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The Full Fact-Check of the V.P. Debate

We posted several items to The Wire last night as Gov. Sarah Palin and Sen. Joe Biden were debating. But in the wee hours of Friday, we also posted a full article on the misleading statements and factual errors we found in their exchange. See our story on the v.p. debate at FactCheck.org:
FactChecking Biden-Palin Debate
October 3, 2008 
The candidates were not 100 percent accurate. To say the least.

Who’s to Blame for the Financial Crisis?

Two new ads point fingers: MoveOn.org pins the blame on Sen. John McCain’s advisers. The McCain-Palin campaign says it’s Obama and Democrats in Congress. We say both are wrong.
See our full article, posted on our main site, FactCheck.org, for more on these misleading TV spots:
Who Caused the Economic Crisis?
October 1, 2008 

McCain in the vanguard of mortgage reform?

Sarah Palin says that McCain sounded the alarm on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac two years ago. Our colleagues at PolitiFact questioned that claim, calling it “barely true.” Palin’s referring to a bill that would have increased oversight on Fannie and Freddie. McCain signed onto that bill as a cosponsor, but PolitiFact says it wouldn’t have lessened the current economic crisis. And in our recent article about assigning blame for the economic crisis, we add that by the time McCain added his name to the bill,

Health Care Deregulation?

Biden said that McCain wrote in a magazine article that he wanted to do for the health care industry what deregulation had done for Wall Street. That’s taking McCain’s words out of context, as we’ve written before.
Biden is referring to a phrase from a journal article under McCain’s name that said he would reduce regulation of health insurance “as we have done over the last decade in banking.” But the full context shows McCain was talking specifically about a proposal to allow the sale and purchase of health insurance across state lines.

Socialized Medicine?

Palin said that Obama’s plan would be “government run” and would mandate health care. The first claim is false, as we’ve said before. Obama’s plan would increase the offerings of publicly funded health care, but would not replace or remove private insurance, or require people to enroll in a public plan.
The second claim leaves out important information. Obama’s plan would mandate health coverage for children, but not for adults.

Tax Cuts for Oil Companies?

McCain isn’t proposing a special tax break for oil companies, despite Joe Biden’s mention (more than once) of the $4 billion cut they’d get. As we’ve noted previously, McCain’s plan would cut the corporate tax rate from 35 to 25 percent — for ALL corporations, not just oil companies. It also would allow for immediate write-offs for companies buying new equipment and technology, and a tax credit of 10 percent of the amount companies spend on wages devoted to research and development.

Tax Distortions

Palin repeated several false claims about Obama’s tax policies.
Obama did not in fact vote to increase taxes on “families” making as little as $42,000 per year. What Obama actually voted for was a budget resolution that called for returning the 25 percent tax bracket to its pre-Bush tax cut level of 28 percent. That could have affected an individual with no children making as little as $42,000. But a couple would have had to earn $83,000 to be affected and a family of four at least $90,000.

Obama Voted Against Troop Funding?

Palin repeated the claim that Obama “voted against funding our troops.” The claim refers to a single 2007 vote against a war funding bill. Obama voted for a version of the bill that included language calling for withdrawing troops from Iraq. President Bush vetoed it. (McCain supported that veto, but didn’t call it “vetoing support for our troops.”) What Obama voted against was the same bill without withdrawal language. And he had voted yes on at least 10 other war funding bills prior to that single 2007 no vote.

The Iraqi Surplus

Biden said that Iraq had an “$80 billion surplus.” Obama said the same — $79 billion — in the last debate, and we called him on it then. Seventy-nine billion is an out-of-date projection. The Iraqis currently have $29 billion in the bank, and could have $47 billion to $59 billion by the end of the year.
Update, Oct. 13: According to GAO, Iraq was unable to spend its entire budget in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

2005 Energy Bill Deja Vu

Palin threw out an old canard when she criticized Obama for voting for the 2005 Energy bill, saying, “that’s what gave those oil companies those big tax breaks.”
It’s a false attack Clinton used against Obama in the primary and McCain himself has hurled. It’s true that the bill gave some tax breaks to oil companies, but it also took away others. And according to the Congressional Research Service, the bill created a slight net increase in taxes for the oil industry.