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. Ricky Vee

    The GOP is going to defeat Obama and defeat him good. Libs are shaking right now because they know there is no way Obama could survive debating Gingrich, the president might as well just not show up if Gingrich is the nominee.

    Gingrich said it best, basically that Obama is a Saul Alinsky radical with an agenda so far left he is one of the most dangerous people in the history of America.

    January 20, 2012 at 8:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Chuck in Jasper, Ga

      You need to take your meds.

      January 20, 2012 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
    • hahaney

      Gingrich winning the nomination would be a big gift to the Democrats.

      January 20, 2012 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Monbois

      I know you rednecks admire indignant, fat, hypocritical loudmouths, but the rest of us aren't exactly wild about them. Obama has proven many times during his presidency that his is no wimp and won't be intimidated by a tough-talking egomaniac like Gingrinch.

      Now suff if.

      January 20, 2012 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      I hope you are joking. If Gingrich is the nominee it'll be a landslide for Obama. Gingrich might be good with one-liners but he NEVER backs up any of his statements with facts. He just promises things and talks about what he'd do but has never given any info about how he'd actually do anything. The only republican that was a great debater this election was Huntsman (used facts, didn't lie, etc) and your party made him quit! Have fun living in a dream world.

      January 20, 2012 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Oh and Ricky.....assuming you're a guy and married........would you be cool with me and your wife hooking up? If you don't think it is a bad thing for newt then I'm sure you wouldn't mind me and your wife dating.

      January 20, 2012 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
    • 99%-er

      You're as full of it as your candidate. Engaging in rabid hyperbole about President Obama being "far left" doesn't make it true. He's about as moderate as moderate can be, leaning considerably right on many issues, including the Patriot Act. Get a grip and try to see the truth. I don't care who you support, but try to deal with reality instead of silly stereotypes.

      January 20, 2012 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
    • trex

      ....STOP SUKING ALL THAT FOX..!!! IT'S ROTTING YOUR BRAIN...........

      January 20, 2012 at 9:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Loki

      I liked every candidate. And the truth squad is a total rubber stamp for Obama.

      January 20, 2012 at 9:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Q

      Hello. Wake up. There is only one party. You are playing a game you can not win. The outcome has already been decided.

      January 20, 2012 at 9:20 am | Report abuse |
    • maniacmudd

      wow... hows your face after walking into all those walls/

      January 20, 2012 at 9:23 am | Report abuse |
    • papanez

      Ricky Vee! Newt's a nut job and the President would destroy him in a debate without even trying. Newt's no match for Obama. I'd love to see them debate. The president would have to declare Newt a disaster area and send FEMA to pick up Newt's pieces. Newt would fold like a cheap suit.

      January 20, 2012 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      Do you have a clue who Saul Alinsky is?

      January 20, 2012 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Patricia Binghanm

      Wow. I think you doth underestimate a Harvard Graduate on the subject of policy and Legal debate. Liberals are not shaking. On the contrary, we are hoping for the opposing candidate to be Gingrich. Make Palin his running mate and we're a shoe in. Don't make me laugh.

      January 20, 2012 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      You never heard of Saul Alinsky until faux news and right wing radio decided to use him as a bell to make you drool.

      January 20, 2012 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Todd in DC

      Obama is a center right president. Reagan raised taxes more than Obama did, and he expanded government programs more. Maybe you should stop listening to Fox news so often. It's rotting your brain.

      January 20, 2012 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
  2. zb

    And the Verdict is: the Republican/Tparty is the party of liars.

    January 20, 2012 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Rachel

      Too bad CNN doesn't fact check Obama..... He lies and misleads all the time.

      January 20, 2012 at 9:12 am | Report abuse |
    • maniacmudd

      rachel, since you have proven you cannot read, who read this to you?

      January 20, 2012 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Actually, Rachel, President Obama is subject to Truth Squad, PolitiFact and other fact-checking stories all the time. I've seen him found to be out and out wrong at least twice. But for the most part, the things he says are vindicated. Sorry, I know the truth hurts.

