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Checking Democrats on Fiscal Policy

By Lukas Pleva
Published on Wednesday, August 18th, 2010 at 9:34 p.m.

Fiscal policy is a hot button issue in this year's election season, and both parties have taken notice. In our latest effort to hold Washington politicians accountable, we looked at statements from President Barack Obama and Tim Kaine, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Kaine made an appearance on the Aug. 15, 2010, segment of CBS Face the Nation, where he accused the Republicans of trying to prevent Obama from moving ahead on tackling the deficit.

"The good news is, the president has said I'm going to do what the previous Democratic president, Bill Clinton, did. I'm going to get control of this deficit. And so he's cut domestic spending and -- and frozen discretionary spending. They're making strategic cuts to defense. He's got a deficit commission working that the Republicans tried to block," he said.

We looked into the claim, and found that seven Republican lawmakers who originally supported the Bipartisan Task Force for Responsible Fiscal Action withdrew their co-sponsorship only days before the final vote. Had they not switched their position, the bill would have received the necessary 60 votes and passed. What Kaine left out, however, is that 22 Democrats also voted against the measure. We rated the item Half True.

We also rated President Obama's claim that some Republican leaders in Congress are "pushing to make privatizing Social Security a key part of their legislative agenda if they win a majority in Congress this fall." We began by looking at the "Roadmap for America"s Future," a bill from Rep. Paul Ryan, the ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee. The plan includes a proposal to allow people under 55 to steer a portion of their payroll taxes toward an individual retirement account of their choosing, but one overseen by the Social Security Administration. After reviewing the plan in detail, we concluded that one could make a plausible argument that Ryan's proposal would establish a partially privatized plan. But Obama's sweeping characterization that Republicans are attempting to privatize Social Security seems to be something of a scare tactic.

We also spoke with members of the Republican Leadership, and found that the only "Republican leader" who is really talking about allowing personal retirement accounts is Ryan. We rated the statement Barely True.
 

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