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. Larry L

    @HR

    "Where is the truth squad for OBAMA – he has told more lies in three years than any other politician in history."
    -----------------------------------------------------
    Interesting that you tel a lie about lies. It's also amusing that you blame the media for lies. You can always check the facts yourself. Do you get your news from Fox News? If so, you have no concern for facts so don't waste your time checking. Fox will give you your thoughts.

    I loved to see some of the crowd rally behind Newt during his "outrage" of righteous indignation. Fact? Newt cheated on wife #1 while she had cancer. He cheated on wife #2 while she had MS and while he was going after Bill Clinton for the same sin. His wife #2 found out he had an affair with wife #3 – but wouldn't accept an "open" marriage. Do the "family values" folks of South Carolina not consider these situations important in judging the character of this evil little politician? Does anybody really believe that he's changed? How gullible can people be?

    January 20, 2012 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
    • thumpz

      This article is one of the most biased articles I have ever read on CNN. Did the writer bother to read their own comments?

      "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"

      "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."

      This is just another shoddy piece of "journalism"... and I use that term very loosely.

      January 20, 2012 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Rick Weissbrod

      RIGHT ON THE MARK... BRO!

      January 20, 2012 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
    • liz48

      How do you trust what Marianne Gingrich says...she was committing adultery with him before she married him. If she was in any part the cause of the first wife's misery, does she have a voice on any moral grounds.

      I would have had more respect for her, if she mentioned her wrongdoing and said she regretted it, before she vented on Newt...

      January 20, 2012 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Tyceson Davis

      The truth is that all of these politicians (save for the rare few statesmen – not naming names) are professional liars

      January 20, 2012 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
    • David Grussing

      My major problem with Newt is not that he cheated on his wife but that he was such a flaming hypocrite during the Clinton impeachment melodrama. I'm surprised that more people haven't called him out on the way he criticized President Clinton's infidelity at the same time he was cheating on his second wife.

      January 20, 2012 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
    • LWZRGHT

      More lies than any politician in history? That's a pretty bold statement, and one you know you can't prove. Put him next to Rod Blogoyovich (sp?). Clinton lied, under oath, albeit on a personal matter.
      You CAN blame his campaign promises of hope and change. But then again, how does that separate him from any other President. Nixon lied, bigtime. And we punished him for it. Reagan lied – he said supply-side economics works, and let the debt go up exponentially while he was in office. Why do you think Ron Paul abandoned Reagan? Because Reagan abandoned conservatism and small government. You can justify it, with claims that he helped topple USSR, but now you're on the liberal side. Justifying actions and deficit spending is what liberals do. Try to find a Republican who actually will fight to make sure that the books balance. They won't take an ounce of tax increases because they're afraid of Grover. $10 of cuts to $1 of tax increases and they won't take it. Retarded. Actually, no. Fearful of losing their seat.

      January 20, 2012 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
    • mpouxesas

      They pretty much all lie. Especially those who are screaming louder, they lie the most. I can think of only a couple of exceptions...Bernie Sanders and Patrick Lahey of Vermont as those who probably did not lie during their political careers.

      January 20, 2012 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
  2. jchapman

    Modern newsmedia and the press is nothing more these days than a cheap reality TV show. They care only for advertising money, and ratings. And if they can manipulate the news, of course they will.

    January 20, 2012 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
    • b

      no one manipulated his ex to come forward. all we, the local voters, wanted to know from him was whether he agreed with his ex. a simple no would have done it. he came across like a depressed richard nixon. good thing he isn't the one in the withe house who has to make stable decision on critical matters of state.

      January 20, 2012 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
  3. SeeThruIt2

    Your very first 'fact' starts with "The Obama administration has struggled..." and it goes on in a long rant against the Republicans in general.

    CNN: Your fact checker is presenting personal opinions as facts. And your continued use of this writer advertised as a fact checker detracts from your credibility as a news organization.

    January 20, 2012 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
    • comeon

      Seriously? Did you even read it? The only time the word Republican is mentioned in the 1st Fact Check is the this 1 sentence "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." Yet you claim the whole section was a rant against republicans. You're the one that needs to do the fact checking.

      January 20, 2012 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Motoman

      You're exactly correct Thrult2. By completely ignoring the fact that Obama has more than doubled the annual deficit by pushing fringe agenda items, CNN has just proven themselves little more than spindoctors and propogandists.

      That they call this 'fact checking' is laughable.

      January 20, 2012 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
    • comeon

      List of these "fringe agenda items" if you don't mind.

      January 20, 2012 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Motoman

      comeon: "List of these "fringe agenda items" if you don't mind."

