We had more or less thought we were done fact checking this election cycle over the weekend, and then we saw the candidates’ "closing arguments" speeches.
So, one more time, here’s a round-up of their factually challenged assertions.
(All quotes from the Republican candidate’s speech in Englewood, Colo., Nov. 3)
"He (Obama) was going to focus on creating jobs. Instead, he focused on creating Obamacare that killed jobs."
The health care law has barely been implemented yet. Generally when Republicans describe it as a job-killer, they are referring to a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimate that over the next decade that the health care law would reduce the number of overall workers in the United States by one-half of 1 percent, which translates into 800,000 people. But that’s not the same as saying it would "kill" that many jobs.
In dry economic language, buried in a few paragraphs in a long report, the CBO essentially said that some people who are now in the workforce because they need health insurance would decide to stop working because the health-care law guarantees they would have access to health care. (As an example, think of someone who is 63, a couple of years before retirement, who is still in a job only because he or she is waiting to get on Medicare at age 65.)
The number might seem large - 800,000 - but the United States is a big country. One-half of 1 percent is basically a rounding error, especially when making a projection so far in the future.
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"He said he was going to cut the federal deficit in half, but then he doubled it."
President Obama has certainly failed to make much dent in the deficit, let alone cut it in half. But is it fair to say he doubled it? No.
The deficit for fiscal year 2008 was $438 billion. But the CBO’s deficit estimate for fiscal year 2009 - made in January 2009, shortly before Obama even took office - was $1.2 trillion.
The final tally for the 2009 deficit was $1.4 trillion, or about 10 percent of the gross domestic product. For the fiscal year just ended, the deficit was $1.1 trillion, or about 7 percent of the GDP.
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"And, then, he said he would bring the unemployment rate down to 5.2 percent by now. And we just learned on Friday, it’s 7.9 percent. It is 9 million jobs short of what he promised."
Republicans like to cite this "promise" by Obama but it is not as simple as that.
Before Obama took the oath of office, two aides, Christina Romer, the nominee to head the Council of Economic Advisers, and Jared Bernstein, an incoming economic adviser to Vice President-elect Joe Biden, wrote a 14-page report that attempted to assess the impact of a possible $775 billion stimulus package and how much of a difference it would make compared to doing nothing.
Thus, it was not an official government assessment or even an analysis of an actual plan that had passed Congress.
Page 4 of the report included a chart that showed that unemployment would peak at 8 percent in 2009, compared to 9 percent in 2010 if nothing was done. For 2012, the report suggested the unemployment rate would be 5.2 percent after stimulus. But the report also contained numerous caveats and warnings because, after all, it was merely a projection.
Still, the administration later cited the report in congressional testimony, giving it an official imprimatur. So, while Obama officials may not have "pledged" such a goal, it was certainly part of the administration’s talking points.
In recent weeks, Romney has cited another "promise" regarding the growth of the economy. That figure is plucked from the White House’s 2010 mid-session budget review - which predicted an unemployment of 7.7 percent in 2012.
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"He raided $716 billion from Medicare to pay for his Obamacare."
As we have repeatedly explained, Medicare spending is not being reduced. It still goes up year after year, so spending on Medicare over that 10-year period would still be $7.8 trillion.
The $716 billion figure comes from the difference over 10 years between anticipated Medicare spending (what is known as "the baseline") and the changes the law makes to reduce spending. Moreover, the savings mostly are wrung from health-care providers, not Medicare beneficiaries, and generally did not involve traditional Medicare benefits. (It is worth noting that, given past practices, the Medicare actuary has doubted whether such cuts will ever come to pass.)
In fact, House Republicans adopted many of these same cuts in their own budget. (They argue they devote the savings to reforming Medicare, not funding a new entitlement.) Both parties agree that controls are needed on Medicare spending - that is the only way that the Medicare trust funds last longer - but they disagree over the best path forward.
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"He also said he would lower health premiums by some $2,000 a family, but, instead, they’ve gone up by $3,000 a family."
Actually, in the 2008 campaign, Obama promised to lower health care premiums by $2,500 - but even that came with a major asterisk: He was not saying premiums would fall by that amount, as Romney asserts, but that costs would be that much lower than anticipated. Back in 2008, we noted that that was an iffy pledge.
But Romney earned our top rating for most misleading statements for this claim because the math behind the supposed $3,000 increase was nonsensical. Our original column has the details: It starts with Bush’s terms and then attributes health cost increases to the new law, which has largely not been implemented.
"Together, we built names like Staples, Bright Horizons, and the Sports Authority - and helped create over 100,000 jobs."
In delivering the Republican response to Obama’s weekly address on Saturday, Romney resurrected an old claim - that he helped create more than 100,000 jobs as a business executive.
As we have written before, this is an untenable figure. Bain was in the business of creating returns for investors, and any jobs that were created were just a happy coincidence. (Sometimes investments thrived when jobs were cut.)
Most of the jobs were created long after Bain’s involvement had ended - and yet Romney throughout the campaign insisted he could not be held accountable for things that happened after he left Bain.