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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

FactChecking Bachmann

We are periodically taking a look at past claims from the 2012 presidential candidates. Today's topic: Michele Bachmann.

The Republican representative from Minnesota announced during this week's debate that she was running for the nation's highest office. Several claims from Bachmann have appeared on our site before, including:

  • Earlier this year, Bachmann falsely claimed that $105 billion in spending was "hidden" in the federal health care law and that this was done "secretly, unbeknownst to members of Congress." But Congress had debated several items Bachmann referred to as "hidden," such as $40 billion to fund the Children's Health Insurance Program for two years, $11 billion for community health centers and $5 billion to set up high-risk insurance pools.
  • In March, she wrongly said that the Obama administration had only issued one new oil drilling permit since the president took office. The real number was 276, according to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement’s online database, as of the day of Bachmann's speech. It's now 296.
  • In a response speech to Tea Party Express activists after this year's State of the Union address, Bachmann said the bailout, or Troubled Asset Relief Program, signed into law by President George W. Bush, had cost taxpayers $700 billion. Actually, the net cost at the time was $25 billion. The Congressional Budget Office has since updated its estimate to $19 billion.
  • Last year, Bachmann made the greatly exaggerated claim that "now we have the federal government … taking over ownership or control of 51 percent of the American economy." But total government expenditures were 20.6 percent of gross domestic product in 2009, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. You have to go back to 1944 to find a time when government spending was close to 50 percent of GDP.
  • She twisted a report on Medicaid recipients and abortion into a bogus statistic when talking about the potential impact of the federal health care law on abortions. She said that "if there is taxpayer funding of abortion, there will be 30 percent more abortions." That would be about 360,000 more abortions each year. But the congresswoman was actually referring to an unrelated report from the Guttmacher Institute that said if Medicaid provided coverage for all abortions, there would be a 28 percent increase in the number of abortions among Medicaid beneficiaries in states that don't already pay for abortions beyond what federal law allows. Besides, the health care law doesn't change Medicaid rules on abortion funding.
  • Bachmann also has done her fair share of spreading false Internet-fueled rumors, like the off-base claim that Rep. Nancy Pelosi ran up a $100,000 "bar tab for alcohol" on congressional trips, and the highly doubtful assertion that Obama's trip to India last year cost $200 million per day. On the president's trip, Bachmann told CNN's Anderson Cooper that "these are the numbers that have been coming out in the press," but the unsupported figure came from one India news report based on an anonymous "top official" in Mumbai. She also was wrong when she said in June 2009 that the community group ACORN "will be in charge of going door-to-door and collecting data from the American public" as part of the census. ACORN was just one of more than 30,000 "partners" the Census Bureau had recruited to help publicize the 2010 census to encourage participation.

See our previous posts on claims by President Barack Obama and Republican candidates Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty and Rick Santorum.

— Lori Robertson