A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Biden Bungles Talking Point on Debt

Joe Biden mistakenly claimed Americans own 85 percent of U.S. Treasury securities during his visit to China. Americans own 54 percent of the U.S. public debt — that is, the amount of debt held by the public. They own 69 percent of the total debt, which includes money the U.S. government owes itself.
At several stops in China, Vice President Biden sought to reassure the Chinese that their investments in U.S. treasuries are safe.

FactChecking Iowa Debate

Republican presidential candidates squared off in Ames, Iowa, on Aug. 11, offering claims, criticism and arguments. We found some false and misleading statements among them …

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."

‘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"

Does the U.S. ‘Look a Lot Like Greece’?

Sen. Mitch McConnell strained the facts when he claimed that "[w]e look a lot like Greece already." The public debt of Greece is double that of the U.S. in relation to the size of each nation's economy
McConnell made his comment in a July 6 news conference held prior to a meeting with President Barack Obama. It's an exaggeration he's made before. In a June 23 appearance on the Fox News Channel, for example, he said:


Huntsman’s $1 Trillion Mistake

Jon Huntsman was off by $1 trillion or more when he claimed that Social Security, Medicare and interest payments would consume "every dollar of federal revenue" within 10 years. A spokesman says Huntsman meant to include Medicaid in that list, but even that wouldn't make the claim accurate.
In his June 21 speech announcing that he is running for the Republican presidential nomination, the former ambassador said:

Huntsman, June 21: We must make hard decisions that are necessary to avert disaster.

Durbin’s Debt Problem

Sen. Dick Durbin incorrectly claimed that the U.S. borrows money "primarily from China" to fund the federal government. China owns about 8 percent of the total U.S. debt.
The Illinois Democrat made the claim during a June 19 interview on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Durbin, June 19: Keep in mind, for every dollar we spend in Washington, we borrow 40 cents, primarily from China, our major competitor in the world.

Durbin is largely correct that the U.S.

DCCC Dials Wrong Number

Democrats make false and misleading claims about the impact of the House GOP budget plan on Medicare and the federal debt in automated phone calls placed in 13 districts. The robocalls, paid for by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee …

Palin Whoppers on Debt, Oil Imports

Sarah Palin made two wildly inaccurate claims on the debt accumulated under President Obama and oil imports. She wrongly said that the debt had grown more under Obama than "all those other presidents combined." She also was way off when she claimed that the U.S. is going to spend "$8 billion a day" on oil imports this year and next year to make up for declining oil production in the Gulf of Mexico. The actual amount is less than $20 million a day.

Ryan’s Budget Spin

Rep. Paul Ryan spreads some false and misleading information in a series of “Setting The Record Straight” web posts, in which he criticizes the president’s proposed budget and promotes …