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Fact-checking President Obama

by George Landrith

Let’s fact check President Barack Obama’s debate statements. He spent a lot of time since the first debate and during the second debate complaining that what Gov. Mitt Romney said wasn’t true. Yet, the facts do not support Obama’s claims. Here is the proof on Obama’s poor record on truthfulness during the second debate:

The attack in Libya — a terrorist attack? Or a spontaneous protest that got out of hand because of an offensive internet video?

On the issue of Libya, Obama said, that the day after the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi, “I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people and the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened. That this was an act of terror and I also said that we’re going to hunt down those who committed this crime.”

Romney challenged Obama’s characterization that he had identified the Benghazi attack as terrorism on day one. Obama doubled down. Just as Romney was about the snare Obama in his lie,  the the moderator erroneously sided with Obama and claimed that he had identified the attack as terrorism. After the debate, the moderator admitted that she was wrong and that Romney was correct. But let’s not rely on her retraction and correction, let’s go straight to the record.

While Obama used the word “terror” in his Rose Garden speech, it was not in reference to the attack in Benghazi. He referred specifically to the attacks in Benghazi many times during the Rose Garden speech, but never once referred to them as terrorist attacks. He used the word “terror” in any of its forms only once in the entire speech and that was a part that was referring to the 2001 attacks and our national resolve. Here are his exact words: “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.”

“Acts of terror” is plural and if you read the entire speech, it follows a general discussion of the terrorist attacks a decade ago, not the Benghazi attack.

And to the extent an apologist for Obama may claim that there is any ambiguity, Obama removed all doubt in the following days when he and his high ranking administration officials repeatedly said the event was not a terrorist attack, but rather was caused by a offensive YouTube video and an angry protesting mob that got out of control.

Even after the Rose Garden statement, Obama skipped the first presidential national security briefing after the Benghazi attacks, and filmed an interview for CBS’s 60 Minutes and then flew to Las Vegas for a rally and fundraiser. In that CBS interview, Obama blamed the internet video and a spontaneous protest. He never blamed terrorists. That makes it clear that Obama wasn’t blaming terrorists in the Rose Garden — he was blaming a spontaneous mob angered by a video.

But the events of the following three weeks or more prove beyond all doubt that Obama is not only shading the truth, he is lying about Benghazi. Simply stated, this is a full-blown cover-up and scandal.

On September 13th, two days after the attack, Hillary Clinton said the video was highly offensive and reprehensible. She condemned it and said that there was no justification for responding to the video with violence. Yet, at that time she knew that the attack was not a response to the video. She new that there was no protest outside the consulate. The cover-up plan is becoming evident.

On Sept. 14th, Obama and Clinton spoke at a brief memorial service at Joint Base Andrews where Obama “greeted” the coffins. Again the video was discussed and condemned as if it had anything to do with the well organized and well planned attack. Terrorism was not the focus. The movie and a protest were the focus. But they both knew that there was no protest at all. The misinformation campaign was in full swing. It was particularly offensive that Obama and Clinton were spewing these lies with the flag draped coffins of the four dead Americans only a few feet away. And, of course, the Obama campaign showing its deep cynicism and grotesque hypocrisy later criticized the Romney campaign for “politicizing” the tragedy.

On Sept. 16, five days after the attacks, Obama’s Ambassador to the UN and a Obama Cabinet member, Susan Rice, was sent out by the White House to appear on five Sunday television news programs.  She repeatedly said with certitude that the attacks were “spontaneous” protests that got out of hand and they were motivated by anger to an internet video. She clearly and repeatedly said that the attack “was not a pre-planned, premeditated attack.” Everything that Ambassador Rice said was a lie — a purposeful lie. Obama and his team knew it was a lie. But they sent her out to say it anyhow.

On Sept. 17, the State Department specifically said it would not apply the “terrorist” label at that time.

On Sept. 18, Obama appeared on the David Letterman Show and was asked if the attack was an act of war. Obama responded, “No. Here’s what happened. You had a video that was released by somebody who lives here, sort of a shadowy character, that is extremely offensive video directed at Mohammed and Islam, making fun of the prophet Mohammed. And so this caused great offense in much of the Muslim world. But what also happened was extremists and terrorists used this as an excuse to attack a variety of our embassies, including the one, the consulate in Libya.” More than a week after the attack, Obama’s answer on the Letterman show was knowingly and purposefully misleading Americans.

