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. jsf12

    CNN says "The Obama administration has struggled to bring down a staggering – and growing – budget deficit since taking office in 2009."
    Nothing any candidate has said in the debate approaches that scale of blatant, in your face, lie. Everything Obama has done has been aimed at increasing spending and by doing so increasing the deficit.
    CNN short admit their "fact checking" consists entirely of press releases from the Obama campaign.

    January 20, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • FrankSD

      So none of the actual facts cited by CNN phased you a bit? Guess letting reality get in the way of your hate isn't nearly as much fun.

      January 20, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Biotechdev

      A trillion dollar stimulus baill, a trillion dollar healthcare reform bill, a half trilliom dollar propsoed "jobs: bill. Could CNN be mire biased???? Abd on the healthcare law- 53% of Amercians want it repealed as of a Rasmussen poll in 2010

      January 20, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Biotechdev

      How about this – Americans voted out the Dems who voted for Obamacare and took control of the House from the Dens to the GOP. CNN doesn't have to give you their biased assessment – that is what actually happened

      January 20, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Biotechdev

      sorry – had more comments, but CNN censored them – all facts, no insults. I have screen caps of all, can't wait to see where I can post them for maximum xposure of CNN

      January 20, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan5404

      Keep spinning out that GOP/TP/Norquist puppet rhetoric. You don't know the truth when you see it. When Republicans decide to participate in government, get back to us. However, they'd better hurry. because their time is coming to an end in 10 months.

      January 20, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Z

      Biotech- the article itself says people's views on health care reform are changing..maybe they are figuring out that when we get the GOP version (nothing) which allows the insurers to do whatever they want with no regulation, that prices will skyrocket and more and more people will become uninsured. I mean after all...the free markets ran our healthcare for a while now, and if it actually worked...we wouldn't be having this conversation now.

      January 20, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • LeRoy Sorenson


      Is it too much to hope that a conservative could actually make an intelligent comment? Obviously, yes. The deficit and collapsed economy Obama faced when entering office were the direct result of the stupid economic, tax and regulatory policies of the Bush administration. We only have to look at the current slate of Republican bufoons running for the presidency to realize how completely devoid of intelligence conservative leadership is.

      LeRoy Sorenson

      January 20, 2012 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • LeRoy Sorenson


      Is it too much to hope that a conservative could actually make an intelligent comment? Obviously, yes. The deficit and collapsed economy Obama faced when entering office were the direct result of the stupid economic, tax and regulatory policies of the Bush administration. We only have to look at the current slate of Republican buffoons running for the presidency to realize how completely devoid of intelligence conservative leadership is.

      LeRoy Sorenson

      January 20, 2012 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
  2. FrankSD

    Its a little ironic that the holiest of these holier than thou pols (Santorum) is the one who couldn't even stay on the "misleading" side of the truth and had to resort to outright lies.

    January 20, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Biotechdev

    CNN has refused to post any of my previous posts on this. I have a screen capture of all of it,. Thanks CNN. I'll give it another shot, with people here and more screen shots. What is posted here is CNN opinion. According to CNN Obama is tryimg tp address the staggering deficit – by what? His trillion dollar stimulus (failed), his trillion dollar new healthcare entitlement, his proposed half-trillion dollar "jobs" bill? And the analysis of the healthcare reformm bill is a joke – 53% by Rasmussene last Dec want it repealed. Amd I think that voting out Dem control of the House is a big mesage from the Amercian people. Hey CNN – ignore this post again -lets' see where it ends up then

    January 20, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  4. cheapo

    If Paul wins will his running mate be Alex Jones? Can Charlie Sheen be Secretary of the Interior? CAN I HAS A UNICORNS?!? it's fun to live in make believe land!

    January 20, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ahhh

      You Anti-Paulbots are freaking crazy and loonier than what you are condemning...Ha!

      January 20, 2012 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • ry

      What's even more crazy is believing the other three candidates aren't lying and will actually do what they insinuate even though they don't have a plan laid out to do anything. They are all just giving everyone hope and encouragement without a plan to do a damn thing. Not to mention they all take money from the lobbyists except Ron Paul. Who really is looking out for your interests...?

      January 20, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • aubreyzych

      Oh "cheapo" it is truly people like you that make our country suck as much as it does today.

      January 20, 2012 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Biotechdev

    thanks CNN – will send my screen shots to a number of media outlets – perfect example to use this year on media bias

    January 20, 2012 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • jorgath

      "Media bias." I do not think that means what you think it means.

      January 20, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Little Tin God

    Think about this. All the right wants to do is nominate someone that can beat Obama. It doesn't matter if that someone can't govern their way out of a wet paper bag. Only that he can defeat Obama. Think about that.

