A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

$700 Billion Blame Game

We find House and Senate campaigns are taking liberties with the facts as they seek to assign blame for the nation’s financial mess.

A Democratic ad in Kentucky accuses Republican Senate Leader McConnell of conduct bordering on the criminal, but falsely accuses him of taking $4.4 million from "big banks."
A Republican ad in Pennsylvania claims Democratic House member Kanjorski sponsored a bill to "slash oversight" and "banks made millions." In fact, the bill never made it out of committee.

Credit Where it Isn’t Due

The McCain-Palin campaign is running a series of upbeat ads designed to appeal to workers in three states (Michigan, Ohio, and New Mexico – for some reason the New Mexico ad isn’t on McCain’s YouTube channel, but it sounds pretty much like the Ohio one). Sometimes even upbeat ads need a little tweaking.

Here’s the Michigan ad. In this one, McCain says that “John McCain and his congressional allies” have a plan for Michigan, including “loans to upgrade assembly lines.”

Obama’s Connection to Raines

Before the McCain-Palin campaign tried to link Sen. Barack Obama with political heavyweights in Chicago, the campaign claimed that Obama was being advised on the economy by Franklin Raines, former Fannie Mae CEO.
In an ad titled “Advice,” the McCain campaign makes the claim that “Obama has no background in economics.” Then it asks the question, “Who advises him?” The answer, according to the ad: “The Post says it’s Franklin Raines, for ‘advice on mortgage and housing policy.’

Biden, FDR and the Invention of Television

In a sit-down interview with CBS Evening News’ Katie Couric that aired Sept. 22, Sen. Joe Biden tried to make a historical comparison between political leadership during the trying economic times of today and yesterday. But he got some of his history wrong. Biden told Couric: “When the stock market crashed, Franklin D. Roosevelt got on the television and didn’t just talk about the, you know, the princes of greed.”

There are several things wrong with that statement.

Biden’s “Patriotic Act”

 A recent McCain-Palin ad titled “Patriotic Act” puts a new twist on some old false claims, then adds a misleading implication, just for good measure. Here’s the ad:

We can start with a list of what the ad does get right:

Joe Biden did indeed say that paying taxes is patriotic.

Actually, that’s pretty much the whole list. The rest of the ad is mostly malarkey, starting with the implication that Biden called it patriotic for most Americans to pay taxes.

McCain’s cloudy crystal ball

Confused about whether John McCain really predicted the fall of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? We don’t blame you. The McCain-Palin campaign says he did, and as proof, they point to a 2006 speech in which McCain exhorts his colleagues to vote for legislation he cosponsored, legislation that would have regulated the misbehaving mortgage giants. The Obama campaign says he did not and point out that McCain said in 2007 that he didn’t see the crisis coming.

Stretching with Biden


Biden proved once again that it doesn’t take outright falsehoods to create a skewed impression of one’s opponent. We found in a Sept. 15 speech that:

Biden used partial quotes to support his charge that McCain wouldn’t help "small borrowers" suffering in the mortgage crisis but would "fight for those that lost their … real estate investments." In fact, McCain’s full quote said he would also fight for those who "lost their jobs" and "savings,"

Freddie, Fannie and Barack

Update, Sept. 19: Portions of this post were based on incomplete data. We have struck through the incorrect sections. Please see here for our corrected account. We apologize for the inconvenience.
In a Sept. 16 stump speech in Vienna, Ohio, Republican presidential nominee John McCain went after Barack Obama, his Democratic counterpart, charging that Obama can’t possibly hope to change Washington. After all, McCain said, Obama is a big part of the problem.

Can’t be Fired

We noticed John McCain saying today that he would fire the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission if he were president. But, fortunately for the SEC chairman, the president can’t fire him.

McCain (Sept. 18, Cedar Rapids, Iowa): The chairman of the SEC serves at the appointment of the president. And in my view has betrayed the public trust. If I were president today, I would fire him.

ABC News points out that “while the president nominates and the Senate confirms the SEC chair,

More on the Phantom 62 Percent

In our recent article “Sliming Palin,” we addressed the pervasive rumor that Gov. Palin slashed funding for special needs education. She didn’t. Instead, she increased funding. Here’s more detail on how an increase got mistaken for a 62 percent decrease.
The evidence that’s been cited to support the false decrease claim:

The special schools component of the education budget for fiscal year 2007, before Palin was governor, was $8.3 million.
The special schools budget for 2008 was $3.2 million.