January 20th, 2012
12:59 AM ET

Truth Squad: 4 checks on Thursday's GOP debate

CNN examines statements by Republican presidential candidates during Monday night's CNN Southern Republican Debate in Charleston, South Carolina.

Rick Santorum on President Obama's budget cuts

The statement: "We have the president of the United States who said he is going to cut veterans benefits, cut our military, at a time when these folks are four, five, six, seven tours, coming back, in and out of jobs, sacrificing everything for this country.  And the president of the United States can't cut one penny out of the social welfare system and he wants to cut a trillion dollars out of our military and hit our veterans, and that's disgusting."

The facts: The Obama administration has struggled to bring down a staggering - and growing - budget deficit since taking office in 2009. Depressed tax revenues due to the 2007-2009 recession, spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, increased aid to the unemployed and the last of Obama's 2009 economic stimulus bill helped the deficit swell to a projected $1.3 trillion for the fiscal year 2011.

The 2010 election put added pressure on the administration as anti-tax, anti-spending Republicans took control of the House of Representatives, resulting in three budgetary standoffs between Congress and the White House in 2011.

Obama has in fact proposed a series of budget cuts, to the dismay of many of his own supporters. In September, he proposed wringing more than $300 billion from Medicare and Medicaid - the federal health-care programs for the poor and elderly - as part of an effort to reduce the deficit by $3 trillion over the next decade. In August, his budget chief warned government agencies to brace for cuts of 5% to 10% for 2013. And in January 2010, the administration proposed savings of $250 billion by freezing all nonsecurity discretionary spending for three years.

The departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs were exempted from that proposal. But the administration projects it will save $1.1 trillion on defense in the coming 10 years - largely because the war in Iraq is over, and U.S. troops are being pulled back from Afghanistan.

And Obama has proposed increases in federal spending on veterans. Its 2012 budget request was up 10.6% "to meet increased need" by Americans who have served in the military over the past decade, and a 3.5% increase is projected for 2013.

One cloud on the horizon is the $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts now hanging over the heads of Congress. Half of that will fall on the Pentagon unless negotiators come up with a different plan.

But that won't happen until 2013 and can be averted if lawmakers can cut projected deficits by an equal amount.

The verdict: False. Santorum is wrong on two counts. Obama has proposed cuts to significant portions of the U.S. safety net, while adding spending on veterans benefits to accommodate the large number of returning American veterans. And a big portion of the planned defense cuts come from the end of two long-running wars.

Newt Gingrich on distrust of government and possible health care repeal

Newt Gingrich said the country's distrust of Washington and fear of centralized medicine would create pressure to repeal the health care act.

The statement: "The American people are frightened of bureaucratic, centralized medicine. They deeply distrust Washington. The pressure will be to repeal it."

The facts: Americans generally "distrust Washington," according to a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll conducted in September. Only 2% of Americans said they could "just about always" trust the federal government, while 77% said they could only trust it some of the time.  Another poll earlier this month found President Barack Obama's approval rating at 49%, while approval of Congress had plunged to 11%.

By comparison, in 1958 - before the war in Vietnam, Watergate and the revelations that spilled out of Washington in their aftermath - 73% of Americans said they could trust the federal government all or most of the time.
But Gingrich is off when he characterizes public opinion as building up pressure behind a promised repeal of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the law Republicans call "Obamacare."  A CNN/ORC poll in November found that while the bill remains unpopular, some of the opposition comes from people who don't think it went far enough toward establishing universal health insurance.

Asked whether they approved or disapproved of the health-care law, much of which has yet to take effect, only 38% said they favored it; 56% said they were opposed. But only 37% said they opposed it because it went too far; an additional 14% said they opposed it because it wasn't liberal enough.
And while the public remains divided over the idea of requiring all Americans to buy health insurance - the cornerstone of the law - opposition has softened over the past year. Another November poll by CNN found 52% favored mandatory health insurance, up from 44% in June; opposition dropped from 54% in June to 47% in November.

The verdict: Misleading. Gingrich is right that there is a widespread distrust of Washington, but that doesn't appear to be translating into more support for repealing one of the most controversial acts of the Obama administration to date.

