|Vice Presidential Debate Fact Check - October 3, 2008 - Fair and Balanced
BIDEN: Vice President Cheney has been the most dangerous vice president we’ve had probably in American history. The idea he doesn’t realize that Article I of the Constitution defines the role of the vice president of the United States, that’s the Executive Branch. He works in the Executive Branch. He should understand that. Everyone should understand that.
FALSE: Biden does not understand the role of the Vice President. Article I of the Constitution defines Congress as the legislative branch of the federal government while Article II defines the Executive Branch. Article I, Section 3 details the powers of the Senate. The Vice President has only three Constitution powers where two of them [title and voting powers] are in Section 3, Clause 4 which states: "The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.". On December 21, 2005 Vice President Cheney excercised his legislative power as President of the Senate by casting his vote to break a tie. The third Constitutional power granted to the Vice President is to succeed to the presidency as a result of the President's incapacity to act or death. Obviously this is a dormant power until such condition is met. There are no other Constitutional powers granted to the Vice President. Considering the foregoing, while the President is alive and well, the Vice President's only Constitutional powers lie in the Senate, not the executive.
BIDEN: John McCain voted the exact same way. John McCain voted against funding the troops because of an amendment he voted against had a timeline in it to draw down American troops. And John said I'm not going to fund the troops if in fact there's a time line.
FALSE: Biden is simply wrong to say that McCain voted against the final bill; he was absent and didn’t vote at all. McCain did oppose the bill which included a Democrat amendment with a timeline for ending the war. McCain has consistently opposed a timeline to end the war. Obama has supported such. McCain urged President Bush to veto the timeline bill. Bush did. Obama then voted against the final bill that Bush signed without the withdrawal language.
BIDEN: He said that Iraq had an "$80 billion surplus."
FALSE: Iraq was once projected to have as much as a $79 billion surplus, but no more. The Iraqis have $29 billion in the bank, and could have $47 billion to $59 billion by the end of the year.
BIDEN: Said McCain supports tax breaks for oil companies, and "wants to give Exxon-Mobil another $4 billion tax cut."
FALSE: McCain supports a cut in income taxes for all corporations, and doesn't single out any one industry for that benefit.
PALIN: "Barack Obama even supported increasing taxes as late as last year for those families making only $42,000 a year."
BIDEN: "The charge is absolutely not true. Barack Obama did not vote to raise taxes. The vote she's referring to, John McCain voted the exact same way."
TRUE [Palin], FALSE [BIDEN]: The statement goes to the word "support". The vote was on a nonbinding budget resolution that assumed that President Bush's tax cuts would expire, as scheduled, in 2011 and higher taxes for people making as little as about $42,000 would occur. Obama and Biden both voted for the March 14 budget resolution. McCain did not vote on the matter.
PALIN: "But when you talk about Barack's plan to tax increase affecting only those making $250,000 a year or more, you're forgetting millions of small businesses that are going to fit into that category. So they're going to be the ones paying higher taxes thus resulting in fewer jobs being created and less productivity."
FALSE: Several hundred thousand small business owners, not millions, would have incomes high enough to be affected by the higher rates on income, capital gains and dividends that Obama proposes.
BIDEN: No one making less than $250,000 under Barack Obama's plan will see one single penny of their tax raised whether it's their capital gains tax, their income tax, investment tax, any tax.
FALSE: Several hundred thousand small business owners, not "no one", would have incomes high enough to be affected by the higher rates on income, capital gains and dividends that Obama proposes.
PALIN: Said the United States has reduced its troop level in Iraq to a number below where it was when the troop increase began in early 2007.
FALSE: Only three of the five brigades that were added during the surge have been rotated out. Palin got her numbers wrong on troop levels when she said that troops were now down to “pre-surge” levels. The surge was announced in January 2007, at which point there were 130,000 to 135,000 troops in Iraq. The peak surge levels were 165,000 troops. As of September 2008, the troop levels are 146,000. President Bush recently announced that another 8,000 would be coming home by February of next year bringing the troop levels down to 138,000.
BIDEN: "As a matter of fact, John recently wrote an article in a major magazine saying that he wants to do for the health care industry — deregulate it and let the free market move — like he did for the banking industry."
FALSE: Biden and Obama have been perpetuating this distortion of what McCain wrote in an article for the American Academy of Actuaries. McCain, laying out his health plan, only referred to deregulation when saying people should be allowed to buy health insurance across state lines. In that context, he wrote: "Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation."
BIDEN: He claimed that McCain had said "he wouldn't even sit down" with the government of Spain.
