January 24th, 2012
03:47 AM ET

Truth Squad: Fact checking Monday's debate

CNN examines statements by Republican presidential candidates during Monday night's CNN Republican debate in Tampa, Florida.

Mitt Romney said Newt Gingrich lobbied during Medicare Part D battle

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney accused former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of having lobbied in favor of Medicare Part D, the federal program that provides drugs for senior citizens. Romney said other congressmen said they were lobbied by Gingrich at the time.

The exchange between the two candidates included the following  statements: "You have congressmen who say that you came and lobbied them with regards to Medicare Part D." - Romney

"I didn't lobby them." - Gingrich

"It is not correct to describe public citizenship, having public advocacy as lobbying. Every citizen has the right to do that." - Gingrich

"If you're getting paid by health companies, if your entities are getting paid by health companies that could benefit from a piece of legislation and you then meet with Republican congressmen and encourage them to support that legislation, you can call it whatever you'd like. I call it influence peddling. It's not right." - Romney

The facts: Romney was likely referring to a number of media reports in which at least three lawmakers spoke of Gingrich's actions to get a yes vote from them on the Medicare legislation. The New York Times also reported last month that the world's largest insulin maker, Novo Nordisk, had hired Gingrich to help "position itself as a thought leader" to raise awareness about diabetes.

Former Colorado Rep. Marilyn Musgrave told CNN last month that Gingrich called her at the height of the 2003 debate urging her to vote for the bill.

"Newt called me to vote yes," said Musgrave, who is now director at the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List.

"He asked for a yes vote on a Medicare prescription drug benefit," she said. "Dick Armey" - a former House majority leader - "called me and wanted a no. But I had already made up my mind to vote not to expand an entitlement that we were going to have to pay for down the road."

Musgrave, who is neutral in the presidential race, said she was not sure if Gingrich was technically "lobbying" when he called her, because she did not know if he was working for anyone else at the time.

"All I know is he wanted a yes," Musgrave said.

Musgrave was one of 19 House Republicans who voted against the plan, which passed 220-215.

Two other Republicans who served in Congress at the time, Arizona Rep. Jeff Flake and Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, told the Des Moines Register last month that they interpreted Gingrich's actions as lobbying.

"He told us, 'If you can't pass this bill, you don't deserve to govern as Republicans,' " Flake told the paper. "If that's not lobbying, I don't know what is."

According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the bill is projected to cost nearly $1 trillion from 2010 through 2020. The price tag for Medicare Part D was added to the nation's deficit.

"It was a huge entitlement" that left the insurance and drug industries as big winners, said Uwe Reinhardt, a professor of health economics at Princeton.

The verdict: Misleading. It is true that at least two lawmakers, Flake and Otter said Gingrich's actions amounted to lobbying, but Gingrich and his spokesman say what he did was not lobbying. Romney did not offer any hard evidence that Gingrich lobbied for any company. Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond said the former speaker publicly supported the Medicare proposal at the time and was speaking for himself and not on behalf of any client. Gingrich cited as "terrible" the fact that Medicare did not pay for insulin for diabetics, but did pay for dialysis when their kidneys failed. He said he had always favored a stronger Medicare program, but that did not mean he was lobbying. Gingrich says he was motivated by his own values and beliefs.

Romney said Gingrich resigned as House Speaker after ethics probe

The statement: "But the truth is that the members of his own team, his congressional team, after his four years of leadership, they moved to replace him. They also took a vote, and 88 percent of Republicans voted to reprimand the speaker. And he did resign in disgrace after that. This was the first time in American history that a speaker of the House has resigned from the House."

The facts: The January 1997 vote on the bill titled "In the Matter of Representative Newt Gingrich," the body acted with overwhelming bipartisanship. Voting in favor were 196 Republicans, 198 Democrats and one independent. Voting against were 26 Republicans and two Democrats. That's 88%.

Of the 53 individuals who have served as speaker, two resigned and Gingrich was not one of them. Henry Clay of Kentucky resigned three times - on January 19, 1814; November 15, 1820; and December 5, 1825. James C. Wright Jr. resigned in 1989, the result of a complaint initiated by Gingrich over charges of ethics violations.

Gingrich himself, though re-elected to the 106th Congress, did not take his seat for a third term as speaker. Instead, J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois took the job.

