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    "count": 6380,
    "next": "http://www.politifact.com/api/stories/?page=622",
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    "results": [
        {
            "slug": "holiday-gas-taxes",
            "personalities": [
                {
                    "slug": "hillary-clinton",
                    "full_name": "Hillary Clinton",
                    "first_name": "Hillary",
                    "last_name": "Clinton"
                },
                {
                    "slug": "john-mccain",
                    "full_name": "John McCain",
                    "first_name": "John",
                    "last_name": "McCain"
                },
                {
                    "slug": "barack-obama",
                    "full_name": "Barack Obama",
                    "first_name": "Barack",
                    "last_name": "Obama"
                }
            ],
            "headline": "Gas taxes, on holiday",
            "entry": "SUMMARY: The RNC is right that Obama once supported a gas tax \"holiday,\" but a video glosses over some key details.\n<p>\n Lawmakers love to declare holidays on taxes. They suspend sales taxes for a few days and reap some goodwill (and publicity) when constituents make big purchases without having to pay a few cents on every dollar to state and local governments.\n</p>\n<p>\n When Barack Obama was an Illinois state senator, lawmakers passed a holiday on gas taxes to compensate for soaring prices. Obama supported the idea. But he soured on it after deciding the suspension of gas taxes was helping oil companies more than consumers. When the state Senate considered an extension, he voted against it.\n</p>\n<p>\n Now, the Republican National Committee is using a new Web video to accuse him of flip-flopping.\n</p>\n<p>\n The video uses news clips to remind viewers that gas prices have reached record levels and then shows side-by-side comments from Obama and Sen. John McCain.\n</p>\n<p>\n McCain: \"I propose that the federal government suspend all taxes on gasoline now paid by the American people &mdash; from Memorial Day to Labor Day of this year.\"\n</p>\n<p>\n Obama: \"I think John McCain's proposal for a three-month tax holiday is a bad idea.\"\n</p>\n<p>\n After another news clip about the price of gas and a repeat of the McCain/Obama comments, the screen fills with these words:\n</p>\n<p>\n \"In 2000 as a state senator, Obama voted for a six-month 5 percent gas tax holiday.\" The ad doesn't actually say \"flip-flop,\" but that point comes through loud and clear.\n</p>\n<p>\n McCain proposed the tax holiday during a speech on April 15, 2008, at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. He said a summertime suspension of the gas tax \"will be an immediate economic stimulus &mdash; taking a few dollars off the price of a tank of gas every time a family, a farmer, or trucker stops to fill up.\"\n</p>\n<p>\n The federal tax is 18.4 cents per gallon for gasoline and 24.4 cents for diesel fuel.\n</p>\n<p>\n A week after McCain's proposal, Obama said it was not a good economic approach. \"I've said I think John McCain's proposal for a three-month tax holiday is a bad idea,\" Obama said.\n</p>\n<p>\n He said it would have minimal consumer benefit. \"We're talking about 5 percent of your total cost of gas that you suspend for three months, which might save you a few hundred bucks that then will spike right up.\"\n</p>\n<p>\n He said the policy might not help consumers because oil companies might not pass along the savings and he warned that a temporary halt in the tax would deprive the Highway Trust Fund of money for critical infrastructure repairs.\n</p>\n<p>\n So the RNC video has the first part right. Obama is against the McCain proposal. (We should note that Sen. Hillary Clinton has said she is open to the idea as long as the revenue is somehow replaced in the Highway Trust Fund.)\n</p>\n<p>\n Looking back to 2000 when Obama was in the Illinois Senate, gas prices had soared to $1.50 per gallon (high for those days, but a bargain by today's standards) and state legislators wanted to provide some relief. Obama voted for Senate Bill 1310, which reduced the state's sales tax on gasoline from 6.25 percent to 1.25 percent for six months. It passed 50-0, with six senators voting present.\n</p>\n<p>\n Obama joined other senators in requesting gas staions post signs that said the legislature had lowered the gas tax. That was prompted by concerns that oil companies would pocket the savings and not pass it to consumers. Obama even joked that he wanted signs in his district to say \"Senator Obama reduced your gasoline prices.\"\n</p>\n<p>\n But six months later, Obama voted against a bill to make the reduction permanent. He said statistics suggested that \"the elimination of the tax has not been passed on to the consumer.\"\n</p>\n<p>\n The Obama campaign says that's a key reason why he opposes McCain's plan: there is no mechanism to make sure that consumers, rather than oil companies, reap the benefits of the tax holiday.\n</p>\n<p>\n So on this point &mdash; how Obama voted in 2000 &mdash; the RNC glosses over an important detail. Yes, he voted for the tax holiday the first time, but he opposed an extension of it because he said consumers weren't getting the benefit.\n</p>\n<p>\n So that leaves us with evidence on both sides. The RNC is right that he voted for the 2000 bill and opposes the new McCain proposal. But the RNC leaves out the fact that he opposed the extension because of concern for consumers and now opposes the McCain bill for that reason.\n</p>\n<p>\n But it's not fair to call it a flip-flop when the very reason Obama opposes a suspension of the gas tax now is because he concluded that it didn't work when he supported one in the past. We rule this Barely True.\n</p>\n<p>\n</p>",
            "publication_date": "2008-04-24T18:01:23-04:00"
        },
        {
            "slug": "focus-facts",
            "personalities": [],
            "headline": "Focus on the facts",
