FACT CHECK: Distortions in GOP debate
WASHINGTON (AP) – Newt Gingrich said Mitt Romney raised taxes as Massachusetts governor. Romney countered he cut taxes 19 times. Both were basically right, but decidedly one-sided, in the Republican presidential debate Monday night.
A look at some of the claims in the debate and how they compare with the facts:
GINGRICH: Romney “raised taxes.”
ROMNEY: “We reduced taxes 19 times.”
THE FACTS: Romney largely held the line on tax increases but there were notable exceptions. The state raised business taxes by $140 million in one year with measures mostly recommended by Romney. As well, the Republican governor and Democratic lawmakers raised hundreds of millions of dollars from higher fees and fines — taxation by another name. Romney himself proposed raising nearly $60 million by creating 33 new fees and increasing 57 others. Romney won praise from anti-tax advocates by firmly backing income tax cuts — and criticism over the business taxes and fees.
ROMNEY: “Three years into office, he doesn’t have a jobs plan.”
FACT CHECK: Like them or not, President Barack Obama actually has proposed several plans intended to spur the economy and create jobs. The most well-known was his stimulus plan, introduced in February 2009, which included about $800 billion in tax cuts and spending.
At the end of 2010, Obama struck a deal with GOP congressional leaders on a package intended to stimulate hiring and growth. The deal cut the Social Security payroll tax, which provided about an extra $1,000 a year to an average family. It also extended an unemployment benefits program that provided up to 99 weeks of aid.
And in September, Obama introduced his most recent jobs plan, rolling it out in a speech to the full Congress in which he urged Congress to “pass it right away.” It included $450 billion in tax cuts and new spending, including greater cuts to payroll taxes and tax breaks for companies that hire those who’ve been out of work for six months or more. The proposal also would have spent $50 billion to upgrade schools and included other infrastructure spending. Almost none of it has been passed into law.
ROMNEY: “We invested in well over 100 different businesses. And the people have looked at the places that have added jobs and lost jobs and that record is pretty much available for people to take a close look at.”
THE FACTS: Romney’s record as a venture capitalist at Bain Capital has been presented by his campaign highly selectively; namely, by detailing several big success stories and ignoring the job losses that resulted from Bain-owned plants and companies that closed or shrank their workforce. His overall record is not even close to being known, because it is so complex. Many of the companies are private, without the public disclosure requirements that big corporations have, and his campaign has not released details.
Under scrutiny, Romney has stepped back from claiming that he created more than 100,000 jobs overall with his Bain investments. That claim was never substantiated. In the debate, he named four successful investments in companies that now — a decade after he left Bain — employ about 120,000 people, a more measured and accurate statement, but one that still does not account for losses elsewhere.
RICK SANTORUM: “My ads have been positive. The only ad that I’ve ever put up has contrasted myself with the other candidates, and does so in a way talking about issues.”
THE FACTS: Santorum is coming out with an ad this week accusing Romney of being “just like Obama” and saying Romney “once bragged he’s even more liberal than Ted Kennedy on social issues,” two negative assertions that go beyond a mere look at issues. As a Massachusetts senate candidate in 1994, Romney wrote to a group of gay Republicans that outlined a plan to do better than Kennedy to make “equality for gays and lesbians a mainstream concern.” But that’s not bragging about liberalism, and Romney is hardly more liberal than the late senator — or Obama — on social issues. Romney, for example, supports a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.
Santorum has, in fact, stayed positive in the campaign but the new ad veers from that path.
ROMNEY: “This president has opened up no new markets for American goods around the world in his three years, even as European nations and China have opened up 44.”
THE FACTS: Actually, Obama revived Bush-administration-era free-trade pacts with South Korea, Panama and Columbia, all passed by Congress in October, in the most significant expansion of trade relations in nearly two decades. In particular, the agreement with South Korea is designed to break down barriers between the United States and the world’s 15th-largest economy. The South Korea deal has the potential to create as many as 280,000 American jobs, according to a recent assessment by the staff of the U.S. International Trade Commission, and to boost exports by more than $12 billion. Obama also, on a recent trip to Asia, endorsed an Asia-Pacific free-trade pact that would also boost U.S. exports to Asia.
Associated Press writers Christopher S. Rugaber, Tom Raum and Steve Peoples contributed to this report.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)