Mitt Romney defends his record on abortion

The statement: "What came to my desk was a piece of legislation that said, 'We're going to redefine when life begins.' In our state, we said life began at conception. The Legislature wanted to change that to say, 'no, we're going to do that at implantation.' I vetoed that. The Legislature also said, 'We want to allow cloning for purposes of creating new embryos of testing.' I vetoed that. They didn't want abstinence education; I pursued abstinence education. There was an effort to have a morning-after pill provided to young women in their teens; I vetoed that. I stood as a pro-life governor."

The facts: Romney ran two statewide campaigns in Massachusetts - an unsuccessful bid for Senate in 1994 and a winning one for governor in 2002 - as a supporter of abortion rights. But in 2005, he vetoed an emergency contraception bill and declared in the pages of the Boston Globe that he was an opponent of abortion, though he "respected the state's democratically held view" in favor of abortion rights.

Romney went on to veto the other bills he mentioned as well, though state lawmakers overrode his veto of a bill that would have allowed the creation of embryos for stem-cell research.
In April 2006, he announced $800,000 in grants for abstinence education programs, which are supported by many religious conservatives as an alternative to sex education.

The verdict: True. Romney's opposition to abortion is still viewed suspiciously by many conservatives, but his record supports the claims he made Thursday night.

Does Ron Paul's WWII anecdote ring true?

The statement: "After World War II, we had 10 million come home all at once.  But what did we do then? There were some of the liberals back then that said, 'Oh, we have to have more work programs and do this and that.' And they thought they would have to do everything conceivable for those 10 million. They never got around to it because they came home so quickly. And you know what the government did?  They cut the budget by 60%. They cut taxes by 30%.  By that time, the debt had been liquidated. And everybody went back to work again, you didn't need any special programs."

The facts: The end of World War II did see a sharp decrease in federal spending as the United States demobilized. The U.S. budget grew nearly tenfold between 1940 and 1945, peaking at about $93 billion - $1.2 trillion in today's dollars. By 1948, it had fallen to $30 billion, or about a third of 1945 outlays, according to federal records.

Taxes went down as well during that period, though rates stayed high. The top tax rate in 1945 was 94%. The rate was cut to 91% by 1948, and the threshold for paying that rate went up from about $200,000 to more than 1.8 million in current dollars, according to the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan Washington research group.

But demobilization was not as smooth as Paul portrays. The U.S. economy saw two recessions between 1945 and 1950 as veterans returned home and factories retooled for civilian work. The war bonds sold to finance the conflict weren't retired until the early 1980s, according to the Treasury Department, though revenue from the eventual postwar boom kept the debt manageable. The top tax rate stayed at 91% until the Kennedy administration.

Most significantly, the libertarian congressman underplays the role of the federal government in helping veterans coming home. The Employment Act of 1946 "committed the federal government to take all practical measures to promote maximum employment, production, and purchasing power," according to a 2003 study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Then there is the law many historians consider one of the most significant pieces of legislation of the 20th century: the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, better known as the G.I. Bill. It sent millions of veterans to college, provided government backing for home loans and is credited with laying the foundations of the modern middle class.

The verdict: Misleading. Paul is correct that spending and taxes came down after 1945, as would be expected at the end of a conflict that saw the entire might of the United States thrown into the war effort. But he leaves out both the long-term debt and high tax rates left behind as Washington paid off the war and gives short shrift to the efforts made to resettle veterans who came home.

soundoff (585 Responses)
  1. Yellowmedia

    Like him or not, Gingrich is right. Just about all of our media today has become an embarrassing circus. We get biased one sided "reporting" that contains more of the "reporters" personal opinion than any facts. Even the somewhat factual stories almost always leave out important information which just makes it a half truth. The media's attempt at swaying popular opinion through this yellow journalism is an embarrassment, a joke, and a crime! I am disgusted and ashamed by our main stream media! Shame on you CNN, you are part of the problem. Stop with all the crapola and just report the news!

    January 20, 2012 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Alfonzo Muchanzo

      That applies to Fox News and MSNBC much more than CNN, although it still applies to CNN. Although Gingrich's statements might be correct, he's nothing more than a corrupt politician to the core. I could also say all the things that I know people want to hear, but if I don't truly believe them then doesn't that make you worse than all the rest? Gingrich is smart, no doubt about it, but he plays to crowds and says whatever will get him votes, corrupt right down to the core, just like 95% of all politicians. Wanna know why? Because being honest and reasonable doesn't get votes, perfect example is Jon Hunstman, the only legit candidate on either side.

