A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

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 Seventy-nine billion is an out-of-date projection.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.

Killing Afghan Civilians?

Obama did say that troops in Afghanistan were killing civilians, a claim that Palin calls “untrue.” Here’s the whole quote, from a campaign stop in New Hampshire:

Obama, August 2007: We’ve got to get the job done there and that requires us to have enough troops so that we’re not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous problems there.

The Associated Press fact-checked this one, and found that in fact U.S troops were killing more civilians at the time than insurgents: “As of Aug.

Troop Levels Off

Palin got her numbers wrong on troop levels when she said that troops were now down to “pre-surge” levels. The surge was announced in January 2007, at which point there were 132,000 troops in Iraq according to the Brookings Institute Iraq Index. As of September 2008, that number was 146,000. President Bush recently announced that another 8,000 would be coming home by February of next year. But that would still be 6,000 more than when the surge began.

About that live debate coverage…

You might have noticed that there wasn’t so much of it. Technical problems kept us offline for most of the night. We apologize for that.
The good news? You can read our full debate wrap-up over at our main site.

Palin’s Change on Climate Change

Dipping one more time into last night’s Gibson/Palin interview, we found another misleading claim, this time on climate change. When Gibson accused Palin of flip-flopping her stance on the causes of global warming, Palin denied her position had changed on whether humans are partially responsible. But that doesn’t quite jibe with what she’s said in the past:

Gibson: Do you still believe that global warming is not man-made?
Palin: I believe that man’s activities certainly can be contributing to the issue of global warming,

Presidential Debate Dates

Q: When is the first real debate between John McCain and Barack Obama? I’m really looking forward to it.
A: Not until Sept. 26, as things stand. But McCain wants more debates starting sooner and Obama has said he’s open to the idea. So far the two haven’t agreed on any dates, though.