      I'll leave out those that are opinion, imagine for a moment just how much these three agenda items have cost us...
      -Socialized medicine (which drained off hundreds of millions of dollars from Medicare and Medicaid.)
      -'green' energy (Solyndra and many others we all knew would fail ...but they sure raise a lot of cash for obammy)
      -union bailouts (huge contributors so the dems gotta keep them flush with taxpayer cash too)

      THAT's what he did with his first couple of years in office, when he had full cooperation of the Senate and House. He didn't deal with American jobs, he didn't deal with the tax code, he didn't deal with the waste in government ...he doubled-down on everything expensive and ran up huge debts that will hurt us HUGE in the long run. When was the last budget passed again?

      ALL FRINGE ITEMS and all have recurring costs that are guaranteed to grow quickly. How is that smart when we're already spending in the red to start with? None are wise investments in the long haul, especially when we're flat on our backs broke and buried in debt. The man has a spending addiction, was never vetted by the press, and we're in worse shape than we were when he took office. He got his try but to defend his record is lunacy.

      January 23, 2012 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
  4. LeeAT

    You do know that you have the option of not reading what CNN writes. Why keep reading if you don't lik what they say?

    January 20, 2012 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
  5. Guenter Heyen

    I'm glad that Newt Gingrich completely knocked out John King last night with the first question/answer. As low as the question was, Newt's response was the verbal highlight of the night, outbraining John King by far.

    January 20, 2012 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Jess C

      I'd believe the ex-wife over Newt anyway. The fact that the minions rallied at slamming the media is indicative of a bunch of blinded followers who can't handle the truth. I thought I would force myself to listen to the GOP field and give them a chance, but in the end, it was pretty scary to see they have one agenda above all others and it's not for the better of the middle class or our country. It's solely to bash Obama and regain power. Why would any one with a brain want to put any of these guys in a leadership role with the same failed policies that got us where we were at the end of '08. Does anyone remember 750,000 jobs being lost per month! Why the amnesia? Wake up!

      January 20, 2012 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
    • LWZRGHT

      Just like with the Cain train derailment. The first step is deny deny deny, and obviously that's what Newt is doing. But why would he be so angry if what his ex-wife is accusing isn't true. His anger is a defense mechanism, because he knows he's been called on a past action.
      What's SOOOO funny about this is that it's happening in a GOP primary. Just wait! Any of this stuff in a general election is TOXIC – independent support will vaporize.

      January 20, 2012 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
    • AJ

      How is this a "low" question? Newt campaigns on a high horse of family values. Someone in his FAMILY is discrediting that. Why should her comments not be taken at face value and his are? "A woman scorned" is a very pat answer to fall back on. And he retorts that his daughters refute her statement? Were they in the room for every conversation he had with his second wife about the state of their marriage? As a social conservative I would think that his actions towards his wife should be taken as the highest proof of his true character.

      January 20, 2012 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Really?

      So, Newt proports to support family values and defend a family as a man and a woman. But cheat with wife 2 on wife 1. (That is 1 man and 2 women.)
      Then wants an open marriage with wife 2. (1 man and many women)
      No she said? So he cheats on wife 2.
      And you support Newt that this is a private matter? Really?
      If you say you are for family values (of course none of us were quick enough to ask him to define what family matters means to him: 1 man & unlimited women?), then should you be open and upfront with your answers to hard questions? NOT by saying "no." What he said by saying a private matter is, "Yes, my ex is correct."
      And people applauded him?
      This is part of the reason why the coutnry has gone down the drain. Conservatives who say "do whaty I tell you to do and not what I do bs." Yes, daddy.
      Conversative mantra has become a huge joke.
      "Family values for all. But, please do not ask about my mistress or the guy I did in the bathrrom."

      If people would only care about is a person nice or not the world would be so better.
      Instead, Republican/Democrat, gay/straight, black/white, etc

      January 20, 2012 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  6. Observer

    CNN would u not think that the network would be more credible if you challenged the candidates while on stage with the facts? thus really doing your job as journalists! It is outrageous that for an important thing as the presidential debate you would only have one person moderating the debate. Have a panel, representative of each segment eg one for social issues, another for economic issues, another for education and another for defense, national security and so on. And of course a fact checker on the panel. Instant check would be done, thereby not only educating the citizens but also serving your journalistic function. You will gain credibility as a network. Different people can pose a question from different angles, one person can not do it all! It's absurd that you use this model. It is imperative that you adjust and appear prepared for rebattle from the candidates. Voters are continually perplexed at some answers that r just pure lies yet the moderator simply ignores it, leaving one to wonder if at all the moderator knows anything at all and out of the door exits the trust in the moderator. You are the press, your job is to report on facts, Do your job.

    January 20, 2012 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
    • AJ

      The debate is between the different candidates, not between each candidate and the moderator. What you're proposing is a game show, where there are questions posed with answers that can be defined as correct or incorrect, and a host to let's each player know if they've won or not. A debate is a platform to allow candidates to lay out their opinions, strategies to deal with our country's issues, and stances on issues.