      Btw I'm republican and I'm disgusted and the field that's left along with Obama. I don't want any of them, atleast Ron P. is honest and consistent, but his isolationist views are quite scary in these global times.

      January 20, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mister Fids

      YELLOWMEDIA IS RIGHT...do like FOX does, run Kardashian girls news on the top of the page (yesterday), keep the reader fascinated with BIG STORIES about American Idol (today) and then run the same story for a week on your front page (Look Like Celebs in the Nude)....WHY DOESN"T CNN just reprint FOX NEWS stories ? Because they are all either trash or RIGHT WING EXTREMIST propaganda meant to cater to an uneducated uninformed knee-jerk reactionary crowd of mal contents & half baked idiots !

      January 20, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • spellcheck

      What? HLN can't spell. DEFECIT Really?

      January 20, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      I don't have a problem with the first question because Newt also led the charge to Clinton impeached for adultery. So if Newt thinks that is an impeachable offense, then we want to know these details about our presidential candidates and for him to be offended is hypocrisy.

      January 20, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zaphod617

      The fact is that major media is owned by the 1%. The super rich own and operate this "liberal elete" but the super rich are traditionally not liberal. A 24/7 news cycle requires too much filler and not much real news. That being said, other than faux news, not a lot of time is spent manufacturing stories with minimal truth.

      January 20, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      You must admit though that the candidates are giving the "lame street media" a lot of fodder. Affairs with staffers, hiding money in off shore accounts, making up "facts", and rediculous statements. I don't have a problem with the media reporting this information if it is, indeed, the truth. If a media outlet is creating news (Fox comes to mind) rather than reporting the news then it is time to find another station.

      January 20, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Barry G.


      That Romney would engage in such questionable (if not shady) Camen Islands bank account business is a disgrace.

      Is it any wonder this country is in trouble?

      And then there's unrepentant Gingrich, raging with impunity, in all of his arrogance.

      Ron Paul and Rick Santorum are looking better and better, all the time.

      January 20, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      I have always felt that when folks accuse the media of bias, it is generally because they don't agree with the article. So anything that goes against what we believe as individuals must be bias. Just take climate change for instance. If you believe in it and the media report downplays it, it is biased. If you don't believe it and the media talks about scientists who agree with it, it must be bias. It's a catch-22 of sorts. And either way, the idea that there are facts and only that should be reported is misleading. Facts require interpretation and news sources give a context to those facts.

      January 20, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • vivian m

      Yeh, and the Right Wingers try to plug into the media storm as many blies, distortions, amnd scorched earth assaults as they can. Hooey! Nice try Gingrinch, but morals and ethics matter. It is YOUR party that claims to have the high moral ground, you cannot have it both ways, Mr. Impeacher!

      January 20, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Keith

      The real truth is that CNN ignored Ron Paul last night, and their ignoring him now. Newt dodged a bullet; and showed that he like Romney is great at dodging and moreover would be great at explaining unsatisfactory progress to the American people as being acceptable.
      Unfortunately Romney has big-money billionaire funding and he will be a nuisance for the rest of the primary. I am upset that Bush endorsed him. Santorum does not seem to me to be a president, he may be in 9 or 17years. Ron Paul is obviously the most intelligent candidate; however his foreign policy is probably a tad extreme. Though the real promise with Ron Paul is his dedication to revitalizing the American economy and to reneweing a Republic.
      Inevitably the State has a much better ability to represent it's residence nationalizing issues allows for people who don't know anything about you controlling the way you live. If you live in any state you reserve the right to have a more direct touch to the laws in your government.
      Take the power into your hands. Ben Franklin understood that this country may perpetuate into a federal despotism because of peoples inate ability to seek a nurturing paradise like state; the truth of the matter is liberty is the concept that rallied our 13 colonies to seperate from britain. Providing liberty to slaves is what fortified our claim and provided us superiority over the confederacy in the civil war. Liberty is what defines this country, take the reign America and don't forget Liberty.

      January 20, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • truthteller

      Clinton was not impeached for adultery. If that were an impeachable offense, Kennedy wouldn't have lasted a year. He was impeached for committing perjury and obstruction of justice during the Paula Jones sexual harassment case. Gingrich may not be perfect, but at least compare apples to apples.

      January 20, 2012 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
  2. molly b.

    Please keep up the GOOD work of fact finding. So many people however, are immediately swayed by the miss-statements, that they never check the facts. Keep checking!

