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FactChecking Biden-Palin Debate

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    Reader Comment: Watching the debate between Biden-Palin it was hard to determine: Who loves clean coal more? Judging from the little love fest, it was hard
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 4, 2008
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      Reader Comment:

      Watching the debate between Biden-Palin it was hard to determine:

      Who loves "clean" coal more?

      Judging from the little love fest, it was hard to tell who loves
      clean coal more.

      No one talked about fuel cells or solar energy because once you have
      paid for the hardware of solar panels on your home, the energy
      companies might have to send you a monthly check instead.

      With atomic energy, coal and oil, we not only put huge amounts of
      people at risk of cancers but whats most important to these corporate
      cash marinated candidates is to keep you squeezed (terror code alert
      color today is "orange").

      For some unknown reason no one spoke about the "bailout".

      No one spoke about Charles Keating, Neal Bush, the S&L bailout or
      getting out of Afghanistan.

      We did however learn that Joe Biden knows where Osama is hiding!
      Why haven't you revealed this before, Joe?!

      Who hates Iran more?

      Who loves Israel more?

      You heard how much they love Israel, do they love the USA as much as
      they love Israel?

      Its so hard to tell! But thats the choice the puppetmasters at the
      Dept of Propaganda
      have left you with. This is democracy, be glad you have a "choice".

      So what is the difference between Joe Biden and Joe Lieberman?

      Anyone know?


      FactChecking Biden-Palin Debate
      Brooks Jackson, Viveca Novak, Lori Robertson, Joe Miller,
      Jessica Henig and Justin Bank
      October 3, 2008
      Source: http://www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/factchecking_biden-

      The candidates were not 100 percent accurate. To say the least.


      Biden and Palin debated, and both mangled some facts.

      Palin mistakenly claimed that troop levels in Iraq had returned
      to "pre-surge" levels. Levels are gradually coming down but current
      plans would have levels higher than pre-surge numbers through early
      next year, at least.

      Biden incorrectly said "John McCain voted the exact same way" as
      Obama on a controversial troop funding bill. The two were actually on
      opposite sides.

      Palin repeated a false claim that Obama once voted in favor of higher
      taxes on "families" making as little as $42,000 a year. He did not.
      The budget bill in question called for an increase only on singles
      making that amount, but a family of four would not have been affected
      unless they made at least $90,000 a year.

      Biden wrongly claimed that McCain "voted the exact same way" as Obama
      on the budget bill that contained an increase on singles making as
      little as $42,000 a year. McCain voted against it. Biden was
      referring to an amendment that didn't address taxes at that income

      Palin claimed McCain's health care plan would be "budget neutral,"
      costing the government nothing. Independent budget experts estimate
      McCain's plan would cost tens of billions each year, though details
      are too fuzzy to allow for exact estimates.

      Biden wrongly claimed that McCain had said "he wouldn't even sit
      down" with the government of Spain. Actually, McCain didn't reject a
      meeting, but simply refused to commit himself one way or the other
      during an interview.

      Palin wrongly claimed that "millions of small businesses" would see
      tax increases under Obama's tax proposals. At most, several hundred
      thousand business owners would see increases.

      For full details on these misstatements, and on additional factual
      disputes and dubious claims, please read on to the Analysis section.


      Vice presidential candidates Joe Biden and Sarah Palin met for their
      one and only debate Oct. 2 in St. Louis, Missouri. The event was
      broadcast nationally. Gwen Ifill of PBS was the debate moderator.

      We noted the following:

      Palin Trips Up on Troop Levels

      Palin got her numbers wrong on troop levels when she said "and with
      the surge that has worked, we're now down to pre-surge numbers in

      The surge was announced in January 2007, at which point there were
      132,000 troops in Iraq, according to the Brookings Institute Iraq
      Index. As of September 2008, that number was 146,000. President Bush
      recently announced that another 8,000 would be coming home by
      February of next year. But even then, there still would be 6,000 more
      troops in Iraq than there were when the surge began.

