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. Rudy J. Cat

    How about deploying the "Truth Squad" to check on Obama's statements? Or is that off limits to liberal CNN?

    January 20, 2012 at 7:17 am | Report abuse |
    • skytag

      Politifact com does that regularly. That said, why are you trying to change the subject?

      January 20, 2012 at 7:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Kill The Wabbit

      Why bother, if it was good, you wouldnt believe it anyway.

      January 20, 2012 at 7:22 am | Report abuse |
    • WatchDawg

      Skytag, but you make the dangerous assumption rudy knows how to work the remote control on his TV and click off Fox...

      January 20, 2012 at 7:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      It is not Obama who is being judged. It is the mistrustful, misleading Republicans trying to gain the fervor of their blind flock who are on center stage. Obama will be judged when he is pitted against one of these potentially disastrous Presidential candidates whose party – lead by George W. Bush – very much helped to put this nation and its current leader in the dreadful position we are today. Divisiveness aside, Congress is supposed to lead from the middle – to represent all Americans, rather than one side or another and that is not taking place; especially true is evidenced in these last three years during which time Congress has accomplished little due to the nature of a GOP lead effort to simply neutralize the efforts of a man the majority of America voted for. Bad business led by the GOP.

      January 20, 2012 at 7:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Rags

      >Kill The Wabbit<
      "Why bother, if it was good, you wouldnt believe it anyway."

      So you have a closed mind that won't be opened even with the truth. You must be a part of the problem spelled: "REPUBLICAN".

      January 20, 2012 at 7:37 am | Report abuse |
    • ckoffend

      This is a very fair statement. This article implies that there is an unbiased source checking the facts. This is not accurate, instead this is just an article by CNN biased talking heads promoting what they want to promote. The article is just countering statements with other opinions. Oh, and Obama saying something is not the same as actually proposing legislation. America needs a real, unbiased news organization – not the opinion pieces CNN puts out and claims it as news.

      January 20, 2012 at 7:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Shane Botwin

      Let's face it pal, if it isn't a fact manufactured by Faux News, you wouldn't believe it anyway, so why bother?

      January 20, 2012 at 7:55 am | Report abuse |
    • ckoffend

      I can give you the facts: If you are a Republican you believe what they say – regardless of whether it is accurate. If you are a Democrat – you believe whatever they say – regardless of whether it is accurate. Problem is, at the root, in reality, we all don't really believe completely what any politician says, even the ones we "like". We know they all lie and they all blame the other "side". The problem is that we believe some of them too much and we believe some of their spin. The old saying, "if a politicians mouth is moving, they are lying" applies to both parties and we all really know it deep down – we just choose to ignore it when "our" politician's mouth is moving.

      January 20, 2012 at 8:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Duke5343

      Corret RUDY- if you ask for any backround on Obamer you are a Racist- he spend $9 million or more to LOCK up his records- WHY???

      CNN spent time & $$$$ to get court ordre to review 24,000 EMAILS from Sahara Palin- Left thinking

      January 20, 2012 at 8:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      The President wasn't part of last nights debate ...... when the Presidential Election is here you'll see the same truth squad articles after those Debates ..... till then keep playing your "Liberal Media" card.... Rush and Glenn would be proud.

      January 20, 2012 at 8:15 am | Report abuse |
    • tom

      At least there is someone looking at facts. The "unbiased" media that the conservative right listens to just applauds these statements as gospel.

      January 20, 2012 at 8:17 am | Report abuse |
    • fiftysomething

      Typ. republican tactic. When someone points out a negative on their candidates and they can't defend the indefensible, they just say so and so does it too. Let me ask you, does this make your candidate any less culpable?

      January 21, 2012 at 6:55 am | Report abuse |
  2. Newt Santorums Paul Bot

    Too bad.
    Only 3 liars left in the race.

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

      please plug your ears......the excretement between them is leaking out.

      January 20, 2012 at 7:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Duke5343

      ARE YOU Counting Obama who spent $9 Million to LOCK up his past & all his records including all data from Hawaii ? So is that 3 or 4 liars left

      January 20, 2012 at 8:11 am | Report abuse |
    • richp

      Yep and one in the white house.

      January 20, 2012 at 8:15 am | Report abuse |
  3. Mark Casper

    The facts: The Obama administration has struggled to bring down a staggering – and growing – budget deficit since taking office in 2009...

    That is not the facts regarding the subject ... what Santorum said. It is an alibi – how does an alibi – and a rediculous one at that considering the level of spending this POTUS has advocated – belong opening up a fact check.

