Exaggerating Facts by Powers of Ten

Presidential Debates, 2012

President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney debate in Denver, Colorado. Image credit: Charlie Neibergall / APL

Last night’s Presidential Debate at the University of Denver led to a flurry of discussion about which of President Barack Obama and his challenger Mitt Romney’s statements were true, which were false, and which were simply exaggerated.

The information below, from FactCheck.org, offers the break down on how Obama and Romney’s claims hold up.  FactCheck.org is a nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics.

  • Obama accused Romney of proposing a $5 trillion [10+12] tax cut. Not true. Romney proposes to offset his rate cuts and promises he won’t add to the deficit.
  • Romney again promised to “not reduce the taxes paid by high-income Americans” and also to “lower taxes on middle-income families,” but didn’t say how he could possibly accomplish that without also increasing the deficit.
  • Obama oversold his health care law, claiming that health care premiums have “gone up slower than any time in the last 50 years [10+01].” That’s true of health care spending, but not premiums. And the health care law had little to do with the slowdown in overall spending.
  • Romney claimed a new board established by the Affordable Care Act is “going to tell people ultimately what kind of treatments they can have.” Not true. The board only recommendscost-saving measures for Medicare, and is legally forbidden to ration care or reduce benefits.
  • Obama said 5 million [10+06] private-sector jobs had been created in the past 30 months. Perhaps so, but that counts jobs that the Bureau of Labor Statistics won’t add to the official monthly tallies until next year. For now, the official tally is a bit over 4.6 million.
  • Romney accused Obama of doubling the federal deficit. Not true. The annual deficit was already running at $1.2 trillion when Obama took office.
  • Obama again said he’d raise taxes on upper-income persons only to the “rates that we had when Bill Clinton was president.” Actually, many high-income persons would pay more than they did then, because of new taxes in Obama’s health care law.
  • Romney claimed that middle-income Americans have “seen their income come down by $4,300 [10+03].” That’s too high. Census figures show the decline in median household income during Obama’s first three years was $2,492, even after adjusting for inflation.
  • Obama again touted his “$4 trillion” deficit reduction plan, which includes $1 trillion from winding down wars that are coming to an end in any event.

For additional nonpartisan information about U.S. politics and key 2012 political players, visit FactCheck.org, Votesmart.org or KnowMyCandidate.org.

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