept the AJC Truth-O-Meter busy. Below are abbreviated versions of fact checks about the candidates’ statements during the campaign. Look for the complete fact checks at the PolitiFact online sites. Readers can comment on our Truth-O-Meter rulings at our Facebook page:  www.facebook.com/politifact.georgia?fref=ts.  And they can follow us on Twitter at: PolitiFactGA.

Obama and Romney on the economy

The economy has been the central issue in this presidential race. President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney have divergent visions about how to help create more jobs, sell more American goods overseas and make the nation more energy-independent. Along the way, both men have made claims that caused the Truth-O-Meter to sway in all directions. Below are some abbreviated versions of fact checks about the candidates’ statements during the campaign. Look for the complete fact checks at the PolitiFact online sites. Readers can comment on our Truth-O-Meter rulings at our Facebook page:  www.facebook.com/politifact.georgia?fref=ts.  And they can follow us on Twitter at: PolitiFactGA.  

Checking the facts on China

Both sides have used China as a villain in the 2012 campaign. We've put their claims to the Truth-O-Meter PolitiFact and PolitiFact Georgia are checking statements made by the presidential challengers, who have less than two weeks until Election Day. We will be updating our online site -- www.politifact.com/georgia/ -- as more fact checks are completed. Readers can comment on our Truth-O-Meter rulings at: www.facebook.com/politifact.georgia?fref=ts. They can follow us on Twitter at PolitiFactGA.

Fact checking the third presidential debate

President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney wrapped up the presidential debate season Monday with a showdown in Florida. The topic: foreign policy. PolitiFact and PolitiFact Georgia are checking statements made by the challengers, who have less than two weeks until Election Day. We will be updating our online site -- www.politifact.com/georgia/ -- throughout the day as more fact checks are completed. Readers can comment on our Truth-O-Meter rulings at: www.facebook.com/politifact.georgia?fref=ts. They can follow us on Twitter at PolitiFactGA.  

Attack in Libya a hot topic for both candidates

We fact-check claims by Mitt Romney and Joe Biden about the fatal attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. We will be updating our online site -- http://www.politifact.com/georgia/ -- continuously as fact-checks are completed. Readers can comment on our Truth-O-Meter rulings at our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/politifact.georgia?fref=ts. And they can follow on Twitter at: PolitiFactGA.

Another debate, a new round of fact-checks

The second presidential debate is in the books. A third and final face-to-face showdown between Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama is set for Monday. PolitiFact and PolitiFact Georgia checked statements made by the candidates during Tuesday’s town hall-style event. Below are some (abbreviated versions of) fact-checks on statements by the candidates or major themes they broached during their second debate. We will be updating our online site -- http://www.politifact.com/georgia/ -- continuously as fact-checks are completed. Readers can comment on our Truth-O-Meter rulings at our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/politifact.georgia?fref=ts. And they can follow on Twitter at: PolitiFactGA. Look for the complete fact-checks at the PolitiFact online sites.

Candidates mix it up in tense debate

PolitiFact and PolitiFact Georgia are checking statements made by Mitt Romney and President Obama during Tuesday’s debate. We will be updating our online site -- http://www.politifact.com/georgia/ -- throughout the day as fact-checks are completed. Readers can comment on our Truth-O-Meter rulings at our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/politifact.georgia?fref=ts. And they can follow on Twitter at: PolitiFactGA. Below are some initial (abbreviated versions of) fact-checks on actual statements by the candidates or major themes they broached during their second debate. Look for the complete fact-checks at the PolitiFact online sites.

Fact-checking taxes in the presidential race

What are the facts when it comes Barack Obama's and Mitt Romney's tax policies?

