A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Debt Limit Debate Round-Up

The last few weeks have been filled with debate, accusations, stalemate and false claims about the debt ceiling and how — and whether — it should be raised. As the Aug. 2 default deadline looms, here’s a look at the less-than-factual talking points …

LaHood Pads Job Losses

The transportation secretary overstated the number of construction jobs lost because Congress has failed to pass a federal aviation bill. Ray LaHood claimed that "as many as 70,000 construction workers across America are out of work," because of the congressional stalemate. That's the number of jobs a construction industry analysis said would be "affected" in some way. The industry study puts the number of construction workers who are actually "out of work" at 24,000.
LaHood, a former Illinois congressman,

Default ‘Danger’ Revisited

President Obama's communications director said we’ve "never" been in danger of defaulting before. That's not true. Congress has come close to failing to raise the debt ceiling before defaulting more than once in recent years, under both Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer appeared on CNN's "John King USA" on July 26, and he told guest-host Jessica Yellin that "in the 200-plus years of our country, we've never been in a situation where we have been in danger of defaulting on our obligations."

Romney’s Economic Exaggerations

Mitt Romney mistakenly claimed the U.S. is experiencing "the worst recovery … in America's history," citing the Wall Street Journal. But the newspaper article said it was "the worst, or one of the worst, since the government started tracking these trends after World War II." That obviously does not include the recoveries following the Great Depression or 20 other economic downturns that have occurred since 1857.
Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who is running for president,

McConnell’s Debt Claim ‘Rejected’

Sen. Mitch McConnell wrongly claimed President Obama "rejected the only plan the Democrats have proposed" to raise the debt ceiling. That's not true. The White House has explicitly supported the proposal.
The Senate minority leader made the false statement in a July 26 speech on the Senate floor.

McConnell, July 26: Last night the president rejected not just the only proposal that has passed either house of Congress, he rejected the only plan the Democrats have proposed as well —

FactChecking Dueling Debt Speeches

The president and House speaker restated familiar positions in their dueling debt ceiling speeches, but they took their points too far at times or made them without enough context. …

Medicare Message in Spanish

A Democratic ad in Spanish says Republicans "would end the Medicare guarantee." That requires context. Viewers might interpret the message to mean that Medicare would end completely. That's not the case. The ad refers to the system's guarantee of a certain level of benefits covered by the government.

[TET ] DNC ad, English translation: Behind the ads that pretend to care about our children, it's the Republicans who would end the Medicare guarantee while protecting tax cuts for the very rich.

FactCheck Mailbag, Week of July 19-25

This week, readers sent us comments about our article on the deficit debate.
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.

‘Spenditol’ Silliness

A conservative Christian group makes some wildly improbable claims about government spending in a satirical ad targeting Democrats.
The ad mimics the format of spots for prescription drugs, touting "Spenditol" as a cure for the "chronic pain" of rising gasoline and food prices and unemployment worries. While we do get the joke, and hate to be killjoys, we are obliged to note that the ad strays from the facts here and there. It claims that the 2009 stimulus law "didn't create jobs"