A few weeks ago I suggested readers continue to check out sites like Factcheck.org and OpenSecrets.org so they could balance out the facts from the over-exaggerated spin that all political candidates seem compelled to use. Several readers asked that I periodically use this column to check in on the presidential candidates and provide an update to see who is saying what and how accurate the claims being made are.
Prior to the upcoming October head-to- head debates, the candidates are crisscrossing the country providing their standard stump speeches. Here’s what Factcheck.org has to say about the two candidate’s stump spins:
President Obama correctly states that manufacturing jobs have increased by more than half a million since hitting bottom, but he fails to mention that the number regained is less than half the total lost since he took office. The president claims that “renewable” energy production has doubled on his watch, which isn’t true (only wind and solar have doubled). He also claims he’d increase the tax rate on high-income earners to no more than they paid under Bill Clinton, when the truth is they’d pay more because of new taxes imposed to pay for the Affordable Health Care Act. He says “independent analysis” validates that his plan would cut $4 trillion from the deficit. But that total is inflated by $1 trillion in “savings” from winding down wars that he has promised to end anyway. He accuses Romney of proposing to raise taxes by $2,000 on middle-income taxpayers, when Romney has clearly stated that he wouldn’t do any such thing. He attacks Romney’s plan for Medicare as a “voucher” system that would leave seniors “at the mercy of insurance companies,” when the fact is, it’s structured the same as the system Obama’s health care law sets up for subsidizing private insurance for persons under age 65.
In turn Governor Romney says the president “said by now (unemployment) would be down to 5.4 percent.” But Romney is referring to a speculative report issued at the beginning of Obama’s presidency containing projections — not promises. Those projections relied on prevailing economic models that quickly proved to have underestimated the depths of the recession at that time. Romney says median family income dropped $5,000 under Obama. That’s an exaggeration. The true loss of inflation-adjusted, median family income was $3,290 during Obama’s first three years. Romney’s figure is based on a report that covers a period that includes 13 months before Obama took office. Romney says health insurance premiums have gone up $2,500 under Obama. The actual increase has been $1,700, most of which was absorbed by employers and only a small part of which is attributable to the health care law. Romney blames Obama for the cost of gasoline doubling, but that’s misleading. Gasoline prices happened to be unusually low when Obama took office due to the recession and financial crisis. Romney said Obama “cut Medicare by $716 billion to pay for Obamacare,” but these cuts in the future growth of spending prolong the life of the Medicare trust fund, stretching the program’s finances out longer than they would last otherwise.
As the campaigns continue to churn I wonder if, as a nation, we don’t need to rethink a two-term presidency and instead opt for a single six-year term. This president, who is at his best when campaigning, appears to have abandoned his full-time job as president, instead favoring fund raising events and campaign speeches. In my lifetime I’ve not seen any successful second terms. The president has an important job to do and growing our economy, controlling spending and the situation in the Middle East demand far more attention than he is giving them. The assassination of our ambassador and three other Americans, and the failure to quickly recognize and respond to the terrorist attack on our embassy clearly shows where his priorities lie. Instead of defending the Constitution and this country, as he is sworn to do as president, I think his actions are sending the wrong message to radicals who wish serious harm to our nation. He has far harsher words for his opponent than for those burning our flag. We expect our president to be focused on governing, not campaigning. I think the country would be far better off if our president spent more time worrying about the nation’s business and less time about their legacy, which seems to dominate their second terms.
Dan Alexander is publisher and CEO of Denton Publications. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.