Thursday, September 18th, 2014

Republican debate touches past claims about federal taxes, Medicaid

Republican presidential candidates Rick Santorum, left, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, Rick Perry, Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman debated Wednesday night at Oakland University in Michigan.
Republican presidential candidates Rick Santorum, left, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, Rick Perry, Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman debated Wednesday night at Oakland University in Michigan.

The CNBC Republican presidential debate brought to mind a scant few previously fact-checked claims:

--Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota noted that 53 percent of Americans pay federal income taxes now, while 47 percent of Americans "pay no federal income taxes." We’re not sure about that, precisely, but we earlier rated True a claim by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, saying that in 2009, 51 percent of American households paid no income taxes. Significantly, Cornyn did not say residents of thehouseholds paid no taxes at all. Many Americans who pay no income tax pay other federal taxes, notably the payroll tax, which funds Social Security and Medicare and is deducted from every working person’s paycheck.

--Herman Cain, touting his 9-9-9 flat-tax plan, said of the existing tax code that "complexity costs us $430 billion a year." PolitiFact in Washington recently checked a statement by Texas Gov. Rick Perry that "we spend half a trillion dollars a year in tax preparation," rating it Mostly False. Most estimates are quite a bit lower. In this instance, Perry also employed a figure based on costs projected into the future and made it sound like that's what is being day.

--Perry, speaking to what he’d do after doing away with the health care overhaul signed into law by President Barack Obama, said he’d send Medicaid, which insures low-income Americans, "back to the states and let the states figure out how to make Medicaid work, because I will guarantee you we will do it safely, we will do it appropriately, and we will save a ton of money."

We’ve previously rated False and (when Perry repeated it) Pants on Fire a Perry claim that a Texas request for a federal waiver related to Medicaid had "languished" at the federal level. In reality, the federal government told us it was waiting for Texas to make revisions in the request, which initially sought to redirect Medicaid hospital funds into a state pool helping some low-income Texans get private insurance.