Fact-checking the vice presidential debate

The vice presidential debate Thursday night began on a somber note, then quickly turned to lively attacks — with both candidates stretching the truth. Moderator Martha Raddatz asked Vice President Joe Biden whether the assault that recently killed a U.S. ambassador in Libya represented a massive intelligence failure. Biden said it was a tragedy. Then he went after Rep. Paul Ryan's partner on the Republican presidential ticket, Gov. Mitt Romney. And the wrangling began, some of it truthful, much of it just partly so. Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and al-Qaida Biden attacked Romney's past statements on foreign policy. President Barack Obama had promised to end the war in Iraq, Biden said, while "Romney said that was a tragic mistake, we should have left 30,000 troops there." It’s true that Romney characterized Obama’s 2011 deadline with the word "tragic." Romney did not say ending the war was tragic; he was talking about the speed at which Obama removed all troops. Romney’s preference was to leave a large residual force, and he has used an estimate of up to 30,000 in the past, as Biden said during the debate. We rated Biden’s claim Half True. Biden also claimed Romney said he "wouldn't move heaven and earth to get (Osama) bin Laden." We've rated a similar claim from an Obama ad, that Romney's view on killing bin Laden was "it's not worth moving heaven and earth." The Obama team was right that Romney used those words, but it's cherry-picking, glossing over comments describing his broader approach. Romney said he wanted to pursue all of al-Qaida, not just its leaders. We rated the claim Half True. Biden said that Obama would end the war in Afghanistan in 2014, but claimed that Romney said the United States shouldn't set a date, and with regard to 2014, "it depends." Ryan responded that Romney and Ryan agree with a 2014 deadline for U.S. withdrawal. There's some evidence for all of those claims. We checked a statement by Ryan in September that he and Romney have "always agreed" with the 2014 timetable. We found numerous instances where Romney expressed support for that deadline. His criticism was not of the date itself but the announcement of it, which he said emboldened the Taliban and endangered troops. But Romney also has said a troop withdrawal would be conditional on what the situation on the ground is -- an important caveat that could leave him room to ignore the deadline. (Or, as Biden said, "it depends.") Ryan’s previous statement was accurate but for that one detail. We rated it Mostly True. On Iran, Ryan described the impression he thought the ayatollahs would get about the U.S. relationship with ally Israel. Ryan claimed Obama was in New York City the same day as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but went on a TV show instead of meeting with him. The two leaders were not there on the same day: Obama was there Monday and Tuesday, and Netanyahu was there later in the week, on Thursday and Friday. Obama taped The View on Monday. We rated this claim False. Auto industry, home foreclosures and the stimulus Biden claimed that Romney wasn't committed to saving the auto industry. "He said, let it go bankrupt, period," Biden said. We checked a similar claim from Jennifer Granholm, former governor of Michigan, at the Democratic National Convention in September. She said that Romney's response to the crisis in the auto industry was, "Let Detroit go bankrupt." Romney did use the words about letting Detroit go bankrupt in a CBS TV interview, but his meaning was more nuanced and he emphasized that he was not referring to liquidation. We rated Granholm's statement Half True. Biden also claimed the Obama administration helped people refinanced their homes, while Romney said, "No, let foreclosures hit the bottom." A Democratic National Committee ad in 2011 said that Romney’s housing policy was, "Don’t try and stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom." That was part of his policy, but Democrats edited out his remarks that said the housing market should then turn around and come back up as investors buy properties and rent them out. Romney also said he was open to ideas for encouraging refinancing. Romney did seem to favor letting foreclosures run their course, but he also suggested that doing so would enable investors to buy low-priced homes and revive the market. We rated the DNC’s ad Half True. In an exchange about the effectiveness of Obama's stimulus, Ryan asked Biden whether it was "a good idea to spend taxpayer dollars on electric cars in Finland, or on windmills in China?"  An American car company, Fisker Automotive, got federal loan guarantees and later manufactured cars in Finland, but the federal support the company received wasn't funded by the stimulus. Meanwhile, the loans went toward engineering and design that happened in the United States. As for the windmills in China, it's true that a small number of windmills and components to build them came from China. But the statement greatly exaggerates China’s role in the overall use of stimulus money. We rated Ryan's statement Mostly False. Ryan said the Obama administration passed the stimulus with the idea that "unemployment would never get to 8 percent." Obama's Council of Economic Advisers created a chart predicting that the stimulus would keep the unemployment rate from going higher, but the accompanying report included heavy disclaimers that the projections had "significant margins of error" and a high degree of uncertainty due to a recession that is "unusual both in its fundamental causes and its severity." We rated Ryan's statement Mostly False. Health care Ryan claimed that Obama took money from Medicare to spend on Obamacare. Romney has said something similar, that "under the president's plan, he cuts Medicare by $716 billion, takes that money out of the Medicare trust fund and uses it to pay for Obamacare." The claim gives the impression that the law takes money that was already allocated to Medicare and funds the new health care law with it. In fact, the law uses a number of measures to try to reduce the rapid growth of future Medicare spending. Those savings are then used to offset costs created by the law -- especially coverage for the uninsured -- so that the overall law doesn't add to the deficit. We rated the statement Half True. Biden said about Ryan and Romney's plan for Medicare, "It's a voucher." Obama made a similar claim in the presidential debate, that Romney "would turn Medicare into a voucher program." The plan 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. Biden also said Romney and Ryan would "eliminate the guarantee of Medicare." Here's the deal: Calling today’s Medicare benefits "guaranteed" is partially, but not entirely, true. Currently, Medicare does guarantee broad health coverage for seniors and, in the short term, guarantees specific benefits. But Medicare doesn’t cover everything, and Congress and the president can change what is covered -- and will be forced to do so as fiscal pressures hit. Meanwhile, it’s plausible that the Romney plan could provide less of a "guarantee" than Medicare currently does, but we found sharp disagreement between supporters and opponents of Romney’s Medicare plan on that point. This disagreement is hard to resolve given the shortage of information Romney has so far provided. We rated Biden's claim Half True. Ryan, in his closing statement, said Obama "made his choices," including "a government takeover of health care." The phrase is simply not true. "Government takeover" conjures a European approach where the government owns the hospitals and the doctors are public employees. But Obama's health care law relies largely on the free market.  We voted "a government takeover of health care" our Lie of the Year for 2010. Did you hear a claim you would like us to check? Use Twitter hashtag #PolitiFactThis or email us at truthometer@politifact.com.

