Saturday, October 25th, 2014

Barack Obama, Lyndon Johnson, 6.1 billion hours of tax preparation: PolitiFact Oregon Roundup

Lyndon Johnson, shown here with President John F. Kennedy, is remembered for his landmark civil legislation. Did he actually oppose civil rights laws for much of his time in Congress? Today's PolitiFact Oregon Roundup checks.
Lyndon Johnson, shown here with President John F. Kennedy, is remembered for his landmark civil legislation. Did he actually oppose civil rights laws for much of his time in Congress? Today's PolitiFact Oregon Roundup checks.

Most PolitiFact Oregon Roundups have some central theme. One entry may offer a compilation of fact-checks on Obamacare, while another might present our five latest Pants on Fire ratings.

Today, we’re opening the door to the PolitiFact cafeteria, where an assortment entrees await. Lunch is now being served.

1. Obama’s take on LBJ’s civil rights voting record

President Lyndon Johnson is remembered, among other things, for spearheading passage of landmark civil rights legislation. So it caught many by surprise recently when President Barack Obama said this of LBJ: "During his first 20 years in Congress, he opposed every civil rights bill that came up for a vote, once calling the push for federal legislation a farce and a shame."

PolitiFact Texas’ check found that, sure enough, Johnson sided with the South on civil rights votes from 1937 through 1957. He broke that pattern by steering passage of civil rights acts starting in 1957. The claim was rated True.

2. One Senator, one vote

A closely-watched U.S. Senate race in Colorado pits incumbent Democrat Mark Udall against likely Republican rival U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner. Gardner, repeating a theme we’ve seen elsewhere, hit Udall recently with the claim that Udall’s vote was the one that passed Obamacare.

PolitiFact National's check found an element of truth, since without Gardner’s vote in favor, the bill would not have been able to come up for a vote on Dec. 24, 2009. "However, this ignores the other 59 senators who also voted to end debate," it concluded. Gardner’s claim merited a Mostly False.

3. A claim populated by inaccuracy

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., recently made the pitch that hurricanes in Florida require a large National Guard contingent to help in case of emergency. In doing so, he argued that Florida is now the third-most-populous state in the nation, having surpassed New York.

Statistics, however, still show Florida trailing New York by about 100,000 residents. Demographers have predicted the Sunshine State will surpass New York and add it may already have happened, but they won’t know for sure until the census releases updated information later this year. He earned a Mostly False.

4. In Georgia, it's a matter of degrees

U.S. Senate candidates in Georgia are squabbling about college degrees. It heated up even more last week, when GOP candidate David Purdue noted that Karen Handel, an intra-party rival, didn’t earn a college degree. Handel, in turn, replied that fully 72 percent of Georgians did not have the chance to finish college.

PolitiFact Georgia found that the Handel campaign did provide information showing that 72 percent of Georgians do not have a college degree. When associate degrees are included, the figure drops to 65 percent. "There’s a little context missing in the Handel campaign’s claim," the check found, "but it’s’ mostly on the mark. Our rating: Mostly True."

5. A particularly taxing day

The Ides of April are upon us, meaning it’s time to pony up your tax payments. That brought the claim from U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., that it takes U.S. taxpayers a total of 6.1 billion hours to file their taxes. If true, that adds up to a staggering grand total of 695,000 years.

PolitiFact’s check showed that the number came from the Taxpayer Advocate Service’s 2013 report to Congress, which stated that individuals and businesses spent 6.1 billion hours preparing their taxes. "The number is an estimate," the story concluded, "but it’s from a credible, independent report. We rate this statement True."

Which prompts us to ask: Have you filed your taxes yet? Are you happy with how they’re being spent? And, if not, what services should be cut? Weigh in now and let’s get the conversation started.