      January 20, 2012 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
    • oy

      Rachel...I'm afraid you're going to have to do more than just claim things like that. Try backing things up with actual FACTUAL examples or it didn't happen.

      January 20, 2012 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Patricia Binghanm

      Not precisely true. Republicans are not equal to Tea Party. Most Tea Party Candidates are too much for a Republican. But Republicans want the Tea Party votes and that is when they become less than honest, portraying themselves other than really are, to get the votes the Tea Party is preoccupying. To call them all liars is not fair. Tea Party enthusiasts are not necessarily more likely to lie than any other party. They are just very passionate about their misguided beliefs. Scary. Maybe if they placed some of that religious passion into healthcare and jobs for the working class, they'd be useful.

      January 20, 2012 at 9:42 am | Report abuse |
  3. ron

    Mostly I agree with the discussion of Paul's answer, except for this part - The Employment Act of 1946 "committed the federal government to take all practical measures to promote maximum employment, production, and purchasing power,"

    Yes, this language is the language of the Employment act of 1946, but the act didn't do ANYTHING in itself. It was as if the government passed an act that said "We will end racism." Does that end racism? Of course not. And saying the government will promote maximum employment, production, and purchasing power does nothing in itself to promote maximum employment, production, and purchasing power. What the government actually DID was greatly reduce government expenditures and modestly reduce taxes, which is (and I believe this is central to Paul's point) quite different from how the government has dealt with the recent financial crisis. The article correctly points out the importance of the GI bill and that the postwar years were not as trouble-free as Paul's comment might lead one to believe. However, the scale of the government spending cuts were huge, and there was no "Great Recession." It is also true that during planning for the postwar adjustment, Keynesian economists promised that demobilization without massive public works programs would result in a return to the depression, and their predictions proved wrong.

    January 20, 2012 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Chris R

      So what about the impact of the GI Bill?

      January 20, 2012 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
    • ron

      I think most people have a favorable impression of the impact of the GI bill. What its effects were precisely is probably impossible to determine. The thrust of Paul's argument is that Keynesian predictions that economic doom is the unavoidable consequence of cutting government spending shouldn't be taken as accurate, just as their predictions that the stimulus bill lead to economic recovery have not been accurate - though I am sure I will get some debate on this. It is a matter of fact that Keynesian economists predicted a return to the depression without massive public works projects when WWII ended, and they were wrong. They didn't predict the GI bill would save us, and I doubt the GI bill was the chief reason they were wrong. In the same vein, the US was in a very nasty recession in 1921. The US government slashed spending and taxes, and instead of unemployment staying high (it was well over 10% in 1921) we got the roaring 20s. As a critique of Keynesian policy recommendations, there is a strand of Paul's thought that is utterly defensible. I don't think he made the best possible case for it in his comments, although if you put me on TV under those lights, I would probably sound like Governor Perry, so I am inclined to cut him some slack.

      January 20, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Kly

    The sad part is that we have become a society that puts more emphasis on "One Liners" that take jabs at the other guy without really worrying about being factually accurate. We should have a debate where their answers are fact-checked on the spot and they are called out for lying to the public.

    January 20, 2012 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
    • RFB

      Good point, but who would be the fact checker? The media reporters cannot be trusted any more than the campaign staffs and advisers or PAC ad men who come up with these bogus "stubborn facts" that melt in the light of day.

      January 20, 2012 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Monbois

      I completely agree, Kly! And even when the media have the facts, like an official, state-certified copy of President Obama's birth -certificate, the media still gave air time and rallied around all the clowns like Donald Trump who tried to resurrect that settled issue.

      January 20, 2012 at 9:12 am | Report abuse |
  5. RFB

    While Obama has "proposed" the cuts mentioned here in negotiations, they have never been serious plans, only negotiating chips in exchange for higher taxes on the wealthy. Verdict: Fact Check is misleading.

    January 20, 2012 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
    • McBain

      Too bad the Republicans didn't take him up on his offer as it would have been a HUGE coup for them.

