Fact checkers identify half-truths on both sides of presidential debate

During and immediately following tonight’s presidential debate, the first of three total debates, websites like Salon.com and Politifact, as well as news outlets like the Associated Press and ABC, began their standard fact checking process. Below are the results.

Obama said his plan includes $4 trillion in cuts, and a ratio of $2.50 in spending cuts for every $1 in taxes.

However, close to $2 trillion of that is made up of “cuts” that would happen anyway, not new developments in the budget, such as $800 billion in military savings.

Romney promised again to repeal “Obamacare,” as well as to remove subsidies for companies like PBS and “make government more efficient.”

However, fulfilling his campaign promise of balancing the budget in eight to ten years would require deep cuts to domestic programs–cuts that would be extremely unlikely to pass Congress. In addition, Romney has not provided a complete plan for future budget cuts, and has identified only a few major government programs he would cut from, including PBS and Amtrak. And Obama’s healthcare plan is designed to eventually lower the deficit.

Obama advocated using money the US now has due to the fact that it isn’t being spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on “rebuilding America.”

However, money spent on those wars was mostly borrowed, and so there is no store of savings to pull from–just less borrowing.

Romney claimed that under “Obamacare,” there will be “a board that will tell people what kind of treatment they’re going to get.”

This board is called the Independent Payment Advisory board, and in fact has almost no jurisdiction over individual cases. It is also overseen by Congress and is prohibited from actually providing care to beneficiaries, “shifting costs to retirees, restricting benefits or raising the Medicare eligibility age.” (Associated Press) Thus, it cannot dictate treatment.

Obama said “The problem is that because the voucher wouldn’t necessarily keep up with health care inflation, it was estimated this would cost the average senior $6,000 a year.”

While Paul Ryan’s 2011 Medicare reform plan, according to the Congressional Budget Office, would eventually cost seniors around that amount more, Ryan has since then amended his plan, “including a catastrophic-care benefit, more generous growth of “premium-support payments,” and a government health plan as an alternative to private plans, from which seniors would choose on an exchange.” (ABC Fact or Fiction) Though some of the same elements of Ryan’s previous plan appear in his current plan, the number Obama provided was outdated.

Romney said “Right now the CBO says up to 20 million people will lose their insurance as Obamacare goes into effect next year.”

However, many of those 20 million will be voluntarily switching coverage as better options arise. In addition, people “lose” coverage at a greater rate than that even now, as healthcare costs rise.

Obama said Romney’s definition of “small business” in fact would include large, hugely profitable companies like Donald Trump’s.

Romney’s plan defines small businesses, which would receive a 20% tax cut, as businesses with fewer than 500 employees, regardless of their profit. So, it is true that some big-name companies, like Koch Industries, “the country’s second-largest privately held corporation,” (Salon) would be classified as “small businesses.” Small divisions of Trump’s company, too, would be classified this way. But Trump Industries employs more than 22,000 workers.

Romney restated a popular claim from the Republican party that Obama plans to cut $716 billion from Medicare.

However, these cuts were also in Paul Ryan’s and effectively Romney’s Medicare reform plan, and were affirmed by Congress. In addition, the cuts are from healthcare providers, not beneficiaries as Romney implied.

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