Seems like a lot of lies being spread at the DNC so I figured a open thread with updates was in order.
(UPDATED 9-7-12, LOTS OF UPDATES BELOW)
CNN: That Claim of 4.5 Million Jobs Created Under Obama is Actually Negative 500K
First Lady Michelle Obama’s pitch to voters last night relied on the premise that she and her husband understand what it is to struggle to make ends meet. She spoke movingly about their early years–about how a young Barack Obama drove a car that was “rusted out” and found his furniture “in a dumpster,” how they both came from families that had to “scrape by.” Her fairy tale–however well-delivered–was one great, big, colorful lie.
Both Michelle Robinson and Barack Obama began their adult lives with a leg up on the rest of America. They attended elite schools: Michelle went to Whitney Young, the public magnet school for Chicago’s upper class, while Barack attended Punahou, the private prep school for the top stratum of Hawaiian society. They were accepted to Ivy League schools despite undistinguished credentials, and both attended Harvard Law School.
“[B]elieve it or not, when we were first married, our combined monthly student loan bills were actually higher than our mortgage,” Michelle said. That sounds like a raw deal–but in fact reflects their fortunate circumstances. They had both just graduated from a very expensive law school, and their combined income from cushy law firm jobs dwarfed the repayments. Barack also soon enjoyed a second salary from the University of Chicago.
They had expensive tastes, reflected in the $277,500 two-bedroom condo they bought in 1993–a high price even by today’s standards. Several years later, they moved into their $1.65 million mansion in Hyde Park–with the help of fraudster Tony Rezko. Barack often told a story of hardship on the campaign trail in 2008 about having his credit card declined–once. The fact that he thought this counted as real hardship speaks volumes.
As her husband moved onto the national political stage, Michelle Obama began to enjoy a lavish lifestyle at taxpayer expense, directly and indirectly. When Barack Obama was elected to the U.S. Senate, he obtained a $1 million earmark for the University of Chicago Hospital–and his wife’s salary as Vice President for Community Affairs jumped from $121,910 to $316,962. Her job: pushing poor, uninsured patients to other hospitals.
Bunch of lies and distortions detailed here:
- The keynote speaker and others claimed the Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, would raise taxes on the “middle class.” He has promised he won’t. Democrats base their claim on a study that doesn’t necessarily lead to that conclusion.
- San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro insisted Romney and Ryan would “gut” Pell Grants for lower-income college students. Actually, the Ryan budget calls only for “limiting the growth” of spending for the program, and Ryan has said the maximum grant of $5,550 would not be decreased.
- A Democratic governor said Romney “left his state 47th out of 50 in job growth.” Actually, Massachusetts went from 50th in job creation during Romney’s first year to 28th in his final year.
- Two advocates of equal-pay legislation said women make 77 cents for every dollar men earn. That’s true on average, but the gap for women doing the same work as men is much less, and not entirely or even mostly the result of job discrimination.
- A union president accused Romney of seeking “a government bailout” for “his company.” Not really. In fact, Romney negotiated a favorable but routine settlement with bank regulators on behalf of a former company, the one he had left to form his own Bain Capital firm. No taxpayer funds were involved.
- Multiple speakers repeated a claim that the Ryan/Romney Medicare plan would cost seniors $6,400 a year. That’s a figure that applied to Ryan’s 2011 budget plan, but his current proposal (the one Romney embraces) is far more generous. The Congressional Budget Office says it “may” lead to higher costs for beneficiaries, but it can’t estimate how much.
- In prepared remarks released to reporters, Rep. James Clyburn engaged in partisan myth-making with the claim “Democrats created Social Security” while Republicans “cursed the darkness.” History records strong bipartisan support in both House and Senate for the measure President Roosevelt signed in 1935.
The Democratic platform states that “President Obama took swift action to stabilize a housing market in crisis, helping five million families restructure their loans to help them stay in their homes, making it easier for families to refinance their mortgages and save hundreds of dollars a month, and giving tax credits to first-time home buyers.”
He did take action to help stabilize the housing market, though with what many critics describe as lackluster results. Mr. Obama’s signature initiative to help homeowners is HAMP, the Home Affordable Modification Program. It did help many Americans lower their monthly payments, though only about 1 million homeowners have completed permanent modifications. (The modifications have saved the average family $536 a month.) The other major housing program – HARP, or the Home Affordable Refinance Program – has aided an additional 1.3 million homeowners.