FALSE: Actually, McCain didn't reject a meeting, but simply refused to commit himself one way or the other during an interview.
PALIN: "We're circulating about $700 billion a year into foreign countries" for imported oil.
FALSE: This is the number that T. Boone Pickens uses in his energy ads as recently as today. However, adjusting for the price of oil today, imports are running at a rate of about $493 billion per year. It is still a huge number, but not as large as Palin claims.
BIDEN: He said four times that McCain had voted 20 times against funding alternative energy.
FALSE: The number was actually 11. In the other instances the Obama-Biden campaign cites, McCain voted not against alternative energy but against mandatory use of alternative energy, or he voted in favor of allowing exemptions from these mandates.
PALIN: Said of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama: "94 times he voted to increase taxes or not support a tax reduction."
TRUE: The count includes repetitive votes as well as votes to raise taxes on the rich and cut taxes for the middle class.
PALIN: "Two years ago, remember, it was John McCain who pushed so hard with the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reform measures. He sounded that warning bell."
TRUE: Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska led an effort in 2005 to tighten regulation on the mortgage underwriters. Senator McCain joined as a co-sponsor a year later. The legislation was never taken up by the full Senate.
BIDEN: Warned that Republican presidential candidate John McCain's $5,000 tax credit to help families buy health coverage "will go straight to the insurance company."
TRUE: Of course it would, because it's meant to pay for insurance. That's like saying money for a car loan will go straight to the car dealer.
PALIN: Claimed she has taken on the oil industry as Alaska governor.
TRUE: Palin pushed to impose a windfall profits tax on oil companies and distributed the proceeds to the state's citizens to offset rising energy costs.
BIDEN: Complained about "economic policies of the last eight years" that led to "excessive deregulation."
TRUE: Biden voted for 1999 deregulation that liberal groups are blaming for part of the financial crisis today. The law allowed Wall Street investment banks to create the kind of mortgage-related securities at the core of the problem now.
PALIN: Said Alaska is "building a nearly $40 billion natural gas pipeline, which is North America's largest and most expensive infrastructure project ever to flow those sources of energy into hungry markets."
TRUE: The state has awarded a license to Trans Canada Corp., that comes with $500 million in seed money in exchange for commitments toward the process of getting a federal certificate. At an August news conference after the state Legislature approved the license, Palin said, "It's not a done deal." because the project is at least six years away from actual construction.
PALIN: She criticized Obama for voting for the 2005 energy bill and said, “that’s what gave those oil companies those big tax breaks.”
TRUE: Sen. Hillary Clinton used this statement against Obama in the primary. It is true that the bill gave some tax breaks to oil companies, but it also took away others. According to the Congressional Research Service, the bill created a net increase in taxes for the oil industry.
BIDEN: My record for 25 years has supported clean coal technology.
TRUE: Biden's voting record indicates he has supported clean coal in the past. The fact that Biden said at a political rally in a rope line once in Ohio "We’re not supporting clean coal." does not change his record of supporting clean coal technology, only his motives for making the remark.
PALIN: "Now, Barack Obama had said that all we're doing in Afghanistan is air-raiding villages and killing civilians." And such a reckless, reckless comment and untrue comment, again, hurts our cause.
TRUE: Obama did say that troops in Afghanistan were killing civilians at a campaign stop in New Hampshire.
BIDEN: The fact is that our commanding general in Afghanistan said today that a surge – the surge principles used in Iraq will not – well, let me say this again now – our commanding general in Afghanistan said the surge principle in Iraq will not work in Afghanistan, not Joe Biden, our commanding general in Afghanistan. He said we need more troops. We need government-building. We need to spend more money on the infrastructure in Afghanistan.
PALIN: Well, first, McClellan did not say definitively the surge principles would not work in Afghanistan. Certainly, accounting for different conditions in that different country and conditions are certainly different. We have NATO allies helping us for one, and even the geographic differences are huge but the counterinsurgency principles could work in Afghanistan. McClellan didn't say anything opposite of that. The counterinsurgency strategy going into Afghanistan, clearing, holding, rebuilding, the civil society and the infrastructure can work in Afghanistan.
TRUE: both. However, Palin incorrectly stated Gen. McKiernan's name as McClellan. Gen. McKiernan was quoted as saying: "The word I don't use for Afghanistan is 'surge,' " McKiernan stressed, saying that what is required is a "sustained commitment" to a counterinsurgency effort that could last many years and would ultimately require a political, not military, solution. On substance, the literal responses of both are true.