A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

McCain’s $6.8 Billion Boast

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.

Earmark Numbers

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.

The Return of the Oil Slick

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. 

Obama Still Wrong about $79 Billion Figure

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,

Pakistan Attack

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.

Biden on Hezbollah, and other late debate goodies

In today’s Washington Post, Michael Dobbs, a.k.a. The Fact Checker, writes about a few more stumbles from the debate, including a couple items that we didn’t have in our story on Friday.
Dobbs, a former diplomatic reporter, says Sen. Joe Biden was wrong when he said the U.S. and France “kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon.” He was correct in saying that there was talk of sending NATO forces to the country in 2006.

FactChecking Biden-Palin Debate

Biden and Palin debated, and both mangled some facts.

Palin mistakenly claimed that troop levels in Iraq had returned to “pre-surge” levels. Levels are gradually coming down but current plans would have levels higher than pre-surge numbers through early next year, at least.
Palin repeated a false claim that Obama once voted in favor of higher taxes on “families” making as little as $42,000 a year. He did not. The budget bill in question called for an increase only on singles making that amount,

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.