            "entry": "SUMMARY: A leading conservative Christian group is blasting away at Sen. Barack Obama's record in hopes of portraying him as too liberal to win the White House. But they misfire on many of their facts.\n<p>\n While influential evangelical Christian leader James Dobson once said he could not vote for Republican Sen. John McCain because he did not believe McCain was a true conservative, Dobson's organization has apparently decided Democratic Sen. Barack Obama is much worse.\n</p>\n<p>\n A letter from Focus on the Family Action makes a multifaceted attack on Obama in an attempt to portray him as someone who would be \"the most left-wing president in our nation's history.\"\r\nFocus on the Family Action is the lobbying arm of Focus on the Family, an organization founded by Dobson.\n</p>\n<p>\n \"Dear Friend,\" the letter begins. \"What does it take to be the most liberal member of the United States Senate &mdash; farther left than Ted Kennedy, John Kerry or even Hillary Clinton? For the answer, take a look at a man who could be the next president of the United States: Barack Obama.\"\n</p>\n<p>\n The letter, written by Tim Minnery, the lobbying group's senior vice president, was posted on the organization's Web site and widely circulated via chain e-mail. It tries to paint Obama as bad for families, accusing him of everything from trying to further \"the homosexual agenda\" to being soft on the war against terrorists.\n</p>\n<p>\n The letter purports to lay out Obama's position on a number of family issues, but too often mischaracterizes and sensationalizes the effect of some of the measures Obama supports for dramatic effect.\n</p>\n<p>\n <b>\n  &bull; For example, Minnery alleges that a bill Obama supports could put churches \"at risk if they preach the truth about homosexuality.\"\n </b>\n</p>\n<p>\n He says: \"He (Obama) has pledged to homosexual leaders that he will sign the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (forcing businesses to defend themselves against discrimination lawsuits should they not hire a particular candidate who then announces he or she is homosexual or transsexual). He also supports hate-crimes expansion (potentially putting churches at risk if they preach the truth about homosexuality).\"\n</p>\n<p>\n Obama has, in fact, strongly supported the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and hate crime expansion. It's the explanations in parentheses that are misleading.\n</p>\n<p>\n The Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2007 would make it unlawful for employers to discriminate against an individual on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation. The law would provide employment protections to gay, lesbian and bisexual employees similar to those in the Civil Rights Act.\r\nMinnery told PolitiFact it could lead to this scenario: \"Someone applies for a job and they are turned down, and later they identify themselves as a homosexual and claim that is why they weren't hired. How is an employer supposed to defend themselves against that charge? Proving a negative is nearly impossible.\"\n</p>\n<p>\n Arthur Leonard, a professor of law at New York Law School and an expert in gay rights and discrimination based on sexual orientation, said Minnery has twisted the effect of the proposed law.\r\n\"They have to have known or thought the person was gay for there to be a discrimination claim,\" Leonard said.\n</p>\n<p>\n Brian Moulton, associate counsel for Human Rights Campaign, a strong proponent of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, said Minnery's hypothetical scenario is a red herring.\n</p>\n<p>\n \"The burden of proof under ENDA is on the employee who has made a claim of discrimination,\" Moulton said.\n</p>\n<p>\n Minnery's concern about the expansion of hate-crime laws as \"potentially putting churches at risk if they preach the truth about homosexuality\" is also off base. An amendment co-sponsored by Obama sought to expand federal hate crime laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity.\n</p>\n<p>\n According to Minnery, that could lead to this scenario: Someone hears a sermon about the Bible teachings on homosexuality and then goes out and commits a crime against an innocent person who is gay; the perpetrator claims the sermon inspired them to act the church gets charged with a hate crime.\r\n\"It would have a chilling effect on teaching that part of the Bible that deals with homosexuality,\" Minnery said.\n</p>\n<p>\n Leonard, the law professor, said: \"That's ridiculous.\"\n</p>\n<p>\n The First Amendment would protect the church against any kind of action like that, Leonard said.\n</p>\n<p>\n Minnery distorts the content of the bills.\n <a href=\"http://pub.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/430/\">\n  We rule this statement False.\n </a>\n</p>\n<p>\n <b>\n  &bull; Minnery goes on to assert that Obama supports teaching school children \"in second grade no less\" about homosexual relationships.\n </b>\n</p>\n<p>\n This is in reference to a question that was asked in a Democratic debate in New Hampshire in September 2007. The candidates were asked if they would be comfortable having a fairy tale about a prince who marries another prince read to their children.\n</p>\n<p>\n It was a question based on a controversy in Massachusetts in which two parents filed a federal lawsuit (later dismissed) because their second-grade children were taught a book called\n <i>\n  King and King\n </i>\n about a prince whose mother pressures him to find a princess but who ends up falling in love with and marrying a princess' brother.\n</p>\n<p>\n Obama said he'd be okay with it.\n</p>\n<p>\n \"You know, the fact is my 9-year-old and my 6-year-old I think are already aware that there are same-sex couples,\" Obama said in the debate. \"My wife and I have talked about it.  One of the things I want to communicate to my children is not to be afraid of people who are different, because there have been times in our history where I was considered different, or Bill Richardson was considered different.\"\n</p>\n<p>\n But that answer is different than support for teaching about homosexuality to second-graders.\n</p>\n<p>\n Although Obama's campaign did not respond to inquiries for this story, there is nothing in Obama's stated education platform that speaks to any initiative to require or encourage teaching second-graders about homosexuality.\n <a href=\"http://pub.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/446/\">\n  We rule this statement Barely True.\n </a>\n</p>\n<p>\n <b>\n  &bull; The Focus on the Family Action letter also points out one of Obama's votes as a state senator in Illinois to portray him as antifamily.\n </b>\n</p>\n<p>\n \"As a state senator, he (Obama) even refused to support a measure to stop sex businesses from opening near schools or places of worship!\"\n</p>\n<p>\n It's true. But before you go fitting Obama with Hugh Hefner pajamas, some explanation:\n</p>\n<p>\n The bill that came before the Illinois state Senate on March 29, 2001, sought to prohibit adult businesses from being located within 1,000 feet of elementary or secondary schools, public parks, places of worship, preschools, day care facilities, mobile home parks or any areas zoned residential.\r\nObama argued that kind of regulation is better handled by local officials through zoning.\n</p>\n<p>\n Addressing the assembly, Obama stated: \"It seems to me that if there's ever been a function that has historically been relegated to local control and it is appropriately there, it's these kinds of zoning matters. I would urge a No vote.\"\n</p>\n<p>\n But Obama didn't actually vote \"no.\" He and four others voted \"present.\" In the Illinois state Senate, lawmakers sometimes vote \"present\" instead of \"no\" to block bills without officially opposing them. The bill narowly failed.\n <a href=\"http://pub.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2008/feb/13/obamas-present-tension/\">\n  (PolitiFact previously reviewed Obama's history of voting \"present\" when he was in the Illinois state Senate.)