WASHINGTON Oct 3 President Barack Obama and his
Republican rival, Mitt Romney, faced off in their first of three
debates before the Nov. 6 presidential election. Here is some
fact-checking of claims made by the candidates.
DOES ROMNEY'S PLAN CALL FOR $5 TRILLION TAX CUT?
Obama repeatedly criticized what he called Romney's $5
trillion tax cut. But Romney said his plan did not call for a $5
trillion tax cut. Which one is right?
The Tax Policy Center, a centrist think tank, estimated in
March that the Romney plan would cut federal tax revenues by
$480 billion in 2015, or just under $5 trillion over 10 years.
The center noted its analysis was incomplete because Romney had
not said how he would "broaden the base" of taxpayers to help
Conservative groups dispute the Tax Policy Center analysis,
arguing in part that it did not take into account enough tax
breaks. They said the analysis was based on many unproven
assumptions and was therefore inaccurate.
TAX BREAKS FOR SHIPPING JOBS OVERSEAS
Romney challenged Obama's statement that companies can take
a tax deduction for shipping jobs overseas.
"Look, I've been in business for 25 years. I have no idea
what you are talking about. I maybe need to get a new
accountant. The idea that you get a break for shipping jobs
overseas is simply not the case," Romney said.
What Obama was actually describing was a tax break for
ordinary business expense, including deductions allowed for a
company if it closes its plant in the United States and moves it
to another country.
In July, Senate Republicans blocked a Democratic proposal
that would have provided a tax credit to companies that move
production back to the United States. It also would have ended
the tax break that companies can claim when closing a domestic
plant, even if operations are moving abroad.
DOES OBAMA'S PLAN CUT $716 BILLION FROM MEDICARE?
Romney repeatedly cited a figure of $716 billion - saying
Obama would cut that amount from Medicare to fund his healthcare
overhaul. That claim has been rejected by Democrats and
Obama's healthcare law would slow payment increases for
hospitals and insurers, something it views as a savings rather
than as a cut to Medicare benefits or programs. It does not
change the basket of benefits offered to patients.
The $716 billion figure is a Congressional Budget Office
estimate of how much the law would save in Medicare spending
from 2013 to 2022, compared with what would have occurred
without reform. Those funds would be used to help expand health
coverage to more than 30 million uninsured Americans.
Obama's Affordable Care Act also offers new benefits to the
elderly, such as prescription drug rebates and discounts, and
preventive tests including mammograms and cancer screenings
without copays or deductibles under Medicare Part B, which
covers visits to doctors' offices and outpatient clinics.
The candidates sparred over the deficit reduction panel -
known as Simpson-Bowles after its co-chairmen, Alan Simpson and
Erskine Bowles. In 2010, they came up with a proposal to slash
the deficit and lower tax rates.
Romney and Obama both praised the plan as a deficit
But the Simpson-Bowles plan called for about $3 in spending
cuts for every $1 in revenue raising. Romney said he would
"absolutely" not support raising revenue - increasing taxes - as
a way to reduce the deficit.
Obama, for his part, said his $4 trillion deficit reduction
plan was based on Simpson-Bowles, but analysts might disagree
with that characterization.
The Simpson-Bowles proposal cuts tax rates substantially for
all income groups significantly, while Obama has called for
boosting rates for the richest Americans. Simpson-Bowles also
calls for slashing many popular tax deductions and adding them
back only selectively.
GAS PRICES HAVE DOUBLED UNDER OBAMA
Romney said gas prices had doubled since Obama took office.
Industry experts say while that is technically correct, the
numbers are misleading because they involve a market correction
following sharp rises in gas prices during the economic crisis.
When Obama took office, the gas price average was about
$1.90 a gallon. But that number was near the bottom of a price
overcorrection, according to energy analysts. In the summer of
2008, gasoline prices moved above $4 a gallon for nine straight
weeks during the U.S. economic crisis. They are now at about the