    Label your piece ... "The Obama Campaign Response" ... there is Your fact check.

    January 20, 2012 at 7:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Piranha Soup

      *** The facts: The Obama administration has struggled to bring down a staggering – and growing – budget deficit since taking office in 2009...

      Yup, handed to him by George Bush during a recesion !

      January 20, 2012 at 7:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Lift The Fog

      CNN must be lieing, they said something bad about a republican.

      January 20, 2012 at 7:27 am | Report abuse |
    • WatchDawg

      I guess you didn't read the entire article...what is disappointing is your blind rage against President Obama that you cannot see how wide spread the abandonment by the GOP / Tea Party for 'We the people...' not just we the Republican People....

      January 20, 2012 at 7:28 am | Report abuse |
    • skytag

      "Fact" is right-wing troll talk for "lie." The deficit is not growing. It rose dramatically as a result of the recession, but once the economy started recovering and unemployment started dropping it started coming down. To reiterate, it rose because of the recession, not Obama's imagined spending. For that matter, don't any of you realize the president can't spend anything? Congress controls spending.

      Here's a real fact, one that can be verified using the Treasury dept's Debt to the Penny web site:

      The national debt grew by more than $500 billion annually in 2005-2007, under Republican budgets signed by a Republican President, with no recession, low unemployment, and record tax revenues. Get Rush to spin *that*.

      January 20, 2012 at 7:33 am | Report abuse |
  4. Rick Scrotorum

    Vote for me or Obama will kill your children.

    January 20, 2012 at 7:23 am | Report abuse |
    • TruthWolf

      Hey CNN why aren't you trashing or bashing New Or Romney? You sure love Surging them very much why dont ya?

      January 20, 2012 at 7:39 am | Report abuse |
  5. skytag

    Ron Paul's WWII example is pointless. In addition to what CNN points out, at the end of the war there was a huge pent up demand for consumer goods due to all the rationing during the war, and people had saved a lot of money during the war because they couldn't spend it. Lots of money + lots of demand = lots of jobs for returning veterans. There was also a large demand for exports since we were the only industrialized country in the world whose industrial capacity wasn't damaged in the war and we didn't need to devote resources to rebuilding after the war.

    People all too often have tunnel vision, focusing on one or two factors while ignoring many other relevant factors. You can do that, but it usuals renders the conclusions you draw meaningless.

    January 20, 2012 at 7:26 am | Report abuse |
    • cptdodno

      Let's also not forget that the economy made room for all those male vets by unceremoniously dumping "Rosie the Riveters". The women who had jobs during the war were fired and men hired in their place. Once again, Ron Paul lives in his own universe with his own facts to keep him company.

      January 20, 2012 at 7:52 am | Report abuse |
    • richp

      Many people don't get it, there were NO new cars manufactured except for military and govt use, no new refrigerators, fans, radios, toasters, stoves, furnaces, building supplies were rationed as was everything else.
      When My dad came home he went right into college, Seton Hall, the GI bill paid his tuition, books, va medical care and gave him a living allowance. When I got out the first time I got $600 a month during school. big difference between now and then.
      As for trusting the government, I guess people do till they actually have to deal with them, then reality hits big time.

      January 20, 2012 at 8:23 am | Report abuse |
  6. Mark Casper

    The facts: The Obama administration has struggled to bring down a staggering – and growing – budget deficit since taking office in 2009...

    That is not the facts regarding the subject ... what Santorum said. It is an alibi – how does an alibi – and a ridiculous one at that considering the level of spending this POTUS has advocated – belong opening up a fact check.

    Label your piece ... "The Obama Campaign Response" ... there is Your fact check.

    January 20, 2012 at 7:26 am | Report abuse |
    • skytag

      Are you planning to spam us with this nonsense every few minutes?

      January 20, 2012 at 7:35 am | Report abuse |
    • truesoy

      Casper,
      Just a little info. for you and and anyone else that might , just like you, have the facts wrong:
      The 'budget' for 2009 (when Obama assumed the presidency) was not sign by Obama. The budget for 2009 was signed by outgoing President Bush, why? a) because for the 'federal government' the fiscal year ends on Sept. 30, and the new year starts in October 1st., therefore since Bush was still president in oct. 2008 he then sign the budget for 2009.
      I'm glat to have been able to help you understand.

      Sincerely,
      Truesoy

      January 20, 2012 at 7:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Feed Your Head

      I just labeled your post a lie.