\n </a>\n</p>\n<p>\n Minnery's statement is correct that Obama \"refused to support\" a bill that would have prohibited sex shops near schools and places of worship, but it's wrong to imply that's the same as supporting sex shops.\n <a href=\"http://pub.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/429/\">\n  We rule this statement True.\n </a>\n</p>\n<p>\n <b>\n  &bull; On the foreign policy front, Minnery warns that Obama sponsored legislation that commits the United States to drastically increasing foreign aid.\n </b>\n</p>\n<p>\n \"Among his pet projects is a bill he sponsored called the Global Poverty Act, which would commit the U.S. to spending 0.7 percent of gross national product on foreign aid,\" the article on the group's Web site says. \"Over 13 years, that will amount to a whopping $845-billion increase over current foreign-aid spending! Get your checkbooks ready!\"\n</p>\n<p>\n It's a claim that Minnery said originates with an article by Cliff Kincaid for Accuracy in Media on Feb. 12, 2008, and which reached a much wider audience when Rush Limbaugh parroted Kincaid's claim on his nationally syndicated radio show.\n</p>\n<p>\n The Global Poverty Act, introduced by Obama on Dec. 7, 2007 &mdash; along with Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel and Democrat Maria Cantwell &mdash; would \"require the president to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to further the United States foreign policy objective of promoting the reduction of global poverty, the elimination of extreme global poverty, and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goal of reducing by one-half the proportion of people worldwide, between 1990 and 2015, who live on less than $1 per day.\"\n</p>\n<p>\n Kincaid takes that statement to mean that the bill is an adoption of all of the United Nations' Millenium Project recommendations, one of which is that high-income countries like the United States should increase their foreign aid to 0.7 percent of gross national income by 2015.\n</p>\n<p>\n But according to staff members for several of the legislators pushing the bill, Kincaid has misread the legislation. The act adopts only the first recommendation from the U.N. Millenium Project, the one that requires countries to develop strategies to halve by 2015 the number of people who live in extreme poverty, on less than $1 per day.\n</p>\n<p>\n \"The bill simply requires the president to develop and implement a U.S.-determined strategy to reduce global poverty and does not mandate any new spending,\" said Jordan Stark, press secretary for U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel. Again, a Republican.\n</p>\n<p>\n But don't just take his word for it. The Congressional Budget Office on March 28, 2008, estimated the cost of implementing the bill would be less than $1-million per year.\n <a href=\"http://pub.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/434/\">\n  We rule this statement False.\n </a>\n</p>\n<p>\n</p>",
            "publication_date": "2008-04-23T16:28:07-04:00"
        },
        {
            "slug": "health-care-plans-back-spotlight",
            "personalities": [
                {
                    "slug": "hillary-clinton",
                    "full_name": "Hillary Clinton",
                    "first_name": "Hillary",
                    "last_name": "Clinton"
                },
                {
                    "slug": "barack-obama",
                    "full_name": "Barack Obama",
                    "first_name": "Barack",
                    "last_name": "Obama"
                }
            ],
            "headline": "In Pa., 11th-hour attacks on health care",
            "entry": "SUMMARY: Whose health care plan is better? Obama and Clinton continue the fight. We find some less-than-stellar use of numbers on cost and coverage, and a quote taken out of context.\n<p>\n For all the Pennsylvania policy wonks out there, Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama took a break from Bosnia and flag pins to get back to an oldie but a goodie: health care plans.\n</p>\n<p>\n Both ads start with the allegation that the other one is on the attack.\n</p>\n<p>\n \"Clinton goes on the attack,\" says Obama's ad.\n</p>\n<p>\n \"Obama on the attack,\" says Clinton's ad.\n</p>\n<p>\n We agree that there are lots of attacks, so let's move on to fact-checking their health care claims. We've checked some of it before, but a few points are new.\n</p>\n<p>\n &bull; Clinton's ad says\n <a href=\"http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/209/\">\n  Obama's plan will leave 15-million people out\n </a>\n . We checked this back in December 2007 and found it to be Half True.\n</p>\n<p>\n &bull; Her ad also says that her plan will cost taxpayers $1,700 less to cover each person than Obama's plan. We found the ad is taking a broad study and applying it too specifically to Clinton's and Obama's health care plans.\n <a href=\"http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/450/\">\n  We rated this claim Barely True.\n </a>\n</p>\n<p>\n &bull; Obama's ad says Clinton is willing to garnish people's wages if they refuse to buy health insurance. What she said is that there will be an enforcement mechanism for the universal mandate that's part of her plan, and garnisheed wages is one possibility.\n <a href=\"http://pub.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/449/\">\n  We gave his statement a Half True\n </a>\n .\n</p>\n<p>\n &bull; We also previously checked Obama's claim that Clinton forces people to get health insurance even if they can't afford it.\n <a href=\"http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/376/\">\n  We found that statement Half True\n </a>\n .\n</p>\n<p>\n</p>",
            "publication_date": "2008-04-21T18:00:05-04:00"
        },
        {
            "slug": "flag-pin-flap-tarnishes-obama-journos",
            "personalities": [
                {
                    "slug": "barack-obama",
                    "full_name": "Barack Obama",
                    "first_name": "Barack",
                    "last_name": "Obama"
                }
            ],
            "headline": "Flag pin flap tarnishes Obama, journos",
