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Taking stock of the debate claims

  • October 4, 2012 - 8:39 PM

 

Here's a look at some of the claims made during the debate:

DOUBLING THE DEFICIT

Mitt Romney said President Obama had doubled the deficit. When Obama took office in January 2009, the Congressional Budget Office had already projected that the deficit for fiscal year 2009, which ended Sept. 30 of that year, would be $1.2 trillion. (It ended up as $1.4 trillion.) For fiscal year 2012, which ended last week, the deficit is expected to be $1.1 trillion -- just under the level in the year he was inaugurated.

$5 TRILLION TAX CUT

Obama and Romney repeatedly sparred over whether Romney has proposed a $5 trillion tax cut. It is true that Romney has proposed "revenue neutral" tax reform, meaning that he would not expand the deficit. However, he has proposed cutting all marginal tax rates by 20 percent -- which would in and of itself cut tax revenue by $5 trillion.

To make up that revenue, Romney has said he wants to close deductions and loopholes in the tax code. But he has not specified how he would do so.

This week, in a TV interview, Romney floated the idea of capping each household's deductions at $17,000. The cap has the virtue of avoiding the tough negotiations over which tax expenditures to unwind. Many tax expenditures are highly popular, like the deduction for charitable giving. Moreover, many are important to the stability of the economy. Suddenly ending the home mortgage interest deduction, for instance, would threaten to destabilize the housing market.

It is also unclear whether his proposal to cap deductions would raise enough revenue to pay for his income tax rate cuts -- at least not without increasing the tax burden on families making less than $200,000 a year, which Romney has vowed that he will not do.

GREEN ENERGY

Romney said that half the companies backed by the president's green energy stimulus program have gone out of business. Of nearly three dozen recipients of loans under the Department of Energy's loan guarantee program, three are currently in bankruptcy, although several others are facing financial difficulties.

THE $716 BILLION CUT FROM MEDICARE

Romney said that the $716 billion that Obama made in Medicare reductions would come from current beneficiaries. While fact-checkers have debunked this claim, it remains a standard attack line for Romney.

Obama did not cut benefits by $716 billion over 10 years as part of his 2010 health care law; rather, he reduced Medicare reimbursements to health care providers, chiefly insurance companies and drug manufacturers. And the law gave recipients more generous benefits for prescription drugs and free preventive care like mammograms.

According to nonpartisan analysts, it is Romney who would both cut benefits and add costs for beneficiaries if he restored the $716 billion in reductions.

NEW YORK TIMES

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