    January 20, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mister Fids

      Molly...when idiots hear anything on TV they automatically believe it because it comes from people who are PAID to talk unlike the viewer or reader, thus the ignorants capitulate to what THEY ASSUME is a HIGHER AUTHORITY the TV, which THEY allow to rule their lives. When you cannot reason for yourself you turn to the closest thing to an authority THE TALKING HEAD ON TV for "TRUTH".

      January 20, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ray

      And so many people are swayed by news articles claiming to be backed by facts. I'll speak on the Ron Paul fact check. Missing from the article is the historical context of the high tax at the time. Nearly all economic activity was geared towards the war. Anyone making enough money to be in the top income tax bracket at that time was doing so through the war effort. War profiteering hadn't become an official federally supported sport yet. The fact that the top tax bracket threshold was raised and the tax lowered is proof of the intent of the tax. The mention of the Employment act of 1946 is amusing since that act did not create any real direct federal involvement in employment. The Act established passive efforts. Most notably an annual report on future job growth in various industries. The DID NOT use taxpayer money to directly or indirectly employ returning military personnel. The mention of the GI Bill is erroneous and has nothing to do with Ron Paul's statement.

      This article is misleading and no where near a "fact check". Ron Paul's statement is an attempt to illustrate that 10 million servicemen returned to the United States after world war II and the private sector quickly absorbed them WITHOUT massive government spending projects. This so called "fact check" does not directly address his assertion but instead throws a bunch of crap against the wall hoping that some of it will stick.

      January 20, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. amlcpamaine

    Responsibility for the 'circus' rests entirely with the GOP and its sorry excuses for "leaders." The only truth here, according to CNN's checkers, is Romney's admission that he's flip/flopped. Add to that the sorry state of Congress because its leaders (turtle and the tan-man) spend every waking moment working on spin statements and blocking anything remotely involved with getting work done.
    At lease we know where we stand - these candidates, like their congressional colleagues, are so into lying that they wouldn't know a reality if they see it.

    January 20, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Barry G.

      I appreciate what you said about the lack of integrity of our senators and representatives (both parties).

      Sadly, I fear that both parties have become so corrupted by greed and the lobbyists, that this country is headed for a fall.

      It happened to the Roman Empire in 410 C.E. and 476 C.E., and the same corruption, decadence and lack of integrity is taking the same toll on the U.S., which is following a strikingly similar path.

      And then came the fall of Rome, and then came the Dark Ages–1,000 years of darkness.

      "Babylon the Great has fallen....", and the U.S. isn't far behind.

      January 20, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  4. streetdude66

    If the GOP has all the answers they wouldnt have to lie or mislead the country about Obamas policies. Does anyone of them think that in a debate they can say these lies and wont be challenged by POTUS and then make themselves a fool on Nat'l TV? If Newt thinks he can make mincemeat out of Obama by lying he should think back to what happened 13 years ago when his own party told him to resign as Speaker & how hes been trying to get reelectedinto public office ever since. Loser

    January 20, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Christina

      It's refreshing to see that a few people understand the game that's played by the GOP. Too many believe what they hear from FOX and 700 Club.

      January 20, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Terry Vann

    Darn, you mean Sanatorium and Newt lied again!
    These facts are killing me.

    January 20, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
  6. dreamer96

    Newt is right about one thing, no decent Republicans are running to the GOP Presidential Race..

    January 20, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  7. nomorebeer

    1 man's facts are another man's lies......

    January 20, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Pittsburgh_Truth

    Why isn't CNN fact check the person in the white house?
    Why isnn't CNN fact checking the AG?
    Why is Fast and Furious being kept quit when all the people involved are taking the 5th and/or lieing about what they know?

    January 20, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian G

      Who says they aren't? Because something is not reported on daily doesn't mean that no one is investigating. There is an ongoing investigation into F&F program, but please take note of the word ONGOING. Quite frankly, I'd rather hear and see the truth behind the Iraq War and why thousands of our military personnel were mislead into fighting a war...or how billions of dollars in military funds are missing during that War. So stop with the lefty media conspiracy and cover-up crap. Use the brain that God gave you.

      January 20, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Christina

      Get real! CNN has fact-checked the White House. Brian is right. We're talking about the GOP candidates right now. Would you rather we just let these liars go unchecked, straight into November? I challenge you to look for your own information on these candidates- no CNN, no FOX, no 700 Club. Look for the facts yourself. Then come back and criticize CNN for finding it before you did.