      January 20, 2012 at 7:41 am | Report abuse |
  7. TruthWolf

    Typical CNN Bashing and Trashing Ron Paul like you always have been doing it CNN.

    January 20, 2012 at 7:37 am | Report abuse |
  8. Fact From Fiction

    Republican voters cant handle the truth.
    Its just NOT possible that my guys could lie.
    It must be Democrats making this up.
    CNN has an Obama agenda.

    Hey Republicans.
    get a grip, they LIE !!!!!!

    January 20, 2012 at 7:39 am | Report abuse |
    • TruthWolf

      CNN Is Carrying the Waters For Obama just like one CIA Ex agent said on CNN on a Interview that explains why they aren't bringing him anymore lol!

      January 20, 2012 at 7:40 am | Report abuse |
  9. Mark Casper

    Piranha Soup,

    If truth matters to you,..

    By the time the fiscal year ended on Sept. 30, 2009, the $407 billion deficit Bush proposed had ballooned to $1.4 trillion.

    BHO was responsible for a trillion of the 1.4 trillion FY 09 budget. And all of the $1.29 trillion deficit in fiscal year 2010 and all of the budget deficit of $1.57 trillion for fiscal year 2011. That's 3.86 billion ... add to that the $1.334 Trillion Projected FY2012 Budget Deficit and whatever damage he can sustain through his final budget (hopefully cut by a R POTUS, House and Senate) ... and you get the true sense of the Newspeak nature of the opening alibi for a POTUS that will almost certainly end up creating 6+ trillion in debt, while "struggl(ing) to bring down a staggering – and growing – budget deficit since taking office in 2009..."

    January 20, 2012 at 7:43 am | Report abuse |
    • skytag

      "BHO was responsible for a trillion of the 1.4 trillion FY 09 budget"

      Nope. And for the record, the national debt rose $1.44 trillion in the last 12 months of Bush's presidency. Was Obama responsible for that too?

      January 20, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  10. migeli

    Tax cuts for the rich create jobs.ha,ha,ha, ha,ha,ha.Go to China to apply. And who hires illegal lmmigrants that take American jobs? The poor?

    January 20, 2012 at 7:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Rob S

      Exactly... Thank you Migeli for explaining it...

      January 20, 2012 at 8:24 am | Report abuse |
  11. TruthWolf

    Everyone CNN Lied Ron Paul is Right CNN Check your own freaking facts.

    he was right that there were no "jobs program"

    2 – the "recessions" that we're measured then were based on the GDP, which went down only because govt spending went down. The quality of life of general Americans didn't decline.

    January 20, 2012 at 7:47 am | Report abuse |
  12. Mark Casper

    Truesoy,

    I guess my last post applies to you also. It is ironic (although I'm sure you will miss the irony) that when a liberal poster begins with ... "just like you, have the facts wrong:" ... It continues by seeking to replace actual facts with what they "want or wish" was true, There was certainly a recession and any POTUS would have needed to be running an unusually large deficit for a year or two ... but come on ... I can't believe you actually believe that statement wasn't Newspeak?

    January 20, 2012 at 7:49 am | Report abuse |
  13. John

    Misleading...Where where these silly one way fact checkers and CNN when Obama was running? Bill Aires, reverand right. Lets get some fact checking on Obama's record for the past three years? Never happen, because this is their guy. They decide what news to tell, when to tell it and even if they should tell it. (Only if it benefits their agenda) or they can not escape it. Makes you wonder how the media (Alphabet channels) shaped the world prior to Fox and the internet. Every time Obama says something it is misleading, a lie, wor an attempt a blaming others (class warfare)

    January 20, 2012 at 7:59 am | Report abuse |
  14. cytwo

    The FACT Ron Paul put out there that would have been a great FACT to check was if in fact more VETERANS do in fact donate to his campaign MORE than to all the OTHER CANDIDATES COMBINED !! TRUE ?? If so that has to say something !! So much of the Mainstream Media criticizes his Foreign Policy as compared to all the other candidates. Then that begs the obvious question, does it not?

    January 20, 2012 at 8:00 am | Report abuse |
  15. nell

    I am so glad I have sense enough to extract fact from fiction. Why are some folks getting mad because the "fact checker" found some of the candidates to be wrong? With the economy ticking upward, GM #1 car manufacturer, stock market surging, unemployment slowing going down, you find people are still not satisfied! Is it a mentallity or is hate so prevalent, it doesn't matter what the President does or doesn't do. Mighty pathetic.

    January 20, 2012 at 8:06 am | Report abuse |
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