FactChecking McCain

September 5, 2008
He made some flubs in accepting the nomination.
We checked the accuracy of McCain’s speech accepting the Republican nomination and noted the following:

* McCain claimed that Obama’s health care plan would “force small businesses to cut jobs” and would put “a bureaucrat … between you and your doctor.” In fact, the plan exempts small businesses, and those who have insurance now could keep the coverage they have.

* McCain attacked Obama for voting for “corporate welfare” for oil companies. In fact, the bill Obama voted for raised taxes on oil companies by $300 million over 11 years while providing $5.8 billion in subsidies for renewable energy, energy efficiency and alternative fuels.

* McCain said oil imports send “$700 billion a year to countries that don’t like us very much.” But the U.S. is on track to import a total of only $536 billion worth of oil at current prices, and close to a third of that comes from Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom.

* He promised to increase use of “wind, tide [and] solar” energy, though his actual energy plan contains no new money for renewable energy. He has said elsewhere that renewable sources won’t produce as much as people think.

* He called for “reducing government spending and getting rid of failed programs,” but as in the past failed to cite a single program that he would eliminate or reduce.

* He said Obama would “close” markets to trade. In fact, Obama, though he once said he wanted to “renegotiate” the North American Free Trade Agreement, now says he simply wants to try to strengthen environmental and labor provisions in it.

*McCain and the Republican delegates applied a different standard to the Republican nominee’s lofty rhetoric than they did to Obama’s.

McCain drew applause with this line:

McCain: We must use all resources and develop all technologies necessary to rescue our economy from the damage caused by rising oil prices and restore the health of our planet.

The previous evening, however, McCain’s running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, ridiculed Obama for using similar high-sounding words:

Palin, Sept. 3: What does he actually seek to accomplish after he’s done turning back the waters and healing the planet?

That crack drew jeers and laughter. Perhaps Republicans see a distinction between “healing the planet” and “restor[ing] the health of our planet,” but it escapes us.

-by Brooks Jackson, with Viveca Novak, Lori Robertson, Joe Miller and Emi Kolawole
September 18, 2008
McCain ad misrepresents Obama’s tax plan. Again.

The McCain-Palin campaign has released a new ad that once again distorts Obama’s tax plans.

* The ad claims Obama will raise taxes on electricity. He hasn’t proposed any such tax. Obama does support a cap-and-trade policy that would raise the costs of electricity, but so does McCain.

* It falsely claims he would tax home heating oil. Actually, Obama proposed a rebate of up to $1,000 per family to defray increased heating oil costs, funded by what he calls a windfall profits tax on oil companies.

* The ad claims that Obama will tax “life savings.” In fact, he would increase capital gains and dividends taxes only for couples earning more than $250,000 per year, or singles making $200,000. For the rest, taxes on investments would remain unchanged.

The McCain campaign argues in its documentation for this ad that, whatever Obama says he would do, he will eventually be forced to break his promise and raise taxes more broadly to pay for his promised spending programs. That’s an opinion they are certainly entitled to express, and to argue for. But their ad doesn’t do that. Instead, it simply presents the McCain camp’s opinion as a fact, and it fails to alert viewers that its claims are based on what the campaign thinks might happen in the future.

Correction, Sept. 18: As originally posted we said Obama’s proposed spending is lower than projected revenues, when we meant to say higher.

– by Joe Miller

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