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2012 Fall Issue 3 (October 5, 2012)

The Bald Spot: Fact-Checking the Presidential Debate

October 6, 2012
By Kaitlyn Gerber

Obama


The claim: Romney would cut taxes by $5 trillion over 10 years, inflating the deficit.

The reality: Romney’s plan cuts taxes by about 20 percent in each bracket, which could cost as much as $4.9 trillion. However, Romney also proposes to offset these rate cuts so that he will not add to the deficit, which Obama omitted to add.

The claim: The U.S. economy has created 5 million private-sector jobs in the past 30 months.

The reality: The U.S. has gained approximately 4.6 million private sector jobs since the labor market crashed, but that’s pretty weak. Under Bush, the private sector also added 5 million jobs in the 30 months after the economy hit bottom, and in the previous two recoveries, the pace of private-sector gains was much faster.

The claim: After a few adjustments to the Simpson-Bowles plan, Obama will put forward a $4 trillion deficit-reduction plan.

The reality: Although he made his plan sound similar to that of the Simpson-Bowles debt-cutting commission, Obama’s plan only saves about two-thirds of the money saved in the original plan, and doesn’t offer the kinds of detailed entitlement cuts (Social Security, for example, is left alone). It also includes $1 trillion from wars are winding down anyway, allowing Obama to spare

The claim: In the past two years, health care premiums have gone up more slowly than any time in the past 50 years.

The reality: This statement is true of health care spending, but not of health care premiums. From 2011 to 2012, it increased only 4 percent, but it increased 9 percent a year before, more than in the year before.

Romney


The claim: A Romney administration would not cut taxes on the wealthyn nor would it add to the deficit.

The reality: Romney wants to cut personal taxes for everyone by about 20 percent, including the wealthy. Obama, however, wants to return taxes to their pre-Bush rates for individuals making over $200,000 and families making over $250,000 in taxable income. In other words, Romney wants to maintain tax cuts for the wealthy that Obama would eliminate, and has not exactly specified how he would offset this loss.

The claim: Under the Affordable Care Act, a new board is “going to tell people ultimately what kind of treatments they can have.”

The reality: The board only recommends cost-saving measures for Medicare, and is legally forbidden to ration care or reduce benefits.

The claim: Clean energy interests have gotten $90 billion in tax breaks under Obama, but “about half” of those companies have gone out of business.

The reality: Closer to eleven percent. Under the stimulus, 26 businesses were guaranteed loans from the Department of Energy.; a grand total of three (Solyndra, Abound Solar, and Beacon Power; Solyndra was the most costly) have gone out of business.

The claim: Raising personal taxes for the wealthy will kill jobs, because many small businesses pay taxes as individuals.

The reality: According to Moody’s Analytics, approximately 3 percent of small businesses earn sufficient income to be affected by higher individual taxes. Moody’s CEO even said that it’s a stretch to  argue that raising the rate would significantly impact small business hiring. 

 

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