      Biden Fudges on Troop Funding

      Biden defended Obama's vote against a troop-funding bill, claiming
      that McCain voted "the exact same way."

      Palin: Barack Obama voted against funding troops there after
      promising that he would not do so…He turned around under political
      pressure and he voted against funding the troops. ...

      Biden: John McCain voted the exact same way. John McCain voted against
      funding the troops because of an amendment he voted against had a
      timeline in it to draw down American troops. And John said I'm not
      going to fund the troops if in fact there's a time line.

      As we've pointed out before, the squabble refers to a pair of 2007
      votes on war funding. Obama voted for a version of the bill that
      included language calling for withdrawing troops from Iraq. Biden is
      simply wrong to say that McCain voted against that bill; he was
      absent and didn't vote at all. McCain did oppose the bill, and he
      urged President Bush to veto it. Bush did. Obama then voted against
      the same bill without withdrawal language. He had voted yes on at
      least 10 other war funding bills prior to that single 2007 no vote.

      Palin's False Tax Claims

      Palin repeated a false claim about Barack Obama's tax proposal:

      Palin: Barack Obama even supported increasing taxes as late as last
      year for those families making only $42,000 a year. That's a lot of
      middle income average American families to increase taxes on them. I
      think that is the way to kill jobs and to continue to harm our

      Obama did not in fact vote to increase taxes on "families" making as
      little as $42,000 per year. What Obama actually voted for was a
      budget resolution that called for returning the 25 percent tax
      bracket to its pre-Bush tax cut level of 28 percent. That could have
      affected an individual with no children making as little as $42,000.
      But a couple would have had to earn $83,000 to be affected and a
      family of four at least $90,000. The resolution would not have raised
      taxes on its own, without additional legislation, and, as we've noted
      before, there is no such tax increase in Obama's tax plan. (The vote
      took place on March 14 of this year, not last year as Palin said.)

      Palin also repeated the exaggeration that Obama voted 94 times to
      increase taxes. That number includes seven votes that would have
      lowered taxes for many, while raising them on corporations or
      affluent individuals; 23 votes that were against tax cuts; and 17
      that came on just 7 different bills. She also claimed that Biden and
      Obama voted for "the largest tax increase in history." Palin is
      referring here to the Democrats' 2008 budget proposal, which would
      indeed have resulted in about $217 billion in higher taxes over two
      years. That's a significant increase. But measured as a percentage of
      the nation's economic output, or gross domestic product, the
      yardstick that most economists prefer, the 2008 budget proposal would
      have been the third-largest since 1968, and it's not even in the top
      10 since 1940.

      Biden's False Defense

      Biden denied that Obama supported increasing taxes for families
      making $42,000 a year – but then falsely claimed that McCain had cast
      an identical vote.

      Biden: Barack Obama did not vote to raise taxes. The vote she's
      referring to, John McCain voted the exact same way. It was a budget
      procedural vote. John McCain voted the same way. It did not raise

      Biden was correct only to the extent that the resolution Obama
      supported would not by itself have increased taxes; it was a vote on
      a budget resolution that set revenue and spending targets. But he's
      wrong to say McCain voted the same way. The Obama campaign attempted
      to justify Biden's remark by pointing to a different vote, on a
      Senate amendment, that took place March 13. The amendment passed 99-
      1, with only Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold dissenting. It would have
      preserved some of Bush's tax cuts for lower-income people. The vote
      on the budget resolution in question, however, came in the wee hours
      of March 14 and was a mostly party-line tally, 51-44, with Obama in
      favor and McCain not voting.

      Palin's Health Care Hooey

      Palin claimed that McCain's health care plan would be "budget-
      neutral," costing the government nothing.

      Palin: He's proposing a $5,000 tax credit for families so that they
      can get out there and they can purchase their own health care
      coverage. That's a smart thing to do. That's budget neutral. That
      doesn't cost the government anything ... a $5,000 health care credit
      through our income tax, that's budget neutral.

      The McCain campaign hasn't released an estimate of how much the plan
      would cost, but independent experts contradict Palin's claim of a
      cost-free program.

