Friday, October 31st, 2014

A primary primer: A look inside the Santorum file

In this Associated Press photo, GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum celebrates bowling a strike while campaigning in Wisconsin.
In this Associated Press photo, GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum celebrates bowling a strike while campaigning in Wisconsin.

As the Wisconsin primary election approaches, we’re taking a look at how the four candidates seeking the Republican presidential nomination have fared on PolitiFact’s Truth-O-Meter.

PolitiFact Wisconsin hasn’t rated any statements by Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul or Newt Gingrich, so we’ll review ratings from our colleagues. Most of the statements were rated by PolitiFact National, but some were done by state operations such as PolitiFact Georgia.

For each candidate, we’ll look at the 10 most recent ratings as of March 26, 2012.

We’ll start with Santorum, since the former Pennsylvania senator was the first to visit the Badger State ahead of the April 3, 2012 primary. The other three candidates are expected to visit Wisconsin in the coming days. We’ll review Paul’s ratings on Wednesday, Romney’s on Thursday and Gingirch’s on Friday.

In total, our colleagues have rated 42 Santorum statements. They break down this way:

Five statements rated True; four Mostly True; 11 Half True; seven Mostly False; 11 False; and four Pants on Fire!.

Here’s a look at the latest 10, divided into four topics.

President Obama

-- For saying President Barack Obama’s policies have forced "many parts of the country to experience rolling blackouts," Santorum earned a Pants on Fire!.  PolitiFact National found no evidence of widespread instances of utilities intentionally shutting off power for temporary periods, nor that Obama policies were to blame any more than, say, squirrels, for those that were done.

-- Santorum’s claim that Obama "proposed eliminating charitable deductions for high-income taxpayers" also missed the mark. PolitiFact Georgia gave him a False, noting the Obama administration has talked repeatedly about reducing charitable deductions, not eliminating them.

-- Branding the president a "snob," Santorum claimed Obama once said he wanted "everybody in America to go to college." But after analyzing 18 Obama statements on the subject, our colleagues gave that claim a False, and Santorum later backtracked on what he said.

Health care reform law

-- Santorum claimed that after Obama’s health care law takes full effect, "100 percent" of Americans will "depend on some form of federal payment, some form of government benefit to help provide for them." That claim was rated False, as the percentage is expected to increase, but not likely beyond 60 percent.

-- Santorum’s claim that the federal government "tells health insurance companies" they can keep 15 percent of their revenues was rated Half True. Obama’s health care law does require large group insurance plans to spend 85 percent of their premium income on real health care. But for small group plans the rule is more generous. And all health insurance companies are still free to spend other streams of revenue however they wish.

Government benefits

-- Santorum said slightly less than half of Americans "depend on some form of federal payment, some form of government benefit to help provide for them." His claim was rated Mostly True, coming up a bit short in that the percentage he relied on includes every member of a household in which one member receives benefits; and in some households, it would be a stretch to say that as a result of that every member will "depend on some form of federal payment."

-- For saying "there were no government benefits" in 1925, when his grandfather came to America, Santorum earned a False. Millions of Americans would have either qualified for benefits directly, such as payments to veterans, or have been protected by workers' compensation laws that provided benefits to those who became disabled by their jobs. And state and local governments paid support to people who were disabled or indigent.

Miscellaneous

-- Santorum said that at the time of the nation’s founding fathers, the dictionary definition of happiness was "not doing what you want to do but doing what you ought to do." Our colleagues rated the claim Mostly False, after checking with two dictionaries that would have been in Thomas Jefferson’s library and other sources.

-- Santorum claimed in a TV ad that Romney described himself as someone who doesn’t "line up" with the National Rifle Association. Santorum earned a True for accurately quoting Romney, although it was noted that Romney spoke the words 18 years earlier and used them to describe his position on a single issue.

-- Santorum claimed U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said she "prefers the South African Constitution over the United States Constitution." He earned a False from PolitiFact Georgia, which found that he twisted a handful of words to mean something that they did not.