Gingrich reimbursed U.S. taxpayers $300,000 for legal expenses and costs incurred by the investigation by the Select Committee on Ethics into his use of tax-exempt funds to promote Republican causes and lying about it to the committee.

Though the committee allowed him to hold onto his post, its vote marked the first time the House had disciplined a sitting speaker.

The verdict: True, but incomplete. It is true that his fellow party members voted overwhelmingly to reprimand him, but not true that his failure to show up for a third term marked the first time in history that a speaker has resigned. Others had resigned. And, though the result was the same, Gingrich himself technically did not resign - he simply did not take his seat.

soundoff (131 Responses)
  1. linda

    my husband and i used to be independant voters with all the anger and hate talk from the republicans we now are demacrates.wake up america,if the republicans get the cuts on the programs for the poor that they want it will be a sad day for this country.do you really want s.s. cut and grandma to live with you like it used to be or your brother in-law that got laid off at the plant he is out looking for work everyday but cant find anything.what about your daughter she gets cancer you loose your health insurance.what if it was your son that chose not to have health insurance would you be happy with what ron paul said about his right to health care.everyone is so ready to cut social programs but if it was you or yours how many of you would really stick to your guns.another thing i was very sick for a time and it is not easy to get any help ithought i was going to be sick living in the streets and when i did get help it was a hard life to have to try to survive on so little

    January 24, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Congrats

      You sure do seem to have the intellect of a "demacrate."

      January 24, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • S1N

      Demacrate? Is that some sort of new, left-wing shipping container?

      January 24, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • ttruth

      Nice try....obvious plant....

      January 24, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Don

      What a shame to have to take care of your own parents!! We can't have that in America, ship them all of to the nursing homes and force you children and their children for generations to come to pay for it. That's a great solution. How about people eat well and exercise and we get rid of 3/4 of the health care costs in the country, if not more. Can you imagine the impact that would have on the economy, healthcare, psychological issues, and just plain individual well-being?

      January 24, 2012 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Roger

      Learn to spell....then you might become a Republican again.....

      January 24, 2012 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
  2. rob

    Taking care of people is not the answer. That sickness would be unfortunate and as a family member I would hope you would do whatever possible to help them in anyway, not look to the gov't to do it for you. Don't think about yourself, think about your kids, and their kids, and the future they'll have if this economy continues on its path.

    January 24, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • cigarman

      Rob, It appears that you are already a SICK person, get some help.

      January 24, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Twright

      "Don't think about yourself, think about your kids, and their kids, and the future they'll have if this economy continues on its path"

      First and foremost, when was the first time you EVER heard about a "Debt Ceiling?" Who do you think is paying for legislation from 8 and 12 years ago? We are! the kids and grand kids you speak of. Who is paying for the "trickling down -no help effect?" AGAIN we are the current furture of the past. It hypocrisy to think that help the American people is wasteful spending of our tax dollars. All in while the same people in Congress and the Senate get themselves and their families FREE HEALTHCARE FOR LIFE!!!! No deductables.

      Yeah, really now think about your kids and grand kids. When your daughter/son is disabled has a family of four and can no longer work. Yeah, right now you would take them end until you realize your retirement (which will be played with in the stock market if the Repubs have anything to do with it) is only planned out for a family of two and NOT 6.

      I can go on...but your lack of open understanding makes my head hurt. Cannot afford my deductable so I cannot have a reason to go to the doctor.

      January 24, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • LetsGetReal

      We are all part of the American family and should help each other in times of crisis. Why draw a bogus line at immediate family? Government $ comes from us and I hope that you would as I use a small percentage (in relative terms) to help me and mine as I would do for you and yours ... we are all Americans.

      January 24, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sunny Guy

      I just read that up to one third of patients in some burn units are there because their shake=and-bake meth-making procedure literally blew up in their faces. Most of them are uninsured, thus costing taxpayers tens, if not hundreds of millions per year. And what would be your way of dealing with these patients? Turn them out on the street to die? How Christian a solution that would be.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Roger Johnson

    I suppose CNN is also going to fact check obama's state of the union recitation. I won't hold my breathe though.

    January 24, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Al

      I hope you hold your breath until Friday.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Greg Luth

    Those who say that President Obama racked up more debt in 3 years than all the other presidents combined should get their facts straight. That's not even remotely true. The debt has increased by about $4 trillion, which is about 33% of all other presidents combined. If you put everything on a comparable basis in 2010 dollars, its substantially less than that. And even that debt is the result of Republican policies such as the two wars and the unpaid tax cuts combined with plummeting revenues from the recession the Republicans handed the country on the way out the door.

