A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

FactCheck Mailbag, Week of Oct. 11-17


This week, readers sent us comments about Herman Cain’s “9-9-9” tax plan and deficit spending in the United States.

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.

 

About the “9-9-9” Plan …

Your review of the 9-9-9 plan [“Cain’s ‘Fiscal Hocus Pocus,’ ” Oct. 13] seems to leave out some very important factors.

  1. The plan would greatly increase revenues from foreign visitors who, today, pay no federal taxes.
  2. It would also create new revenues from illegal aliens and others who work off the books. Today, those people would pay neither payroll taxes, nor income taxes, as they could not file for off-the-books income.
  3. It would be harder to cheat on flat taxes or sales taxes.
  4. It would be harder, if not impossible, to avoid taxes by avoiding purchases of most items.

All of these would increase revenues, which was not mentioned in your cited analysis.

Rich Bail
Scottsdale, Ariz.


Was Bachmann Right About Deficit Spending?

I enjoy reading your site and appreciate the difficult work your organization does to check the facts on statements made by our politicians. I was somewhat surprised that you labeled one statement as untrue by Bachmann [“Recycled Spin at New Hampshire GOP Debate,” Oct. 14], which was clearly correct, according to the evidence you presented.

You labeled Bachmann’s statement that “[w]e are spending 40 percent more than what we take in,” as untrue. You then presented as evidence a calculation that showed the correct percentage to be more precisely 37.4 percent. Forty percent is the same as 37.4 percent except that it has been rounded to one significant figure. Her statement is not incorrect. Similarly, your own statement that the correct percentage is 37 percent is also correct. Neither your rounding, nor Bachmann’s, is incorrect. Further, her rounding of the figure is not even misleading considering that it is unlikely that people would draw a strong distinction between 37 percent and 40 percent. Finally, considering that one month of data is still to be added to this year’s calculation of tax collection and spending, it would even be considered advisable not to present the figures too precisely since there is still a considerable margin of error in what the final figure may be.

Bachmann makes enough outrageously untrue statements that it seems unnecessary to classify additional statements she makes as false when they are not.

Matt Herndon
Madison, Wisc.

FactCheck.org responds: We later updated that item with the final figures for fiscal year 2011, which showed that the actual deficit for the full 12 months was $1.299 trillion, and the deficit amounted to 36.1 cents of every dollar spent.