A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

A Campaign Full of Mediscare

The presidential campaign is overflowing with claims from both sides designed to scare seniors into thinking Medicare is being gutted or about to end altogether. Lost in the flurry of attack ads and political messaging is a policy debate on how best to reduce the growth of Medicare spending, a common goal of both campaigns. If all voters know …

Romney Hijacks Credibility

A new Mitt Romney campaign ad passes off opinions of a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush as though they were from a newspaper’s reporters or editors. It’s a political trick used by both sides: hijacking a news organization’s credibility.
In this example, the Romney ad attacks President Obama’s mandate requiring employers to provide health insurance that includes free contraception. It attributes to the San Antonio Express-News the words: “Obama’s Insurance Decision Declares War on Religion.”
But the newspaper didn’t say that in any editorial or news article.

Obama’s ‘Boss’ Baloney

The Obama campaign strikes another low blow with a TV spot accusing Mitt Romney of “personally” approving a notoriously abusive tax-avoidance scheme and suggesting he may have paid “zero” tax. That’s badly misleading.
It wasn’t Romney who was avoiding taxes, it was Marriott Corp. And there’s no evidence to support the ad’s speculation that Romney himself paid no income tax, or that he did something illegal.
The ad opens with an unsupported insinuation that Romney isn’t releasing more federal income tax returns because some would show he didn’t pay any income tax in those years.

Does Obama’s Plan ‘Gut Welfare Reform’?

A Mitt Romney TV ad claims the Obama administration has adopted “a plan to gut welfare reform by dropping work requirements.” The plan does neither of those things.

Work requirements are not simply being “dropped.” States may now change the requirements — revising, adding or eliminating them — as part of a federally approved state-specific plan to increase job placement.
And it won’t “gut” the 1996 law to ease the requirement. Benefits still won’t be paid beyond an allotted time,

Is Romney to Blame for Cancer Death?

A grieving widower in a new pro-Obama TV spot says his wife contracted cancer and died “a short time after” Mitt Romney closed the steel plant that employed him and left “my family” without health coverage. That’s not quite so.
We find this ad from Priorities USA Action to be misleading on several counts.

Steelworker Joe Soptic’s wife, Ranae, died in 2006 — five years after the plant closed.
She didn’t lose coverage when the plant closed.

Obama Not Trying to Curb Military Early Voting

Mitt Romney wrongly suggests the Obama campaign is trying to “undermine” the voting rights of military members through a lawsuit filed in Ohio. The suit seeks to block state legislation that limited early voting times for nonmilitary members; it doesn’t seek to impose restrictions on service members.
In an Aug. 4 Facebook posting, Romney called the lawsuit an “outrage,” and said that “if I’m entrusted to be the commander-in-chief, I’ll work to protect the voting rights of our military,

Romney’s Impossible Tax Promise

Tax experts — including one who supports Romney’s plan — say the Republican presidential candidate’s promise to cut individual income tax rates without either favoring the wealthy or losing revenue isn’t mathematically possible. That’s the conclusion of the Tax Policy Center in a report the Romney campaign attacked …

Does Romney Pay a Lower Rate in Taxes Than You?

A new ad from the Obama campaign claims that Mitt Romney “paid only 14 percent in taxes—probably less than you.” That depends. Romney paid a federal income tax rate that is higher than the income tax rate paid by 97 percent of tax filers. But if you include a combination of income taxes and payroll taxes — which make up the bulk of federal taxes for most taxpayers — the ad is accurate.
The ad, called “Stretch,”

Romney’s Position on Abortion

On WCBS radio, FactCheck.org Deputy Managing Editor Robert Farley talks about an Obama campaign ad that falsely claims Mitt Romney “backed a bill that outlaws all abortion, even in cases of rape and incest.”
See “Falsifying Romney’s Abortion Stance, Again” for more information about this TV ad.

Romney’s ‘Racist’ Reference to Palestinian Culture

Mitt Romney says he “did not speak about the Palestinian culture” at a fundraiser in Israel, where his remarks were denounced by a Palestinian leader as “racist.” It’s true that Romney didn’t directly disparage the Palestinian culture, but he did say “culture makes all the difference” when explaining why Israel’s per-capita gross domestic product is more than double that of neighboring areas managed by the Palestinian Authority. Palestinians say that ignores the effect of Israel’s economic sanctions.