So where does that five million number come from? It seems to include the three million modifications completed through the HOPE Now Alliance – an umbrella group of mortgage servicers, housing counselors and mortgage finance players. But it’s not a government function, so the Democrats should not be taking credit there.
As for the credit for first-time homebuyers, economists think it enticed few new buyers into the market, instead encouraging people with the means and desire to buy a house to do so sooner than they otherwise might have to gain the credit.
1)…when former President Bill Clinton took the stage at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday, he portrayed President Barack Obama as a pragmatic compromiser who has been stymied at every turn by Republicans. There was no mention of the role that the president and the Democrats have played in grinding compromise to a halt on some of the most important issues facing the country.
That was among the lines by the former president and others Wednesday that either cherry-picked facts or mischaracterized the opposition.
…From Clinton’s speech, voters would have no idea that the inflexibility of both parties is to blame for much of the gridlock. Right from the beginning Obama brought in as his first chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, a man known for his getting his way, not for getting along.
2) CLINTON: “I know many Americans are still angry and frustrated with the economy. … I experienced the same thing in 1994 and early 1995. Our policies were working but most people didn’t feel it yet. By 1996, the economy was roaring, halfway through the longest peacetime expansion in American history.”
THE FACTS: Clinton is counting on voters to recall the 1990s wistfully and to cast a vote for Obama in hopes of replicating those days in a second term. But Clinton leaves out the abrupt downward turn the economy took near the end of his own second term and the role his policies played in the setting the stage for the historic financial meltdown of 2008.
While the economy and markets experienced a record expansion for most of the rest of Clinton’s two-term presidency, at the start of 2000, there were troubling signs. Then-Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan warned in February 2000 that “we are entering a period of considerable turbulence in financial markets.”
Sure enough, the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite stock index and the Dow Jones industrial average both peaked in March 2000. The bursting of the high-tech bubble dragged down the economy and markets through the rest of the year. From September 2000 to January 2001, when Clinton left office, the Nasdaq dropped 46 percent. Even now, in 2012, the Nasdaq has not returned to its 2000 peak. By March 2001, the economy toppled into recession.
Also, as president, Clinton supported the 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, a law dating back to the Great Depression that separated banking from high-risk financial speculation. Robert Rubin, who had been Clinton’s first treasury secretary, helped broker the final deal on Capitol Hill that enabled the repeal legislation to pass. Some financial historians say the repeal of the law paved the way for banks to invest in risky investments like mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations that played a role in the 2008 financial meltdown.
3) CLINTON: “Their campaign pollster said, ‘We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.’ Now that is true. I couldn’t have said it better myself — I just hope you remember that every time you see the ad.”
THE FACTS: Clinton, who famously finger-wagged a denial on national television about his sexual relationship with intern Monica Lewinsky and was subsequently impeached in the House on a perjury charge, has had his own uncomfortable moments over telling the truth. “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky,” Clinton told television viewers. Later, after he was forced to testify to a grand jury, Clinton said his statements were “legally accurate” but also allowed that he “misled people, including even my wife.”
4) Clinton said that “for the last two years, health care costs have been under 4 percent in both years for the first time in 50 years.” That’s true, as reported by the journal Health Affairs in January of this year. But Clinton went too far when he added: “So let me ask you something. Are we better off because President Obama fought for health care reform? You bet we are.”
Actually, the major provisions of the 2010 law — the individual mandate, federal subsidies to help Americans buy insurance, and big reductions in the growth of Medicare spending — haven’t yet taken effect. Experts mainly blame the lousy economy for the slowdown in health care spending. As a report by economists and statisticians at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reported last year, for example (as quoted in the Washington Post): “Job losses caused many people to lose employer-sponsored health insurance and, in some cases, to forgo health-care services they could not afford.”
5) Clinton claimed Medicare will “go broke in 2016″ if Romney is elected and repeals the federal health care law. Medicare will not “go broke,” but a part of it — the hospital insurance trust fund — would not be able to pay full benefits for hospital services. Physician and prescription drug benefits, financed separately out of general tax revenues and premiums, wouldn’t be affected.
