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SUMMARY: Obama says Clinton parroted a Bush administration line in 2002 that al-Qaida was linked with Saddam Hussein's government in Iraq. Clinton says Obama voted for "tax subsidies and giveaways" to oil companies. We check the facts.
The Pennsylvania primary is almost six weeks away, but the Democratic candidates are trading charges so feverishly you'd think the election was tomorrow. The common theme in the attacks: accusing the other candidate of being too much like George Bush and Dick Cheney.
At a campaign rally in Harrisburg on March 11, 2008, Sen. Hillary Clinton charged that Sen. Barack Obama sided with the administration with his vote on an energy bill:
"In 2005, when we had a chance to say no to Dick Cheney and his energy bill, my opponent said yes and voted for it with all of those tax subsidies and giveaways that have been used by the oil companies and others to retard the development of clean, renewable energy," Clinton said. "When it counted, I said no, he said yes."
Obama's attack, made during an appearance on MSNBC's Hardball the same day, said Clinton had parroted a line from the Bush administration when she suggested a link between Saddam Hussein's government and al-Qaida.
"President Bush and Dick Cheney insisted there was a connection. Senator Clinton on the floor of the Senate suggested that there was such a connection," Obama said. "I think it was part of a series of misjudgments that have not only cost us dearly in terms of lives lost and people who are injured, has distracted us from Afghanistan and our ability to pin down bin Laden and al-Qaida, but has also cost us hundreds of billions of dollars."
We'll address the energy one first.
While Clinton rightly points out that the legislation included tax breaks for oil companies — $2.6-billion to be exact — those were largely wiped out by a $3-billion extension of taxes on crude oil to help offset costs associated with oil spills. The bulk of the $14.6-billion in tax incentives included in the legislation actually went to "renewable" sources of energy, to accelerate the development of wind, clean-coal and nuclear power, and hybrid vehicles. (Although there is debate over whether coal and nuclear power should be considered renewable.)
The bill also included a mandate to produce more alternative fuel. The industry is on pace to meet that target ahead of schedule, despite Clinton's claims that oil industry tax breaks have been used to retard development of renewable energy.
So while Clinton is right that Obama voted for the bill, she wrongly characterizes it as a handout to the energy companies. We find her claim Barely True.
As for the al-Qaida comment, Obama is correct that Clinton made such a remark during her 2002 speech explaining why she was voting for the resolution authorizing force against Iraq.
"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al-Qaida members, though there is apparently no evidence of his involvement in the terrible events of September 11, 2001," Clinton said.
And so we find Obama's claim to be True.