Fear of Clowns

"Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable."
- H. L. Mencken

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Compiled fact check of third presidential debate 

A compiled fact check on the third and final presidential debate from FactCheck.org, the New York Times, two Washington Post articles, the Associated Press fact check Fox News is using, and CNN's article.

Interestingly, the organizations disagree whether three claims Kerry made are true or false, so are listed separately.

Bush (14 inaccuracies and mischaracterizations)

  1. Bush said Kerry voted against the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. Kerry actually voted for it. (WP)
  2. Bush neglected to acknowledge his own flip-flop of being against the Department of Homeland Security before he was for it. (FOX)
  3. Bush claimed that most of his tax cuts "went to low- and middle-income Americans." This is far from the truth. (FC, NYT, WP)
  4. Bush said his tax cuts were needed to lift the country out of recession. Bush proposed his tax cuts during the 2000 campaign, before we were in recession, arguing that the surplus should be returned to the tax payer - Bush was "rewriting history" as the Washington Post put it. (NYT, WP)
  5. Bush denied he never said he wasn't worried about Osama bin Laden. He did indeed say he wasn't concerned and Kerry had related what Bush had actually said almost word for word, and in context. (FC, NYT, WP, FOX, CNN)
  6. Bush claimed that the US decided to block importation of contaminated flu vaccine. The administration was actually surprised when the British decided not to ship about half of the doses. (FC)
  7. Bush claimed there would be 125,000 trained Iraqi troops by the end of 2004. The 125,000 includes more than military troops, and even included police with minimal 3 week training. (FC)
  8. Bush claimed Kerry had voted to increase taxes 98 times. That number is wildly off mark. (FC, NYT, WP, FOX)
  9. Bush claimed Kerry's health plan would cost $5 trillion over 10 years. This far exceeds everybody's estimate, including AEI's $1.5 trillion estimate Bush has relied on ion the past. Others have estimated it to cost even less. (WP)
  10. Bush took credit for expanding trade adjustment assistance. The measure was passed in 2002 by congressional Democrats in the face of sharp Republican opposition. (WP)
  11. Bush claimed that limiting non-economic damages in medical malpractice awards would significantly reduce medical costs. This is based on a single 1996 study which has been almost universally discredited. (WP)
  12. Bush claimed that his administration had made an aggressive effort ... to make sure when they get out of high school there's Pell Grants available for them". Bush has actually not followed through on a 2000 campaign promise to maxing out Pell grants, setting the cap at less than the maximum three years in a row. The reason more money is being spent on Pell grants is because more people qualify as incomes have gone down.(WP, FOX)
  13. Bush claimed that 75% of al Qaeda leaders have been brought to justice. The 75% only looks at a few dozen known leaders as of 9/11/2001. (CNN)
  14. Bush claimed Kerry has proposed $2 trillion in new spending. This is an old number used by AEI, which has since lowered it's estimates. Other organization say Kerry's proposals will cost much less. (CNN)

Kerry (13 inaccuracies and mischaracterizations)

  1. Kerry claimed 1.6 million jobs had been lost under Bush - the number only speaks of private-sector jobs, the federal government has grown significantly under Bush. (FC, WP, CNN)
  2. Kerry claimed new jobs under Bush pay $9,000 less than the jobs lost under him. That number is inaccurate. (FC, WP)
  3. Kerry claimed his healthcare plan would cover all Americans. It would only cover about half of those Americans who are currently uninsured. (FC, WP)
  4. Kerry claimed Bush had never met with the Congressional Black Caucus. Bush has actually met with the Caucus twice. (FC, NYT, WP, FOX, CNN) NOTE: Washington Post says the charge is correct in substance - Bush has not met much with minority groups.
  5. Kerry said he had shown exactly how he was going to pay for the new spending he proposed. Kerry has actually only broadly described where the revenue would come from. (NYT)
  6. Kerry referred to revenue the McCain-Kerry Commission on Corporate Subsidy Reform has identified as being collectable if certain loopholes were closed. The commission has actually been languishing in congress for quite a while. (WP)
  7. Kerry asserted that the Medicare bill will result in windfall profits for drug companies. The claim is disputed. (WP)
  8. Kerry blamed the recent 17% jump in Medicare premiums on Bush. Some experts disagree, others attribute only part of the increase to Bush policies (NYT, WP)
  9. Kerry misspoke when he said transitioning to private Social Security accounts would cost $2 trillion over the $3 trillion in campaign promises the Washington Post reported Bush has made. The $2 trillion is included in, not on top of the $3 trillion figure. (WP)
  10. Kerry said the president had underfunded No Child Left Behind by $28 billion. Bush never promised to full fund No Child Left Behind. (WP)
  11. Kerry criticized Bush for allowing 95% of shipping containers to enter the US uninspected. The 5% checked is "high risk cargo", whether not checking the other 95% is irresponsible is another question. (FOX)
  12. Kerry claimed that the minimum wage, adjusted for inflation, is the lowest in 50 years. It actually was briefly lower in 1989. (WP)
  13. Kerry claimed 5 million people have "lost" health insurance under Bush. This is misleading - there are 5 million less people with health insurance since3 Bush took office, but some of them are new workers who never had health insurance to begin with (CNN)

Three claims Kerry made of disputed veracity

  1. Kerry claimed the Bush administration cut Pell grants. The Bush administration has actually increased them. (FC) NOTE: The NYT adds that "with tuition vastly outpacing inflation, the shortfall between financial aid and the cost of tuition has widened." The Washington Post also views Kerry's charge as accurate.
  2. Kerry claimed the Bush administration cut after school programs. The Bush administration proposed cutting after school programs, but Congress wouldn't let them. (FC) NOTE: The Washington posts outright says Kerry's claim was accurate.
  3. Kerry claimed Bush inherited a $5.6 trillion surplus. Bush actually inherited a $236 billion dollar surplus - the $5.6 trillion was the projected surplus over 10 years. (FC) NOTE: The NYT and WP viewed this claim as accurate ("Mr. Kerry was correct when he said the budget picture had declined from a projected $5.6 trillion surplus over 10 years when Mr. Bush took office to large deficits for the foreseeable future.")
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