      January 20, 2012 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |
  6. aurelius

    Santorum is a laughing stock. He wants budget cuts but not where most of us want them. As a typical Republican, he wants to take credit for all the cuts he proposes and blame President Obama for all the spending. How can any decent individual go for that kind of hypocrisy and deceit? Again, if prejudice, bigotry and racism were not the prime force in generating support for the GOP (only the well-to-do have an excuse for voting Republican), President Obama would win the contest hands down.

    January 20, 2012 at 9:07 am | Report abuse |
    • DB

      I didn't vote for the Pres but I don't dislike him. I think he follows his heart whether I agree with that or not is a different question. It doesn't have to be about race every time some body disagrees with him. He sounds alot like brothers Kennedy at times you pick the one you think and I pick the one I think. Trouble with most of this stuff is that we are worried about the economy – watch the euro against the dollar and it does matter – so the discussions on Roms tax books, Grings marriages, etc are distracting from what most concerns everyone. I think the press asking the questions with the exception of CNBC debate are childish and off target. We have a become a society of snookies not racist. Good luck in your choices. It matters to all of us and ever how it turns out I hope it is best for all of us. This isn't an us against them thing in my mind just how we would drive the economy. I lived in Alaska for 7 years, if the drilled in ANWR – nobody would know after all the bs dropped out of the media. and most people wouldn't really care That is one example of the manipulation that goes on.

      January 20, 2012 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
    • maniacmudd

      AMEN

      January 20, 2012 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
    • aurelius

      DB, that's a fair assessment, too, although I do maintain (judging from personal experiences) that racism is a much greater factor than is usually admitted in any kind of media.

      January 20, 2012 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
    • oy

      DB...you need to wake up. This is most certainly about race. Listen to what Newt has been saying. Anyone who has lived in the south knows he is using coded language and dog whistles to get the racist vote. Perry recently made a comment in SC about how they need a candidate who is not just a "lighter version of Obama". Race is certainly an element. I have never seen such unwarranted hatred for a President in my life. Yes, it is about race.
      As for Newt's infidelities and Mitt's taxes? Why are those not important? Remember...Newt is the one who led the charge against Clinton with the whole Monica scandal...all the while he was stepping out on his cancer-ridden wife. What does that say about him? He's a hypocrite, at best, and can't be trusted, at most. Same with Mitt and his taxes...what does that say about him? These things are important. They are the moral character of a candidate. After all Obama went through with the ridiculous Birther bs...and we are just supposed to turn a blind eye to the shady personal lives of the GOP candidates? I don't think so!

      January 20, 2012 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
  7. Kevin

    I have to say, I am disappointed in the bias of this so called "Truth Squad". Could they be more pro-Obama? I usually look to CNN for news, understanding that some of the reporters have their own agendas. But when CNN touts this Truth Squad as getting to the truth of these statements, I am appalled.

    Lets have the Truth Squad analyze Obama's and the Democrats statements and see how biased they really are.

    January 20, 2012 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Chris R

      They did that in the last election cycle. At the moment though the Republicans are having the debate and the primary so have the headlines which means that they have the scrutiny. That's sort of how this thing works.

      January 20, 2012 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
    • oy

      Kevin...Obama was not in this debate. This was a GOP debate, thus the Factchecker is checking their facts. Just b/c they have been proven wrong, that does not mean that CNN is "pro-Obama". It means they have been proven WRONG.
      And why not add some substance to your post and tell us exactly what is incorrect?

      January 20, 2012 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
    • maniacmudd

      my god kev, why not wait till the democratic debate...such a bunch of crying little girls you con's are.....

      January 20, 2012 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
  8. Joyce

    I love fact checks. Thank you so much for this. Wish fact-checking would be displayed more prominently to keep the politicians honest. I hate the misleading ads and misleading comments. Thanks again!

    January 20, 2012 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
  9. aurelius

    No matter how controversial CNN may have been in their attempt, no such thing could ever been said about FOX, the most manipulative media of all time, thanks to the man with the agenda, Murdoch himself and the owner of the channel. And we all know how much of a sleaze he is.