            "entry": "SUMMARY: Barack Obama contradicts previous statements on whether he would wear a flag lapel pin. But blowback from the debate question hits moderators.\n<p>\n During the Democratic debate in Philadelphia, a question from a voter rekindled an unlikely campaign issue: why Sen. Barack Obama doesn't wear a flag lapel pin.\n</p>\n<p>\n Moderators Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos rolled video of a voter from Latrobe, Pa.: \"Senator Obama, I have a question, and I want to know if you believe in the American flag. I am not questioning your patriotism, but all our servicemen, policemen and EMS wear the flag. I want to know why you don't.\"\n</p>\n<p>\n Obama gave a lengthy answer first defended his patriotrism -- \"I revere the American flag, and I would not be running for president if I did not revere this country\" -- before repeating remarks that it's more important to act patriotically than to where a pin.\n</p>\n<p>\n \"What I've tried to do is to show my patriotism by how I treat veterans when I'm working in the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee; by making sure that I'm speaking forcefully about how we need to bring this war in Iraq to a close,\" said Obama.\n</p>\n<p>\n He added, \"I wore one yesterday when a veteran handed it to me, who himself was disabled and works on behalf of disabled veterans. I have never said that I don't wear flag pins or refuse to wear flag pins.\"\n</p>\n<p>\n This is not the first time Obama has been questioned about lapel pins. It appears the issue first came up in October 2007 when a reporter with KCRG-TV, an ABC affiliate in Iowa, asked him, \"You don't have the American flag pin on. Is that a fashion statement?\"\n</p>\n<p>\n Obama said: \"You know, the truth is that right after 9/11, I had a pin. Shortly after 9/11, particularly because as we're talking about the Iraq War, that became a substitute for I think true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security, I decided I won't wear that pin on my chest. Instead, I'm going to try to tell the American people what I believe will make this country great, and hopefully that will be a testimony to my patriotism.\"\n</p>\n<p>\n So it is true that Obama said he won't wear the flag pin, and his statement at the debate was not accurate. We found his debate statement to be False.\n</p>\n<p>\n But Obama wasn't the only candidate not wearing a flag pin during the fall campaign. News reports from that time indicate that neither Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, nor John McCain were wearing flag pins on a daily basis either. The only candidate mentioned in news reports as regularly wearing a flag pin was Republican candidate Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York.\n</p>\n<p>\n Flag pins proliferated in the days following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, as a way of showing patriotism. As years have gone by, however, flag pin shave become less prevalent. By 2005, even Republican politicians weren't wearing them on a regular basis -- Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay wasn't wearing a flag pin on Flag Day, according to a New York Times story. So when Obama was asked about not wearing in 2007, he was not outside the norm.\n</p>\n<p>\n But Obama's October remarks on the pin resonated with the conservative media. The Drudge Report's headline read \"Obama Won't Wear American Flag Pin Any More.\" Fox News Network commentator Sean Hannity opined, \"You Democrats are so fixated on hating Bush, and you're so fixated on undermining the war, that you even now are using the American flag as a statement.\" The Chicago Sun-Times editorial page scolded Obama directly &ndash; \"Oh for Pete's sake, Sen. Obama, pin the darn American flag to your chest and tell people you're as patriotic as anyone\" &ndash; before concluding \"Obama has worked hard to stake out a centrist position, but his polarizing comments make him sound like a hardened leftist.\"\n</p>\n<p>\n Others thought the controversy was ridiculous.\n</p>\n<p>\n \"Another in a series of bullshit non-stories that have zero effect on the troops, the war or anything in the real world -- or, as Fox calls it, 'Breaking News,'\" wrote comedian Bill Maher wrote in the online magazine Salon.\n</p>\n<p>\n \"From the hue and cry on the right, you'd have thought Obama had flushed a Bible down the toilet,\" wrote syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker. \"Most honest brokers know exactly what he meant, and he's not wrong. Overused symbols lose their meaning.\"\n</p>\n<p>\n Since the ABC debate, criticism over the flag pin issue has mounted again, though this time much of it is aimed at Stephanopoulos and Gibson for spending too much time during the debate on the candidate's gaffes. The Washington Post media critic Tom Shales wrote that the moderators \"turned in shoddy, despicable performances.\" The ABC Web site was flooded with more than 19,000 comments, most of them negative. The left-leaning group MoveOn.org started a petition demanding that the media \"focus on issues that affect people's daily lives.\"\n</p>\n<p>\n</p>",
            "publication_date": "2008-04-18T16:55:52-04:00"
        },
        {
            "slug": "trying-be-tough-big-oil",
            "personalities": [
                {
                    "slug": "hillary-clinton",
                    "full_name": "Hillary Clinton",
                    "first_name": "Hillary",
                    "last_name": "Clinton"
                },
                {
                    "slug": "barack-obama",
                    "full_name": "Barack Obama",
                    "first_name": "Barack",
                    "last_name": "Obama"
                }
            ],
            "headline": "Trying to be tough on Big Oil",
            "entry": "SUMMARY: Clinton says Obama's taken money from oil executives and voted for the energy bill. Obama says Clinton has taken money from oil lobbyists. We find they're mostly right.\n<p>\n The Democratic candidates are trying to look tough against \"Big Oil.\"\n</p>\n<p>\n Oil companies are a convenient bogeyman because gasoline is averaging $3.42 per gallon in Pennsylvania and the higher fuel costs are driving up the price of food and many other products.\n</p>\n<p>\n So the candidates are each claiming the other is too cozy with oil companies.\n</p>\n<p>\n An ad from Sen. Barack Obama criticizes Sen. Hillary Clinton for taking money from lobbyists, including those representing energy companies. The text, set to music,  reads: \"Politicians defend lobbyists,\" and \"Americans pay the price.\" Another ad makes a positive case that Obama is challenging oil companies while rejecting money from their lobbyists. \"Obama's the only candidate who doesn't take a dime from oil company PACs or lobbyists. And that's change we can believe in,\" the ad says.\n</p>\n<p>\n An ad from Clinton criticizes Obama because he \"accepted $200,000 from executives and employees of oil companies.\" It notes the high price of gas and says that Obama \"voted for the Bush-Cheney energy bill that put $6-billion in the pocket of big oil. Hillary voted against it.\"\n</p>\n<p>\n We examined all three ads and explored their most significant claims. We found that:\n</p>\n<p>\n &bull; Clinton's ad was correct that Obama voted for the 2005 energy bill (she voted against it), but she got the pricetag wrong and she neglected to point out that the bill had billions of dollars in incentives for alternative fuels. We gave her claim a\n <a href=\"http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/443/\">\n  Half True.\n </a>\n</p>\n<p>\n &bull; Obama's claim that he is \"the only candidate who doesn't take a dime from oil company PACs or lobbyists\" is generally accurate but has some caveats. We gave it a\n <a href=\"http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/444/\">\n  Mostly True.\n </a>\n</p>\n<p>\n &bull; Obama's ad is correct the Clinton \"has taken over $800,000 from lobbyists.\" We gave that a\n <a href=\"http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/445/\">\n  True.\n </a>\n</p>\n<p>\n &bull; Clinton is right that Obama has taken $200,000 from oil company employees. We gave that one a\n <a href=\"http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/442/\">\n  True, while noting that she took even more than that from oil company employees.\n </a>\n</p>\n<p>\n</p>",
