December 16th, 2011
03:51 AM ET

Truth Squad: Part of the CNN Republican debate fact-checking series

Truth Squad: Gingrich's claim on surplus off base

The statement: "I balanced the budget for four straight years, paid off $405 billion in debt, pretty conservative." Newt Gingrich, during Thursday night's Republican candidates' debate in Sioux City, Iowa.

The facts: Newt Gingrich served as speaker of the House from January 4, 1995 to January 3, 1999. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the nation ran a deficit in 1995 (-$164 billion), 1996 (-$107.4 billion) and 1997 (-$21.9 billion). It ran a surplus in 1998 ($69.3 billion) and 1999 ($125.6 billion).

If you don't count the deficit during his first year as speaker, when the budget was already set, and do count the surplus during the year after he stepped down, he can claim credit for a surplus in only two of four years. Those surpluses total $194.9 billion, which is less than half the $405 billion he says he paid off.

If you confine the view to the time he spent in office, Gingrich's assertion looks worse. The national debt on the day Gingrich was sworn in as speaker was $4.8 trillion. Four years later, it was $5.6 trillion, an increased debt of $800 billion, according to the U.S. Treasury website.

Also, Gingrich fails to acknowledge that the Democratic administration of Bill Clinton would take some credit for putting in place policies that resulted in the four consecutive years of surplus that occurred from 1998-2001.

Verdict: False.

Truth Squad: Is Iran "a few months" away from a nuclear weapon?

When Rep. Michele Bachmann said that a report by the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency had described Iran as poised to join the world's elite club of nuclear powers, during Thursday's Republican candidates' debate in Sioux City, Iowa, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas responded immediately that she was mistaken.

The statements:

"We have an IAEA report that just recently came out that said, literally, Iran is within just months of being able to obtain that weapon." - Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minnesota

"There is no U.N. report that said that. It's totally wrong what you just said. That is not true. They produced the information that led you to believe that, but they have no evidence." - Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas

The facts: The IAEA Board of Governors released a 14-page report on November 8 that concluded that it had "serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program. After assessing carefully and critically the extensive information available to it, the agency finds the information to be, overall, credible. The information indicates that Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device. The information also indicates that prior to the end of 2003, these activities took place under a structured program, and that some activities may still be ongoing."

The verdict: False. The IAEA report does not say that Iran is within months of being able to obtain a nuclear weapon. So Bachmann is wrong. But the report does cite "credible" information that Iran may be developing nuclear weapons, so Paul's blanket denial that "they have no evidence" may also be wrong, depending on whether he is referring to evidence that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon or evidence that such a weapon could be ready within months.

Truth Squad: Did Bachmann prove Gingrich lobbied for Freddie Mac?

During Thursday night's Republican candidates' debate in Sioux City, Iowa, a moderator asked U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann to produce hard evidence that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich had peddled his influence with congressional Republicans on behalf of mortgage giant Freddie Mac.

Bachmann, who is among conservatives who say Freddie Mac and fellow federally backed mortgage group Fannie Mae had a role in the collapse of the U.S. housing market, has criticized Gingrich for his post-Congress work as a consultant for Freddie Mac and accused him of lobbying senior Republicans on Freddie Mac's behalf.

Bachmann was asked: "Given (Gingrich's) denial over time ... that he's ever lobbied, what is your evidence - hard evidence - that he engaged in influence peddling?"

The statement: "It's the fact that we know that he cashed paychecks from Freddie Mac. That is the best evidence that you can have: over $1.6 million. ... The evidence is that Speaker Gingrich took $1.6 million. You don't need to be within the technical definition of being a lobbyist to still be influence peddling with senior Republicans in Washington, D.C., to get them to do your bidding."

The facts:

CNN reported in November that the consulting company that Gingrich started after he left Congress, the Gingrich Group, was paid between $1.6 million and $1.8 million for work done with Freddie Mac.

