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. Joan

    The so called Truth Squad should actually pony up that it is part of the Obama re-election team. What slanted writing!!

    January 20, 2012 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
    • unretired05

      And your rebuttal is?

      January 20, 2012 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
    • filthburger

      because they give facts? yeah, i know, you republicans don't like those pesky things.

      January 20, 2012 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Do you prefer that lies go unchallenged?

      January 20, 2012 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
    • KKDenver

      Slanted towards the truth you mean. The answers were applicable in every way. Maybe too hard for you to understand.

      January 20, 2012 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
    • joep199

      It only looks slanted to you because your viewpoint is tilted so far to the right.

      January 20, 2012 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
    • jboh

      You've been listening to pill-popper Limbaugh too much. TEA/GOP motto, "I've made-up my mind, don't confuse me with the facts".

      January 20, 2012 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
    • AA

      The issue is the bias of the writer. YOu notice the tone right away "bring down a staggering defecit since taking office..." leads the reader to believe the defecit was all there before BO took over. What they fail to mention is he has rang it up more than the rest combined.

      The rest of it refers to "proposals", well they don't cut it, if they don't go through, I propose we colonize Mars but if it doenst happen, its worthless, and its on his watch which shows his lack of leadership.

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

      So, you prefer propaganda to truth?

      January 20, 2012 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
    • steve harnack

      For Republikans truth and facts are simply opinions, right?

      January 20, 2012 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Rich

      Either these are facts or note. Whether there is bias or not does not change which statements are factual and which are not.

      January 20, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  2. chriss

    Obama has PROPOSED cuts but hasn't actually cut anything.

    January 20, 2012 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Lee

      Obama's cuts are washignton cuts, "decreases to future spending increases"

      January 20, 2012 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      It's pretty hard to cut when you've got an obstructionist Tea Party and anti-Obama congress. They've already stated their primary goal is to remove Obama from office. NOT create jobs. NOT cut spending. They're just going to oppose everything Obama does, so it makes no sense to blame him for what THEY are doing and the bills they are blocking.

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

      That's what Presidents do, then Congress authorizes the cuts. You know, the do nothing to help solve any problems while Obama is President Congress. Maybe if you knew anything about how government works you'd support President Obama too?

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

      I love the excuses John, do you forget he had a super majority for two years and still didnt pass a budget let alone any of these other things you refer to?

      The tea party is the only think pushing for this monster to stop spending money on everyone, we can't afford it.

      January 20, 2012 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • AA

      Oh John, almost forgot, you want to talk about blocking bills, you may want to check with Harry Reid who has tabeled over 30 bills from the House......you're reality is really off.

      January 20, 2012 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
  3. harviele

    People don't want to hear the truth because it confronts their false beliefs about things. They would rather hear the false information promulagated by the candidates than the actual facts. When they dislike a President they are willing to believe anything said that will make the President look bad. The people have no idea what the real truth is and they don't care. If a preacher goes into a church and preaches the bible but says things the people don't want to hear they will kick him out. A preacher or a candidate for public office has to say what the people want to hear even if it is wrong in order to be accepted.

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

      Amen! That is the truth, when someone's mind is set the truth doesn't stand a chance. The Bible covers that and backs up your statement in 2 Thess. 2:11. Good job!

      January 20, 2012 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  4. Scott

    Heh. Most of these seem mostly true to me... not mostly misleading. Bias.

    January 20, 2012 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  5. TJeff1776

    ******Testing for censorship******

    January 20, 2012 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
  6. Bob in Kansas City

    One more misleading statement by Romney-Obama didn't give GM to the UAW.

    January 20, 2012 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
    • AA

      Maybe not publically, but considering BO is in the pockets of the union bosses, he did by proxy when he took over that once private company.

      January 20, 2012 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  7. unretired05

    Generate
    Outlandish
    Propaganda

    January 20, 2012 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
  8. YtownSports

    It's always good to get a "second opinion." Even if you don't agree with it, it creates a new perspective from which to make your own evaluation.

    January 20, 2012 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
    • filthburger

      tru dat. i'll even watch fox news on occasion.

