Washington Post Rapid Fact-Check On Debate
Here's some rapid fact-checking on the vice presidential debate from the Washington Post:
- Sarah Palin asserted that Joe Biden backed John McCain's military policies until this presidential race. That is flatly false. Biden was an outspoken opponent of President Bush's troop increases in Iraq as soon as Bush announced them after the 2006 elections. As Foreign Relations Committee Chairman, he led the most heated hearings before the troops were actually deployed.
- Palin oversimplified Obama's vote to stop funding U.S. troops in Iraq. She was referring to a Senate vote on May 24, 2007, on appropriations bill funding operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama was one of 14 senators who voted against the bill on the grounds that it did not set a timeline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Obama made clear that he was in favor of funding the troops, but could not agree to an indefinite extension of the war. The previous month, most Senate Republicans voted against a Democratic bill (supported by Obama) that linked funding of the troops to the establishment of a timeline for withdrawal. McCain missed that vote.
- Palin repeated a standard line offered by the McCain campaign--that Obama has not admitted the "surge" of additional troops in Iraq worked. But in a September interview with Bill O'Reilly of Fox News, Obama said "the surge has succeeded in ways that nobody anticipated. I've already said it's succeeded beyond our wildest dreams." Obama has not, however, retracted his opposition to the surge, and he has said political reconciliation still needs to take place in Iraq.
- Palin was erroneous when she claimed U.S. troop levels in Iraq are now at "pre-surge" levels. When President Bush announced last month that he would withdraw an additional 8,000 U.S. troops over the coming months, he committed to leaving at least 138,000 troops in the country at the end of his presidency, 3,000 more than there were before the troop increases known now as "the surge."
- Palin signaled early she would go after Barack Obama all night on the charge that he had voted 94 times to either raise taxes or fight against tax cuts. Factcheck.org, a non-partisan watchdog, has analyzed the charge. Of the 94, 23 of those votes were indeed votes against proposed tax cuts. Eleven of them were increases on families earning over $1 million to help fund programs such as Head Start and school nutrition. And 53 were on non-binding budget resolutions that foresaw allowing tax cuts to expire as scheduled. Such out-year projections are meaningless, since non-binding budgets are passed each year. On another point, Palin said a tax hike that hits earners over $250,000 would hit "millions of small businesses." That is untrue. The vast majority of small businesses barely break even and do not pay the top tax brackets. To get that figure, Republicans count affluent taxpayers who claim some income from some small business income as "small businessmen."
- Palin repeated John McCain's claim that Barack Obama voted to increase taxes for every American earning more than $42,000 a year. This is a considerable stretch. Obama voted for a non-binding budget resolution that laid down general budgetary guidelines based on the assumption that the Bush tax cuts will expire, as scheduled, in 2011. The budget resolution did not represent a vote to raise taxes. Obama has said that he is in favor of continuing the Bush tax cuts for all but the wealthiest Americans.