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. Antonio Gonzalez

    GOP talks about cutting Welfare and food stamps but when elected they don't becuase whites are the biggest group on that system. More handouts of my tax money to whites. SC very big in getting handouts.

    January 20, 2012 at 5:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Thor

      I have always wondered why there are not more blacks in the Republican Party. It seems to me, that those whose backs were used to build this nation, should be the ones who press for more industrial collective corraboration to preserve the might of the company in order to protect the individuals within. I abhor the individual in the company (corporate board, CEO, etc) being the protected one, while the company (the workers and the customers) are left to wallow in the fields of despair. What gives?

      January 20, 2012 at 5:59 am | Report abuse |
    • woodrow

      It's all in the percentages. Proportionately speaking, whites receive less government welfare than other races. Remember whites are the overwhelming majority in this country still. Whites also commit less crime proportionately.

      January 20, 2012 at 6:11 am | Report abuse |
    • BigHwasdemo

      Not as a proportion. a larger percentage of blacks are getting stamps. I hardly ever see them pay any other way and I do the grocery shopping (wife bad at math-LOL).

      January 20, 2012 at 6:49 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      Thats a bold staement do not believe everything you find on Google. Be careful when making statements like this and check all your facts that surround the welfare system. Remember there are programs (lack of a better word) established out there to help minorities receive a job over a non-minoritie ( affirmative action). Do not think for one minute I am for or against this but it needs to be figured into this argument.

      January 20, 2012 at 6:54 am | Report abuse |
    • truthfulster

      Your comments are as misleading as the Republicans you comment on, WHITES account for 80% of our population so it's understandably correct when you write that they collect more welfare. They also pay the most taxes. If there were NO WHITES in this country it would be a third world nation like Mexico, if Mexico didn't have the companies that were started by whites in that country they would be all starving!

      January 20, 2012 at 7:10 am | Report abuse |
    • truesoy

      ...and so is Kentucky, which by the way is very white and conservative also. However we must understand the reason republican candidates are doing this is to divide the people by race and by economic class because as the old saying goes, divide and conquer. And that is how they expect to win the election.

      January 20, 2012 at 7:25 am | Report abuse |
    • truesoy

      This is in relpy to WOODROW AND TRUTHFULSTER below:
      Records show that in 2010 35% of whites were on food stamps, while in the same year 22% of blacks were on food stamps.
      This information comes from public records and proves you are misinformed.


      January 20, 2012 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Bush's Food Stamp Economy

      What taxpayers are concerned about is where their tax dollars are going in absolute terms. In absolute terms, whites benefit more from welfare than blacks. You could even call welfare a "white program". This fact starkly rebuts the beliefs of many "conservatives" that welfare is a "black program". That the black community is more afflicted by poverty in percentage-terms is an important social issue, but it has little to do with questions about budget, national priorities, and who primarily benefits from which programs. Finally, when right-wingers trot out this "percentage of the population" talking point upon being informed that welfare is a "white program", it always sounds to me like nothing more than a racially-motivated slap back. It adds nothing of value to the discussion.

      January 20, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  2. jucsb

    I don't want to debate what Obama has or hasn't accomplished although I will say I disagree with most of you on this board about the effectiveness of his programs on the economy. I do want to comment on this article and it's claim to be a fair judge of determining what the "truth" is as it relates to republican statements. Obama has proposed specific cuts to healthcare benefits for veterans, he has asked for a contribution from recipients for their benefits. CNN says Santorum's claim is false, I say CNN is wrong and their assessment totally misleading. As to the next fact – Americans distrust Government and fear it taking over healthcare? Are you kidding me? Does anyone believe this answer? "Distrust exists but it doesn't appear to be translating into more support for repealing one of the most controversial acts of the Obama administration to date." Are you kidding me? Last I checked there are over 20 states challenging the legality of this bill and CNN claims their is no support for repeal? CNN is in HIGH SPIN MODE. To call this fact checking is comical.

    January 20, 2012 at 5:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Marc

      The statement is partially correct in that it didn't go far enough. If a Non- profit insurance system were to be set up, insurance costs to the consumer would be greatly reduced. In Georgia a few years ago, a bill was introduced to allow one to go directlly to ones hospital network and ask them to provide healthcare. It was defeated by the insurance companies because they would lose millions in profits.
      Insurance companies first obligation is to make profit for share holders estimated at 30%. Then there are the high salaries for Ceos and Coos a,d many down the chain of command, so if 50% of your insurance money goes to make money for people, you lose alot of healthcare dollars. I don't want the government controliing the non- profit insurance, but non-profit would save billions in costs for consumers. Will legislators do this,no, the insurance companies love thier profits.
      Second, If I had been made to save for healthcare when I was young I would be fine today, butwhen you are young, you don't see a need in it. When you are older, you need more healthcare iand if you haven't paid your dues, you put a high burden on costs, and that makes costs high. There is the arguement for mandates. However, mandates for health savings accounts, great, but not for use it or lose it health savings accounts. I fell into that trap once. Who came up with the idea of a health savings account that if you don' use it that year all your money goes to an insurance company and you get nothing. Must have been politicians bought by the insurance companies, that heavily support the Republican candidates to kill Obama -care and continue to steal from the people.
      Obama-care needs fixed, not repealed, but at the pearle of the insurance companies. Fat chance right. There are alternatives to help the people and make some system work nut it has to be more carefully thought out and done in a manner that eliminates greed. Maybe

