Fact-checking the Hofstra presidential debate

President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney during the presidential debate in Mack Arena at Hofstra University. (Oct. 16, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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JOB CREATION

Obama said, "What I want to do is build on the 5 million jobs that we've created over the last 30 months in the private sector alone."

According to the Labor Department, about 4.5 million total jobs have been created over the past 30 months. But some 4.3 million jobs were lost during the earlier months of his administration. At this point, Obama is a net job creator, but only marginally.

Source: Associated Press

 

Romney once again claimed that his economic plan would produce 12 million jobs.

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Only two presidents -- Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton -- created more than 12 million jobs and each served two terms. Romney says he can reach this same goal in just four years, though the policy paper issued by his campaign contains few details.

Source: Washington Post

AUTO INDUSTRY BAILOUT

Obama said Romney "wanted to take them into bankruptcy without providing them any way to stay open, and we would have lost a million jobs."

Romney opposed the bailout, and advocated a managed bankruptcy that would produce carmakers with lower labor costs and products that could compete better in the marketplace. But many independent analysts have concluded that taking the approach recommended by Romney would not have worked when the bailout began under the Bush administration in 2008, simply because the credit markets were so frozen that a bankruptcy was not a viable option at the time.

Sources: PolitiFact.org,

Associated Press

GAS PRICES

Romney said, "When the president took office, the price of gasoline here in Nassau County was about a buck eighty-six a gallon. Now it's four bucks a gallon."

Experts say the president and his policies have little effect on gas prices. Demand is skyrocketing in China, and that pushes up prices. There's been ongoing turmoil in the Mideast. And locally, there have been supply disruptions that have all pushed prices higher. None of these were tied to Obama's policies. (And gas prices in Nassau-Suffolk averaged $1.875 on Dec. 26, 2008, less than a month before Obama's inauguration.)

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Source: PolitiFact.org

 

MIDDLE-CLASS

TAX CUTS

Obama said, "Four years ago . . . I said I would cut taxes for middle-class families, and that's what I've done, by $3,600."

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The president makes it sound like it is one big tax cut. The $3,600 figure is reached by adding the sum of tax cuts over four years -- $800 in each of 2009 and 2010 due to the Making Work Pay tax credit and $1,000 in each of 2011 and 2012 due to a Social Security payroll tax cut. The Making Work Pay tax credit has expired and Obama has not promised to extend the payroll tax cut, meaning that people's taxes will go up next year even if he succeeds in his effort to extend Bush-era tax cuts for those earning less than $250,000 a year.

Source: Washington Post

 

Romney said studies show "that people in the middle class will see $4,000 a year higher taxes as a result of the spending and borrowing of this administration."

The study is from a conservative group, but even the group itself doesn't say Obama will raise taxes on middle-income taxpayers. It says his budget could result in a "potentially higher tax burden" over the next 10 years. The group's study also considered two other budget scenarios -- current law (allowing the Bush-era tax cuts to expire as scheduled at the end of this year) and current policy (extending it into 2013, including extending the Bush-era tax cuts) -- and determined that Obama's budget "provides a middle ground between these two extremes."

Source: FactCheck.org

TAXES ON

HIGHER EARNERS

Obama said, "For [those earning] above $250,000, we can go back to the tax rates we had when Bill Clinton was president."

The Bush tax cuts set the top income rate at 35 percent. Under Obama's proposal to raise taxes on households earning more than $250,000, the president would return the top rate to the 39.6 percent set during the Clinton administration. But his health care law includes a new 0.9 percent Medicare surcharge on households earning over that amount. The health care law also imposes a 3.8 percent tax on investment income for high earners. So tax rates would be higher for the wealthiest Americans than they were under Clinton.

Source: Associated Press

LIBYA

Romney said, "It took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror." Obama said he called it "an act of terror" the day after the attack in a White House Rose Garden statement.

Obama is correct about what he said. But others in his administration repeated for several days its belief that the violence stemmed from protests over an American-made video ridiculing Islam. It took almost a month before officials acknowledged that those protests never occurred. And Romney is right in arguing that the administration has yet to explain why it took so long for that correction to be made or how it came to believe that the attack evolved from an angry demonstration.

Source: Associated Press

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