A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Obama’s Speech and Those Frivolous Earmarks

President Obama spoke to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night, and we caught several factual errors and misstatements in his remarks. See our full story on FactCheck.org for all the details. Here’s just one item we found:
Obama exaggerated a bit in describing the Children’s Health Insurance Program that was recently reauthorized by Congress:

Obama: When it was days old, this Congress passed a law to provide and protect health insurance for 11 million American children whose parents work full time.

Loss of Automaker Jobs?

Q: Would 3 million jobs be lost if U.S. automakers go under?

A: The 3-million-jobs figure is based on doomsday assumptions that are unlikely to materialize. Independent economists put the job loss in the hundreds of thousands if GM and Chrysler go under. Ford has said it can survive on its own for now.

Health Care Bill Bankruptcies

Q: What is the percentage of total personal bankruptcies caused by health care bills?
A: A Harvard study published in 2005 found that about half of those who filed for bankruptcy said health care expenses, illness or related job-loss led them to do so. Twenty-seven percent cited uncovered medical bills specifically, and 2 percent said they had mortgaged their home to pay what they owed.

Our Disinformed Electorate

We saw more aggressive fact-checking by journalists in this election than ever before. Unfortunately, as a post-election Annenberg Public Policy Center poll confirms, millions of voters were bamboozled anyway.

More than half of U.S. adults (52 percent) said the claim that Sen. Barack Obama’s tax plan would raise taxes on most small businesses is truthful, when in fact only a small percentage would see any increase.

More than two in five (42.3 percent) found truth in the claim that Sen.

Auto Worker Salaries

Q: Do auto workers really make more than $70 per hour?
A: No. That figure is derived from what the auto companies pay in wages, health, retirement and other benefits, and includes the cost of providing benefits to retirees.

You Ask, We Answer

That’s the idea behind our Ask FactCheck feature on themain site.
This week, we looked into a suspicious quote allegedly from President-elect Barack Obama, speaking about urgent gun policy changes. The reader who sent it to us wasn’t convinced it was legitimate, and our reporting showed it was almost certainly a fabrication. The quote claims Obama told a "VPC Fund Raiser" in 2007 that "[i]n the first year, I intend to work with Congress on a national no carry law,

Long Term Debt Forecasts

Q: What’s a good source for the U.S.A.’s long-term debt, annual revenues and expeditures, and long-term deficit forecasts?

A: The Congressional Budget Office publishes data on the federal government’s budget – that’s revenues and expenditures, deficits and debt. The Treasury Dept. is the best source for daily debt figures.

Making Ends Meet

Sen. Barack Obama has said several times that he has proposed cuts that pay for “every dime” of his spending proposals, a claim we’ve called “misleading.” The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center’s analysis, for one, found that “without substantial cuts in government spending” Obama’s plan – and McCain’s, too – “would substantially increase the national debt over the next ten years.”
Obama repeated his claim in his half-hour commercial that aired Wednesday night on major networks and cable television,

Reckless Driving

The Obama-Biden campaign has released an ad as part of its “closing argument” to the American people. But we have a few factual objections to raise.

The ad is called “Rearview Mirror” and says that if you “wonder where John McCain would take the economy” just “look behind you,” alluding to the Bush administration. The ad even pictures President Bush’s face in the rearview mirror of a car.
But it touts some misleading claims Obama has dropped along the long campaign trail.

Erratic Quotes

The Obama-Biden campaign has a new, unannounced ad that says McCain has been “erratic” in his response to the financial crisis:

The ad includes various critical quotes from editorials in the Washington Post, USA Today and Politico. We looked up the original articles, and all the quotes are in context.
But the ad also cites the August 15 Tax Policy Center report, with text on screen saying “nothing for the middle class.” Within the ad, the words do not appear in quotes,