Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Factchecking the CNN Presidential Debate


During the first Republican presidential debate, I couldn’t find any false statements. But at this debate, Michelle Bachman and Rick Santorum were in attendance.

Wide Swath of America

When addressing the concerns of a traditional republican on the influence of the Tea Party, Michelle Bachman described the tea party thusly

BACHMANN: Terry, what I've seen in the Tea Party -- I'm the chairman of the Tea Party Caucus in the House of Representatives. And what I've seen is unlike how the media has tried to wrongly and grossly portray the Tea Party, the Tea Party is really made up of disaffected Democrats, independents, people who've never been political a day in their life. 

People who are libertarians, Republicans. It's a wide swath of America coming together. I think that's why the left fears it so much. Because they're people who simply want to take the country back. They want the country to work again. 

Tea Partiers are Conservative Republicans who have been disappointed by the policies of the Republican Party. It is their goal to support conservative candidates to win the republican nominations for various positions in government. It is not a movement made of disaffected Democrats, not unless they had a political paradigm shift, which may occur on a small scale. The movement doesn’t include moderates in significant numbers (as she implied by placing the word independent between Democrats and Republicans). A Tea Partier is a Conservative Republican, pure and simple. (Who is the Tea Party? Republicans By Another Name-NPR)

Offshore Drilling

Rick Santorum articulated his criticism of Obama’s energy policy as follows [Emphasis Added]

SANTORUM: Throw on top of that what this president's done on energy. The reason we're seeing this second dip is because of energy prices, and this president has put a stop sign again -- against oil drilling, against any kind of exploration offshore or in Alaska, and that is depressing. We need to drill. We need to create energy jobs, just like we're doing, by the way, in Pennsylvania, where we're drilling 3,000 wells this year for gas, and gas prices are down -- natural gas prices are down as a result. 

It is true that Obama opposes drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve (as well he should). However, he has embraced offshore oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico (which remains incredibly dangerous). After the Deepwater Horizon Oil Disaster he put a moratorium on deepwater drilling in the gulf until new safety regulations could be put into place. Shallow water drilling continued on uninterrupted. The moratorium was lifted on October 12, 2010, allowing the permitting process for Deepwater oil drilling to begin again. Between October 12th 2010 and  March 26th 2011, 6 deepwater oil drilling permits were issued including one “exploration plan” for a new well whose permit had not been submitted before the moratorium. Santorum may criticize the pace of permitting of Deepwater oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico, but he cannot claim that the moratorium, his metaphorical stop sign, is still in place.

The Dreaded Job-Killing Obamacare

One of the reasons Michelle Bachman cited for her opposition to Obamacare (Obamny care?) is an old favorite of factcheckers across the country.

BACHMAN: This is the symbol and the signature issue of President Obama during his entire tenure. And this is a job-killer, Sylvia. The CBO, the Congressional Budget Office has said that Obamacare will kill 800,000 jobs. What could the president be thinking by passing a bill like this, knowing full well it will kill 800,000 jobs? 

Here is what the CBO actually said about the impact of Obamacare on the labor market.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the legislation, on net, will reduce the amount of labor used in the economy by a small amount—roughly half a percent—primarily by reducing the amount of labor that workers choose to supply. That net effect reflects changes in incentives in the labor market that operate in both directions: Some provisions of the legislation will discourage people from working more hours or entering the workforce, and other provisions will encourage them to work more. Moreover, many people will be unaffected by those provisions and will face the same incentives regarding work as they do under current law.

The CBO is saying that people who have an extra job just to qualify for health insurance will quit that job. With Obamacare they may qualify for Medicaid or a federal subsidy. Businesses aren’t going to fire people or offer fewer jobs. Workers will simply be able to work less. This claim isn’t just wrong, it’s laughably wrong. This falsehood has been factchecked by the Associated Press, Politifact, The Daily Show, and The Rachel Maddow Show.

On a side note, Politifact originally rated this claim false when Eric Cantor said it, but today they rated Bachman’s identical statement Barely True. It is the same claim, it hasn’t changed. As far as I’m concerned it’s a Pants on Fire.  

Originally Posted June 14, 2011


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