    January 24, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Al

      According to the Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Treasury, Financial Managemt Service, Bureau of the Public Debt, the national debt stood at $5.8 billion when George W. Bush took office, not $12 billion as you infer. He more than doubled it by adding another $6.1 billion. Today, January 24, the national debt is $15.27 billion.....check for youself at http://www.usdebtclock.org/ . Any first grader can do the math to verify the national debt has increased $3.37 billion since Obama took office. Isn't it interesting that facts always seem to have a liberal slant!

      January 24, 2012 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • GetReal

      Al – W didn't even put the Iraq and Afghan wars on the books. Put that into your calculator and sum it.

      January 24, 2012 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Don

      Greg, even if you're correct (which I doubt you are) 33% as much debt as ALL previous Presidents is not something that I would brag about. Regardless of how muddled a situation the president inherited (I agree he inherited a mighty big mess), or how much some people may exaggerate the statistics, the fact is that President Obama has failed this country. He has done absolutely nothing to help the economy recover. His failed leadership has contributed greatly to the problems in Congress. I can't wait until the day he leaves office.

      January 24, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobcat

      Obama has been president through 3 years of a recession compared to bush's 1. The recession devastated our tax base so the debt increase is not unexpected. Now unless you want to respond to the downturn like Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and Spain, with massive budget cuts like they did in 2009 that caused a double-dip and ruined their economies I suggest we work to cut the waste and not layoff thousands of more consumers.

      January 24, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • GetReal

      Don – President Obama saved hundreds of thousands of jobs by bailing out the auto industry.
      He has ended the Iraq war, which was a huge drain on our economy.
      He kept us out of Lybia, which saved lives and $billions. His Affordable Healthcare Act will save consumers $billions in HC costs. His proposed restructure of the 6 fed departments will save $billions. He is opening up trade agreements with Asia, which will create exports and jobs. He has promoted R&D of sustainable energy (OK, one company failed. Was that his fault?)
      On top of all that President Obama has done, the GOP have made every effort to obstruct his every move, resulting in our credit being downgraded.
      How can people like you claim that Obama has done nothing to help the economy? RUBBISH!!!!

      January 24, 2012 at 8:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Greg Luth

    So Romney paid less than 15% tax on money that came totaly from investments. People making minimum wage pay 15% tax on every dollar in Social Security and Medicare taxes – the money that has been used to fund 50% of the tax cuts since Reagan (the other 50% was borrowed.) Why do news organizations continue to allow the assertion that the 50% of Americans pay no taxes go unchallenged? Not only do the working poorand middle class pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes than the idle rich, their SS and HI taxes were raised by Reagan by 500% and the extra money that was collected was given to the rich as tax cuts.

    January 24, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • SteveX

      Let me technically correct... the higher percentage is in dollar value impact to their income, not straight math. Meaning... 15% of $40k has more impact on a family of 4 than does 15% on the same family making $42 Million. In straight dollars, the wealthy ARE paying more, but the question begs is it a fair percentage. I mean, is it really that difficult to bring home $5M and take home $3.5M vs $3.6M? One less skiing trip to Vale this yr??

      January 24, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Don

      Let's simplify the whole tax system. Follow Mr. Romney's religion and require a straight 10% tax on income. Simple=less room for fraud and more ease for all Americans.

      January 24, 2012 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
  6. CNN

    CNN openly moderates Paul supporters but when i use a new email, it doesn't get modded, commie news network for censorship!

    January 24, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • LetsGetReal

      Yea, and they put cameras in my bedroom and shower .. they are perverts as well.

      January 24, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • DeusDeSanity

      Ron Paul supporters are almost always paranoiacs. I think it's all the pot.

      January 24, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
  7. cbinatl

    Hello everyone! Has any of our candidates for president walked on water yet? I thought so. Newt as well as other candidates have made mistakes in the past also. Romney is no different.Gingrich has the desire to bring our country back to prosperity and the issues with his personal life is not as important as the issues facing this nation.We have a economic crisis, moral crisis, energy crisis, and healthcare crisis.He is the most promising candidate who can defeat Obama.I don't believe Romney has the backbone to defeat Obama.Santorum is the next best candidate.All the ethics complaints have been dropped but one and that one was resolved on its on.Gingrich has experience with politics as well as business.Gingrich has my vote for sure!

