Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

Setting the record straight on Will Rogers...

Said truth and politics don't mix.
Said truth and politics don't mix.

"If you ever injected truth into politics, you would have no politics."

So said Will Rogers.

But truth and politics are not always polar concepts. Four of the last five statements we’ve fact checked out have been rated True.

Sometimes we’re accused of setting an impossible standard for political truth. Here’s are definition of what earns a True rating: "The statement is accurate and there’s nothing significant missing."

Here’s the honor roll:

U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes, R-4th, for his claim that the U.S. pays $73.9 million a day in debt interest to China, our largest creditor nation. Forbes said the payments are helping China modernize its military and are the equivalent of buying it three F-35 Joint Strike Force fighter jets a week. Although we didn’t include his statement on the F-35s in our fact check, it turns out he was right on that, too. An F-35 costs about $160 million.

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va. He correctly said that U.S. spending, at about 25 percent of its gross domestic product, is near an all-time high. He was also right in saying federal revenues, at about 15 percent of GDP, are near an all-time low. Warner used the statistics to lay out a case for his upcoming budget proposal that would cut spending and raise taxes.

Del. Ward Armstrong, D-Henry, has a record of botching facts in his ongoing battle with Appalachian Power Company, the dominant electricity provider in Southwest Virginia. But he was right when he noted that Apco is asking state regulators for a 10 percent rate increase.

Kitty Boitnott, president of the Virginia Education Association, was dead on in saying Virginia pays teachers below the national average. The 2010-11 average classroom salary was $51,599. That’s about 9 percent lower than the national average of $56,069.

So who didn’t make the honor roll?

The Republican Party of Virginia was Barely True in saying Democrat Tim Kaine broke a campaign pledge not to raise taxes when he was governor from 2006 to 2010. Kaine indeed tried to raise levies when he ran the state. But we found no evidence of a no-tax vow by Kaine, now running for the U.S. Senate.  

To the contrary, Kaine in the 2005 campaign, set conditions under which he would seek a tax increase for transportation. He did, however, leave himself open for criticism by compromising those conditions once he got into office.