Gingrich has repeatedly said he and his firm consulted Freddie Mac and other groups, but did not lobby for anyone.

"Gingrich made a decision after resigning (from the House) that he would never be lobbyist so that nobody would ever question the genuine nature of his advice and perspectives," the Gingrich campaign website says, adding that Freddie Mac was one of many Gingrich Group clients, and that its fees were comparable to that of many consulting firms.

Freddie Mac has backed Gingrich's assertion, telling CNN last month that he was a consultant, and not a lobbyist.

A former official who worked for Freddie Mac during Gingrich's two stints with the group - 1999-2002 and 2006-2008 - told CNN that Gingrich's work included consulting about Freddie's efforts to become more transparent about "risk and capital management" procedures, risk information disclosure, and how those efforts would be received in Congress, specifically by Republicans.

In Gingrich's first turn, Freddie Mac worked with him on the group's desire to "bond" with Bush administration officials on the idea of creating a "home ownership society" - getting more Latinos and other minorities into home ownership, the source said. It's not clear how Gingrich worked with Freddie Mac on this.

In the second stint, Freddie Mac officials tried to get Gingrich, known for intricate policy ideas, to write "white papers" on how good the "model" was for government-sponsored enterprises like Fannie Mae and Freddie because free-market Republicans didn't like that model, the official said. Freddie Mac officials were frustrated with Gingrich, the source said, because they had a hard time getting him to write anything.

The verdict: Misleading. While Freddie Mac was a Gingrich Group client, Bachmann did not offer hard evidence that Gingrich lobbied for Freddie Mac.

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Filed under: Politics • Republican Party • U.S.
soundoff (236 Responses)
  1. .Ralph

    Its laughable that Gingrich is claiming HE balanced the federal budget for four years, AND was responsible for $405 Billion in deficit reduction when he was in Congress.

    Its FALSE, that Newt Gingrich, (or any other republican in the last 30 years), had ANYTHING to do with the surpluses in 1998 & 1999, (the actual surplus was $200 Billion, AND it was due to President Clinton's fiscal policies).

    President Clinton inherited a 7.5 TRILLION dollar deficit from President Bush Sr. Furthermore, Bush Sr outgoing budget, (federally mandated of every outgoing president), projected continuing massive deficits.

    So as to Gingrich's claim that he is the person responsible for ANY deficit reduction, is FALSE!

    For the record, when President Clinton Left office, he reduced the deficit from $7.5 Trillion, to $4.5 Trillion. And President Clinton's outgoing budget projected reducing the deficit to ZERO was likely in 4 years IF his fiscal policies were continued.
    Unfortunately, Bush jr got elected, and immediately reduced the federal tax rates below what is costs to run the federal government, AND started an completely inappropriate war in Iraq, ( the 1 war in Afghanistan was appropriate), and left office with a 11 TRILLION dollar deficit.

    December 16, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Diana

      You are delusional. What exactly were the fiscal policies of Clinton that were so helpful? In fact when Bush 43 came into office he was handed a recession by Clinton! Even after Clinton just happened to be in the right place at the right time with the tech bubble, which of course, he had nothing to do with. I remember so well when Fox had the Hannity and Combes show with Alan Combes as the far lefty position. Even he, after a bit of fact checking had to admit (begrudgingly since liberals hate facts) that Clinton handed Bush a recession, so you know not of what you speak. Further, Bush had to deal with 911, an unprecedented event.
      Interesting that suddenly CNN is so interested in fact checking they are calling it a "series." I certainly don't recall them ever doing any fact checking on a Democrat, do you? Even Weinie Weiner was getting a pass until it just became to funny to ignore.

      December 16, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hal

      I think you're confusing debt and deficit. But point well taken.