As we explained in our Aug. 22 article, “A Campaign Full of Mediscare,” the Medicare hospital trust fund is on pace to be exhausted by 2024 — or by 2016 if the Affordable Care Act is repealed. But Medicare would still collect payroll taxes sufficient to pay most hospital bills that would come due. Medicare trustees estimate the fund could pay 87 percent of its costs. The funding gap would continue to grow, and by 2050 the fund could cover only 67 percent of its bills. That’s a serious situation to be sure, but it’s not as though Medicare itself would suddenly halt all payments.
6) Delaware Gov. Jack Markell and his claims that Republican candidate Mitt Romney has said that “he likes to fire people.” This, of course, isn’t accurate and PolitiFact has rated the claim “false.” According to the fact-checkers, the statement “cherry-picks what Romney actually said, which was a comment on the advantage of being able to switch health insurance companies if a provider isn’t giving good service.”
Romney’s complete statement, which was uttered on January 9, 2012, was as follows:
“I want individuals to have their own insurance. That means the insurance company will have an incentive to keep you healthy. It also means if you don’t like what they do, you can fire them. I like being able to fire people who provide services to me. You know, if someone doesn’t give me a good service that I need, I want to say I’m going to go get someone else to provide that service to me.”
Markell’s main argument, as PolitiFact noted, was that Romney doesn’t necessarily deserve to be president simply because he was successful in business. While he may believe this, he used a slanted quote to drive the point home.
Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy made the claim that the Republican platform would “take away a woman’s right to choose even if she is a rape victim.” This simply isn’t true. While the GOP document does take a strong stance against abortion, it is silent on any exceptions and relies upon the states to make their views heard on the matter. Also, it should be noted thatRomney has stated his support for abortion in cases of rape and incest numerous times before.
7) Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards maintained that both Romney and Ryan are committed “to ending insurance coverage for birth control.” This simply isn’t the case. In contrast, both men have called for the government not to mandate that employers to cover contraceptives at no cost to employees — quite a different scenario.
8) Ken Myers, a deputy sheriff from Carroll County, Iowa: The Romney-Ryan budget could cut federal funding for first responders by nearly 20 percent.
9) Education Secretary Arne Duncan: Under the Romney-Ryan budget, education would be cut — cut by as much as 20 percent. Now, take a minute and think about what that would really mean: 200,000 fewer children in Head Start, fewer teachers in the classroom, fewer resources for poor kids and students with disabilities, fewer after school programs and 10 million students could see their Pell Grants reduced, putting higher education further out of reach.
10) Gov. Dannel Malloy of Connecticut: Education would be slashed by 20 percent — from Head Start through college, and everything in between.
But, Ryan’s plan never highlighted where cuts would be made and Romney, as FactCheck.org notes, said they would not be applied evenly.
11) The Washington Post’s The Fact Checker found that Both Clinton and Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen from Maryland, made the incorrect claim that Obama’s plan would cut the deficit by $4 trillion.
“He [Obama] has offered a reasonable plan of $4 trillion in debt reduction over a decade,” Clinton proclaimed. “For every $2.5 trillion in spending cuts, he raises a dollar in new revenues, 2.5 to 1. And he has tight controls on future spending.”
Hollen mirrored these comments, saying, “President Obama’s plan uses the bipartisan commission’s balanced approach. It reduces the deficit by more than $4 trillion.”
These bold statements, though, are based on a false premise and are, thus, untrue. The Fact Checker explains, in detail:
The repeated claim that Obama’s budget reduces the deficit by $4 trillion is simply not accurate.
By the administration’s math, you have nearly $3.8 trillion in spending cuts, compared to $1.5 trillion in tax increases (letting the Bush tax cuts expire for high-income Americans). Presto, $1 of tax increases for every $2.50 of spending cuts.
But virtually no serious budget analyst agreed with this accounting. The $4 trillion figure, for instance, includes counting some $1 trillion in cuts reached a year ago in budget negotiations with Congress. So no matter who is the president, the savings are already in the bank.
Moreover, the administration is also counting $848 billion in phantom savings from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, even though the administration had long made clear those wars would end.
In other words, by projecting war spending far in the future, the administration is able to claim credit for saving money it never intended to spend. (Imagine taking credit for saving money on buying a new car every year, even though you intended to keep your car for 10 years.)
The Democratic National Convention on Wednesday featured three speakers billed as “former employees of companies controlled by Bain Capital.”
They each told compelling stories about jobs lost, allegedly because of the actions of Bain under Romney’s leadership.
But it turns out one of those employees never actually worked for a company controlled by Bain Capital.