            "publication_date": "2008-04-17T12:58:33-04:00"
        },
        {
            "slug": "vanilla-phila",
            "personalities": [
                {
                    "slug": "hillary-clinton",
                    "full_name": "Hillary Clinton",
                    "first_name": "Hillary",
                    "last_name": "Clinton"
                },
                {
                    "slug": "john-mccain",
                    "full_name": "John McCain",
                    "first_name": "John",
                    "last_name": "McCain"
                },
                {
                    "slug": "barack-obama",
                    "full_name": "Barack Obama",
                    "first_name": "Barack",
                    "last_name": "Obama"
                }
            ],
            "headline": "Vanilla in Phila.",
            "entry": "SUMMARY: The Philly debate brought a new controversy into the campaign: Obama's ties to a former member of the Weather Underground. We check the facts.\n<p>\n Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were just a few blocks from Independence Hall, but their debate on April 16, 2008 had few fireworks. It did, however, raise a new controversy that had already been simmering on conservative blogs: Obama's ties to a former member of the Weather Underground.\n</p>\n<p>\n Clinton spent much of the debate suggesting that Obama's background had not been fully explored. Obama said voters were tired of campaign sniping that distracted from critical issues.\n</p>\n<p>\n We checked several facts from the debate:\n</p>\n<p>\n &bull; Clinton correctly characterized the relationship between Obama and William Ayers, a former member of the Weather Underground, earning another\n <a href=\"http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/440/\">\n  True.\n </a>\n</p>\n<p>\n &bull; Obama accurately described income inequality, saying it was the largest gap since the 1920s. We rated that\n <a href=\"http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/438/\">\n  True.\n </a>\n</p>\n<p>\n &bull; Clinton was right that Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has recently said he has doubts about what the U.S. says happened in the Sept. 11 attacks. We rated that one\n <a href=\"http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/439/\">\n  True.\n </a>\n</p>\n<p>\n</p>",
            "publication_date": "2008-04-16T21:59:50-04:00"
        },
        {
            "slug": "mccain-energy-claim-low-fuel",
            "personalities": [
                {
                    "slug": "john-mccain",
                    "full_name": "John McCain",
                    "first_name": "John",
                    "last_name": "McCain"
                }
            ],
            "headline": "McCain energy claim low on fuel",
            "entry": "SUMMARY: John McCain says energy prices would go down if the U.S. stopped filling the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. They might, but not by much.\n<p>\n If only it were that easy.\n</p>\n<p>\n With gas prices above $3 per gallon and voters complaining that energy prices are squeezing them from every direction, Sen. John McCain, the de facto Republican nominee for president, is offering a salve based on Economics 101, the rule of supply and demand:\n</p>\n<p>\n If elected, he'll stop filling the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to reduce demand and ease prices.\r\n\tThe Strategic Petroleum Reserve, or SPR, is the nation's government-owned stockpile of crude oil. It is stored in a series of salt caverns in Texas and Louisiana and currently holds about 700-million barrels of oil, enough to replace the nation's oil imports for about 60 days.\n</p>\n<p>\n President Bush supports expanding the reserve to 1-billion barrels in the next decade.\n</p>\n<p>\n \"Right now I think we should stop adding to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve,\" McCain said at a small business roundtable in Brooklyn, N.Y., on April 10. \"The SPR is intended to offset the impact of physical disruption of oil supplies.\n</p>\n<p>\n \"But with oil at over $100 a barrel and an adequate supply in the SPR, it is time to suspend purchases. This will lessen worldwide demand for oil, and if the classic laws of supply and demand hold, we should see a welcome decrease in the price of oil.\"\n</p>\n<p>\n Well, kind of. The problem is, the SPR doesn't buy enough oil to make a significant dent in oil supplies or prices, experts say.\n</p>\n<p>\n The Energy Information Administration, the independent, analytical arm of the U.S. Energy Department, estimates that the SPR adds, at most, $1 to $2 to the cost of a $100 barrel of oil, or as much as 4 cents to 5 cents per gallon of refined gasoline. Independent experts tend to agree.\n</p>\n<p>\n While any cut in prices may be better than nothing, it's hard to argue those pennies would equal the \"welcome decrease\" McCain describes with gas prices up around $3.30 per gallon.\n</p>\n<p>\n \"Our analysis points out that there is a relatively minor impact, maybe a dollar or two at most per barrel, out of $100-plus per barrel,\" said Doug McIntyre, a senior oil market analyst at the Energy Information Administration in Washington.\n</p>\n<p>\n \"I'm sure everyone would love to find something they could change and immediately make prices drop $20 a barrel, regardless of the (political) party. Our analysis is, this isn't the magic bullet that some would like it to be.\"\n</p>\n<p>\n Congress created the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in response to the 1973-74 Arab oil embargo to protect the economy in case of another disruption to oil imports. It has steadily expanded over the years, and was growing by as much as 300,000 barrels per day during the Reagan administration.\n</p>\n<p>\n The government currently adds to the reserve by about 70,000 barrels of crude oil per day, less than one-half of 1 percent of the 20.6-million barrels the United States uses daily. So while it does increase demand, it does so by a relatively small amount.\n</p>\n<p>\n Dr. A.F. Alhajji, an associate professor of economics at Ohio Northern University and an international expert on oil markets, said filling the SPR does add to costs, in part because the government creates inefficiencies in the way it fills it.\n</p>\n<p>\n \"If you do the calculations, it has an impact,\" Alhajji said.