      December 16, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • GoRemoteKCl

      Fact : Congress controls the purse strings (budget), not the President. Fact : Gingrich forced a Gov't shutdown 2-3 times to get Clinton to agree to the policies that resulted in the "surplus". At best, the credit is shared between Clinton and Gingrich. In reality, the surplus a kinda fake. It was the product of the Tech Bubble that burst in 1999-2000, a housing bubble that finally burst in 2008, and the fact that at that time there was a surplus in inflows from Social Security. That clock ran out in the last few year, and now out flows cash. The demographic calendar determined that, not the politicians.

      December 16, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jasie

      Too bad nobody has fact checked Obama.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Truth squad

      Love it, Love it, love it.

      Clinton gets ALL the credit when he does NOTHING.

      Obama Gets NONE of the credit when he draws the line in the sand, and has 2 years majority and then only loses house.

      Give CNN props, they aren't called the Clinton New Network for nothing.

      It was even funnier when a few years ago they pretended to go after some conservative viewers and pretended to be "the centrist" news source. They couldn't compete with FOx, so they abondaoned that and now most of their conservative commentators have all been let go and are on Fox.

      CNN spelled backwards is NNC, News (with) No Credibility.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ted

      Diana, keep dreaming. Newt wil take this country further down that they have already done in in the last 30 yrs. But good luck. Apparently ethic concerns don't bother you. No matte what you think this country ws in good shape when Clintonleft office. Domesticall and internionally. Keep the hate going, it's the only thing the Reps have and copngrats for being rich becasue if you are the working middle class you're an idiot suporting the Republicans.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Truth squad

      Hate to a liberal is called disagreement to anyone else.

      Yes, let's talk about morals and ethics and then talk about how great Clinton was.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • brian in dc

      Clinton was kicking and screaming the whole time trying to spend like Obama is now but being forced to pare down due to Gingrich, what the heck are you smoking?

      December 16, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ben

    Funny, I don't remember one CNN fact chase of any of the 2008 Dem debates...funny, I don't remember a CNN fact check of Obama since 2008. Wonder why the fact check the GOP debate.

    December 16, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Funny, I do remember CNN fact checking both the Democratic and general election debates in 2007 and 2008, although I don't recall the details of said fact checks, obviously, as they were 3-4 years ago.

      December 16, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • M

      Just because you don't remember it doesn't mean it didn't happen.

      December 16, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Iconoclast

      Actually they most certainly did and do fact check the democrat statements. What has happened over time however is the statistical fact that as a rule GOP and it's supporters are consistent liars while Democrats only lie some of the time!

      December 16, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Henry

      They do it everytime he gives a speech. Alzheimers setting in?

      December 16, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Diana

      It's not remembered because it never happened. Have you seen CNN do ANY fact checking on Obama? Of course not.

      December 16, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • McBain

      They did run this series with the Dems.

      December 16, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • *

      Funny Try a Google search on "cnn fact checking 2008 democratic debate" and the articles that you claim don't exist (and many others) will be staring you in the face.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • maxpractical

      It's because Republicans have such a concrete history of misleading, stretching, and lying about the truth.. There is nothing they will not spin and Newt is the worst.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ted

      You on't remember becasue it's a republican thing,. Selective remembering. Once again Congratss for being rich or for being an middle class idiot who supports anything but middle class.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mitch Tiburon, CA

      Great point...when was the last real fact check of Obama's unrelenting campaign speech-making? He's consumed with straw-men arguments, demonizing, anyone who dares to be critical, and of course his infamous blame game...anything to distract the public from his failures and constant disingenuousness.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan5404

      Actually, CNN has done the fact check on Obama and some other Democrat leaders. but you were probably watching FAUX NEWS and missed it. CNN treated Obama just like everyone else and were no more forgiving on incomplete or misleading statements than they are with the GOP.But, Obama is not in these endless debates, the Republicans are. The problem is that people who depend on the hacker-lowned network for real political news are sadly misinfomed much of the time. No matter what, Gingrich lied about balancing the budget for four years and also about the amount. All politicians can be caught in stretches, misrepresentations, and sometimes outright kies. that's an unfortunate fact in political campaigns. Politics is nasty on both sides.