    January 24, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Twright

      So i guess you will still be in support of Newt, when your grandchildren have to sweep and mop their school floors because your Son/daughter has lost their job and can no longer feed their families of one income. Riggggght

      January 24, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Al

      Newt's election to the White House will mark the first time we have a mistress for a First Lady. Let's hear it for family values!

      January 24, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Don

      So you say we have a moral crisis in America (which I agree with), yet you support a candidate who has no integrity and has cheated on, at least, two spouses? That makes perfect sense. You say Romney has no backbone, yet he has been with one women for how many years? He has been faithful to his religion and the promises he's made to God all his life? I don't understand your logic.

      January 24, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Oldfortman

    If Obama gets reelected and the democrats still control the senate in 2013 it will be the end of the United States as we know it. There will be civil war as those who work revolt paying for those who don't and continue to vote in democrats who keep them on the public dole.

    January 24, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • LetsGetReal

      Yeah ... whooo whooo ... I am an ignorant tool!! There is going to be revolution !! There can be no other outcome or compromise . I get my important information via my tin hat too ... 😉

      January 24, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • SteveX

      LOL – this response (@oldfortman) is so-o-o typical of the folks that swallow the spin from the GOP POTUS candidates. If you weren't sheeple, you'd be fish. I'm not terribly pro-Obama, but good-grief folks... get your facts straight while removing you foot from your mouth. But then, when did truth in politics ever matter? Why don't you ask the candidates how they to effect some of the changes they are spouting? Mr.Mitt, how do you plan to repeal Obamacare when the POTUS has NO AUTHORITY to enact legislation? Oh, you're gonna work with Congress to repeal the MA Health Plan Obama implemented (with the help of the GOP I may add) and.. oh wait... there's a darn DEM controlled Senate. Aw shucks... no repeal.. Can't believe you people buy into this stuff !!

      January 24, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. steven hicks

    how can romney be impartial and stop the loop holes in the tax code as president, when he is taking advantage of it himself?

    January 24, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Don

      Because he's not a greedy b@#$%$*^.... Have you lost that much faith in mankind that you don't think someone would do something simply because it's the right thing to do? Not everyone's just looking out for themselves.

      January 24, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mike Doland

    Looking forward to CNN Fact Checking the SOTU tonight. THAT should be interesting......

    January 24, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jaun in El Paso

    Is anyone in the media going to fact check Obama tonight or is the liberal media just going to get a thrill up thier legs as always?

    January 24, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
  12. tffl

    I'm wondering on the "misleading" call on Gingrich lobbying Congress critters on healthcare. I was taught that if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck... At the time, Gingrich was running a "consulting" company called the "Center for Health Transformation" which sold memberships (almost all healthcare companies and industry groups) at $200k per year, and charged other "consulting" fees. They said they didn't do lobbying, they just "provided a bridge link to government agencies" and "had a network of allies in the Federal government". I don't care if they deny it's lobbying, it's quacking pretty loud to me, and I'm disappointed in CNN for taking very dubious denials at face value...

    January 24, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Don

      Quack! Quack! Yep, sounds like a duck to me. It doesn't matter what you call it, what Gingrich did was improper. (What would you expect from old mr. faithful)

      January 24, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Enitan

    In my humble opinion. Newt is not only morally flawed as a result of his extra-marital AFFAIRS, he is the biggest hypocrite running for the office of the President of United States, he is is also a CROOK.

    January 24, 2012 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |

    I heard last night's debate was the sixth or seventh Republican Presidential debate. Really? So when was the first? Do real Americans really listen to what these phony mother fuc*king trailor trash rightwing KKK mother fuc*king sc*umbags have to say to the mother fuc*king American people? Newt, Mitt and Rick... suck my big black mother fuc*king mandingo di*ck!

    January 24, 2012 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Don

      Very thought-provoking comments. I'm sure if you ever read the news you would have heard of at least one of the previous debates. Thanks for sharing your valuable opinion anyhow. I'm sure all the readers feel enlightened after reading your assessment of the candidates.

      January 24, 2012 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |

    While Newt thinks Obama is "the food stamp president" it sure was nice to see good ole Newt cashing in his food stamps in former confederate South Carolina which benefited from four hundred years of FREE slave labor and FREE slave handouts.

    January 24, 2012 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
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