      The Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center estimates that McCain's plan,
      which at its peak would cover 5 million of the uninsured, would
      increase the deficit by $1.3 trillion over 10 years. Obama's plan,
      which would cover 34 million of the uninsured, would cost $1.6
      trillion over that time period.

      The nonpartisan U.S. Budget Watch's fiscal voter guide estimates that
      McCain's tax credit would increase the deficit by somewhere between
      $288 billion to $364 billion by the year 2013, and that making
      employer health benefits taxable would bring in between $201 billion
      to $274 billion in revenue. That nets out to a shortfall of somewhere
      between $14 billion to $163 billion – for that year alone.

      Palin also said that Obama's plan would be "universal government run"
      health care and that health care would be "taken over by the feds."
      That's not the case at all. As we've said before, Obama's plan would
      not replace or remove private insurance, or require people to enroll
      in a public plan. It would increase the offerings of publicly funded
      health care.

      McCain in Spain?

      Biden said that McCain had refused to meet with the government of
      Spain, but McCain made no such definite statement.

      Biden: The last point I'll make, John McCain said as recently as a
      couple of weeks ago he wouldn't even sit down with the government of
      Spain, a NATO ally that has troops in Afghanistan with us now. I find
      that incredible.

      In a September 17 interview on Radio Caracol Miami, McCain appeared
      confused when asked whether he would meet with President Zapatero of
      Spain. He responded that "I would be willing to meet with those
      leaders who are our friends and want to work with us in a cooperative
      fashion," but then started talking about leaders in Latin America. He
      did not commit to meeting with Zapatero, but it wasn't clear he'd
      understood the question.

      But the McCain campaign denied that their candidate was confused.
      According to our colleagues at PolitiFact.com, campaign adviser Randy
      Scheunemann e-mailed CNN and the Washington Post the next day, saying
      that McCain's reluctance to commit to a meeting with Zapatero was a
      policy decision.

      Scheunemann, September 2008: The questioner asked several times about
      Senator McCain's willingness to meet Zapatero — and id'd him in the
      question so there is no doubt Senator McCain knew exactly to whom the
      question referred. Senator McCain refused to commit to a White House
      meeting with President Zapatero in this interview.

      That's not a refusal to meet with Zapatero, as Biden said. It's
      simply a refusal to commit himself one way or the other.

      Palin's Small Business Balderdash

      Palin repeated a falsehood that the McCain campaign has peddled, off
      and on, for some time:

      Palin: But when you talk about Barack's plan to tax increase
      affecting only those making $250,000 a year or more, you're
      forgetting millions of small businesses that are going to fit into
      that category. So they're going to be the ones paying higher taxes
      thus resulting in fewer jobs being created and less productivity.

      As we reported June 23, it's simply untrue that "millions" of small
      business owners will pay higher federal income taxes under Obama's
      proposal. According to an analysis by the independent Urban-Brookings
      Tax Policy Center, several hundred thousand small business owners, at
      most, would have incomes high enough to be affected by the higher
      rates on income, capital gains and dividends that Obama proposes.
      That counts as "small business owners" even those who merely have
      some sideline income from such endeavors as freelance writing,
      speaking or running rental properties, and who get the bulk of their
      income from employment elsewhere.

      Defense Disagreements

      Biden and Palin got into a tussle about military recommendations in

      Biden: The fact is that our commanding general in Afghanistan said
      today that a surge – the surge principles used in Iraq will not –
      well, let me say this again now – our commanding general in
      Afghanistan said the surge principle in Iraq will not work in
      Afghanistan, not Joe Biden, our commanding general in Afghanistan. He
      said we need more troops. We need government-building. We need to
      spend more money on the infrastructure in Afghanistan.

      Palin: Well, first, McClellan did not say definitively the surge
      principles would not work in Afghanistan. Certainly, accounting for
      different conditions in that different country and conditions are
      certainly different. We have NATO allies helping us for one, and even
      the geographic differences are huge but the counterinsurgency
      principles could work in Afghanistan. McClellan didn't say anything
      opposite of that. The counterinsurgency strategy going into
      Afghanistan, clearing, holding, rebuilding, the civil society and the
      infrastructure can work in Afghanistan.