      December 16, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Partysstink

    No one on either side of the isle has doing anything for the last 30 years and why dont we have a cnn fact check on dems once and a while.

    December 16, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ted

      Here's a banner idea, google it. Thinking one party is better than the other is plain ludicris. If you work for a living and make under 250K there is one side that wants to help you and one side that doesn't ,you have to figure it out.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Risky

      Do you see the dems having debates right now?

      December 16, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  4. David H

    Facts and opinion are the same thing to republicans. If they believe it, it is so.

    December 16, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Truth squad

      Actually Republicans know the difference, it's the left that has blurred the line.

      O'Reilly and Hannity have consistently said they are opinion and analysis, yet media matters, and the kooks on the left keep posting "Fact Checks" on opinion. Stating that their view or opinion on a subject is fact, and that O'Reilly and Hannity's opinion or view on a subject is a lie.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  5. The writing is on the wall.

    If we don't have a Republican President, we won't have a country left. Only a welfare state. God help us.

    December 16, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      We already have a welfare state, moron. For the rich, and powerful, and big corporations.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Edwin

      Odd comment, given the evidence. Why would we have a welfare state? Federal welfare was eliminated under Clinton, so since then the federal government has not had any impact on how much "welfare" is available.

      I think the Truth Squad would call your concern FALSE.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guapo

      There's good ole Joe with the liberal standard of name calling... such an intellect!

      December 16, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Truth squad

      Welfare was "reformed" under Clinton and merely renamed "tax breaks" or tax credits for people who don't pay taxes.

      We have still have food stamps, Wic, section 8, and a whole host of other programs that help a few people and also spawn an entire class of people of live off the gov't with no intent to self-support.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ted

      It was a republican president that had teh trade deficit go up 4x, It was a republican president that had 14 millin houses build that no one lives in. It was a Rep preesident that gave 2 million illegals amnesty in the 80's So yes it is a welfre state but don't blame the dems, Okay I'm a realist blame them for 50% and blame the Reps for other 50%.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan5404

      Then, you might as well start making plans to move.

      December 16, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Joe

    Are republicans even capable of telling the truth? I've never seen the truth squad, not even once, rate anything they've said as "true".

    December 16, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Truth squad

      Don't strain yourself, just let CNN tell you what you need to hear. Don't bother doing any research or find out about the issues.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Guapo

    No one fact checked Obama. If they had, they would have seen him for he really is. I never saw a "Keeping Them Honest" segment from AC on Obama and his myriad of lies and his ties to domestic terrorists.

    December 16, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Edwin

      It's odd you should say that. Not only did this get discussed in the comments earlier (and your assertion was shown to be false), it is easy to do an internet search on this and discover that, yet, CNN and others *DID* do fact checks on Obama during his 2008 election campaign.

      The Truth Squad would label your claim FALSE.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dee

      Go to Politifact.. you'll see he has kept most of his promises.. the GOPers just spit out BLATANT LIES!

      December 16, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Truth squad

      Politifact is a liberal organization, but still do a better job than most of trying to be fair.

      Still a number of their fact-checks tend to play around the edges, blur opinion with facts and more times than not they come to the conclusion that the liberal is right.

      As I said they ocassionally admit the conservative is correct but will rarely give a Democrat a pants-on-fire lie unless they are a an inconsequantial player in politics.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • gaiafan
      too easy to prove you wrong

      December 16, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • LetsGetReal

      Looks like we have some zany ring-wing kooks here. Much entertainment. Long of accusations, short on facts and evidence as usual ... because they listen to the zany right-wing media.

      No one lies lie a GOP zealot:

      December 16, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mike

    I just couldn't believe there were so little lying going on, so I checked If CNN were a liberal as so many say, this would be a 5 page story. They are lazy thinkers and are loose with facts. Voting for any of these guys would be like going to the hospital and asking for the dumbest surgon.

