Fact Check: The second presidential debate

October 8, 2008 10:42:50 PM PDT
Misleading statements and mangled facts peppered the second presidential debate. Some of them we've heard again and again.

On housing, health care, taxes and national security there were a lot of half-truths.

When Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain proposed reducing the mortgages of struggling homeowners, he claimed the idea was his own.

"And it's my proposal, it's not Sen. Obama's proposal, it's not President Bush's proposal," McCain said.

Fact Check: Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama endorsed a similar plan two weeks earlier, and the authority to do what McCain suggested was included in last week's bailout bill.

Obama said his plan would lower health care insurance premiums.

"We're going to work with your employer to lower the cost of your premiums by up to $2,500 a year," Obama said.

Fact Check: Obama figures h alf the savings would come from converting to electronic health records. Experts call that wishful thinking.

McCain misstated his own health care plan.

"I want to give every American a $5,000 refundable tax credit," McCain said.

Fact Check: McCain's plan actually provides $2,500 per person. The $5,000 is per couple or family.

"What he doesn't tell you is that he is going to tax your employer-based health care benefits for the first time ever. So what one hand giveth, the other hand taketh away," Obama said.

Fact Check: The non-partisan Tax Policy Center found McCain's plan would give a net savings, at least in the short-term.

On taxes, McCain accused Obama of keeping secrets.

"Sen. Obama's secret that you don't know is that his tax increases will increase taxes on 50 percent of small business revenue," McCain said.

Fact Check: According to the Small Business Administration, under Obama's plan less than 15 percent of all small businesses would see a tax hike.

McCain accused Obama of giving billions in tax breaks to oil companies.

"And it was sponsored by Bush and Cheney. You know who voted for it? You might never know. That one. You know who voted against it? Me," McCain said.

Fact Check: The Congressional Research Service found that bill took away more tax breaks than it gave. The act resulted in a small tax increase for the oil industry.

Obama had his own misleading claim about votes.

"He voted 23 times against alternative fuels -- 23 times," Obama said.

Fact Check: Our partners at FactCheck.org found only 11 votes.

And on energey, Obama reversed himself.

"Contrary to what Sen. McCain keeps on saying, I favor nuclear power as one component of our overall energy mix," Obama said.

Fact Check: Last December, Obama said nuclear energy is not optimal and added, "I am not a nuclear energy proponent."

McCain said he bucked Ronald Reagan on sending troops to Lebanon. He didn't. They were already there when McCain was first elected to Congress.

Our partners in this Fact Check can be found online at FactCheck.org.

And even though Gov. Sarah Palin's attack that Obama has been palling around with a terrorist didn't make it into Tuesday's debate, it did make it into my Back Story. Click here to read The Back Story.


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