David Foster was supposedly one of those former employees on the convention schedule. He told the story about 750 steelworkers who lost their jobs when the Bain-controlled company GST steel filed for bankruptcy in the early 1990s.
“In 2001, with GST bankrupt and Romney still CEO of Bain, I stood in front of hundreds of steelworkers in their 50s and 60s, and retirees in their 70s and 80s, and told them Romney and Bain had broken their promises. Jobs, vacation pay, severance, health insurance and pension benefits that were promised — they were all gone,” he said.
But Foster, according to a former spokesman for GST Steel, never actually worked for the company.
“David Foster was never an employee of GST Steel’s Kansas City plant. He was employed by the United Steelworkers of America as their regional union director to represent GST Steel, but was not employed at our facility,” according to BC Huselton, who was head of HR at GST.
Former pay-discrimination plaintiff Lilly Ledbetter, in speaking at the Democratic National Convention on September 4, repeated the false claim that she learned about the pay disparity she sued over only at the end of her career, in order to suggest that the Supreme Court did her an injustice when it later dismissed her pay discrimination lawsuit as untimely in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (2007). In reality, she was aware of the pay disparity for over five years before filing a legal complaint over it. It’s not true, as she claimed to the convention, that she didn’t learn of it until “two decades” after she began working at the company. (She had worked for the company since 1979. She learned of the pay disparity by 1992, as excerpts from her deposition, filed in the Supreme Court as pages 228-241 of the Joint Appendix, make clear. But she only filed a legal complaint over it in 1998.)
Ledbetter lost her pay discrimination case because she filed her complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) too late, long after the legal deadline. The Supreme Court said that, in most cases, employees should file an EEOC complaint within 180 days of their first discriminatory paycheck, if they want to sue under the federal anti-discrimination law with the shortest deadline, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
•President Obama boasted that his plan would cut the deficit by $4 trillion over 10 years, citing “independent experts.” But one such analyst called a key element of the plan a “gimmick.”
•Vice President Biden quoted GOP presidential nomineeMitt Romney as saying “it’s not worth moving heaven and earth” to catch Osama bin Laden. Actually, Romney said he’d target more than just “one person.”
•The president said U.S. automakers are “back on top of the world.” Nope. GM has slipped back to No. 2 and is headed for third place in global sales this year, behind Toyota and Volkswagen.
•Biden said “the experts” concluded Romney’s corporate tax plan would create 800,000 jobs in other countries. One expert said that. She also said the number depends on the details, and foreign jobs could grow without costing U.S. jobs.
•Obama quoted Romney as saying it was “tragic” to “end the war in Iraq.” What Romney was criticizing was the pace of Obama’s troop withdrawal, not ending a war.
•Biden claimed Romney “believes it’s OK to raise taxes on middle classes by $2,000.” Romney actually promises to lower middle-class taxes.
•Biden said Romney and running mate Paul Ryan “are not for preserving Medicare at all.” Actually, the plan they endorse would offer traditional Medicare as one option among many.
•Obama said his tax plan would restore “the same rate we had when Bill Clinton was president” for upper-income taxpayers. Not quite. New taxes to finance the health care law also kick in next year, further burdening those same taxpayers.
One goal that Obama did flesh out was his plan to cut our deficit by $4 trillion. If it sounds familiar, it’s because he said it before. In 2008, he promised that if elected he’d halve the deficit. We all know how that turned out.
But it was the devil in the details of this rehashed pledge that merits a closer look. Here is what he said:
I’ll use the money we’re no longer spending on war to pay down our debt and put more people back to work—rebuilding roads and bridges, schools, and runways. After two wars that have cost us thousands of lives and over a trillion dollars, it’s time to do some nation-building right here at home. [Emphasis added]
This, too, is old hat and not just the promise but the methodology. Notice the highlighted words in the quote. Now read what the Associated Press wrote in its “fact check” of the speech:
The idea of taking war savings to pay for other programs is budgetary sleight of hand, given that the wars were paid for with increased debt. Obama can essentially ‘pay down our debt,’ as he said, by borrowing less now that war is ending. But he still must borrow to do the ‘extra nation-building’ he envisions.
It is the same accounting trick that he used to try to justify looting Medicare to pay for Obamacare, then claim that the same $716 was being spent to shore up the Medicare trust fund. It’s double-counting.