Editorial: Fact-check President Obama’s statements during last Wednesday’s debate

Editorial Board

This editorial board has taken up a great deal of space this year arguing that voting is not the only act of citizenship. Rather, voting is one of many duties that you, Citizen, ought to perform routinely to deserve that title.

We are in the midst of an election cycle and therefore are confronted by what passes for campaigns and debates. We must address “facts” offered in last week’s presidential debate in particular, even though debating should always be a feature of politics.

Voting well requires education. As Theodore Roosevelt said, “a vote is like a rifle: Its usefulness depends on the character of the user.” So in today’s empire of lies — where facts are open to partisan interpretation, if not treason — we will help realize the greatest fear of both campaigns: We will correct some of the statements made by both President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

First, Obama: “We’ve [taken the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction plan], made some adjustments to it, and we’re putting it forward before Congress right now — a $4 trillion plan,” said President Obama.

Incorrect. One trillion dollars of this alleged “plan” was cut a year ago, meaning even if Romney wins, it’s still cut. Another trillion is the money saved by not being at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, making that money the government wasn’t going to spend anyway.

Obama: “Governor Romney’s central economic plan calls for a five trillion dollar tax cut on top of the extension of the Bush tax cuts.”

This is very misleading. Romney is indeed in favor of eliminating interest, capital gains, and dividend taxes for people making under $200,000 per year, doing away with the estate tax and Alternative Minimum Tax, extending the Bush tax cuts, and cutting income taxes 20 percent.

But Obama comes up with his figure by extrapolating results from a Tax Policy Center report out over an entire decade. Romney has always said his plan would be revenue and deficit neutral, even though Romney hasn’t exactly been specific about how he would achieve that.

“When Obamacare is fully implemented, we’re going to be in a position to show that costs are going down. And over the last two years, health care premiums have gone up … slower than any time in the last 50 years. So we’re already beginning to see progress,” Obama claimed.

Wrong. Health care premiums have spiked this last year at a rate far higher than previous years, and Obamacare is responsible for one to three percent of that increase due to the greater coverage requirements. The rise in health care expenditures has slowed because of the recession, not Obamacare.

Stay tuned for Romney’s debunking tomorrow. But God knows we need much more space than this.