A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

‘Death Spiral’ States?

Q: Do 11 states now have more people on welfare than they have employed?
A: A viral email making this claim is off base. It distorts a Forbes article that compares private-sector workers with those “dependent on the government,” including government workers and pensioners, and Medicaid recipients — not just “people on welfare.”

Viral Spiral 2012

We’ve long warned our readers to make good use of the delete key when emails spreading sketchy claims pop up in their inboxes. But we’ve found that old viral emails, unfortunately, never die — and new ones spread like a highly contagious disease. These overwhelmingly anonymous messages are, by and large, bogus.

Obama’s Executive Orders

Q: Has President Barack Obama signed 900 executive orders, some of which create martial law?
A: No. Obama’s executive orders do not create martial law. And so far he has signed 139 executive orders — not 900.

Obama’s ‘Sealed’ Records

Q: Are Obama’s early records “sealed”?
A: No. Many records that presidential candidates don’t ordinarily release do remain confidential, but they are not “sealed” by a court. The 16 claims in a widely distributed graphic are mostly false or distorted.

Still No International Gun Ban Treaty

Q: Does the Obama administration intend to “force gun control and a complete ban on all weapons for U.S. citizens” through a United Nations treaty?

A: No. The administration plans to negotiate a treaty to regulate the international export and import of weapons. It says that it won’t support any treaty that regulates the domestic transfer or ownership of weapons, or that infringes on the Second Amendment.

No Dialysis Under Health Care Law?

A viral email wrongly claims the federal health care law caused a Tennessee hospital to deny dialysis to Medicare patients, and that anyone over 75 would be denied care starting in 2013. The anonymous author fabricated the account.
Read our April 20 Ask FactCheck, ” ‘Death Panels’ Redux,” for more on this viral falsehood.

The Obamas’ Law Licenses

Q: Did Barack and Michelle Obama “surrender” their law licenses to avoid ethics charges?
A: No. A court official confirms that no public disciplinary proceeding has ever been brought against either of them, contrary to a false Internet rumor. By voluntarily inactivating their licenses, they avoid a requirement to take continuing education classes and pay hundreds of dollars in annual fees. Both could practice law again if they chose to do so.

Is GM Becoming ‘China Motors’?

Q: Is General Motors becoming ‘China Motors’ using taxpayer dollars?
A: No. The restructured GM is still based in Detroit and is still one-third owned by the U.S. government. But it sells nearly as many cars in China as in the U.S. and has continued expanding operations there.

Viral Claims, Part II

A long-running chain email claims that Medicare premiums are going to shoot up to $247 per month in 2014 because of the health care law. That’s not true no matter how many times this email is forwarded.
See our April 30 Ask FactCheck — “Realtors, the 3.8% ‘Sales Tax’ and $247 Medicare Premiums” — for more.

Tax Credits for Illegal Immigrants

Q: Does the IRS pay billions in tax refunds to workers who are in the U.S. illegally?
A: Yes. The Treasury Department’s Inspector General determined that $4.2 billion was paid in 2010, up from less than $1 billion in 2005. Leading Democrats are resisting a bill that would stop future payments.