Friday, October 31st, 2014

Fact-checking the Reagan Library debate

Eight Republican candidates took part in the debate at the Reagan Library.
Eight Republican candidates took part in the debate at the Reagan Library.

The big topic at the Republican debate at the Reagan Library on Sept. 7, 2011, was jobs. We checked several claims the night of the debate, and now we've added some additional fact checks -- about gasoline and jobs.

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann said that "The day that President Obama took office, gasoline was $1.79 a gallon." She added that "it's entirely possible for us to get back to inexpensive energy." Readers questioned whether gasoline was really that inexpensive when the president took office in 2009. It was, and we rated her claim True.

We also took a look at a swipe former Utah Gov. John Huntsman took at Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Huntsman said, "I hate to rain on the parade of the Lone Star governor, but as governor of Utah, we were the No. 1 job creator in this country during my years of service. That was 5.9 percent when you were creating jobs at 4.9 percent."

One set of data put Utah at fourth place among states in job creation, but another set of data had Utah in first place. Both were from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, although the data set that ranked Utah fourth was more comprehensive. We rated it Half True.

In another exchange over job creation, Perry said Romney's record was even worse than a Democrat's. "Michael Dukakis created jobs three times faster than you did, Mitt," Perry jabbed.

We found correct that Dukakis did grow jobs at a faster pace than Romney. But we found little evidence that meant Dukakis was better at job creation. Rather, larger factors were at work, such as the way the computer industry in Massachusetts was developing, as well as national economic trends. So we rated Perry's statement Half True.

Here are our earlier checks:

Bachmann said that the new "Obamacare" health care law was a key factor in the economy and was forcing many business owners to eliminate jobs. "Obamacare is killing jobs. We know that from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office," she said.

We checked that claim when she said in June that the CBO had said the health care law "will kill 800,000 jobs." We rated that Mostly False.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry spoke of his frustration with the federal government failing to approve a request from Texas for health care flexibility. He was likely referring to a request for a Medicaid waiver. When he claimed in December it had languished for two years, PolitiFact Texas rated it Pants on Fire.

Mitt Romney said his health care bill affected 8 percent of Massachusetts residents. When he made a previous comparison earlier this week that said Obama's affected 100 percent, we rated it Pants on Fire!

Perry said he stood by his claim that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme. "That is what it is," he said. PolitiFact Texas examined that claim and rated it False.

When Perry was criticized for issuing an executive order for an HPV vaccination, he responded by saying it included "an opt-out." PolitiFact Texas checked a similar claim when he said it wasn't mandatory and rated it Mostly False.

Perry said that President Barack Obama was out of touch with the need for more border security by citing comments Obama made during a visit last spring to El Paso, Texas. When Perry said last month that Obama said the border cities were the safest they had been in history, we rated in Mostly True.

Perry repeated a claim he has made questioning whether there is scientific consensus on climate change. We explored that last month and rated it False.