    January 20, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • josheph

      whats your point? thats how every single primary works. the end goal is to regain control of the white house. part of the problem with bipartisanship

      January 20, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Biotechdev

    I have this screen shot. Lets try another. Obama saya that he is trying to deal with the deficit he inherited? How? With the trillion dollar failed stimulus? the trillion dollar new entitlement heatlthcare programn? the half trillion dollar proposed "jobs" Bill

    January 20, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Biotechdev

    Thanks CNN – now I have the screen shots that show that you post my comments as long as there aren't any specific facts about Obama/ Thanls for clarifying how this works

    January 20, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Biotechdev

    Bio trying another time to get a comment posted. Obama spent as much money as Bush, but in half the time. CNN – will ypu let the comment above get through, since you ave edited all my previous comments?

    January 20, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Z

      That's what happens when you have to actually put the bills on the books and pay for them..instead of creating another set of 'alternate' budgets thinking that bill will never have to be paid.
      And in terms of your comments and complaints, they all seem to be the 'fox manufactured comment', quite frankly CNN should remove them, when right wingers flood these boards and all are repeating the same garbage from Fox it gets tiring when you try to discuss/share different ideas.

      January 20, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Biotechdev

    Okay, I'm on a roll re CNN censorship. Obama couldn't have been trying too hard to reduce the deficit, if he spent a trillion on his failed stimulus, a trillion on his new healthcare bill and a proposed half trillion om his "jobs bill". And apparntly Americans didn't like the healthcare bill, because Rasmussen says that 53% want it repealed. And they vored Dems who voted for it out of control of the House

    January 20, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobcat

      %19 of that %53 are liberals like me who oppose this REPUBLICAN bill because of its origins as the spawn of the Insurance corps and %1 trickle-downers. Face it Obama is Reagan 2.0 and has followed his plan for the economy and been a rubber stamp for republicans from day one.

      January 20, 2012 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Biotechdev

    To all CNN posters – CNN often refuses to post my comments. I just got a series posted ny threatening them with screen captures. They have no integrity – screen capture every comment you send so you can highlight theiir censorship

    January 20, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • wicked

      probably because ur an idiot is the reason they wont post ur comments

      January 20, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • GetReal

      Who cares? This board is not about you.

      January 20, 2012 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Bay area , San Jose white male

    The MSM is again campaigning for Obama.
    Hitler had control of the media and turned a whole country upside down.
    The MSM is indoctrinating most of us.
    We are being indoctrinated for war with Iran.
    Let's not remake fascism propaganda.
    Those of you on the left, do your research.
    Facism is on the extreme left of the spectrum, not the rightside.

    January 20, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobcat

      hitler was a fervent conservative, he, el duche and franco rode the evangelical vote and an Anti-socialist agenda to fame. The outlawing of Atheism, Labor unions and free media was because the opposed traditional values. the first people hitler sent to camps were liberals. Know your history.

      January 20, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ivan

      Yeah sure, Hitler was a leftist. That's why he murdered communists and socialists. What flavour is the koolaid today?

      January 20, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bay area , San Jose white male

      Ivan and Bobcat-
      You've both been sipping too much koolaid runoff of the Facist Regime started by Pelosi, Reed. It was solidified when president Obama was elected. They had complete control of the government[the House, Senate and Presidency] and the media.
      What do you call that? Fascism.

      Facists advocate: self-directed , regulated economy; the use of primacy and regulated private property and private enterprise contingent upon service to the government; the use of government enterprise where private enterprise is failing or deemed insufficient.

      As I mentioned before, do your research . Spewing your hippy professors' garbage along with the MSM koolaid, proves that you didn't research. Try again.

      January 20, 2012 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • GetReal

      President Obama does not control the MSM. But, the right wing Englishman, Rupert Murdock, controls Fox News, doesn't he?

      January 20, 2012 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Let's All Go To The Lobby

    Both Gingrich and Paul made true statements. I guess calling them misleading helps Romney look better, though.

    January 20, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  14. mark

    I was not very impressed by John King last night. Although I'm a democrat I would like the Republicans to have a fair debate on issues. John King seemed to overlook Ron Paul at several occassion esp when it came to abortion issue. Everyone should get equal opportunity to speak their opinions.

    January 20, 2012 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Daniel

    I find it sad that CNN calls Ron Paul's statement about the post WW2 re-organising of America misleading.

    America came out of WW2 with debt. At that time, America took steps to secure their financial future as Ron Paul eksplained; and it was because of those steps that America continiued to stand tall.
    What sort of America would you be living in if those steps were not taken?
    What kind of future will you be living in, if America does not take similar steps this time around?

    CNN. Is it really misleading to point out a tried and tested perscription for debt management?
    When the USA has over 15 000 000 000 000 000 $ in debt.
    I don't think so.

    January 20, 2012 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      First, you have three too many 0's. Second, cnn and Paul forgot to mention that we DID have a major program. It's called the GI Bill, and it's responsible for the development of the middle class.

      January 20, 2012 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
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