\n</p>\n<p>\n But, he added, McCain's idea \"would have a small impact. ... In an environment of increasing oil prices, people are not going to feel it, people are not going to see it.\"\n</p>\n<p>\n Not everyone agrees. A 2003 report by the Democratic staff of a subcommittee of the Senate Government Affairs Committee, led by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., found that filling the SPR could have \"significant market impact\" because the balance between global supply and global demand is generally only several hundred thousand barrels of oil.\n</p>\n<p>\n In that context, sending 100,000 barrels a day to the SPR could affect demand, the report argued.\n</p>\n<p>\n But U.S. refineries have more oil at their disposal than they are processing right now, so making more available would not necessarily put more gasoline into the market and cut costs. Plus, McIntyre said the government's purchase schedule is well known, \"so the market should be able to account for it fairly easily.\"\n</p>\n<p>\n The oil market also is complex. It is influenced by a variety of factors, including current demand, expected demand, available stockpiles and, of course, global and domestic politics. That makes it difficult to determine exactly how gas prices would truly be affected if the government stopped adding to it, but experts doubt it would be significant. A Congressional Research Service report from 2005  was skeptical.\n</p>\n<p>\n \"The effect of any change in fill policy on gasoline prices would depend on a number of factors &mdash; refiners' access to SPR crude, available refining capacity to manufacture gasoline meeting regional Clean Air requirements, other local conditions, and weekly reports of gasoline and other product stocks,\" the report said.\n</p>\n<p>\n \"While prices might fall some on the heels of an announcement that SPR fill would be deferred, the adjustment might be only short-term. Gasoline and home heating oil prices might be more sensitive to reported stock levels than to reports of modest additional crude supply.\"\n</p>\n<p>\n Also, only about 40 percent of the cost of a gallon of gasoline comes from the price of crude oil, so a drop (or rise) in oil prices and doesn't necessarily mean a corresponding drop (or rise) in gas prices.\r\nThe reserve has been tapped in the form of sales, exchanges or loans several times over the years, including after Hurricane Katrina disrupted oil production and imports on the Gulf Coast in 2005 and after Hurricane Ivan struck the Gulf Coast in 2004.\n</p>\n<p>\n In 1996, sales from the reserve were used to raise money. In April 1996, President Clinton released 12-million barrels to blunt a rise in crude oil prices.\n</p>\n<p>\n Filling the reserve also was suspended after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, and again in 1994 to save money.\n</p>\n<p>\n We find that while McCain is correct in principle, he grossly overstates the potential impact of his idea. Drivers would see little change in the price at the pump if the government stopped buying oil for the Strategic Reserve. We rate his statement Barely True.\n</p>\n<p>\n</p>",
            "publication_date": "2008-04-16T14:54:39-04:00"
        },
        {
            "slug": "numbers-game",
            "personalities": [
                {
                    "slug": "barack-obama",
                    "full_name": "Barack Obama",
                    "first_name": "Barack",
                    "last_name": "Obama"
                },
                {
                    "slug": "ron-paul",
                    "full_name": "Ron Paul",
                    "first_name": "Ron",
                    "last_name": "Paul"
                }
            ],
            "headline": "Numbers game",
            "entry": "Politics is a numbers game.\n<p>\n In their speeches, debates, interviews and TV ads, the presidential candidates cite a flood of statistics.\n <i>\n  47-million uninsured . . . 4,000 killed in Iraq . . . $100 per month.\n </i>\n</p>\n<p>\n We've checked more than 420 facts in the first seven months of PolitiFact and have found that checking statistical claims is trickier than we expected.\n</p>\n<p>\n Our first encounter with a numbers problem came last September when Ron Paul cited the war death toll in a debate. \"We've lost over 5,000 Americans over there in Afghanistan, in Iraq, and plus the civilians killed,\" Paul said.\n</p>\n<p>\n Turns out the fatality count on that date was actually 4,349 if you include civilian deaths. Does that mean Paul was wrong? Should he get a False on the Truth-O-Meter?\n</p>\n<p>\n No. And our reasoning for that item helps to explain many other statistical claims that we have done since.\n</p>\n<p>\n First, keep in mind that our goal with the Truth-O-Meter is to give the truth of a claim, but we recognize that truth is not always black and white.\n</p>\n<p>\n To assess the truth for a numbers claim, the biggest factor is the underlying message. In Paul's case, his point was a simple one, that many people have died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He overstated the number, but not by all that many.\n</p>\n<p>\n In a more recent example, Barack Obama said that \"I'm the product of a mixed marriage that would have been illegal in 12 states when I was born.\" His point was that a surprisingly large number of states had such laws just a short time ago.\n</p>\n<p>\n Turns out he was significantly understating the number. It was actually 22, we found.\n</p>\n<p>\n We decided to rate his statement Mostly True. Although his number was actually pretty far off, the number was not as important as his underlying point, which was accurate. We headlined the item \"Obama's more right than he knows.\"\n</p>\n<p>\n</p>",
            "publication_date": "2008-04-15T17:58:26-04:00"
        },
        {
            "slug": "parallel-public-finance-system-only-partly",
            "personalities": [
                {
                    "slug": "barack-obama",
                    "full_name": "Barack Obama",
                    "first_name": "Barack",
                    "last_name": "Obama"
                }
            ],
            "headline": "'Parallel public financing'? Only partly.",