    January 20, 2012 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
  10. Patricia Binghanm

    I won't comment on these conservative candidates, with the exception of Ron Paul. The others are so consistently off that there is no point for a liberal to argue. However, the point which Ron Paul made I will respond to, and I have no ill will towards the man. While I would never vote for him, I do admire some of his ideas. Regaring " 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." How can Ron Paul be so misinformed? My mother was barely born then and I know of the G.I. BillI was not even though of yet at this time and know about the GI Bill and The Employment Act of 1946. I have photographs of my grandfather, who was a Marine at Guadalcanal, sitting in a classroom in his military uniform, with a lot of other men in their military uniforms, painsakingly learning how to be a jeweler! He got certified for this, and while he eventually went on to be a Sheriff, he did for many years, own his own jewerly store. His knowledge of diamonds and watches was outstanding. Thanks to the nonexistent programs that the government didn't offer. Well they did offer them following WW2. After the Vietnam Wars we have homeless Veterans, jobless Veterans and Veterans who will be mental patients for the rest of their lives (if they are lucky enough to get psychiatric help!) because people like Ron Paul feel that these programs are not necessary. Thank God Obama is correcting this and I do have faith that, had Bush been in the same position, following the end of the Iraq pull out, he would have been concerned about such similar programs. As a Christian. Because Christians are supposed to help the less fortunate right Conservatives?

    January 20, 2012 at 9:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Patricia Binghanm

      Wow sorry about all those typos and corrections which I thought I made but apparently did not!

      January 20, 2012 at 9:19 am | Report abuse |
    • maniacmudd

      thank you for a well thought out post, you are definitely a True American. Thank you for reminding there are intelligent people out there that care for this country.

      January 20, 2012 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
  11. Conservative Liberal

    I love how you people see this as Pro-Obama.. lol The Truth is that these guys flat-out lie sometimes... it only looks "Pro-Obama" because of the lies. Facts will win the election... most Americans see right through these 1%-ers.

    January 20, 2012 at 9:19 am | Report abuse |
  12. aurelius

    When President Obama announces his running mate is Hillary, this whole GOP campaign will seem like a bad dream.

    January 20, 2012 at 9:19 am | Report abuse |
    • maniacmudd

      how tru...how funny! thank you!

      January 20, 2012 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
  13. Paul Anderson

    fact check? haha c'mon CNN, this is CNN playing defense for Obama. I think any idiot can see that. 300 billion in cuts proposed by Obama is less than 1% of HIS debt alone piled on over 4 years. lets fact check that. 4 trillion in debt 300 billion in cuts. And no one cares at ALL about long term debt cuts. I want to see cuts now. Clearly the President isn't bold enough and kicks the can down the road. Sucks to be young like me.

    January 20, 2012 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
    • aurelius

      He's already proposed cut in defense, but you fanatics of the right turn that down. Obstructionism led you nowhere and will indeed cost you the election. So your FOX math, you can keep for yourself. Indeed FOX has its own blog –that's closed to anyone not agreeing–, so you can find solace in reading those. Sorry, but I know a horse from a jackaz.

      January 20, 2012 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
    • maniacmudd

      uh..this is a republikan debate... please don't cry, the democratic debate will start soon and you can get on your soapbox and do the little girl name calling and suk up to your Faux Snews friends then, for now, we liberals and independents get to laugh at the absurdity of the GOP.

      January 20, 2012 at 9:43 am | Report abuse |
  14. Samuel Burnside

    VA funding up under Bush and Obama ! Hmmmm...and GOP will support any job creation bill under him.

    Just check the facts and be knowledgable before you vote.

    And Newt is not what we need as a president ! Vote someone else....and he is a liar. He also was chasing Clinton out of office, when he was having an affair during that time.

    Vote for America success.

    January 20, 2012 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
  15. icearc

    and why would anyone trust CNN to be neutral when checking facts of their nemeses on the right?

    January 20, 2012 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
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