Truth-O-Meter rules on abortion, tax increase claims

U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-4th Dist.) delivers a speech on the House floor on March 8.
U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-4th Dist.) delivers a speech on the House floor on March 8.

There have been more than 54 million abortions since 1973 and property taxes in New Jersey have increased 20 percent as a result of cuts to tax rebates, two lawmakers claimed recently.

In case you missed it, the Truth-O-Meter took on these claims this weekend, ruling Mostly True the abortion claim by U.S. Rep. Chris Smith on Sunday and Half True the tax claim by Assemblyman John McKeon on Monday.

Smith claim

The 4th District Republican gave a speech March 8 on the House floor opposing a new abortion proposal called "after-birth abortion" and stated that since 1973 -- the year the U.S. Supreme Court handed down the Roe v. Wade decision -- "well over 54 million babies have had abortion forced upon them." Smith’s number came from a report from the National Right to Life Committee, a group that opposes abortion. The committee’s total is based on data collected by the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that advocates on issues of sexual and reproductive health.The institute told us it’s tracked about 49.3 million abortions through 2008. Assuming the annual total of 1.2 million abortions annually continued through 2011, the total would be near 53 million. That’s below Smith’s figure of "well over" 54 million abortions.

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McKeon claim

McKeon, an Essex County Democrat, claimed in a March 4 interview on My9 News’ "New Jersey Now" that Gov. Chris Christie’s $1 billion cut in tax rebates resulted in a 20 percent increase to property taxes. The problem is McKeon’s numbers were a bit inflated, the Truth-O-Meter found. First, cuts to the Homestead rebate since Christie signed the  Fiscal Year 2011 budget totaled $660.6 million, not $1 billion. After that reduction, the average net property tax increased by about 20 percent between 2009 and 2011, according to data from the state Department of Community Affairs. But a DCA spokeswoman said the tax hike is inaccurate because Homestead rebates were not used in previous years to directly reduce property tax bills. Now, the rebate is given as a credit on property tax bills.

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On the road

PolitiFact New Jersey Editor Caryn Shinske will discuss the Truth-O-Meter with political science students on March 28 at Hunterdon Central Regional High School. To schedule Shinske to speak to your class or organization, e-mail or call (973) 392-1503.

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