Monday, January 18, 2010

Fact checking a few of the debate claims...

The Fort Worth Startlegram checks out a few claims from the debate (link). Excerpt follows...

Federal bailouts

Claim: Hutchison said Perry urged Congress to bail out financial institutions.

Background: Hutchison and Perry got into one of their most heated exchanges over the meaning behind a letter sent to Congress in October 2008.

The letter was signed by Perry, as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, and West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, chairman of the Democratic Governors Association. They urged Congress to act in a bipartisan manner and "pass an economic recovery package."

Perry disputed Hutchison’s claim that the letter showed that Perry was for the bailouts before he was against them.

"We thought you all were smart enough to understand what we were talking about, which is stop the spending and cut the taxes," Perry said.

True or false? False.

Manchin spokesman Matt Turner said Friday that the letter’s intent was simply to urge Congress to work together. "There’s not a specific direction of the letter," Turner said.

While this contradicts Hutchison’s claim that the letter was meant to urge support of the bailouts, it also contradicts Perry’s argument in the debate that the letter was intended to encourage tax and spending cuts.


Claim: Hutchison said she always picks "life" in the abortion debate.

"Let me say that my record is always coming down on the side of life," Hutchison said. "In my record in the Senate, I have voted against partial-birth abortion, federal funding of abortion [and in favor of] more parental consent constraints on abortion."

True or false? Depends on your definition of "life."

It’s true that Hutchison has voted against expanding the funding or use of abortion, but pro-life groups would not characterize her as consistently "on the side of life."

"She has voted for what I call the easy things," said Joe Pojman, executive director of the Texas Alliance for Life, which has endorsed Perry.

In 2003, Hutchison backed a ban on partial-birth abortion but also voted for the Harkin Amendment, which affirmed that Roe v. Wade is the law of the land. She has also voted to support embryonic stem cell research.

I like how Aman Batheja does not try to infer motivations of people or read between the lines... he admits that some issues are not black and white and it depends on your definitions and time frames...

Like most "fact checks" there are problems still with his checks... I think it is "wrong" of anyone making these decisions to say a candidate is absolutely wrong if they can back up their claims with solid sources... some sources might say one thing while other sources might say another thing... rarely is one source more authoritative than another unless you are talking about official Census statistics versus something a 7th grader just made up after watching a Michael Moore movie... campaigns don't usually use the latter...

Jobs in Texas

Claims: Perry said the state created more jobs between November 2007 and November 2008 than "the rest of the country combined." Hutchison said the state lost 300,000 jobs in 2009. And Medina said that the government has added thousands of jobs while the private sector lost jobs.

Who’s right? Perry is accurate. Texas did create more jobs than the other 49 states combined during the time period he cited.

Hutchison’s claim that the state lost jobs this year was correct, but the number — according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — is about 270,000, meaning Hutchison rounded up a bit.

Medina’s claim that since 2007 the government added jobs while private sector employment shrank is correct.

Gasoline tax

Claim: Perry and Hutchison disagreed on how Texas fares under the gasoline tax. He said Texas gets 70 cents back for every dollar sent to Washington. She said she worked to require the federal government to give back 92 cents of every dollar.

Who’s right? Hutchison more than Perry, but they’re both wrong.

A federal formula requires Texas to get back 92 cents of every gas-tax dollar that goes for highway funding, according to Texas Department of Transportation spokesman Chris Lippincott. But the state receives a smaller cut of gas-tax funds spent on other kinds of transportation.

All told, Texas gets back 82.5 cents of every gas-tax dollar, Lippincott said.

I think these fact check features are great but they have to be a lot more careful when they declare something true or false... otherwise they lose their ability to make these claims...

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Hey now, campaign characters. Be nice. I know a lot of you on both sides, so I don't want any overly foul language, personal attacks on anyone other than the candidates themselves, or other party fouls. I will moderate the heck out of you if you start breaking the bounds of civility.