Debate Fact Check

WASHINGTON (AP) - Facts went astray on tax cuts, negative
campaign advertising and oil imports when Democrat Barack Obama and
Republican John McCain engaged Wednesday in their third and final
presidential debate.
Some examples:
OBAMA: "Every dollar that I've proposed, I've proposed an
additional cut, so that it matches."
THE FACTS: The bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal
Budget estimates that his programs would add $281 billion to the
deficit at the end of his first term. The analysis includes Obama's
proposals for saving money.
McCAIN: "We have to stop sending $700 billion a year to
countries that don't like us very much."
THE FACTS: This is a reference to U.S. spending on oil imports.
McCain has repeatedly made this claim. But the figure is highly
inflated and misleading. According to government agencies that
track energy imports, the United States spent $246 billion in 2007
for all imported crude oil, a majority of it coming from friendly
nations including neighboring Canada and Mexico. An additional $82
billion was spent on imported refined petroleum products such as
gasoline, diesel and fuel oil. A majority of the refined products
come from refineries in such friendly countries as the Netherlands,
Canada, the United Kingdom, Trinidad-Tobago and the Virgin Islands.
OBAMA: "One hundred percent, John, of your ads - 100 percent of
them - have been negative."
THE FACTS: The statement is true when it comes to McCain's
current commercial spots. But by saying McCain's ads "have been"
100 percent negative, Obama ventures into misleading territory.
McCain is currently running all negative ads, according to a study
by the University of Wisconsin-Madison. But he has run a number of
positive ads during the campaign.
McCAIN: "Sen. Obama is spending unprecedented amounts of money
in negative attack ads on me."
THE FACTS: Obama is spending unprecedented amounts of money on
ads, period - negative or otherwise. Obama is outspending McCain
and the Republican Party by more than 2-to-1 in presidential ads.
At one point in August, 90 percent of the ads Obama was airing were
against McCain. A study conducted at the University of
Wisconsin-Madison found that about 34 percent of Obama's ads are
now negative.
OBAMA: "I want to provide a tax cut for 95 percent of working
Americans, 95 percent."
THE FACTS: Obama constantly says this. But the independent Tax
Policy Center says his plan cuts taxes for 81.3 percent of all
households in 2009.
McCAIN: Said of Obama's running mate Sen. Joe Biden: "He had
this cockamamie idea of dividing Iraq into three countries."
THE FACTS: Biden actually proposed dividing Iraq into three
semiautonomous regions, not separate countries. He was a prime
sponsor of a nonbinding Senate resolution that called for Iraq to
have federal regions under the control of Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis
in a power-sharing agreement similar to the one that ended the
1990s war in Bosnia.
OBAMA: Said he would be "completely supportive" of late-term
abortion restrictions "as long as there's an exception for the
mother's health and life."
THE FACTS: Obama leaves himself a lot of latitude in this
answer. A woman's "health" has been so broadly interpreted that
it can include conditions, including psychological conditions, that
are difficult to diagnose or prove. Anti-abortion advocates say
that makes the ban meaningless, because it leaves too much
subjective judgment in the equation.
MCCAIN: "Sen. Obama, as a member of the Illinois state Senate,
voted in the Judiciary Committee against a law that would provide
immediate medical attention to a child born in a failed abortion.
He voted against that."
OBAMA: "If it sounds incredible that I would vote to withhold
lifesaving treatment from an infant, that's because it's not
THE FACTS: As a state senator, Obama opposed three legislative
efforts, in 2001, 2002 and 2003, to give legal protections to any
aborted fetus that showed signs of life. The 2003 measure was
virtually identical to a bill President Bush signed into law in
2002 - a bill that passed before Obama was in the U.S. Senate, but
one that Obama said he would have supported. The state of Illinois
already had a law to protect aborted fetuses born alive and
considered able to survive. Among those opposed to the state effort
was the Illinois State Medical Society, which argued that the bill
would interfere with the doctor-patient relationship and expand
civil liability for doctors. Critics said the proposed legislation
would have undermined the landmark Supreme Court case on abortion,
Roe v. Wade, in ways the federal law would not.
McCAIN: "Senator Obama talks about voting for budgets. He voted
twice for a budget resolution that increases the taxes on
individuals making $42,000 a year."
THE FACTS: The vote was on a nonbinding resolution and did not
increase taxes. The resolution assumed that President Bush's tax
cuts would expire, as scheduled, in 2011. If that actually
happened, it could mean higher taxes for people making as little as
about $42,000.
OBAMA: "We can cut the average family's premium by $2,500 a
THE FACTS: If that sounds like a straight-ahead promise to lower
health insurance premiums, it isn't. Obama hopes that by spending
$50 billion over five years on electronic medical records and by
improving access to proven disease management programs, among other
steps, consumers will end up saving money. He uses an optimistic
analysis to suggested cost reductions in national health care
spending could amount to the equivalent of $2,500 for a family of
four. Many economists are skeptical those savings can be achieved,
but even if they are, it's not a certainty that every dollar would
be passed on to consumers in the form of lower premiums.
MCCAIN: Warned a small business owner that he would be fined
under Obama's health care plan if he did not provide health
insurance for workers.
THE FACTS: Obama's health care plan does not impose mandates or
fines on small business. He would provide small businesses with a
refundable tax credit of up to 50 percent on health premiums paid
on behalf of their employees. Large as well as medium-sized
businesses that do not offer meaningful coverage or contribute to
the cost of coverage would be required to pay a percentage of
payroll toward the costs of a public insurance plan. But small
businesses would be exempt from that requirement.
McCAIN: "We can eliminate our dependence on foreign oil by
building 45 nuclear power plants right away."
THE FACTS: For nuclear power to lower oil dependency would
require a massive shift to electric or hybrid-electric cars, with
nuclear power providing the electricity. No new U.S. nuclear
reactor has been built since the 1970s. Although 15 utilities have
filed applications to build 24 new reactors, none is expected to be
built before 2015 at the earliest. Turmoil in the credit markets
could force cancellation of some of the projects now planned, much
less spur construction of 45 new reactors, as reactor costs have
soared to about $9 billion apiece.
AP writers Tom Raum, Lita Baldor, Kevin Freking and H. Josef
Hebert contributed to this report.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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