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FactCheck Mailbag, Week of May 24-30


This week, readers sent us comments about our fact-checking of President Obama, ads from the League of Women Voters and the idea of taxing miles driven.

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.

Overseas Jobs

You said ["FactChecking Obama," May 19], "During the 2008 campaign, he repeatedly called for eliminating 'tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.' But that won’t do much to stop offshoring. As Eric Toder of the Tax Policy Center told us, the claim 'is a nice political slogan, but will do little or nothing for U.S. employment or incomes.' "

That's probably correct if the objective is only to stop jobs from going overseas, but it would have other beneficial effects like reducing the deficit because those companies that continued to ship jobs overseas would be paying more taxes than they are with the tax breaks. And if it's true that jobs would be offshored anyway, that only shows that, like tax breaks for oil drilling, the tax breaks are unnecessary; indeed they have no function except to pad the profit margins of the corporations that lobbied for them.

Jim Bullard
West Stockholm, N.Y.

 

Truthful Statements

A thought occurred to me recently, especially after reading a letter [FactCheck Mailbag, May 10-16] from a person who, after noting that you just exposed a series of falsehoods made by one political candidate (or a certain party), he asked when you were going to do the same for another particular candidate (of the opposing party). This letter was soon followed by an actual article exposing falsehoods of that particular candidate.

I do not wish to dispute any of the falsehoods (or misdirections, which in some cases is more accurate) presented in either article. Rather, it occurs to me that exposing these falsehoods, while valuable, may nonetheless paint an inaccurate picture of the general reliability of political candidates. This is especially the case when (as is the case here) one candidate hasn't held political office in quite some time (if ever), while the other is currently in office. All we can get from articles exposing falsehoods (however accurate) is "both sides do it." We don't learn (as a possibility, not an assertion) that one candidate has actually been truthful 90 percent of the time, while the other has made (again, only as a possibility) very, very, few statements that have held up to scrutiny.

Such information would be very valuable, and it seems to me, very relevant to a "FactCheck" site. We need to know that what politicians say is truthful at least as often as we learn that what they say is not.

Mark Baker-Wright
Monrovia, Calif.

 

League of Women Voters' Ads

As a meteorology graduate and former environmental consultant, I found the link between CO2 emissions and increased risk/occurrences of asthma attacks to be a bit of a stretch ["Deceitful Attacks from the League of Women Voters," May 11].   Surface temperature plays no part in the production of ground-level ozone, which is a cyclic reaction requiring UV light, NOx, and VOCs. I started e-mailing some of my old classmates and mentors to discuss the issue with them, and I believe one of my mentors, who earned a Ph.D. for his research in the field of atmospheric chemistry, said it best:

"I think you've got the right idea…there may not be a direct cause & effect. However, if ambient air temperatures rise, then additional VOCs will be in the air simply due to the increase in vapor pressure as a function of temperature. All those storage tanks that we permitted at COMPANY will emit a tad more simply due to the additional evaporation. Also, and this is getting way detailed, but the reaction rate may slightly increase at a higher temperature as molecules move faster and collide more. Since ozone production involves cyclic reactions, this may be an important factor. I don't have the numbers to back it up; I'm just speaking from a qualitative physical sense."

And this doesn't even begin to touch on the issue of how cloud formation will react to higher surface temperatures. If cloud formation (a big uncertainty in climate change research) becomes more prevalent, there will be less UV radiation reaching the surface, thus ground-level ozone concentrations could possibly decrease. I would focus on rising energy costs and deaths from heat stroke as more grave and certain consequences of climate change than an increase in asthma attacks.

James Burger
Dallas, Texas

I feel the "Deception" you claim from the League of Women Voters was overblown. Although the emissions named may not exacerbate asthma symptoms, they do contribute to unhealthy air. I don't believe there is a healthy amount of mercury or arsenic, contrary to government dictates.

Marcia Rock, RN
Englewood, Ohio

 

Not Another Tax

Reading ["Is Obama Going to Tax Drivers?" May 10] made me reassess a fairly recent decision to veer away from my former immersion in politics.

Aside from the fact that "there are obvious downsides to taxing motorists based on the number of miles they drive," this is yet another tax on our income and road and bridge privileges. What is truly "obvious" is the criminality of this proposal, and the sheer arrogance of our legislators in even considering it. At the risk of sounding Tea Party friendly (I'm not, necessarily) are not our monies taxed enough already? Let's see, there is the income tax, the highway tax, the sales tax in most states, the equally criminal inheritance tax, and several others I'm sure I am missing.

So, apart from those of us whose living is, ahem, driven via driving and who will be taxed excessively as a result, 15,000 miles per year is pretty average, I would think. My wife works about 35 miles from where we live and puts about 30,000 miles per year on her vehicle. Which means that in addition to the exorbitant costs of license plates, toll roads, insurance, fuel and car maintenance, we're going to have to shell out an additional $500 a year just for the "privilege" of driving. Tea, anyone?

Joshua Nunya
Canton, Miss.