      Point Biden. To start, Palin got newly appointed Gen. David D.
      McKiernan's name wrong when she called him McClellan. And, more
      important, Gen. McKiernan clearly did say that surge principles would
      not work in Afghanistan. As the Washington Post reported:

      Washington Post: "The word I don't use for Afghanistan is 'surge,' "
      McKiernan stressed, saying that what is required is a "sustained
      commitment" to a counterinsurgency effort that could last many years
      and would ultimately require a political, not military, solution.

      However, it is worth noting that McKiernan also said that Afghanistan
      would need an infusion of American troops "as quickly as possible."

      Killing Afghan Civilians?

      Palin said that Obama had accused American troops of doing nothing
      but killing civilians, a claim she called "reckless" and "untrue."

      Palin: Now, Barack Obama had said that all we're doing in Afghanistan
      is air-raiding villages and killing civilians. And such a reckless,
      reckless comment and untrue comment, again, hurts our cause.

      Obama did say that troops in Afghanistan were killing civilians.
      Here's the whole quote, from a campaign stop in New Hampshire:

      Obama (August 2007): We've got to get the job done there and that
      requires us to have enough troops so that we're not just air-raiding
      villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous problems

      The Associated Press fact-checked this one, and found that in fact
      U.S troops were killing more civilians at the time than
      insurgents: "As of Aug. 1, the AP count shows that while militants
      killed 231 civilians in attacks in 2007, Western forces killed 286.
      Another 20 were killed in crossfire that can't be attributed to one
      party." Afghan President Hamid Karzai had expressed concern about
      these civilian killings, a concern President Bush said he shared.

      Whether Obama said that this was "all we're doing" is debatable. He
      said that we need to have enough troops so that we're "not just air-
      raiding villages and killing civilians," but did not say that troops
      are doing nothing else.

      Out of Context?

      Biden claimed a comment he made about "clean coal" was taken out of

      Biden: My record for 25 years has supported clean coal technology. A
      comment made in a rope line was taken out of context. I was talking
      about exporting that technology to China so when they burn their
      dirty coal, it won't be as dirty, it will be clean.

      Was it really taken out of context? Here's the full exchange, which
      took place while Biden was shaking hands with voters along a rope
      line in Ohio.

      Woman: Wind and solar are flourishing here in Ohio, why are you
      supporting clean coal?

      Biden: We're not supporting clean coal. Guess what? China's building
      two every week, two dirty coal plants, and it's polluting the United
      States. It's causing people to die.

      Obama-Biden campaign spokesman David Wade later said that "Biden's
      point is that China is building coal plants with outdated technology
      every day, and the United States needs to lead by developing clean
      coal technologies."

      Whatever Biden meant or didn't mean to say on the rope line, he has
      supported clean coal in the past. When the McCain camp used this one
      remark from Biden as the basis for a TV ad saying that Obama-Biden
      oppose clean coal, we said the claim was false. Obama's position in
      favor of clean coal has been clear, and pushing for the technology
      has been part of his energy policy.

      McCain in the Vanguard of Mortgage Reform?

      Palin said that McCain had sounded the alarm on Fannie Mae and
      Freddie Mac two years ago.

      Palin: We need to look back, even two years ago, and we need to be
      appreciative of John McCain's call for reform with Fannie Mae, with
      Freddie Mac, with the mortgage-lenders, too, who were starting to
      really kind of rear that head of abuse.

      Palin is referring to a bill that would have increased oversight on
      Fannie and Freddie. In our recent article about assigning blame for
      the crisis, we found that by the time McCain added his name to the
      bill as a cosponsor, the collapse was well underway. Home prices
      began falling only two months later. Our colleagues at PolitiFact
      also questioned this claim.

      And There's More...

