Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Great Truth Divide

Both sides spin stories to make their position look most favorable and their opponent's look least favorable. Fine. But, Republicans seem to have decided that just lying is a far more effective tool.

The AP released a story giving some fact-checking examples from the GOP Convention last night. They did a similar story for the Democratic Convention. The difference between the examples is pretty stark. For illustration purposes, I picked the most favorable and least favorable examples for both.

Most Favorable:

MCCAIN: "She's been governor of our largest state, in charge of 20 percent of America's energy supply ... She's responsible for 20 percent of the nation's energy supply. I'm entertained by the comparison and I hope we can keep making that comparison that running a political campaign is somehow comparable to being the executive of the largest state in America," he said in an interview with ABC News' Charles Gibson.

THE FACTS: McCain's phrasing exaggerates both claims. Palin is governor of a state that ranks second nationally in crude oil production, but she's no more "responsible" for that resource than President Bush was when he was governor of Texas, another oil-producing state. In fact, her primary power is the ability to tax oil, which she did in concert with the Alaska Legislature. And where Alaska is the largest state in America, McCain could as easily have called it the 47th largest state — by population.

SENATE MAJORITY LEADER HARRY REID of NEVADA: "Sen. McCain and the Republicans have centered their answer to our vital energy needs on one solution: offshore drilling. Sen. McCain calls for it in every speech ... White House analysts, congressional analysts, and the oil industry all agree that offshore drilling won't add one drop to our energy pool for at least 10 years... Will it do any harm? The answer is, we just don't know, and neither does he."

THE FACTS: Reid is correct when he says opening areas of the U.S. coast, now off limits, will produce no new oil for years; energy experts predict seven to 10 years. McCain has acknowledged the time frame, but argues it could have a psychological effect on oil markets if the U.S. commits to more production. Many experts believe such an effect would be temporary and likely do little to lower prices.
The Republican one is most favorable because it is just misleading instead of just patently false. The Democratic one is favorable because it happens to be completely true.

Least favorable:

PALIN: "The Democratic nominee for president supports plans to raise income taxes, raise payroll taxes, raise investment income taxes, raise the death tax, raise business taxes, and increase the tax burden on the American people by hundreds of billions of dollars."

THE FACTS: The Tax Policy Center, a think tank run jointly by the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute, concluded that Obama's plan would increase after-tax income for middle-income taxpayers by about 5 percent by 2012, or nearly $2,200 annually. McCain's plan, which cuts taxes across all income levels, would raise after tax-income for middle-income taxpayers by 3 percent, the center concluded.

Obama would provide $80 billion in tax breaks, mainly for poor workers and the elderly, including tripling the Earned Income Tax Credit for minimum-wage workers and higher credits for larger families.

He also would raise income taxes, capital gains and dividend taxes on the wealthiest. He would raise payroll taxes on taxpayers with incomes above $250,000, and he would raise corporate taxes. Small businesses that make more than $250,000 a year would see taxes rise.

FORMER SECRETARY of STATE MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: "Sen. McCain says that American troops should remain in Iraq perhaps as long as they have been stationed in Korea and Japan, as if there were no difference in history, religion or culture between our friends in Asia and those in the Middle East."

THE FACTS: Democrats have made much of McCain's "100 years" comment at a town-hall meeting earlier this year in New Hampshire. It was in response to a questioner who had challenged him about President Bush's view that U.S. troops could be in Iraq for 50 years.

"Maybe a hundred," McCain said. "We've been in South Korea. We've been in Japan for 60 years. We've been in South Korea for 50 years or so. That'd be fine with me as long as Americans, as long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed. Then it's fine with me. I hope it would be fine with you if we maintain a presence in a very volatile part of the world where al-Qaida is training, recruiting and equipping and motivating people every single day."

McCain also has said he envisions victory in Iraq and the return of most U.S. troops by January 2013 — the end of his first term if elected. He also says withdrawal should be based on security conditions in Iraq, not hard deadlines.
The Republican one is tough because it is actually tied with just about every other fact check listed as egregious lies. Not only will Obama not raise taxes on every American, but he will actually benefit most Americans more than McCain's plan. The Democratic one is misleading because it substitutes "fine with me" for "should."

There is a definite truth gap between the two parties.

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