      January 20, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Myto Senseworth

    How can they state that __% was this or __% was that as fact. They are based on statistical samples, therefore it is a guess made by the views of a sample group and may not reflect the views of all the people..... not fact....

    January 20, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ben

      The percentages listed are facts. And if you would care to look up the actual polls, and with a little statistical work, you could determine the margin of error and see that although there is some error, the difference between them lies well outside of it.

      January 20, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Brian G

    At some point the DNC needs to take action and aggressively dispell alot of these fiction the GOP candidates are spewing. I mean the list is long, so I hope they have enough time. No sense in attacking the current GOP candidates as they are doing a great job on themselves. Romney may win the nomination, however if Paul's ego tells him to run as an independent, this election will be a runaway victory for Obama. As it should. Then Congressional participants who chose to block the Prez will wish they worked with him from the beginning, because it will spell the end of their Congressional career. Our country only achieves greatness if everyone can rally around each other and not oppose each other.

    January 20, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • BillyBob117

      Hey BG, how does it feel to be in lockstep with someone who hates this great country and wants to destroy it? You are one pathetic person. Why do you believe the lying teleprompter and the state run media?

      January 20, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  11. BillyBob117

    In order for CNN to become creditable, that state run media needs to have the truth squad peer at little barry, holder, large sis and others within the regime. But that word creditable and what it means continues to evade CNN’s reporting.

    January 20, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian G

      This statement is why Sherman should have burned the entire South. Guess that's why Southerners will always be considered 2nd class citizens to the progressive and educated.

      January 20, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Christina

      LOL, LOL, LOL

      January 20, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Barry G.

    That Romney would engage in such questionable (if not shady) Camen Islands bank account business is a disgrace.

    Is it any wonder this country is in trouble?

    And then there's unrepentant Gingrich, raging with impunity, in all of his arrogance.

    Ron Paul and Rick Santorum are looking better and better, all the time.

    January 20, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian G

      The reason why this country is in trouble is because the 99% should all be on the same side...except the 1% is able to divide the 99% and have us fight against each other. While I understand why the 1% is trying to protect their turf, I don't understand someone in the middle class who chooses to protect the 1%. Oh, I forgot. Social wedge issues to sway opinion. As long as those issues remain, the 1% will always be backed by their have-nots who thinks they can achieve the American Dream without any way to get there. Conservatism is really a pyramid scheme.

      January 20, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Barry G.


      If you take a look at the history of Rome, you'll find that similar conditions developed, which prompted the fall of Rome.

      Conditions became so bad, that when the invading armies assaulted Rome, the slaves (the 99%) joined and fought with the invaders.

      At one point there was one slave, for every freeman in Rome; eventually, there were three slaves, for every freeman.

      I trust you see my point.

      History certainly repeats itself. It's just that people either fall to learn or fail to remember the lessons of history.

      January 20, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Gary

    Ya, make sure you fact check everything that is GOP or conservative in nature, but give Obama, Biden, Pelosi, Reid, et.al. a pass on everything they say. Liberal main stream media....all the same

    January 20, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Christina

      Did you not notice that it was a GOP debate?

      January 20, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Barry G.

      I share your cynicism about both parties.

      In the 1060's Louis Lapham, the son of an ambassador, decided to serve his country. He spoke to a member of Congress, who told him "just pick a party–it doesn't matter which party you join."

      In other words just play the game, and you'll become rich!

      Fortunately Louis Lapham had too much integrity to participate in such a farce. He then went to be the editor of Harper's Magazine, to work to inform the people about what is actually happening in DC, which is not being reported by the media.

      Thank God for good and decent people like Louis Lapham and Ralph Nadar. I wish we had more like them.

      January 20, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  14. dreamer96

    Newt is a professional politician playing the crowd and voters in front of him to get the votes he needs right now.. Just how many of those in the crowd were on their second marriage anyway...People with professional careers these days have at least two marriages under their belts...one to get through college, and then their trophy wife/husband..

    January 20, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  15. DMM

    Wow, politicians, even conservative ones claiming to love Jesus, caught lying about their opponents?

    January 20, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Barry G.

      No one resented hypocrisy more than Jesus did.

      This is, no doubt, why Peter wrote in his New Testament epistle that judgment will begin at the house of faith.

      "And if the righteous are scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and sinner appear [on the Day of Judgment]."

      January 20, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
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