McCain said that Obama has proposed $860 billion in new spending. That’s based on a McCain campaign estimate of how much Obama’s new proposals will cost, without figuring in any savings or reductions in spending. Any increase in funding and any created program counts as “new spending” in this estimate, whether or not it is offset by decreases in spending elsewhere. A more traditional, and arguably more useful, measure of spending is how much a given candidate’s proposals will increase the federal deficit.
McCain said that Obama’s health care plan would mandate that “small businesses” provide coverage for their employees and would fine them if they failed to do so. Actually, Obama’s health care plan, posted on his Web site, says: “Small businesses will be exempt from this requirement.” McCain previously used this charge in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention.
Obama was off the mark when he said that oil companies have “68 million acres that they’re not using.”
As we’ve pointed out previously, those 68 million acres of land are not producing oil, but they are not necessarily untouched. In fact, in 2006, the last year for which figures are available, there were a total of more than 15,000 holes that were being proposed, started or finished. These acres of land that these holes sit on are not counted as being “producing,”
Obama said that his health care plan would cut costs, saving $2,500 a year per family. When we asked health care experts about this claim earlier this year, they were quite skeptical. M.I.T.’s Jonathan Gruber told us, “I know zero credible evidence to support that conclusion.” Obama has also said on the campaign trail that more than half of the savings would come from the use of electronic health records, a major part of his plan to cut health costs.
McCain said that Obama had voted 94 times for higher taxes or against tax cuts. He’s getting warmer — the first time we dinged him for this one, he said Obama voted 94 times to increase taxes, which is way off. This is still misleading, though. The real breakdown includes: 23 votes against tax cuts (which would have produced no increase in taxes); seven votes that would have lowered taxes for most people, but increased taxes on a few;
McCain repeated a questionable boast when he said, “I saved the taxpayers $6.8 billion” by reining in a defense contract.
As we mentioned in our analysis of the first debate, there is more to the story. McCain certainly did lead a fight to kill the contract, and the effort ended in prison sentences for defense contractors. The contract is still up in the air, however, and questions have been raised about the role McCain played in helping a Boeing rival secure the new contract.
Obama’s right about earmark amounts. According to the budget watchdog group, Taxpayers for Common Sense, earmarks totaled just $18.3 billion in 2008. Citizens Against Government Waste came in with a slightly smaller number of $17.2 billion, and the Office of Management and Budget smaller still at $16.9 billion.
McCain accused Obama of voting for a “Bush and Cheney” energy bill that gave away billions to oil companies. McCain is referring to the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which Obama did in fact vote for. Sen. Clinton raised this same charge against Obama during the Democratic primaries. It was misleading then and it’s equally misleading now.
In fact, according to a Congressional Research Service report, more tax breaks were taken away from oil companies than were given.
Again tonight Obama said that the U.S. was paying too much for the war in Iraq, while the Iraqis have a “$79 billion surplus.”
As we’ve pointed out when Obama said it on the campaign trail, when he repeated it at the last debate, and even when Biden mentioned the figure in the vice presidential debate, that number is wrong. The Iraqis actually “have” $29.4 billion in the bank. The Government Accountability Office projected in August that Iraq’s 2008 budget surplus could range anywhere from $38.2 billion to $50.3 billion,
McCain charged that Obama has said he would “attack Pakistan.” What he really said, on Aug. 1, 2007, was: “It was a terrible mistake to fail to act when we had a chance to take out an al Qaeda leadership meeting in 2005. If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act, we will.”
As we noted in February, when Sen. Hillary Clinton criticized Obama for his remarks, that’s pretty much what the U.S.