Palin Trips Up on Troop Levels
Palin got her numbers wrong on troop levels when she said "and with the surge that has worked, we're now down to pre-surge numbers in Iraq."
The surge was announced in January 2007, at which point there were 132,000 troops in Iraq, according to the Brookings Institute Iraq Index. As of September 2008, that number was 146,000. President Bush recently announced that another 8,000 would be coming home by February of next year. But even then, there still would be 6,000 more troops in Iraq than there were when the surge began.
Palin's False Tax Claims
Palin repeated a false claim about Barack Obama's tax proposal:
Palin: Barack Obama even supported increasing taxes as late as last year for those families making only $42,000 a year. That's a lot of middle income average American families to increase taxes on them. I think that is the way to kill jobs and to continue to harm our economy.
Obama did not in fact vote to increase taxes on "families" making as little as $42,000 per year. What Obama actually voted for was a budget resolution that called for returning the 25 percent tax bracket to its pre-Bush tax cut level of 28 percent. That could have affected an individual with no children making as little as $42,000. But a couple would have had to earn $83,000 to be affected and a family of four at least $90,000. The resolution would not have raised taxes on its own, without additional legislation, and, as we've noted before, there is no such tax increase in Obama's tax plan. (The vote took place on March 14 of this year, not last year as Palin said.)
Palin also repeated the exaggeration that Obama voted 94 times to increase taxes. That number includes seven votes that would have lowered taxes for many, while raising them on corporations or affluent individuals; 23 votes that were against tax cuts; and 17 that came on just 7 different bills. She also claimed that Biden and Obama voted for "the largest tax increase in history." Palin is referring here to the Democrats' 2008 budget proposal, which would indeed have resulted in about $217 billion in higher taxes over two years. That's a significant increase. But measured as a percentage of the nation's economic output, or gross domestic product, the yardstick that most economists prefer, the 2008 budget proposal would have been the third-largest since 1968, and it's not even in the top 10 since 1940.
Palin's Health Care Hooey
Palin claimed that McCain's health care plan would be "budget-neutral," costing the government nothing.
Palin: He's proposing a $5,000 tax credit for families so that they can get out there and they can purchase their own health care coverage. That's a smart thing to do. That's budget neutral. That doesn't cost the government anything ... a $5,000 health care credit through our income tax, that's budget neutral.
The McCain campaign hasn't released an estimate of how much the plan would cost, but independent experts contradict Palin's claim of a cost-free program.
The Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center estimates that McCain's plan, which at its peak would cover 5 million of the uninsured, would increase the deficit by $1.3 trillion over 10 years. Obama's plan, which would cover 34 million of the uninsured, would cost $1.6 trillion over that time period.
The nonpartisan U.S. Budget Watch's fiscal voter guide estimates that McCain's tax credit would increase the deficit by somewhere between $288 billion to $364 billion by the year 2013, and that making employer health benefits taxable would bring in between $201 billion to $274 billion in revenue. That nets out to a shortfall of somewhere between $14 billion to $163 billion – for that year alone.
Palin also said that Obama’s plan would be "universal government run" health care and that health care would be "taken over by the feds." That's not the case at all. As we’ve said before, Obama’s plan would not replace or remove private insurance, or require people to enroll in a public plan. It would increase the offerings of publicly funded health care.
Palin's Small Business Balderdash
Palin repeated a falsehood that the McCain campaign has peddled, off and on, for some time:
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.
As we reported June 23, it's simply untrue that "millions" of small business owners will pay higher federal income taxes under Obama's proposal. According to an analysis by the independent Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, several hundred thousand small business owners, at most, would have incomes high enough to be affected by the higher rates on income, capital gains and dividends that Obama proposes. That counts as "small business owners" even those who merely have some sideline income from such endeavors as freelance writing, speaking or running rental properties, and who get the bulk of their income from employment elsewhere.
Biden and Palin got into a tussle about military recommendations in Afghanistan:
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.
Point Biden. To start, Palin got newly appointed Gen. David D. McKiernan's name wrong when she called him McClellan. And, more important, Gen. McKiernan clearly did say that surge principles would not work in Afghanistan. As theWashington Post reported:
Washington Post: "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.
However, it is worth noting that McKiernan also said that Afghanistan would need an infusion of American troops "as quickly as possible."
McCain in the Vanguard of Mortgage Reform?
Palin said that McCain had sounded the alarm on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac two years ago.
Palin: We need to look back, even two years ago, and we need to beappreciative of John McCain's call for reform with Fannie Mae, with Freddie Mac, with the mortgage-lenders, too, who were starting to really kind of rear that head of abuse.
Palin is referring to a bill that would have increased oversight on Fannie and Freddie. In our recent article about assigning blame for the crisis, we found that by the time McCain added his name to the bill as a cosponsor, the collapse was well underway. Home prices began falling only two months later. Our colleagues at PolitiFact also questioned this claim.
And There's More...
A few other misleads of note:
- Palin said, "We're circulating about $700 billion a year into foreign countries" for imported oil, repeating an outdated figure often used by McCain. At oil prices current as of Sept. 30, imports are running at a rate of about $493 billion per year.
- Palin threw out an old canard when she criticized Obama for voting for the 2005 energy bill and said, “that’s what gave those oil companies those big tax breaks.” It’s a false attack Sen. Hillary Clinton used against Obama in the primary, and McCain himself has hurled. It’s true that the bill gave some tax breaks to oil companies, but it also took away others. And according to the Congressional Research Service, the bill created a slight net increase in taxes for the oil industry.
-by Brooks Jackson, Viveca Novak, Lori Robertson, Joe Miller, Jessica Henig and Justin Bank