      A few other misleads of note:

      Palin said, "We're circulating about $700 billion a year into foreign
      countries" for imported oil, repeating an outdated figure often used
      by McCain. At oil prices current as of Sept. 30, imports are running
      at a rate of about $493 billion per year.

      Biden claimed that McCain said in a magazine article that he wanted
      to deregulate the health care industry as the banking industry had
      been. That's taking McCain's words out of context. As we've said
      before, he was talking specifically about his proposal to allow the
      sale of health insurance across state lines.

      Biden said five times that McCain's tax plan would give oil companies
      a "$4 billion tax cut." As we've noted previously, McCain's plan
      would cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent — for
      ALL corporations, not just oil companies. Biden uses a Democratic
      think tank's estimate for what the rate change is worth to the five
      largest U.S. oil companies.

      Palin threw out an old canard when she criticized Obama for voting
      for the 2005 energy bill and said, "that's what gave those oil
      companies those big tax breaks." It's a false attack Sen. Hillary
      Clinton used against Obama in the primary, and McCain himself has
      hurled. It's true that the bill gave some tax breaks to oil
      companies, but it also took away others. And according to the
      Congressional Research Service, the bill created a slight net
      increase in taxes for the oil industry.

      Biden said that Iraq had an "$80 billion surplus." The country was
      once projected to have as much as a $79 billion surplus, but no more.

      The Iraqis have $29 billion in the bank, and could have $47 billion
      to $59 billion by the end of the year, as we noted when Obama used
      the incorrect figure. A $21 billion supplemental spending bill,
      passed by the Iraqi legislature in August, knocked down the old

      Biden said four times that McCain had voted 20 times against funding
      alternative energy. However, in analyzing the Obama campaign's list
      of votes after the first presidential debate, we found the number was
      actually 11. In the other instances the Obama-Biden campaign cites,
      McCain voted not against alternative energy but against mandatory use
      of alternative energy, or he voted in favor of allowing exemptions
      from these mandates.

      Correction Oct. 3: In the summary of this story we originally
      referred to the "president" of Spain. Biden actually used the
      word "government" and we have corrected the reference.


      Belasco, Amy. "The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on
      Terror Operations Since 9/11." 14 July 2008. Congressional Research
      Service. Accessed 2 October 2008.

      Pickler, Nedra. "Fact Check: Obama on Afghanistan." The Associated
      Press. 14 Aug. 2007.

      Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. "Promises, Promises: A
      Fiscal Voter Guide to the 2008 Election." U.S. Budget Watch. 29 Aug.

      Williams, Roberton and Howard Gleckman. "An Updated Analysis of the
      2008 Presidential Candidates' Tax Plans." Urban-Brookings Tax Policy
      Center. 15 Sep. 2008.

      "Impacts of Increased Access to Oil and Natural Gas Resources in the
      Lower 48 Federal Outer Continental Shelf." 2007. Energy Information
      Administration. 8 Aug. 2008.

      Petroleum Basic Statistics. The Energy Information Administration, 3
      Oct. 2008.

      NPC Global Oil & Gas Study. "Topic Paper #7, Global Access to Oil and
      Gas," 18 July 2007.

      Clarke, David and Liriel Higa, "Blueprints Gain Narrow Adoption,"
      Congressional Quarterly Weekly, 15 March 2008.

      "Iraq Index," Brookings Iraq Index.

      Baldor, Lolita C, "General: Urgent need for troops in Afghanistan
      now," Associated Press. 2 Oct 2008.

      "Bush: 8,000 Troops Coming Home By Feb," CBS/AP. 9 Sept 2008.

      Tyson, Ann Scott, "Commander in Afghanistan Wants More Troops,"
      Washington Post. 2 Oct 2008.

      Barnes, Julian N., "More U.S. troops needed in Afghanistan 'quickly,'
      general says," Los Angeles Times. 2 Oct 2008.

      Table T08-0164 "Distribution of Tax Units with Business Income by
      Statutory Marginal Tax Rate, Assuming Extension and Indexation of the
      2007 AMT Patch, 2009" Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, 20 May 2008.

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