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FactCheck Mailbag, Week of Sept. 14-Sept. 20

This week, readers sent us comments about Pell Grants, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and spell-checking.

In the FactCheck Mailbag, we feature some of the e-mail we receive. Readers can send comments to editor@factcheck.org. Letters may be edited for length.

Walorski’s Pell Grant Position

You do a disservice to your readers when you accept a candidate’s non-responsive answers to issues you cover.

You call Joe Donnelly’s claim that his opponent wishes to get rid of Pell Grants "false" and using "faulty logic" ["False Claim on Pell Grants in Indiana," Sept. 14]. You say there is no evidence that she wants to get rid of the Department of Education, yet you quote her response to a questionnaire saying she would "oppose the expansion and/or perpetuation of any and all EXISTING federal legislation and regulations in areas that are not constitutionally enumerated; and are therefore reserved as the exclusive province of the states, such as Education…" This seems clear evidence of wanting to get rid of the Department of Education. Further since Pell Grants and other federal aid to higher education are not "constitutionally enumerated" by most right wing standards, I don’t see that Mr. Donnelly’s logic was at all faulty.

The response by Ms. Walorski’s representative seems to contradict her definitive response to the iCaucus questionnaire and an attempt to muddy her responses for different audiences.

Of much greater importance, it seems to me, is to get candidates who want to cut federal spending to indicate what their priorities are. If Ms. Walorski wants to end programs which are not constitutionally enumerated, which ones would she end if not the ones listed on the iCaucus questionnaire. If she wants to continue Pell Grants, what other federal spending would she cut. Republican candidates generally are avoiding this question, with statements about spending caps and audits. They should not be allowed to get away with this.

Meg McGowan
Honolulu, Hawaii

Perhaps you can explain your logic here. You quote, "On the third question, Walorski answered ‘yes,’ when asked if she would ‘commit to oppose the expansion and/or perpetuation of any and all EXISTING federal legislation and regulations in areas that are not constitutionally enumerated; and are therefore reserved as the exclusive province of the states, such as Education, Energy, Welfare, Labor issues, Non-Interstate roads, farm subsidies etc.’ ”

Now Pell Grants are certainly in the area of education. Since Walorski will oppose the "perpetuation of any and all EXISTING federal legislation and regulations" in this area, doesn’t it follow she will oppose the perpetuation of Pell Grants?

Len Charlap
Princeton, N.J.

FactCheck.org responds: Our readers are free to impute positions to Walorski that she has not actually taken, if they wish. The fact remains that  the questionnaire Donnelly cites did not mention Pell Grants or the Department of Education, and we find no evidence that Walorski has ever called specifically for eliminating either.


‘Center’ Not Right

I take issue with your characterization of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce leaning right-center [Players Guide].

I get daily updates from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and I have not seen any commentary on ANYTHING in the past three years even close to the center.

Even your "read more" link exposes them as a right-wing support group.

I love FactCheck.org and appreciate your efforts. I just wanted to bring this mis-characterization to your attention.

Kevin Leja
Bellingham, Wash.


Reign, Reign, Go Away

I am curious if FactCheck.org went back and spell-checked all of your old articles prior to publishing the article "Reign Maker" [Sept. 14]. A quick search for the word "reign" on FactCheck.org returned the article "Oversimplifying the Financial Crisis" [Oct. 7, 2008]. I thought it was interesting that when you click into the full article the word is spelled correctly.

Mark Bourn
Burnsville, Minn.

FactCheck.org responds: Actually, as our reader points out, the word "rein" is spelled correctly in that article. FactCheck does not control our Google-based search results.

But in repeating the experiment ("Oversimplifying the Financial Crisis" comes up in searches for both "reign" and "rein"), we did find another campaign misspelling. In our July 15 article, "Maligning Maloney by Mailer," we cited New York House challenger Reshma Saujani as saying on her website: "I also called to extend the Durbin amendment to reign in the excessive fees small businesses pay for both debit and credit card transactions." We didn’t call her out for that misspelling — which, unlike Glodis’, does not have an entertaining double meaning.