Last night's secondpresidential town hall debate in Hempstead, NY sure was a memorable one -- if only because the fact-checking we were all so eager to hear on the sidelines actually ended up taking center stage! In a "whoa" moment that will undoubtedly go down in TV history, Mitt Romney challenged President Obama on his exact wording when he spoke to the press about the attack in Libya from the Rose Garden. When Gov. Romney repeatedly attempted to call the president's bluff on having referred to the attack as "acts of terror," the president responded, "Check the transcript." And moderator Candy Crowley fact-checked the discrepancy right then and there! As it turns out, yes, President Obama used the phrase "acts of terror."
But that sure as heck wasn't the only point that needed to be fact-checked -- by either side. Here, a roundup of the biggest lies, fairytales, and just plain falsehoods from both candidates ...
Obama on jobs: Romney said there are are fewer jobs today than when Obama took office. Fact-check: Completely FALSE. The economy has created net new jobs under Obama (about 122,000), as of last month. The unemployment rate in February 2009, Obama’s first full month in office (he was sworn in Jan. 20), was 8.3 percent. The unemployment rate last month was 7.8 percent.
Romney on jobs: Romney said, "That’s why I put out a five-point plan that gets America 12 million new jobs in four years." Fact-check: This isn't exactly false, but it needs to be put in better context. The Gov.'s pledge amounts to an average of 250,000 jobs a month; in recent months, the economy has averaged about 150,000 jobs a month. And Moody’s Analytics, in an August forecast, predicts 12 million jobs will be created by 2016, no matter who is president.
Deficit: Romney claims Obama vowed to cut the deficit in half, but instead he doubled it. Fact-check: The federal budget deficit in 2009 -- which started four months before Obama became president -- was $1.4 trillion, when it was about 10 percent of the gross domestic product. For the fiscal year just ended, the deficit was $1.1 trillion, or about seven percent of GDP.
Business regulation: Romney said Obama "quadrupled regulations" on businesses. Fact-check: Bloomberg reported least year that Obama had put 5 percent fewerregulations on businesses than George W. Bush.
Manufacturing jobs lost: Romney claimed 500,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost under Obama. Fact-check: Not entirely true. Manufacturing jobs had been falling for over a decade before Obama took office, as this graph shows. However, beginning in 2010, over 500,000 new manufacturing jobs have been created. In other words, the Obama presidency has been a win for manufacturing.
Apology tour: Romney perpetuated the myth that Obama underwent an international "apology tour."
"Binders full of women": Inspiring the trending topic of the night, Romney claimed that when he was Massachusetts governor, he asked women's groups to help him hire some "qualified" ladies for his cabinet, and they brought him "binders full of women." Fact-check: Although Romney did truthfully appoint a commendable number of women to senior-level positions in his cabinet (42 percent overall), "those were almost all to head departments and agencies that he didn't care about -- and in some cases, that he quite specifically wanted to not really do anything," writes David Bernstein of the Phoenix. Worse yet, isn't it troubling to think that despite having "led and consulted for businesses for 25 years [he] didn't know any qualified women, or know where to find any qualified women"? Or that when he was head of Bain Capital for two decades, there wasn't a single female partner?
Contraception: Romney claimed he doesn't want to "let Washington bureaucrats tell women if they can have access to birth control." Fact-check: He’s expressed support for the Blunt Amendment to allow employers to choose to not provide coverage for birth control. And his VP Paul Ryan is also one of Congress’ most conservative members on reproductive rights.
Immigration: Obama said Romney said that Arizona's SB-1070 immigration law should be a "model for the nation." Not exactly. Fact-check: Romney said in a GOP primary debate that Arizona’s e-verify law should be a model for the nation, not SB-1070. BUT -- Obama did point out correctly that Romney’s immigration adviser is the guy who wrote Arizona’s immigration law and that of several other states.
Tax cuts for small businesses: The president said that he’s created 18 tax cuts for small businesses. Fact-check: Many of these 18 “cuts” were truly incentives, requiring businesses to purchase health insurance, new equipment or workers to receive savings. Additionally, many of the provisions were temporary.
Jobs: Obama exaggerated a little bit, claiming he created 5 million private sector jobs -- but it was really 4.4 million.
But hey, those are just the facts! Judging from this, looks to me like the president was much more truthful in his claims overall than Gov. Romney. Not to mention that he made his case for a second term with more passion and clarity.
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