Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

Checking facts on the deficit commission

Paul Krugman and George Will take part in the roundtable on "This Week with Christiane Amanpour."
Paul Krugman and George Will take part in the roundtable on "This Week with Christiane Amanpour."

We continue our fact-checking of statements on This Week with Christiane Amanpour, looking at remarks from economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman. 

Krugman had harsh words for President Barack Obama's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, a group that is working toward releasing a formal report on ways to reduce the deficit. The commission's co-chairs released their ideas for the proposal last week.

The key to reducing the deficit, Krugman said, is reducing the future growth of health care costs, and the commission didn't do that.

"They completely wimped out on that," Krugman said. "They simply assumed they were going to reduce the rate of health care cost growth. And they said, how are we going to do that? By monitoring and taking additional measures as necessary. So the report was completely empty on the only thing that really matters and then had a whole bunch of things which involved large tax cuts for the top bracket. What on earth is that doing in there?"

We examined the report and found that Krugman wasn't accurate: The report did include more concrete ideas for reducing health care costs, particularly for an Independent Payment Advisory Board. We examined the proposal's ideas in some detail and rated Krugman's statement False.

We're still fact-checking Krugman's statement that the report included large tax cuts for the top bracket and will publish our findings soon.

We've also fact-checked a statement from Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., who chairs the Senate Budget Committee and serves on the deficit commission. Conrad  said, "If you look at our spending, it's the highest it's been as a share of our economy in 60 years, revenue is the lowest it's been as a share of our economy in 60 years, so we're going to have to work both sides of the equation."

We found that Conrad was either correct or very close to correct on the numbers. So we rated his statement True.