      January 20, 2012 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Jenine

      I couldn't agree more Observer. I heard more than a few outright whopper lies being put forth as truth. It would be much better for the general public if candidates are stopped right in their tracks and confronted with outright lies. Given the technology we have access to in today's world, it could be done. Santorum was just so full of it and nobody challenged him on his false contentions. He was just making it up as he went along. And Romney ... have you ever seen anyone as insincere as him? Now since all these comments were heard on TV its become "truth." That's how the threshold for honesty becomes lowered to the degree it is right now. That together with Fox "News."

      January 20, 2012 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  7. steve

    The US gutted the GE bill immediately after Vietnam, but had to adjust that loss of benefits to attract servicemen later for the Gulf wars.

    January 20, 2012 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
  8. Jake

    This isn't the "Truth Squad"... this is the Obama re-election team response.

    January 20, 2012 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
    • comeon

      Are their Facts wrong? Feel free to show us. From what I can tell & read, there is only one section of this that talks about Obama, and that was b/c, in typical fashion, Republicans like to lie about Obama and say he does things and says things that he doesn't do/say. You do realize that if Republicans would make this stuff up, there would be no need for this article, or as you like to call it "Obama re-election campaign"... but that turns out to another Republican lie.

      January 20, 2012 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
  9. liz48

    The verdict on Gingrich's comment on the health care bill is not accurate...there were judicial challenges brought by states to the law and it is now pending in the SCOTUS. What more do you need to show "translation" to opposition to the bill?

    I support President Obama on many issues but I wished in the interest on honesty and integrity that this "truth squad" was active when he was seeking the democratic nomination...there was so much dirt on him that was hidden by the media, it was, I believe the biggest cause of why the public today has little or no trust in the media...

    January 20, 2012 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Jess C

      Care to explain this "dirt" that you claim was there? Is your source Fox News by any chance?

      January 20, 2012 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
    • comeon

      She gets her "dirt" from TMZ

      January 20, 2012 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Pete

      Whether or not pieces of the bill are being challenged in fron tof the SCOTUS, the allegation was that the people of this nation are united against Obamacare and want it repealed. The fact is that the numbers don't bear that out unless you're only polling Republicans. There is no popular mandate to overturn that piece of legislation, the people are aobut 50/50 on it.

      January 20, 2012 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      there is a different between 'states' and the people wanting to appeal something. How many of those states moaning are repub controlled houses?

      January 20, 2012 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
    • adh721

      what "dirt" was hidden by the media??? what did i miss? please share the facts on this dirt, if you have them.

      January 20, 2012 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
  10. Robert

    What about the lie from Gingrinch that unemployment hit 10.8% under Carter. Look it up! It never went above 7.8% under Carter. It hit 10.8 in November of 1982. Who was president then and how long had he been in office?

    January 20, 2012 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Jenine

      Could it be ... Saint Ronald Reagan?

      January 20, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  11. H Meyer

    I used to think CNN was a great news network. After last nights debate and this morning defence of their conduct at the debate I have changed my mind. I doubt I will bother looking to them for unbias news much less watching them.

    January 20, 2012 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
    • mb2010a

      Buh bye, then...BTW I love CNN...Obama 2012.

      January 20, 2012 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
  12. tony c

    CNN has no shame, they pretend it is a 3 man race, they hardly mention Ron Pauls name and have effectively blacked him out. talk about media censorship.
    no wonder AlJazeera and RT are growing so fast here in the US.
    Do you really believe that no one notices your bias?...shame on you

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

      Ron Raul could have voiced his opinion anytime he wanted to last night. But he didn't. When he did talk it was rambling and incoherent nonsense. Did you see the section that spcifically talks about Ron Paul? "Does Ron Paul's WWII anecdote ring true?" f they blacked him out, I don't think they would have talked about him.

      January 20, 2012 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
  13. LeeAT

    How is it that Herman Cain couldn't dodge qustions about his indescretions.and Newt Gingrich is a hero because he won't answer questions about his? I guess character matters for some and not for others. I hope Obama loses, so he can stop getting blamed for 8 years of George Bush. I cnt wait for one of these nut jobs to blame their failure on Obama. They can only get away with the blame game for 3 years. Then I hope they get reelected so they have to take full responsibility. I think I am going to vote for Santorum.

    January 20, 2012 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
  14. sparknut

    Ron Paul is getting senile. Troops returning from WWII got 52 weeks of unemployment. They also got a GI Bill that makes the current program look like crap.

    January 20, 2012 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
  15. AlfonsoGore

    Agree. I don't remember seeing a truth squad or fact checker hitting the top of the news during democrat primary / debates.

    January 20, 2012 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
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