      January 20, 2012 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  9. Mr. Solo

    I rather hear the truth than falsehoods and misleading statements from these individuals that claim to be fine and honorable men. Disgusting!

    January 20, 2012 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
  10. Davespop

    About the most bias post I've ever seen on CNN. This guys on Obama's payroll, right?

    January 20, 2012 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
    • AA

      Absolutely

      January 20, 2012 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Daniel

      Payroll? Because they speak with the facts .. .showing you the figures...or because you GOP faithfuls have just decided to continually lie to Americans... Gingrich has 3 wives and may be cheating on the current one, yet he is an evangelical, pro-life, conservative? Romney may have been cheating on Taxes? I mean!! Why is he so scared of full disclosure? Santorium led the congress top 10 lobbyists receivers ( He is the quarter back and receiver of lobbyists )... Obama is way better than these geeks if only we can do away with racist tendencies..

      January 20, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Lou AZ

    Reading three pages of the "comments" make everything perfectly clear.
    DO NOT CONFUSE ME WITH FACTS. MY MIND IS MADE UP !
    Many of these comments show that this so called Republican Presidential Primary is a personality contest about four main subjects.
    First, who can tell the biggest lie about what Obama has or has not done.
    Second, who can appeal to fears about god(s) and the unknown myths of antiquity.
    Third, who can say things indirectly that directly mean that they personnaly can not stand that a half black man occupies the White House.
    Fourth, most of the population have no idea how the US Government and it's checks and balances work, and that the "candidates" play that ignorance like a fiddle.
    The Republican "Party" at this time has become nothing more than a collection of angry, racist, ignorant, tribes that are craftily whipped into a frenzy by these remaining Snake Oil Salesman. These tribes would rather have clubs, pitchforks, and torches than ballots. As a Society we are marching backwards rapidly.

    January 20, 2012 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
  12. Katie

    It's true people don't want to hear that Obama inherited an economic crisis. They focus only on his spending, (2 + trillion) which is far less than what Bush spent (6 + trillion) and is only slightly higher than what Reagan spent (almost 2 trillion.) It is true that Obama tried to get Congress to cut many things, and often agreed to or included items proposed by GOP leaders, but Congress in the hands of the Republicans is not interested in helping the president achieve any goals, especially if those goals will make him look good. Obama's administration has been able to trim many departmental budgets and has found millions in fraudulent handling of Medicare payments (in Maine, the state speaker of the house, a Republican, was found to have defrauded Medicare in his chain of pharmacies, which he still woefully claims are "accounting errors", and none of the money has been repaid) but the GOP-led congress is not interested in such small stuff, they want Obama to propose large cuts so they can point fingers at him for either not doing it or for doing it to the people he claims to represent.

    January 20, 2012 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
  13. Ande Weathers

    Hey, where do I go to do some truth-checking on the truth-checker? Leave your opinion out of the story. It's clear the author slanted the story to favor Obama. Just tell us what was claimed, what the data supports, and tell us your source for that data.

    January 20, 2012 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
  14. dreamer96

    The only problem with Obamacare is they dropped the Public option...

    Obama should order the Federal Reserve to start buying stock in one Health Insurance Company until we own 51% of the stock...then take over the board and cut the bonuses down, the Administration salaries and offer a real affordable insurance rate...and drive the other companies out so the average American, and small business can afford health insurance..

    January 20, 2012 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
  15. Sean - NOLA

    One thing the over 65 Tea/GOP Party and the Dems/Progressives all agree on, is don't cut my MEDICARE! I hear it all the time from both sides of the spectrum. They don't care about the Ryan plan killing it and giving vouches to those under 55 at all. My family over 65 is split to both ends of the spectrum politically and everyone everyone except my mother is millionaires, and they hate cutting medicare, estate taxes, and want more social security. I even have a couple of rich relatives that are conservative millionaires who got SS disability and still made money on the side. I'm starting to be a Ron Paul follower. There's 50% of what he says I don't care for, but I'd say cut everything! Most of my family don't deserve it and I DON'T mind poor people getting assistance. If I were wealthy, I'd help as many as I could. I still give as much extra as I can afford. The rich folks I know of both ends of the spectrum, are rich because they're generally cheap and petty!

    January 20, 2012 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
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