By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
While the pundits are busy debating who won the third and final presidential debate held last night at Hofstra University, experts are busy checking their statements and say both candidates were guilty of fudging the facts.
According to at FactCheck.org, a non-partisan consumer advocacy organization for voters, the candidates were less than truthful on the subject of taxes, balancing the budget, health care, negative campaign ads, questionable affiliations and partisanship.
ACORN and Vote Fraud
The Senator from Illinois was less than forthcoming about his association with the controversial Association of Community Organizers For Reform Now (ACORN) which is being investigated in several states for voter registration fraud.
At the debate, Obama said: “The only involvement I’ve had with ACORN is I represented them alongside the U.S. Justice Department in making Illinois implement a motor voter law that helped people get registered at DMVs.”
While this statement is true, it wasn’t his only involvement with ACORN. According to FactCheck, “He also worked closely with ACORN’s Chicago office when he ran a Project Vote registration drive after law school, and Obama did some leadership training for Chicago ACORN. The Woods Fund, where Obama served as a board member, gave grants to ACORN’s Chicago branch; both organizations are concerned with disadvantaged populations in that city.
“And during the primaries of this election, Obama’s campaign paid upwards of $800,000 to the ACORN-affiliated Campaign Services Inc. for get-out-the-vote efforts (not voter registration). Those services were initially misrepresented on the campaign’s Federal Election Commission reports, an error that some find suspicious and others say is par for the course.”
Balancing the Budget
Senator McCain said he could balance the budget during his first term and Obama claimed “every dime” of his proposed spending is covered. However, experts at The Tax Policy Center find fault with both statements. They estimate that both Obama and McCain’s plan “would substantially increase the national debt over the next ten years” unless the candidates come up with “substantial cuts in government spending” that they haven’t yet specified.
During the debate, Obama claimed “we can cut the average family’s premium by about $2500 per year.” However, when FactCheck asked health care experts about this claim, they said it was overly optimistic and hard to believe.
McCain accused his rival of wanting to set up health care systems similar to those found in Canada. However, he was basing this accusation on a statement made by Obama five years ago in support of a single-payer health care program. “But Obama has since qualified his enthusiasm for Canadian-style health care, and his current proposal is nothing like that,” reports FactCheck.
Both candidates referred to a now famous confrontation between Obama and a Ohio plumber named Joe Wurzelbacher who accused Obama of wanting him to pay more taxes as a small business owner, which Obama justified as a way of “spreading the wealth” to those less fortunate.
During the debate, Senator McCain said Joe faced “much higher taxes” under Obama’s plan and that he’d also be fined if he failed to provide health care coverage for his workers.
The truth is that under Obama’s plan, Joe would indeed pay higher taxes if he made over 200,000 a year but under the Obama plan, small businesses are exempt from the requirement to provide health care or face penalties. However, while Obama’s plan specifically exempts “small businesses” it does not specify what exactly constitutes a small business. Under Obama’s plan, Joe the plumber would only be fined for not providing healthcare to children.
Obama went on to exaggerate a weakness in McCain’s health care plan, saying “ . . .(U)nder Sen. McCain’s plan there is a strong risk that people would lose their employer-based health care.”
Experts have told FactCheck that while some people may lose their employer-based care under McCain’s plan, this was not a “strong risk”
McCain continued to refer to himself as a maverick and provided a long list of issues on which he voted in opposition to his party.
On the other hand, “Obama strained to portray himself as willing to break ranks with fellow Democrats,” FactCheck wrote. “His prime example was his vote for a bill that was supported by 18 Democrats and opposed by 26. Congressional Quarterly rates him as voting with his party 97 percent of the time since becoming a U.S. senator.”
Negative Campaign Ads
Both candidates accused the other of running negative campaign ads. While both sides are guilty as charged, Obama incorrectly claimed that all of McCain’s ads had been “negative.”
“That was true for one recent week, but not over the entire campaign,” said FactCheck. “And at times Obama has run a higher percentage of attack ads than McCain.”
John McCain described Colombia as the “largest agricultural importer of our products” which is not true. Canada imports more of our farm products with Colombia being far down on the list.
Obama said he doubled the number of charter schools in Illinois but this is not true. He co-sponsored a bill that doubled the number of charter schools in the city of Chicago.
McCain once again said “We have to stop sending $700 billion a year to countries that don’t like us very much” but that figure is based on all annual U.S. oil imports with the price at $140 a barrel. At today’s much lower prices, the true cost is about half of the oft-repeated $700 billion figure.
McCain accused Obama of voting against Justice Breyer and Justice Roberts “on the grounds that they didn’t meet his ideological standards.” What he probably meant to say was that Obama voted against the confirmations of Justice Roberts and Alito. Obama was not in the Senate in 1994 when Breyer was nominated to the Court.
Obama repeated an erroneous statement about wanting oil companies to drill on the 68 million acres they have leased for this purpose but are not drilling on. The truth is that there is exploratory drilling taking place on much of these lands at the present time.
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