A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Whoppers of 2012, Early Edition

Thomas Hobbes’ oft-cited phrase from 1651, “nasty, brutish and short,” does not describe the 2012 presidential campaign — unfortunately. The contest so far has been nasty all right, and disregard for the truth has been brutish on both sides, in our judgment. But alas, it won’t be over until Nov …

Rick Perry’s Whopper on Job Losses

Texas Gov. Rick Perry falsely states that President Barack Obama “has overseen the loss of 1.4 million jobs.” Perry is referring to job statistics in 34 states that have lost jobs since Obama took office, ignoring the 16 states that have gained jobs. The total job loss in all 50 states under Obama is about 552,000 through May 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Perry also exaggerates when he blames the nation’s high deficit solely on “uncontrolled spending that has gone on with the stimulus program.”

Stimulus Money for Jobs Overseas?

An ad from the conservative Americans for Prosperity distorts the truth about stimulus money for “green jobs” going overseas. The ad, titled “Wasteful Spending,” introduces some new wrinkles to this well-used line of attack.
According to the ad, the stimulus included:

“$1.2 billion to a solar company that’s building a plant in Mexico.” Actually, the loans were to finance a solar ranch built and operated in California. It’s true that the company that got the loans also recently opened a solar-panel manufacturing plant in Mexico,

Straining the Facts on Federal Spending

A TV ad by a conservative group gives some factually challenged answers to its own rhetorical question, “How exactly does President Obama spend your tax dollars?”

It wrongly claims that the boss of the General Services Administration “couldn’t make it to Vegas because she had meetings planned … at Solyndra.” That’s not true. The claim linking the two scandals is based on an inaccurate April 10 report that was quickly corrected — nearly two weeks before the ad first aired.

Did Obama ‘Approve’ Bridge Work for Chinese Firms?

Q: Is President Obama responsible for Chinese companies building U.S. bridges with stimulus money, as reported by ABC News?
A: No. A viral email distorts an ABC News report. California officials hired a Chinese contractor and rejected federal money to avoid federal “Buy American” laws.

Hoekstra’s Baseless Jobs Claim

Pete Hoekstra, a former Michigan congressman running for Senate, falsely claims in a TV ad that President Obama’s stimulus “lost 2.6 million more jobs.” Since the stimulus became law on Feb. 17, 2009, the U.S. has lost about 428,000 jobs, and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says job losses would have been more severe during the recession without the stimulus.
Hoekstra left Congress in 2011 after running unsuccessfully for governor of Michigan in 2010. Now, he hopes to capture the Republican nomination for Senate and run against Democratic Sen.

Attacks Against Gingrich: How Accurate?

A pro-Romney group is savaging Newt Gingrich with TV ads and mailers to Iowa Republicans. Gingrich dismisses the attacks as “lies.” We find that some of the claims from Restore Our Future are indeed distorted, false or misleading. But several are also right on target.

A TV spot makes a distorted claim that Gingrich co-sponsored a bill containing money for a United Nations program “supporting China’s brutal one-child policy.” The truth is that bill specifically prohibited the use of funds for “involuntary sterilization or abortion,” or “the coercion of any person to accept family planning services.” The funding in question was a small part of a much larger bill which died before ever coming up for a vote.

Suspect Claims from Obama’s ’60 Minutes’ Interview

President Barack Obama made a couple of questionable claims during a recent interview with Steve Kroft of CBS’ “60 Minutes.”

Obama said that “John McCain’s former economist” said that the stimulus “created or saved 3 millions jobs.” Mark Zandi did say that the stimulus created about that many jobs, but the registered Democrat was one of many advisers to McCain, not his chief economist.
Obama also said “the majority of Republicans” believe there should be “a balanced approach to deficit reduction,

Flipping Through DNC Playbook on Romney

The Democratic National Committee casts Mitt Romney as an untrustworthy flip-flopper in a lengthy Web video, but pads a long list of examples with some falsehoods and distortions. It’s true that Romney has changed or modified his position on some major issues — including abortion, a federal assault weapons ban and Reaganomics, as the DNC says. But the video strains the truth …

Obama’s Solyndra Problem

President Obama exaggerated when defending his administration’s approval of a $535 million loan guarantee to Solyndra, a now-defunct solar company.
Obama referred to Solyndra’s loan at an Oct. 6 press conference as “a loan guarantee program that predates me.” That’s not accurate. It’s true that the Energy Policy Act of 2005 created a loan guarantee program for clean-energy companies developing “innovative technologies.” But Solyndra’s loan guarantee came under another program created by the president’s 2009 stimulus for companies developing “commercially available technologies.”