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Politics / Issues

Fact-checking the First Presidential Debate


The first presidential campaign was a fact-checker’s dream, chock-full of numbers.

PolitiFact scoured through those claims and found…the candidates were being surprisingly truthful.

“We didn’t see the kind of hard-charging attacks that we saw during the Republican primary,” said Angie Holan of PolitiFact.

She said many of the debate rulings were mostly true or half true. Some were false, but none got the worst “Pants on Fire” ruling.

Here are three of those pretty-true claims:

1. Obama: “Gov. Romney’s central economic plan calls for a $5 trillion tax cut.”

Rating: Half True

Romney’s plan calls for across-the-board tax cuts. He says he’ll get of loopholes, deductions and exemptions, but he won’t say which ones.

“If you just look at those rate reductions without any exemptions, it does come to about $5 trillion. But it’s only half the picture,” Holan said.

2. Romney: “We’re now spending 42 percent of our economy on government.”

Rating: Mostly True

“It’s a large number, a little bit surprising,” Holan said, but it includes social security and Medicare, “and that’s a significant amount of spending.”

It depends on how you measure it, she said. One measure is close to 42 percent. Another is measure closer to 35 percent, not 42, “but it was in the ballpark.”

3.  Obama: Romney would “turn Medicare into a voucher program.”

Ruling: Mostly True

Romney is supporting a plan by his running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan, that would offer seniors “premium support” alongside the traditional Medicare plan.

“Some people don’t like the term voucher, but we think to the average voter, they would understand the idea,” she said.

“The government is giving you a set amount of money, you get to pick a plan, if it costs more than that set amount, you make up the rest. That sounds like a voucher.”

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