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Fact Check: Did Albright agree Obama would ‘invite’ an international crisis?

The Statement
Speaking on Fox News’s “Hannity & Colmes,” Republican vice-presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin expanded a GOP attack that Democratic candidate Sen. Barack Obama’s running mate said his presidency would invite international trouble. “And it wasn’t just Biden making that comment,” Palin said. “That was confirmed by former Secretary Madeleine Albright, where she said yes, she believes that Biden was just stating fact. Now, I don’t want a president who invites that kind of testing.”

Get the facts!


The Facts
On Sunday, October 19, Democratic vice-presidential candidate Sen. Joe Biden was speaking at a fundraiser in Seattle, asking for support in the event Obama is elected. “Watch — we’re going to have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy,” Biden said. “I don’t know what the decision is going to be, but I promise you it will occur. As a student of history, and having served with seven presidents, I guarantee you it is going to happen.”

The McCain campaign seized on the comment to argue Obama is not experienced enough and that a lack of experience will encourage nations like Russia and groups like al Qaeda to challenge his resolve. The Obama camp has responded, arguing that Biden meant to say that the next president will be tested regardless of who is elected.

Speaking Wednesday, October 21, on CNN’s “American Morning,” Madeleine Albright, former secretary of state and an Obama supporter, was asked about the statement. “Well, I think it is — it’s just a statement of fact, frankly. And in my book, I talk about the fact that … something unexpected, you always have to be prepared for that. And that’s why, I actually think that Senator Obama is a terrific person to be president because he has this capability of assessing the situation in a calm way, of listening to a lot of different opinions … .”

She continued, “Well, I think that what you see is the fact that there’s something happening in the world all the time. … So, I think that it’s a statement of fact, and I think Barack Obama is a terrific person to handle it.”

The Verdict:

MISLEADING! Palin takes out of context part of a comment by Albright, who was actually praising Obama’s ability to handle a crisis


November 1, 2008 Posted by | Campaign Facts Check | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fact check: Obama, Biden ‘creeping down’ on who gets tax cuts?

The Statement
In a campaign speech Tuesday, October 28, in Hershey, Pennsylvania, Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain accused Democratic opponent Sen. Barack Obama and his running mate, Sen. Joe Biden, of being inconsistent on taxes.

“Senator Obama has made a lot of promises. First he said people making less than $250,000 would benefit from his plan. Then this weekend he announced in an ad that if you’re a family making less than $200,000, you’ll benefit,” McCain said. “But yesterday, right here in Pennsylvania, Senator Biden said tax relief should only go to middle class people, people making under $150,000 a year …. It’s interesting how their definition of rich has a way of creeping down.”


The Facts
Obama has said throughout the campaign that families making less than $250,000 a year will not see a tax increase. Those making less than $200,000 will get a tax cut, he says. “If you make less than a quarter of a million dollars a year, you will not see a single dime of your taxes go up,” Obama said during an October 7 presidential debate in Nashville, Tennessee. “If you make $200,000 a year or less, your taxes will go down.”

The campaign ad McCain refers to, titled “Defining Moment,” does have a graphic appear on the screen that says, “Families making less than $200,000 get tax cut.” Obama says, “If you have a job, pay taxes and make less than $200,000 a year, you’ll get a tax cut,” which is, again, consistent with the plan he has
laid out.

Biden was speaking Monday, October 27, in an interview with WNEP in Scranton, Pennsylvania. He said, “(An) $87 billion tax break doesn’t need to go to people making an average of $1.4 million. It should go like it used to. It should go to middle class people — people making under $150,000 a year.” Biden never
says that tax breaks should “only” go to such people. The Obama campaign says he was merely using that figure as an example and that the statement does not represent a change in policy.

The Verdict: FALSE! What McCain is doing here, in part, is comparing apples and oranges. He compares two different aspects of Obama’s tax plan as if they were the same. And Biden never said people making less than $150,000 are the “only” people who would get a tax cut under Obama’s policies.

November 1, 2008 Posted by | Campaign Facts Check | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fact Check: Did experts say Obama plan would ‘destroy’ 6 million jobs?

The Statement

In a news release Thursday, October 30, responding to news that the U.S. gross domestic product fell in the third quarter of this year, the campaign for Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain criticized Democratic opponent Sen. Barack Obama’s tax proposals. “According to the independent Center for Data Analysis, Barack Obama’s new policies will destroy nearly 6 million jobs over the next decade,” the release said.

Get the Facts!


The Facts

The Center for Data Analysis is part of the Heritage Foundation, a fact the McCain release does not mention. The Heritage Foundation Web site describes the group as a think tank “whose mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies.”

An analysis posted October 30 on the Web site studies McCain and Obama’s tax proposals, using a computer program that predicts how business owners and others would respond to the candidates’ tax plans. A synopsis of the study predicts “much slower output and employment growth” under Obama’s plan. But the analysis itself says the number of jobs in the country would increase under either candidate — although the conservative think tank says jobs would increase more under McCain.

The figure McCain uses comes from the synopsis, which says “total employment” would fall an average of 589,000 a year under Obama’s plan. According to the foundation, that number represents the number of jobs that would exist compared to the potential number of jobs that could exist under current tax law. It actually says the number of jobs that would exist under McCain would be 182,000
jobs greater than the current potential because of the changes he would make to tax law.

The Verdict: FALSE! The study does not say Obama’s plan would “destroy” jobs but that fewer jobs would be created under his plan than McCain’s.

