A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Mandatory Public Service

Q: Is Congress creating a mandatory public service system? Are participants not allowed to go to church?
A: The national service bill does not mandate that youth must participate nor does it forbid anyone who does participate from going to church.

Illegal Backyard Garden?

Q: Would a new bill in Congress make my backyard organic garden illegal?
A: A House bill proposes to split the Food & Drug Administration, creating a separate entity to oversee food safety. It’s aimed at food sold in supermarkets and doesn’t say anything about organic gardening, pesticides, farmers’ markets or that tomato plant in your backyard.

Obama’s Old Campaign Group out with New Ad

Organizing for America, a project of the Democratic National Committee, was born out of the former Obama campaign infrastructure. Today, the group released its first television ad in support of — guess who? — President Obama: 

The ad says that Obama has a plan to "cut the deficit in half." But as we pointed out yesterday in our review of the president’s prime time news conference, there is more to the story. The administration’s Office of Management and Budget does indeed project that the annual federal deficit will be half of 2009’s deficit by 2013,

Obama’s Prime Time Pitch

President Obama sometimes strayed from the facts or made dubious claims during his hour-long evening news conference March 24. He said his budget projections are based on economic assumptions that “are perfectly consistent with what Blue Chip forecasters out there are saying.” Not true. The average projection by leading …

Targeting Obama with Bonus ‘AIG’itation

The American Issues Project, a conservative group, has released an ad attacking President Obama and congressional Democrats for the bonuses issued by American International Group after it received federal bailout funds. The ad is scheduled to run for the next week on a $500,000 ad buy.
Here’s the ad:

It shows a headline saying that "Obama Accepts Blame for AIG Bonuses," which the group’s backup says is from The Wall Street Journal. And indeed,

FDR’s “Voluntary” Social Security

Q: Did FDR promise that Social Security would be voluntary? Did Democrats end tax deductions for Social Security withholding?
A: Social Security has never been voluntary and taxes paid to support it have never been deductible from federal income taxes. A widely e-mailed "history lesson" gets nearly all its facts wrong.

Plane False

The conservative Web site Judicial Watch has made public e-mails to and from the Department of Defense regarding Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s travel requests. The organization claims in a press release that these e-mails show Pelosi "issue[s] unreasonable requests for military travel" and "treats the Air Force like her personal airline." A number of readers have asked us for our response to this information, given that we have debunked claims about Pelosi’s air travel.

More Upstate Insults

The campaign to fill the vacant House seat in New York’s 20th congressional district is the race that keeps on giving – giving false and misleading ads, at least. Two new spots, one from Democratic businessman Scott Murphy and another from his foe, Republican state Assembly Minority Leader Jim Tedisco, both …

Guns for Pilots

Q: Is it true that Obama is dropping the federal safety program that allowed pilots to carry guns?

A: No, the program is not being ended, according to the Transportation Security Administration, the Department of Homeland Security and the largest airline pilots union. In fact, TSA says the program is being expanded. The claim comes from a Washington Times editorial that has been removed from the paper’s Web site.

Obama and the Deficit

During a speech on Tuesday, President Obama promised to reduce the budget deficit:
Obama: Now, this budget does not attempt to solve every problem or address every issue because of the massive deficit we inherited and the enormous costs of this financial crisis. We have made some tough choices that will cut our deficit in half by the end of my first term and reduce it by $2 trillion over the next decade.
To start, we want to clarify that Obama is talking about the budget deficit (the amount of money the government spends in a given year minus what it takes in),