            "entry": "<p><strong>SUMMARY: Sen. Barack Obama has lots of small donors, but that's not the same thing as using public money to finance your campaign.</strong></p>\r\n<p>Barack Obama may still be fighting for the Democratic nomination, but there's one way he's already bested opponents Hillary Clinton and John McCain: fundraising.</p>\r\n<p>Through Feb. 29, 2008, Obama raised $184-million, compared with Clinton's $129-million and McCain's $55-million, according to an analysis by the Campaign Finance Institute based on public filings.</p>\r\n<p>Much of Obama's money has come from small donors. (See a statement we checked earlier  <a href=\"http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/287/\" target=\"_blank\"> about Obama's small donors here </a> .) About 41 percent has come from individual donors giving increments of $200 or less, according to the institute's analysis. (Compare that with Clinton at 26 percent and McCain at 13 percent.)</p>\r\n<p>Obama has touted those small donors as evidence that his candidacy is changing traditional models of campaign finance.</p>\r\n<p>\"We have created a parallel public financing system where the American people decide if they want to support a campaign they can get on the Internet and finance it,'' Obama said at a fundraiser on April 8, 2008, in Washington, D.C. \"And they will have as much access and influence over the course and direction of our campaign that has traditionally reserved for the wealthy and the powerful.\"</p>\r\n<p>His claim that he's created a \"parallel public financing system\" might be a harmless boast, except that Obama's views on public financing have been a matter of significant debate. Early in his campaign he had said he would use the public financing system in his run for president, but after he took off as a candidate and fundraiser, his statements about that have been less clear. His fundraising skill has made it likely that he could raise more money for his campaign than would be available to him through the public financing system.</p>\r\n<p>We covered whether  <a href=\"http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/386/\" target=\"_blank\"> Obama promised to get public financing or not here </a> . We found that Obama has committed to seeking an agreement with the Republican nominee. He has not made a blanket commitment to public financing.</p>\r\n<p>\"The candidates will have to commit to discouraging cheating by their supporters; to refusing fundraising help to outside groups; and to limiting their own parties to legal forms of involvement,\" Obama wrote in an op-ed for  <em> USA Today </em> .</p>\r\n<p>So, when Obama says he's running the equivalent of a publicly financed campaign, that's a statement worth checking.</p>\r\n<p>First, a brief explanation of public financing: In the primary election, candidates who choose to take public financing agree to spending limits on a state-by-state basis and then receive money from the government that matches the small donations they receive.</p>\r\n<p>In the general election, public financing gives the major party candidates about $84.1-million in public money to spend however they like. There is no required match for the candidates to raise. But once the money is spent, that's it for the candidates' campaigns.</p>\r\n<p>It's important to remember that the above rules apply only to the presidential candidates' campaigns. The parties and outside groups are also spending money separately; and different rules apply to these groups.</p>\r\n<p>The public financing system was established in the wake of the Watergate scandal as a means of diminishing the role of money in politics. But it appears to be breaking down: The first candidate to opt out of public financing for the primaries was John B. Connally in 1980. In 2004, Bush, John Kerry and Howard Dean opted out. In fact, taking public money for primaries is now a sign of weakness: In early 2008 when John Edwards decided to take public financing, critics said it showed he couldn't compete  with Clinton and Obama's fundraising.</p>\r\n<p>The general election has been another matter, however. No general election candidate has opted out of public financing since the current system started. It remains to be seen whether the eventual Democratic candidate will opt out or not. If Obama secures the nomination, it seems likely that his army of small donors could propel him over the $84.1-million mark.</p>\r\n<p>So does a robust network of small donors constitute a \"parallel public financing system\"?</p>\r\n<p>Only somewhat, said the election experts we asked.</p>\r\n<p>The best way that Obama's fundraising mimics public financing is that such a significant proportion of his money comes from small donors. Most public financing strategies have a goal of encouraging small donors to become involved in the process through matching funds.</p>\r\n<p>But the other aspect of public financing is limiting spending.</p>\r\n<p>\"I certainly don't blame him for not taking public financing, but to say it's the functional equivalent of public financing, even as an aspirational statement, you can only say that in terms of his broad donor base,  not on the expenditure side,\" said Kenneth Gross, an expert on campaign finance election law who has represented both Democrats and Republicans.</p>\r\n<p>Gary Kalman, the federal legislative director for the nonpartisan public interest group U.S. PIRG, agreed that it's not quite the same thing as public financing.</p>\r\n<p>\"It is important to acknowledge that one of the more exciting things coming out of this campaign is the increase in small donors,\" Kalman said. \"But it's not completely analogous to the public financing system. The public should still be fighting for the elimination of special interest money from the system through better public financing.\"</p>\r\n<p>The public financing laws needs a tune-up, Kalman said, by increasing the spending limits and providing extra funds (so-called \"fair fight funds\") to candidates whose opponents opt out of the system.</p>\r\n<p>Obama's small donor network has implications beyond money, said Michael J. Malbin of the Campaign Finance Institute. These donors tend to put up yard signs, attend events and knock on doors.</p>\r\n<p>\"It's not the same thing as public financing, but I wouldn't get hung up about that,\" Malbin said. \"In a sense, calling it a 'parallel public financing system' undersells the importance of the small donor revolution.\"</p>\r\n<p>We agree that Obama's network of small donors does imitate an important goal of public financing of encouraging political participation of small donors. But Obama omits the spending limits that public financing has and exaggerates his own donor network. His group of small donors be may positive for democracy, but it does not equate to public financing system. For this reason we find his statement that he has created a \"parallel public financing system\" to be only Half True.</p>",
            "publication_date": "2008-04-15T17:38:40-04:00"
        },
        {
            "slug": "obamas-stretch-ethics-reform",
            "personalities": [
                {
                    "slug": "barack-obama",
                    "full_name": "Barack Obama",
                    "first_name": "Barack",
                    "last_name": "Obama"
                }
            ],
            "headline": "Obama's stretch on ethics reform",