November 1, 2008 Posted by | Campaign Facts Check | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fact check: Does group McCain chairs have link to Columbia professor Khalidi?

The Statement 
The campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, on Wednesday, October 29, responded to Republican opponent Sen. John McCain criticism of Obama’s relationship with Rashid Khalidi, an Arab studies professor at Columbia University, by suggesting that McCain also had a link to Khalidi. It said, “John McCain should answer why, under his own chairmanship, the International Republican Institute repeatedly funded an organization Khalidi founded, the Center for Palestine Research and Studies, over the course of many years.”

Get the facts!


The Facts
McCain and vice presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin have raised the issue of Barack Obama’s relationship with Khalidi, a scholar who has been critical of Israel and U.S. foreign policy. Palin, on October 29 in Ohio, described him as a “radical professor from the neighborhood who spent a lot of time with Barack Obama going back several years.” She also called him a “political ally” of Obama.

Obama knows Khalidi from their days in Chicago, but his campaign says he “has been clear and consistent on his support for Israel, and has been clear that Rashid Khalidi is not an adviser to him or his campaign and that he does not share Khalidi’s views.”

Since 1993, McCain has been chairman of the International Republican Institute — a nonprofit and nonpartisan group that helps promote democratic practices and institutions across the globe.

The IRI, in an October 29 press release, said it “gave grants” to the Center for Palestinian Research and Studies for polling in the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza. The IRI said its “relationship with CPRS ended in 2000, and we understand that it no longer exists.”

“We understand that Rashid Khalidi was one of the many founders of CPRS, and we understand that he was for some (unclear) amount of time a board member,” the IRI said.

A defunct CPRS Web site lists Khalidi was one of the seven people who founded the group in March 1993. CPRS described itself as “an independent academic research and policy analysis institution.”

“Because CPRS is independent of political factions, it is in a unique position of being able to serve as a forum for meetings of Palestinian and international researchers from various political backgrounds and ideologies in a free academic and professional atmosphere,” the group said.

Michael Goldfarb, a McCain spokesman, told CNN on October 29 that “John McCain has never met Rashid Khalidi, while Barack Obama has acknowledged a close friendship with him.”

The Verdict: TRUE! There was a relationship in the 1990s between the IRI, chaired by McCain, and the CPRS, co-founded by Khalidi, which received IRI funding.

November 1, 2008 Posted by | Campaign Facts Check | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fact Check: Would McCain tax health benefits for the first time ever?

The Statement: In a television ad titled “Rear View,” that began airing Thursday, October 30, the campaign for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama attacks Republican opponent Sen. John McCain’s economic policies, saying, in part, that McCain “would tax your health care benefits for the first time ever.”

Get the facts!


The Facts: The ad refers to one of the key elements of McCain’s health care plan. McCain says his plan would eliminate the existing tax exemption for insurance premiums that are paid through employers. But in a major shift in how most Americans are covered, he would replace it with a health-insurance tax credit of $2,500 for individuals or $5,000 for families. The idea is that this money would allow workers to seek out and buy their own insurance.

Independent analysts have predicted that many employers would drop health coverage because of this change. But they predict roughly the same number would enroll in “nongroup” coverage –although they say the quality and price of those independent plans would vary.

Analysts note that McCain’s plan could shift the amount of money an employer currently pays for a worker’s health care from a tax-free benefit to part of the employee’s salary. As such, it would increase the amount that would be taxed and, in some cases, bump the employee into a higher tax bracket. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center cites this example: A single worker making $75,000 and receiving $7,000 in healthcare premiums currently is in the 25 percent tax bracket. McCain’s plan, the center says, would push that worker’s taxable salary to $82,000, which is in the 28 percent tax bracket.

Employer contributions for accident and health insurance plans were nontaxable in the original income tax ratified in 1913, although there was some confusion about that in the years that followed. The Revenue Act of 1954, passed by Congress, excluded employers’ contributions to accident and health plans for their employees and clarified that such contributions had always been deductible as business expenses.

The Verdict: TRUE, the ad accurately describes McCain’s plan.

November 1, 2008 Posted by | Campaign Facts Check | , , , , | Leave a comment

Fact Check: Did Obama vote against care for children born during abortions?


The Statement: During an October 15 presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain attacked Democratic opponent Sen. Barack Obama for his stance on abortion. “Sen. Obama, as a member of the Illinois State Senate, voted in the Judiciary Committee against a law that would provide immediate medical attention to a child born of a failed abortion,” McCain said.

Get the facts!


The Facts: McCain is citing a 2003 vote Obama made in the Illinois senate’s Judiciary Committee. The bill’s language said “a live child born as a result of an abortion shall be fully recognized as a human person and accorded immediate protection under the law.”

Obama justified his vote against the bill, saying its language would have undermined the legal protections for abortion provided by Roe vs. Wade. At the October 15 debate he also defended it, saying, “there was already a law on the books in Illinois that required providing life-saving treatment.”

A law passed in Illinois in 1975 does require life-saving treatment if a child is born alive during an abortion. Under the law, if a child is delivered alive during an abortion, a doctor “shall exercise the same degree of professional skill, care and diligence to preserve the life and health of the child as would be required of a physician” for any other newborn.

The 2003 bill did not make it out of the Judiciary committee.

Verdict: Misleading. Obama voted against the legislation, but said doing so was not a vote against caring for the children, because there was already an Illinois law that required treating babies born alive during abortions.

November 1, 2008 Posted by | Campaign Facts Check, Politics | , , , , | Leave a comment