We heard some oldies but goodies in Tuesday nights debate between President Barack Obama and former governor Mitt Romney. Here are some factual highlights:
When Governor Romney said we should let Detroit go bankrupt, I said were going to bet on American workers. Obama
This statement is drawn from a headline Let Detroit Go Bankrupt on an opinion article written by Romney for The New York Times. But he did not say that in the article. (He repeated the line, however, on television.)
Although bankrupt often conjures up images of liquidation, Romney called for a managed bankruptcy. This is a process in which the company uses the bankruptcy code to discharge its debts but emerges from the process a leaner, less leveraged company.
Ultimately, along with getting nearly $80 billion in loans and other assistance from the Bush and Obama administrations, GM and Chrysler did go through a managed bankruptcy. But many independent analysts have concluded that taking the approach recommended by Romney would not have worked in 2008, simply because the credit markets were so frozen that a bankruptcy was not a viable option at the time.
Thats why I put out a five-point plan that gets America 12 million new jobs in four years. Romney
This number is even less impressive than it sounds. This pledge amounts to an average of 250,000 jobs a month; in recent months, the economy has averaged about 150,000 jobs a month.
Moodys Analytics, in an August forecast, predicts 12 million jobs will be created by 2016, no matter who is president. And Macroeconomic Advisors in April also predicted a gain of 12.3 million jobs.
In other words, this is a fairly safe bet by Romney.
Weve built enough pipeline to wrap around the entire Earth once. Obama
This fact is kind of meaningless and its missing some important context.
The circumference of the Earth at the equator is 24,091.55 miles.
The president is making this claim based on two years of data posted on the Web site of the Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (2011 is not yet available). The data show that from 2008 to 2010, total oil and gas pipelines have increased by 27,899 miles. So thats circling the globe.
But the total number of pipelines in 2008 was about 2.38 million miles.
So that means that Obamas gain over two years amounts to a little over 1 percent of that total. That sounds much less impressive than circle the Earth.
A recent study has shown the people in the middle-class will see $4,000 per year in higher taxes as a result of the spending and borrowing of this administration. Romney
Romneys claim that Obama would raise taxes on the middle class by $4,000 has earned him criticism in the past.
The figure is drawn from a report from the American Enterprise Institute, which tries to calculate the burden of servicing the national debt by various income groups, examining what would happen under current law, current policies and Obamas budget.
Among the three scenarios, theres actually not much difference, and the Obama administrations budget falls right in the middle. In other words, the study shows how much lower taxes could be if the nation did not keep adding to the debt load; it does not show, as Romney suggests, that Obama has some sort of secret plan to raise taxes.
I said I would cut taxes for middle-class families, and thats what Ive done, by $3,600. Obama
Obama makes it sound like this is one big tax cut.
The $3,600 figure is over four years $800 in each of 2009 and 2010 due to the Making Work Pay tax credit and $1,000 in each of 2011 and 2012 due to a Social Security payroll tax cut. Obama makes it sounds like workers got a $3,600 cut every year.
But the Making Work Pay tax credit has expired, and Obama has not promised to extend the payroll tax cut, meaning that peoples taxes will go up next year.
Every middle-income taxpayer no longer will pay any tax on interest, dividends or capital gains. Romney
The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center says that such a tax cut will not greatly benefit middle income Americans.
For an income range of $50,000 to $75,000 roughly equivalent to the median income figure in Census Bureau data there would be an average tax cut of $167. The people who really make money on capital gains earn far more than $200,000.
Still, the Tax Policy Center study does show that Romneys proposal would not be a bad deal for the elderly who get most of their income from capital appreciation.
Their average tax cut would be three times greater than it would for the rest of the tax-paying population.