      January 20, 2012 at 6:42 am | Report abuse |
    • BigHwasdemo

      CNN would not report a fact properly if it was sent down by the arch angel Michael. They have been drinking Obama's kool-aid since day one. I, for one, am thoroughly tired of so-called news organizations having a definite bias. It is obvious to all of us and makes the media people look like fools. There is no journalist any more in any of them.

      January 20, 2012 at 6:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Doobie Wah

      You didnt want to debate, and then did just that.
      CNN is wrong because my guy wouldnt lie.
      Doesnt matter if 20 states are challenging health care.
      The majority of "people" are for it.
      Nice spin you put on it.

      January 20, 2012 at 7:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Jess C

      And how do you propose the uninsured get treated in emergency rooms across this country? Do you think that is not costing us in higher premiums across the board? Insurance premiums have been going up way before this bill, which is only partially in effect, came along. What is your answer? I know many Americans who can no longer afford insurance who are not "illegals", going to emergency rooms for care. Do you think that's free?

      January 20, 2012 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
  3. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©™

    Antonio Gonzalez:
    Do you really fail to realize WHY there are more whites than minorities on food stamps, that there ARE so many more white?
    I think that you may not really be that stupid, and you are twisting facts to deceive.

    January 20, 2012 at 5:43 am | Report abuse |
  4. DoNotWorry

    I don't think Obamacare went far enough. Socialized medicine. Yep, you can call me a commie pinko or whatever. This country is getting really big on killing its citizens off... the corporate influence. Corporations have become a KKK mask for inhumane behavior. Sure, kill companies instead of saving them. Kill jobs and send them to China instead of reworking them. Throw everyone away who doesn't have specific experience, when a couple weeks training would put them in a new spot. Let people die who don't have insurance and cheer about it. For the current cost for a few people of the corporate insurance now purchased, we could cover our entire population under national healthcare. Considering how effective and efficient corporations claim to be, it seems they are not effective and efficient at providing healthcare to the citizens of this country. In fact, the bigger and more arrogant the corporate executives, the more likely they are on the public dole. Say what you will about capitalism and socialism and communism and fascism... if it doesn't work for the people of this country, dump it.

    January 20, 2012 at 5:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Me

      Then leave.

      January 20, 2012 at 6:41 am | Report abuse |
    • BigHwasdemo

      And the government who is in the hole for more than 15 trillion can manage health care. I can't enter enough HAHA's to make the point properly.

      January 20, 2012 at 6:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike44

      Excellent comment....

      January 20, 2012 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike44

      Excellent comment .....(DoNotWorry)

      January 20, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  5. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©™

    "...many more whites," not "...many more white."

    January 20, 2012 at 5:45 am | Report abuse |
  6. Dave

    While I appreciate fact checking, it really does no good after the debate. Maybe 1% of the people who watch the debate will actually read things like this, so the other 99% go on believing that what was said was true.

    What we really need is a loud buzzer that goes off in the MIDDLE of the debates, when a candidate lies. Catch them on live television in a lie and you'll see the debates become a lot more honest, very quick.

    January 20, 2012 at 5:47 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      I am with Dave on this one. We let to many candidates lie during there bid to get elected, only a small hand full of us check facts after the fact. Most will hear what they want to hear and vote that person (or will vote for the party they have lways voted for because that is what they have always done, look were that has gotten us!).. Good luck to all keep work hard and you will succeed,

      January 20, 2012 at 6:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Marc

      You are 100% corregt Dave. Glad you caught that one. Also, they need to have econimists with calculators there so when the candidate propose all his tax cuts someone can poop up at the end of the comment and tell the audiance just how much thier proposals would add to the deficit and the national debt. Enough of the deficit cut talk. The deficit is how much more we add to the debt each year. Tal debt reduction. Like Ron Paul, tell the truth, let the people know how hard life is going to be to live with the necessary cuts and TAX increases needed to PAY OFF OUR DEBT.

      January 20, 2012 at 6:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Doobie Wah

      Quiet Dave, Republicans wont like this idea.

