A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

White House Displays ‘Washington Monument Syndrome’

The White House misleadingly suggests that the Republicans’ plan to pay for a payroll tax cut would result in “forcing cuts to things like education and medical research.” The bill passed by House Republicans mentions no such cuts. And while the bill may or may not require cuts to discretionary spending, there’s no reason those cuts would have to come from popular programs like education or medical research.
The White House’s nearly six-minute “white board” video,

Gingrich Makes a Mess with Janitors Claim

Newt Gingrich got it wrong when he claimed “an entry-level janitor gets paid twice as much as an entry-level teacher” in New York City.
An entry-level “cleaner” is the closest thing to Gingrich’s description of an “entry-level janitor,” and someone in that position is paid substantially less than an entry-level teacher. Some may be surprised to learn that “custodial engineers” are better paid than teachers. But they are supervisors (not entry-level janitors), and even they are not paid twice as much.

Soft on Anti-Semitism?

GOP presidential candidates Michele Bachmann and Mitt Romney claim that the U.S. ambassador to Belgium “justified” and “downplayed” anti-Semitism and blamed it on “Israel’s actions toward the Palestinians.” We find that to be a one-sided interpretation of what was actually said.
Others may view Ambassador Howard Gutman’s remarks differently than the Republican candidates when seen in full context. Gutman — who is Jewish and whose father survived the Holocaust — said, for example, that the “hatred”

Unproven Jobs Claim in Pro-Romney Ad

A pro-Romney TV spot running heavily in Iowa touts an unproven claim that the candidate “helped create thousands of jobs” as CEO of an investment firm. When we asked the super PAC sponsoring the ad for proof of its claim, a spokeswoman said: “We aren’t supplying that information.” And so far, neither is the Romney campaign.
The ad from super PAC Restore Our Future also rehashes Mitt Romney’s claim that he didn’t raise taxes in Massachusetts when he was governor,

Whole Truth About the Cain ‘Lie Detector’

A so-called lie detector featured in a new ad supporting Herman Cain uses voice-stress technology that is no more reliable than “flipping a coin,” according to one university study by a criminal-justice researcher. Two other academics called it “charlatanry.” The ad says that “one of the foremost lie detector experts in America” found that Cain was being truthful when he said he did not do anything improper, and that one of his accusers was not. But the science behind that claim has gotten mixed reviews,

Lazy Rhetoric

Republican presidential candidates Rick Perry and Mitt Romney both claim President Barack Obama said that “Americans are lazy.” He didn’t. To the contrary, Obama has consistently and repeatedly praised American workers as the “most productive in the world,” a bit of boosterism he has repeated dozens of times. His recent words — “we’ve been a little bit lazy, I think, over the last couple of decades” — actually referred to collective efforts to promote foreign investment in the U.S.,

The Fall TV Season’s Senate Air Wars

The November elections are still nearly a year away, but the TV air wars over Senate seats have officially begun in earnest. The balance of power is up for grabs, and outside groups are pouring millions into ads attacking candidates in key Senate races. The biggest plays have come from Crossroads GPS …

Boehner’s Big Stretch on Small Business

House Speaker John Boehner claimed that “small-business people” make up more than half of those who would be hit by a tax increase on “millionaires.” Not really. Only 13 percent of those making over $1 million get even as much as one-fourth of that income from small business, according to government tax experts.
Old Exaggerations
Republicans have for years greatly exaggerated the extent to which higher taxes on upper-income individuals would fall on owners of small businesses.

Friends Lumped with Foes in Foreign Oil Debate

Republican presidential candidates Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman this week both exaggerated the extent to which the U.S. relies on imported oil from countries “hostile” or “unfriendly” to the U.S.
Warning about over-reliance on foreign oil from countries that “don’t like us very much” is a bipartisan refrain. And it is true that some of the oil imported by the U.S. comes from countries that are arguably (and in some cases undeniably) unfriendly to the U.S.

A Father-In-Law’s Attack Ads

It’s not every day you see a guy sinking over a million dollars into political ads to attack his son-in-law’s opponent. But the truth-stretching in the ads? That’s all too common.
The revelation that an in-law is the money behind a relentless campaign, featuring several attack ads, is the latest twist in a spirited race for Kentucky governor, to be settled Nov. 8.
The race pits incumbent Democrat Steve Beshear against Republican challenger David Williams, the state Senate president.