Biden and Ryan exchange claims, barbs in Kentucky debate

The second debate — and only debate for vice presidential candidates — of the presidential election season is in the books. And like their running mates a week ago, the second-in-command contenders had a lot to say. In some heated exchanges, Vice President Joseph Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan accused each other of distorting information, repeating some familiar talking points from the presidential campaigns. PolitiFact and PolitiFact Georgia are checking statements made by the two candidates Thursday night in Danville, Ky. We will be updating our online site — http://www.politifact.com/georgia/ — throughout the day as fact-checks are completed. Readers can comment on our Truth-O-Meter rulings at our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/politifact.georgia?fref=ts. And they can follow on Twitter at: PolitiFactGA. Below are some initial fact-checks on statements by the candidates or major themes they broached during Thursday’s debate. 

To suggest a fact-check, tweet with #PolitiFactThis

If you have a claim you think we should check, use the #PolitiFactThis hashtag on Twitter. We'll update our website as we post new fact-checks. Readers can comment on our Truth-O-Meter rulings at our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/politifact.georgia and can follow us on Twitter at PolitiFactGA.

Fact-checking the Denver presidential debate

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. We'll update this story as we post new fact-checks. Readers can comment on our Truth-O-Meter rulings at our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/politifact.georgia and can follow us on Twitter at PolitiFactGA. And we welcome suggestions on what we should fact-check. Email us, fill out the suggestion form on the Settle It! app or tweet us your ideas with #PolitiFactThis. Here's what we've checked so far: Taxes • 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. Deficit • Romney claimed that Obama had said he would "cut the deficit in half." That's the case. We rated a claim from Crossroads GPS that Obama failed to keep his pledge of halving the deficit True. • Obama said he put forward "a specific $4 trillion deficit reduction plan." That's true if you combine the 10-year impact of his budget with the 10-year impact of cuts already approved. (For that reason, we've previously found his claim that his budget plan would "cut our deficits by $4 trillion" Half True.)   Jobs • 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. Medicare • 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 a related claim from the secretary of Health and Human Services last month Half True. Health care • 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. • 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.

PolitiFact parses truth from fiction in Denver debate

The debate is done, and the fact-checking has begun. PolitiFact and PolitiFact Georgia are checking statements made by Mitt Romney and President Obama during Wednesday’s Denver face-to-face showdown. We will be updating our online site -- http://www.politifact.com/georgia/ -- throughout the day as fact-checks are completed. Readers can comment on our Truth-O-Meter rulings at our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/politifact.georgia?fref=ts. And they can follow on Twitter at: PolitiFactGA. Below are some initial (abbreviated versions of) fact-checks on actual statements by the candidates or major themes they broached during Wednesday’s debate. Look for the complete fact-checks at the PolitiFact online sites.

How to check the facts during the debates

We're planning special coverage for the presidential debates. Here are some tips on how to use PolitiFact as you watch the debate. Go to our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/politifact.georgia) for full versions of fact-checks. Readers can comment on our rulings at the Facebook site. We'll also be live Tweeting the debates on Twitter (http://twitter.com/politifactga), We'll update those pages with new fact-checks throughout the news cycle.

Does Obama make the grade on education reform?

Barack Obama made 31 promises about education, from expanding early learning programs to adding public charter schools. We put his performance to the Obameter. Go to our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/politifact.georgia) for full versions of these and other fact-checks. Readers can comment on our rulings at the FaceBook site. Or find us on Twitter (http://twitter.com/politifactga). We update that page with new fact-checks throughout the news cycle.