Attacks, praise stretch truth
By JIM KUHNHENN, Associated Press Writer 4 minutes ago
ST. PAUL, Minn. - John McCain supporters held back little Wednesday as they issued dismissive attacks on Barack Obama and flattering praise of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and her credentials to be vice president. In some cases, the reproach and the praise stretched the truth.
PALIN: "I have protected the taxpayers by vetoing wasteful spending ... and championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. I told the Congress 'thanks but no thanks' for that Bridge to Nowhere."
THE FACTS: As mayor of Wasilla, Palin hired a lobbyist and traveled to Washington annually to support earmarks for the town totaling $27 million. In her two years as governor, Alaska has requested nearly $750 million in special federal spending, by far the largest per-capita request in the nation. While Palin notes she rejected plans to build a $398 million bridge from Ketchikan to an island with 50 residents and an airport, that opposition came only after the plan was ridiculed nationally as a "bridge to nowhere."
PALIN: "The Democratic nominee for president supports plans to raise income taxes, raise payroll taxes, raise investment income taxes, raise the death tax, raise business taxes, and increase the tax burden on the American people by hundreds of billions of dollars."
THE FACTS: The Tax Policy Center, a think tank run jointly by the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute, concluded that Obama's plan would increase after-tax income for middle-income taxpayers by about 5 percent by 2012, or nearly $2,200 annually. McCain's plan, which cuts taxes across all income levels, would raise after tax-income for middle-income taxpayers by 3 percent, the center concluded.
Obama would provide $80 billion in tax breaks, mainly for poor workers and the elderly, including tripling the Earned Income Tax Credit for minimum-wage workers and higher credits for larger families.
He also would raise income taxes, capital gains and dividend taxes on the wealthiest. He would raise payroll taxes on taxpayers with incomes above $250,000, and he would raise corporate taxes. Small businesses that make more than $250,000 a year would see taxes rise.
MCCAIN: "She's been governor of our largest state, in charge of 20 percent of America's energy supply ... She's responsible for 20 percent of the nation's energy supply. I'm entertained by the comparison and I hope we can keep making that comparison that running a political campaign is somehow comparable to being the executive of the largest state in America," he said in an interview with ABC News' Charles Gibson.
THE FACTS: McCain's phrasing exaggerates both claims. Palin is governor of a state that ranks second nationally in crude oil production, but she's no more "responsible" for that resource than President Bush was when he was governor of Texas, another oil-producing state. In fact, her primary power is the ability to tax oil, which she did in concert with the Alaska Legislature. And where McCain called Alaska the largest state in America, he could as easily have called it the 47th largest state — by population.
MCCAIN: "She's the commander of the Alaska National Guard. ... She has been in charge, and she has had national security as one of her primary responsibilities," he said on ABC.
THE FACTS: While governors are in charge of their state guard units, that authority ends whenever those units are called to actual military service. When guard units are deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, for example, they assume those duties under "federal status," which means they report to the Defense Department, not their governors. Alaska's national guard units have a total of about 4,200 personnel, among the smallest of state guard organizations.
FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOV. MITT ROMNEY: "We need change, all right — change from a liberal Washington to a conservative Washington! We have a prescription for every American who wants change in Washington — throw out the big-government liberals, and elect John McCain and Sarah Palin."
THE FACTS: A Back-to-the-Future moment. George W. Bush, a conservative Republican, has been president for nearly eight years. And until last year, Republicans controlled Congress. Only since January 2007 have Democrats have been in charge of the House and Senate.
FORMER NEW YORK MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI: "Then he ran for the state legislature and he got elected — and nearly 130 times he couldn't make a decision. He couldn't figure out whether to vote yes or no. It was too tough. He voted, he voted 'present.' I didn't know about this vote 'present' when I was mayor of New York City. Sarah Palin didn't have this vote present when she was mayor or governor. You don't get present, it doesn't work in an executive job."
THE FACTS: It's true that Obama voted "present" dozens of times, among the thousands of votes he cast in an eight-year span as a member of the Illinois Senate. Illinois lawmakers commonly vote that way on a variety of issues for technical, legal or strategic reasons. Obama, for instance, voted "present" on some abortion measures to encourage wavering legislators to do the same instead of voting "yes." Their "present" votes had the same effect as "no" votes and helped defeat the bills. Voting this way also can be a way to duck a difficult issue, although that's difficult to prove.
Associated Press Writer Jim Drinkard in Washington contributed to this report.