Posts tagged ‘Vice Presidential Debate’

October 4, 2008

Fact-Checking the VP Debate

Joe Biden and Sarah Palin Vice Presidential Debate

As with any presidential campaign, lies and half-truths flow freely. The following is from wire.factcheck.org. The guys over there have done a real job of “Keeping them Honest,” throughout the entire Election.

Some highlights:

Killing Afghan Civilians?


Palin said that Obama had accused American troops of doing nothing but killing civilians, a claim she called “reckless” and “untrue.”

Obama did say that troops in Afghanistan were killing civilians. Here’s the whole quote, from a campaign stop in New Hampshire:

The Associated Press fact-checked this one, and found that in fact U.S troops were killing more civilians at the time than insurgents: “As of Aug. 1, the AP count shows that while militants killed 231 civilians in attacks in 2007, Western forces killed 286. Another 20 were killed in crossfire that can’t be attributed to one party.” Afghan President Hamid Karzai had expressed concern about these civilian killings, a concern President Bush said he shared.

Whether Obama said that this was “all we’re doing” is debatable. He said that we need to have enough troops so that we’re “not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians,” but did not say that troops are doing nothing else.

McCain in the Vanguard of Mortgage Reform?

Palin said that McCain had sounded the alarm on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac two years ago.

Palin is referring to a bill that would have increased oversight on Fannie and Freddie. In our recent article about assigning blame for the crisis, we found that by the time McCain added his name to the bill as a cosponsor, the collapse was well underway. Home prices began falling only two months later. Our colleagues at PolitiFact also questioned this claim.

Palin’s Health Care Hooey

Palin claimed that McCain’s health care plan would be “budget-neutral,” costing the government nothing.

The McCain campaign hasn’t released an estimate of how much the plan would cost, but independent experts contradict Palin’s claim of a cost-free program.

The Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center estimates that McCain’s plan, which at its peak would cover 5 million of the uninsured, would increase the deficit by $1.3 trillion over 10 years. Obama’s plan, which would cover 34 million of the uninsured, would cost $1.6 trillion over that time period.

The nonpartisan U.S. Budget Watch’s fiscal voter guide estimates that McCain’s tax credit would increase the deficit by somewhere between $288 billion to $364 billion by the year 2013, and that making employer health benefits taxable would bring in between $201 billion to $274 billion in revenue. That nets out to a shortfall of somewhere between $14 billion to $163 billion – for that year alone.

Palin also said that Obama’s plan would be “universal government run” health care and that health care would be “taken over by the feds.” That’s not the case at all. As we’ve said before, Obama’s plan would not replace or remove private insurance, or require people to enroll in a public plan. It would increase the offerings of publicly funded health care.

Did McCain “vote the same way” as Obama on funding troops? This correction by Factcheck.org answers that question.

Correction Oct 3: This article originally faulted Biden for saying that McCain had voted “the exact same way” as Obama on a controversial troop funding bill. We said that McCain was absent for the vote and so didn’t vote at all. Biden was, however, correct.

McCain did vote against the troop-funding bill in question, H.R. 1591, on March 29, 2007, when it originally cleared the Senate. The vote to which we referred, and which McCain missed, was a later vote on the House-Senate compromise version of the same bill, on April 26, 2007. McCain opposed the bill, which Obama supported, because it contained language calling for withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Biden was responding to Palin’s accusation that “Obama voted against funding troops.” Obama voted for the bill March 29 and April 26, and then on May 24, 2007, following a veto by President Bush, Obama voted against a similar troop-funding bill, H.R. 2206, that lacked any withdrawal language.


To read more facts on the topics that the Vice Presidential candidates discussed Thursday night, check out wire.factcheck.org and PolitiFact.org.

A few other misleads of note:

  • Palin said, “We’re circulating about $700 billion a year into foreign countries” for imported oil, repeating an outdated figure often used by McCain. At oil prices current as of Sept. 30, imports are running at a rate of about $493 billion per year.
  • Palin threw out an old canard when she criticized Obama for voting for the 2005 energy bill and said, “that’s what gave those oil companies those big tax breaks.” It’s a false attack Sen. Hillary Clinton used against Obama in the primary, and McCain himself has hurled. It’s true that the bill gave some tax breaks to oil companies, but it also took away others. And according to the Congressional Research Service, the bill created a slight net increase in taxes for the oil industry.
  • Palin repeated a falsehood that the McCain campaign has peddled, off and on, for some time; that under Obama “millions of small businesses” will pay high taxes. As we reported June 23, it’s simply untrue that “millions” of small business owners will pay higher federal income taxes under Obama’s proposal.
  • Palin: We need to look back, even two years ago, and we need to be appreciative of John McCain’s call for reform with Fannie Mae, with Freddie Mac, with the mortgage-lenders, too, who were starting to really kind of rear that head of abuse.

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