WASHINGTON (AP) - Mitt Romney perpetuated one unsubstantiated
claim, about his record at Bain Capital, and more or less corrected
himself on another, about President Barack Obama's health care law,
in the latest Republican presidential debate.
His rivals flubbed history, Newt Gingrich blaming a Democratic
president for a jobless rate he never had, and Ron Paul painting an
idyllic picture of life before Medicare that did not reflect
deprivations of that time.
A look at some of the claims in the debate Thursday night and
how they compare with the facts:
ROMNEY: "We started a number of businesses; four in particular
created 120,000 jobs, as of today. We started them years ago.
They've grown - grown well beyond the time I was there to 120,000
people that have been employed by those enterprises. ... Those that
have been documented to have lost jobs, lost about 10,000 jobs. So
(120,000 less 10,000) means that we created something over 100,000 jobs."
THE FACTS: Romney now has acknowledged the negative side of the
ledger from his years with Bain Capital, but hardly laid out the
full story. His claim to have created more than 100,000 jobs in the
private sector as a venture capitalist remains unsupported.
Romney mentioned four successful investments in companies that
now employ some 120,000 people, having grown since he was involved in them a decade or ago or longer. From that, he subtracted the number of jobs that he said are known to have been lost at certain
What's missing is anything close to a complete list of winners
and losers - and the bottom line on jobs. Bain under Romney
invested in scores of private companies that don't have the
obligation of big publicly traded corporations to disclose
finances. Romney acknowledged that he was using current employment figures for the four companies, not the number of jobs they had when he left Bain Capital, yet took credit for them in his
GINGRICH: "Under Jimmy Carter, we had the wrong laws, the wrong
regulations, the wrong leadership, and we killed jobs. We had
inflation. We went to 10.8 percent unemployment. Under Ronald
Reagan, we had the right job - the right laws, the right
regulators, the right leadership. We created 16 million new jobs."
FACT CHECK: Sure, inflation was bad and gas lines long, but
under Carter's presidency unemployment never topped 7.8 percent.
The unemployment rate did reach 10.8 percent, but not until
November 1982, nearly two years into Reagan's first term.
Most economists attribute the jobless increase to a sharp rise
in interest rates engineered by then-Federal Reserve Chairman Paul
Volcker in an ultimately successful effort to choke off inflation.
Unemployment began to fall in 1983 and dropped to 7.2 percent in
November 1984, when Reagan easily won re-election.
The economy did add 16 million jobs during Reagan's 1981-1989
presidency. Gingrich's assertion that "we created" them may have
left the impression that he was a key figure in that growth.
Although Gingrich was first elected to the House in 1978, his first
Republican leadership position, as minority whip, began when Reagan left office, in 1989.
PAUL: "I had the privilege of practicing medicine in the early
`60s, before we had any government (health care). It worked rather
well, and there was nobody on the street suffering with no medical
care. But Medicare and Medicaid came in and it just expanded."
THE FACTS: Before Medicare was created in the mid-1960s, only
about half of the elderly had private insurance for hospital care,
and they were facing rising costs for those policies on their fixed
incomes. Medicare was hugely contentious at the time, seen by many
doctors as a socialist takeover, but few argued that the status quo
could be maintained.
A Health, Education and Welfare Department report to Congress in
1959, during the Republican administration of Dwight Eisenhower,
took no position on what the federal government should do but
stated "a larger proportion of the aged than of other persons must
turn to public assistance for payment of their medical bills or
rely on `free' care from hospitals and physicians."
Paul advocates a return to an era when doctors would treat the
needy for free. But even in the old days, charity came with a cost.
Research from the pre-Medicare era shows that the cost of free care
was transferred to paying customers and the insurance industry.
ROMNEY: "I could have stayed in Detroit, like him, and gotten
pulled up in the car company. I went off on my own. I didn't
inherit money from my parents. What I have, I earned. I worked
hard, the American way."
THE FACTS: It's true there's no evidence Romney's wealthy family
gave him a trust fund, or helped him secure a job at Bain Capital,
where he would ultimately make his fortune. But it's not entirely
the case that his success is wholly the result of his own hard
Romney's father, George, was an automobile industry CEO and a
Michigan governor. He paid for Mitt to attend the Cranbrook School,
a private boarding school in the Detroit area. The education didn't
hurt Romney's ability to get into Harvard, where he earned law and
business degrees in 1975.
While Romney appears to have gotten a job at Bain out of college
on his own, the Boston Globe book "The Real Romney" reports that
Romney's parents helped him and his wife buy their first home when
he was in his early 20s.
On Thursday night, the Romney campaign did not dispute the
finding that Romney's parents helped pay for that house, in the
Boston suburb of Belmont.
ROMNEY: "The executive order is a beginning process. It's one
thing, but it doesn't completely eliminate Obamacare. ... We have
to go after a complete repeal. And that's going to have to have to
happen with a House and a Senate, hopefully, that are Republican."
THE FACTS: With that statement, Romney essentially corrected his
repeated suggestions in early debates and speeches that he would
eliminate President Barack Obama's health care law with a stroke of
the pen on his first day in office - a power no president has.
In one variation of the claim, he had vowed in a Sept. 7 debate
that on Day One, he would sign an executive order "granting a
waiver from Obamacare to all 50 states." This, despite the fact
that the law lays out an onerous process for letting individual
states off the hook from its requirements, and that process cannot
begin until 2017.
Now he acknowledges the political reality that a Republican
president would need Republican control of Congress to have a
strong shot at repealing the law.
Associated Press writers Steve Peoples, Jim Drinkard, and
Christopher S. Rugaber contributed to this report.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)