            "entry": "SUMMARY: Obama claims he was the driving force in the Senate on ethics reform. We find he was a player but not the quarterback.\n<p>\n In a renewed attempt to cement his credentials as an agent of change who's not beholden to special interests, Sen. Barack Obama highlighted his role in the 2007 congressional ethics debate in one of three TV ads he aired in advance of Pennsylvania's April 22 Democratic primary.\n</p>\n<p>\n The ad, called \"Toughest,\" first aired on March 21. It depicts Obama as the protagonist of the overhaul of lobbying and ethics rules that became law last August after Democratic leaders made it a top priority following the 2006 midterm election that returned them to power. \r\n \r\n\"He took on special interests and won, passing the toughest ethics law yet,\" an announcer intones, over still pictures of Obama interspersed with snippets of headlines and quotes from coverage of the debate from the\n <i>\n  Chicago Tribune\n </i>\n and\n <i>\n  Washington Post.\n </i>\n Obama has boasted about his accomplishments on ethics reform before;\n <a href=\"http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/153/\">\n  we've ruled that he overstated his influence on the legislation in the past.\n </a>\n In addition,\n <a href=\"http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2008/mar/28/fact-sheet-clinton-obama-bills/\">\n  we have examined his legislative record\n </a>\n .\n</p>\n<p>\n This new ad both exaggerates the role Obama played in the debate and fails to put the new ethics law in context.\n</p>\n<p>\n First, a little background. The lobbying and ethics overhaul was born in the aftermath of the Jack Abramoff political corruption scandal, which triggered calls for change in the legislative process. The new legislation was designed to give the public more information about the work of lobbyists and their political fundraising efforts while slowing down the revolving door from Capitol Hill to K Street, the heart of Washington's lobbying industry.\n</p>\n<p>\n The most noteworthy provisions require more reporting about the way lobbyists bundle contributions to presidential and congressional campaigns, and double to two years the \"cooling off\" period between the time a lawmaker leaves office and when he or she may lobby members of Congress or their employees. (A similar prohibition was put in place on senior executive branch personnel, up to the vice president.) The new law also requires the disclosure of members' so-called earmarks or spending requests in legislation.\n</p>\n<p>\n While it's true that Obama played an important role in the debate, credit for passing the law really goes to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who devised the procedural approach to finalizing the package and, in the process, did an end-run around holdout Republicans.\n</p>\n<p>\n Reid and Pelosi informally negotiated a compromise package, then had the House call up and pass an amended version of a Senate ethics bill, which the Senate then cleared and sent to President Bush. Obama had little to do with these machinations, which, to be fair, are usually the preserve of senior party leaders and committee chairmen, who control each chamber's agenda.\n</p>\n<p>\n Obama did join with Republicans who wanted stronger rules for disclosing earmarks in spending bills. He tried to set an example for his colleagues by releasing a lengthy list of funding requests he asked to be included in annual appropriations bills. In fact, Obama's advocacy is believed to have emboldened some other Democrats to vote for the Republican provision that was approved.\n</p>\n<p>\n Obama also successfully collaborated with Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., on a provision that required senators to make full reimbursement for the market rate of corporate jet flights. Under old rules, senators flying on a corporate jet reimbursed their benefactors for the cost of a  first-class commercial flight on the same route. In some cases, that meant paying $2,000 for a private jet flight that actually may have cost upwards of $20,000 per seat. The proposal was incorporated into a broader package of reforms.\n</p>\n<p>\n Obama might take credit for staring down special interests and winning on those two issues.\n</p>\n<p>\n But he failed in another effort to create an independent ethics counsel to probe allegations against senators. Under the proposal, such an investigator could not bring charges against a lawmaker but would turn over probe results to the Senate Ethics Committee for a disposition. The idea did not go over well with many veteran lawmakers and institutionalists, who bristled at the concept that an outsider would be involved in investigating a chamber that prides itself in its self-policing tradition.\n</p>\n<p>\n As for Obama's claim that the 2007 statute is the \"toughest ethics law yet,\" it's a phrase he takes directly from an editorial that appeared in the\n <i>\n  Washington Post,\n </i>\n though it's hard to tell if the editorial is referring to the law as historically significant or simply the best proposal to come out of Congress during that session.\n</p>\n<p>\n Many experts say the jury remains out, and that it will be up to regulatory bodies such as the Federal Election Commission to decide how stringently to enforce the new rules. While the law may have been the most all-encompassing package of ethics changes since the post-Watergate reforms, it has to be viewed in the context of the seemingly never-ending pattern of scandal and reform that pervades Washington.\n</p>\n<p>\n Each round of new rules begets new problems. Consider that the political action committees (PACs) that exert such influence today came into being after Congress limited contributions from individuals, unions and corporations in the 1970s.\n</p>\n<p>\n This latest ethics law mimicked the intent and scope of a 1978 law &ndash; enacted after President Richard Nixon was driven from office by Watergate and after Congress was rocked by a pair of ethics scandals involving defense contractors and the South Korean government &ndash; that mandated annual financial disclosure forms. And in 1989, Congress used a revamping of the congressional pay raise process to to ban public speaking fees for House members and gradually reduce them for senators. The law also prohibited lawmakers from keeping excess campaign funds when they left office and ban members of Congress from lobbying in the legislative branch for a year after leaving office.\n</p>\n<p>\n Then in the early 1990s, Republicans used public disgust over scandals involving the House bank and post office to indict the Democratic majority as the party of corruption and win a landslide in the 1994 elections. GOP leaders resisted major changes in law, however, until rank-and-file members from both parties pressed for enactment of a lobbyist registration requirement and House and Senate resolutions restricting gifts.\n</p>\n<p>\n The ad cites a\n <i>\n  Washington Post\n </i>\n editorial that calls the 2007 law \"the strongest ethics legislation to emerge from Congress yet.\" And the editorial credits Reid as the key player, with help from Feingold and Obama.\n</p>\n<p>\n Still, Obama exaggerates his role in the ethics debate, and his depiction of the 2007 lobbying and ethics overhaul omits significant historical context. We rule his claim to be Half-True.\n</p>\n<p>\n</p>",
            "publication_date": "2008-04-14T18:14:35-04:00"
        }
    ]
}