      January 20, 2012 at 7:15 am | Report abuse |
    • 40acres

      Wouldn't work Dave. The buzzer would be sounding so much nobody would be able to talk.

      January 20, 2012 at 7:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Jess C

      Great idea....there would be mostly silence at GOP debates however.

      January 20, 2012 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
    • ditty1991

      sure, give the moderaters the power to decide what is true and false. that will work..... where are you getting this 1% from? it smells like s!@#

      January 20, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Edward Sevume

    Looks like the Republican party is a party of hypocrites. For how do you you espouse ideas that you do not stand for? Romney has his money in the Caymans away from taxation, Newt goes through marriages and at most he commits adultery, even his daughters defend him! These are pretenders pure and simple.

    January 20, 2012 at 5:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Thor

      ...well... THIS Republican is not the low-life that you demonstrate. Not all of us are willing to settle just for the "party's" sake. I DO hold being an American above party affiliation...

      January 20, 2012 at 5:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Me

      Ditto to Thor! ^^^

      January 20, 2012 at 6:42 am | Report abuse |
    • 40acres

      Edward, I'm not a Republican but I grew up in an extended family of them and I can tell you that "the whole party" is not hypocritical. The vast majority of them are honest and sincere about their beliefs. At present, they may have a few candidates that are hypocrits, but when is that not the case in any primary (on either side)? Stereotyping any group is wrong.

      January 20, 2012 at 7:27 am | Report abuse |
  8. Thor

    No one will ever be able to determine if Gingricht or his ex-wife are being truthful, unless someone else was there to witness every minute of their time kept in their privacy. Newt failed to answer the question directly with a denial of her charges; instead, turning the challenge around and directing it at the messenger. Well, one police interview technique requires that the interviewed answer the question immediately after being posed the question. Newt, cleverly, as the skilled liar that he and his staff is, failed to do that. So, until he can answer that question directly, and immediately, without subtrafuge; we may never be able to tell if he is lying or not. What an act!

    January 20, 2012 at 5:50 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      So what if he wanted an open marriage. That was between him and her not the nation she talked because she received money and wanted to stick it to him. Whether it is true or not she talked about it now to get back at him for past discretions, she need to let it go and move on w/ her life.

      January 20, 2012 at 6:39 am | Report abuse |
  9. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©™

    Regarding what Ron Paul said about veterans of WWII and the post-war economy, the mentality of Americans who served in that war was one of aspiration and a strong work ethic.
    It was the people of that era that moved the economy.
    The absence of excessive taxation for programs helped.

    January 20, 2012 at 5:57 am | Report abuse |
    • 40acres

      Tax rates for the wealthy were in the 90% range back then.

      January 20, 2012 at 7:29 am | Report abuse |
  10. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©™

    I await the reply to woodrow that demands consideration of the sociological matrix.
    woodrow, of course, is absolutely correct.

    January 20, 2012 at 6:15 am | Report abuse |
  11. Benjamin Levi Barbree

    Real Talk gynrich can afford $1MILLION in taxes out of a roughly $3MILLION salary and has women drama. closer to a Superstar than a president Romney is telling us things we already know and recent campaigns show hes two faced about issues. no thanks but he would make a good lieng history teacher

    January 20, 2012 at 6:28 am | Report abuse |
  12. Brandy

    It amazes me Cnn does fact check on this but no one did a fact check on Newts x wife. Cnn thought this was more important than to ask Romney why he has money in the Caymen Islands and not in the US.

    January 20, 2012 at 6:35 am | Report abuse |
  13. Mark

    I'd like you to fact check this one from Romney:

    "I didn't inherit money from my parents. What I have, I earned.":

    If literally true, this is astonishing: Romney's parents were not penniless, and it could only mean that he was dis-inherited. I suspect what this really means is that he only inherited property and $XX million from his parents, and that most of his wealth comes from his time at Bain; but that is quite a different proposition. So how much did Romney inherit? Most people do not inherit several million, or tens of millions. If one starts with $20 million, say, it is a lot easier to make $200 million, than if one starts with $200. At best Romney is being severely mis-leading.

    January 20, 2012 at 6:44 am | Report abuse |
  14. migeli

    Sick of Republican lies.

    January 20, 2012 at 7:03 am | Report abuse |
  15. Daniel

    I don't think America wants Romney as desperately as the news networks do.


    January 20, 2012 at 7:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Daniel

      I think it's a bit foolish to skirt around Ron Paul unless you think Obama is a better choice. I'm not sure Romney can win without the support of the Ron Paul people – and in all honesty – he's the absolute least likely to get those votes.

      Santorum is the only one I can concieve of – but expect an overwhelming number of write-ins, and Obama to win the election.

      January 20, 2012 at 7:11 am | Report abuse |
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