    December 16, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Edwin

      CNN only presents a few "facts" to check. Their audience typically reads about one page of news and gets bored.

      I agree - anyone who wants more truth-checking should go to Politifact. They are non-partisan and quite good. They have slammed GOP and democratic candidates alike, including good old Obama. They are not biased, and they have quite a lot to say (not favorable) about most of the current GOP candidates.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Truth squad

      Funny you use that analogy. You just hired a "Surgeon" who didn't even have a PHD much less know anything about medicine.

      And for the kicker, if Obamacare goes into effect, about 10 years from now, maybe your kids or grandkids will get operated on by a Gov't hired "Surgeon" who, through affirmative action and a neccesity to get more doctors, probably couldn't graduate high school.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Cham

    All the crazy people out there CNN is only ones who fact check dems and Rep but no one cares because u have ur head up your butts. Bush Jr left a big hole in the government and Obama was chosen to fix it and the rep is not helping because they want him to lose but this is america. Instead working with him to help the country there not. I wasn't a bush fan but the dem agreed with him some time not plenty but some for the country and GOP always say country first then start acting like it. The country need everyone and you lost the election for president give him a chance and stop fila bust everything. If it didn't work then vote him out. I don't always agree with Dems and I don't agree with GOP but I believe that this country as a nation could be great. We have to stop fighting and start working together.

    December 16, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Truth squad

      Clueless partisan rhetoric

      December 16, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ted

      Truthsquad, Congrats for being filthy rich otherwise if you work for livign your one stupid (typical) republican. If you're not rich dude you need to shy away from that platform becasue it doesn't support your way of life. I realize it supports your believes but not your life style. Hopefully your rich so you don't have to care if teh middle class gets tokeep more of their paycheck or not. And as far as healthcare, I think the whole system is broke and only wish teh republicans would of help creating a national helathcare system that works. I'm not a fan of being #37.

      December 16, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Dee

    No point of doing this CNN.. every time there is a debate. Fact Check shows "False" or Misleading.. NO GOP NO WAY! OBAMA 2012!

    December 16, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Dee

    the Truth:

    December 16, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Truth squad

    OK, so let me get this straight.

    Despite the fact that Congress makes, sets and controls the budget, although the President is supposed to submit one, Congress is not obligated to follow it or not amend it. CNN says The Congress gets no credit for the anything but it goes to the President.

    Yet when fact checking on statements made about Obama's handling of the economy, they gladly parrot the President's talking points that everything about the economy was inherited from Bush.

    Can't have it both ways people. Either the standard is The President gets credit the second he is sworn is for all things or not. In Which case Bush did VERY well for 6 years.

    December 16, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ted

      Keep the hate going, maybe yhou can get elected next. Have you cheated on your wife, perfect you're the man. 3 families perfect you support our family values theme, ethics not a concern of yours even better. Facts, Dems have their faults as well and some worse than Republicans. I personally try to pick and choose from the better people within each party. I've been on this planet 50+ yrs. I'm not a criminal, DNA on Blue dress, sad the way rich people act.

      December 16, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Truth squad

    Yes, I just googled CNN Fact Check Obama, and it's true, they did fact check Obama.

    The Obama on SNL. They fact-checked a skit on SNL, one spoofing Obama.

    Never has that been done before or since to any other President, Classic.

    December 16, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • LetsGetReal

      Not again. Did you just pick one of many? Below there are links to CNN fact checking:

      1 –
      2 –
      3 –

      December 16, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  14. LetsGetReal

    Verdict summation: False, false, misleading. Yup ... seems the GOP is consistent if nothing else.

    December 16, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  15. M-W-T

    PLEASE people, take a good look at the repub. candidates, Do you really want any one of these IDIOTS running America?

    The current President isn't doing that bad of a job!

    It would be a crime to let any of these guys try and get us out of this, at this point.
    It would take a new president at least 8 more years to get his program to do anything.
    Give this President 4 more years, and He will get results that will be right for everyone

    December 16, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
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