Friday, October 24th, 2014

Fact-checking the TV game of connect the dots

PolitiFact's Bill Adair fact-checks campaign ads with analysis from NBC's Chuck Todd and ad critic Barbara Lippert.

The Obama and Romney campaigns are engaged in a fierce battle of connect the dots.

Faced with incomplete and sometimes skimpy details to attack their opponents, the campaigns are making some overly generous assumptions and -- sometimes -- drawing some wildly inaccurate conclusions.

Here are some of our recent fact-checks on campaign ads that try to connect the dots:

Did Mitt Romney pay a higher tax rate than you? This ad fits the Obama theme that Romney is wealthy and hasn't paid his fair share. But the truth depends on whether you include payroll taxes in your calculation. If you do, Obama is right. If you don't, he's wrong. Also, it's worth pointing out that the people paying a higher rate aren't the canned-tuna shoppers pictured in the ad -- it's primarily wealthy people who would pay higher rates than Romney. Half True.

Has Obama ended welfare's work requirement? The Romney campaign doubled down on Monday with a new ad that repeats a claim from a couple of weeks ago -- that Obama has ended the work requirement. As with Obama's tax claim, this, too, is a case of trying to connect the dots to suggest something big. But if you read the memo, you can see that's simply not true. Pants on Fire.

Will Romney's plan add trillions to the deficit? Another Obama campaign ad says Romney would increase the deficit by trillions while Obama would cut the deficit by $4 trillion. But details on Romney's plan are thin. Independent analysts say that Romney's plan is so vague that it's difficult to know how his plan will impact the federal budget.

It's missing the politically sensitive details on which programs he would cut and which tax breaks he would reduce. Those same analysts also say the ad exaggerates the deficit reductions that would come from the Obama plan.The savings could be less than $2 trillion over 10 years. We rated the statement Half True.

You can see all of our ad checks on our Message Machine page.