On Sept. 20th, Obama appeared on a forum on Univision and was asked about the terrorist attack characterization. He responded, “We are still doing an investigation. There are going to be different circumstances in different countries. So I don’t want to speak to something until we have all the information.” This may sound reasonable, but it is actually stunningly mendacious. He has been blaming the an internet video and a non-existent protest for more than week and now he won’t even answer a simple question because he claims they’re doing an investigation. The truth is Obama did not want to appear on TV admitting what had actually happened, so he kept the falsehoods going as his official line.

On Sept. 24th, Obama appeared on the View television show rather than meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Joey Bahar asked him if it was a terrorist attack. He responded, “Well, we are still doing an investigation.” But he refused to admit the truth that it was a well-planned and highly coordinated attack by an al Qaeda cell. Nor did he offer any retraction of his numerous previous false statements. Quite frankly, Obama wanted to avoid admitting the truth on TV. The man who has been crowing about defeating al Qaeda, didn’t want to admit that al Qaeda had bombed and burned the American consulate and killed four American diplomats on the anniversary of 9/11. At this point, he was hoping just to play out the clock and hope that November 6th would come and go before there was any serious investigations. That is why he so vociferously attacked Romney for playing politics. It was a convenient distraction from the truth and naturally, the fawning, servile and dishonest mainstream media fully cooperated with Obama and actively helped to deceive the American public. (The mainstream media is, in fact, the enemy of American representative democracy, just as Democratic pollster and strategist, Pat Caddell said several weeks ago. The mainstream media is also shameful, unprofessional, and intentionally dishonest.)

On Sept. 25 Obama spoke at the UN. His remarks focused on the video, mentioning it at least 6 times. He went into detail about how offensive it was, how much he deplored it, how the US has a tradition of free speech even when offensive, and how “there is no video that justifies an attack on an embassy.” Obama was still misleading the American public a full two weeks after the deadly attack. The attack had nothing to do with a video so what was he talking about? Obama was purposefully trying to mislead the public. That is the very definition of a lie.

After that, Obama avoided the public on this topic and remained strangely silent and refused to set the record straight. Jay Carney, his press secretary stopped holding the daily press briefings for more than two weeks.

Interestingly, part of Obama’s standard stump speech and a big part of the Democratic convention was the message that “al Qaeda is on the run.” However, very recently that line is now missing from his canned stump speech. This explains why Obama has been lying about the Benghazi attack. He has been bragging about defeating al Qaeda for more than a year. It has been a centerpiece of his campaign. However, the terrorist attack in Benghazi proved Obama was wrong to have bragged about victory. Thus, Obama felt he had to lie about it and attribute it to an angry protest and a silly internet video. Now Obama just hopes the issue will go away.

A full month after the attacks, Congress held a hearing to get to the bottom of the mound of lies the Obama Administration has been telling since the attack. As the hearing approached, the State Department finally admitted there was no protest at all and that they never believed that there had been a violent protest. But Barack Obama has never answered that question with honesty or clarity.  Never.  During the debate, Obama continued with same level of deception and dishonesty. Obama was lying on this one. It wasn’t merely a misstatement. He has been lying for weeks and its purposefully and cynical.

Using Money from Wars to fund Education and infrastructure

Obama said, “Let’s take the money that we’ve been spending on war over the last decade to rebuild America, roads, bridges, schools.”

The problem with this is that Obama has also been blaming the deficit and the debt on Bush saying that he put these wars on a credit card issued by the Chinese. So if he saves the money from these wars, he will not have even one actually dime to spend on education or roads. Obama has already told us it is all borrowed money. So if we stop borrowing it, we don’t have anything to spend on something else. We simply stop incurring more debt. So how is it that Obama also wants to spend this borrowed money on education and roads?

This is duplicitous or stupid or both. It shows that Obama is all about rhetoric and sophistry, but there is no substance to him. He is a lightweight expressing frivolous ideas and making vapid argument, but never saying anything worth remembering. It also illustrates that Obama isn’t serious about reducing the deficit.

Energy Production — Is it up or down?  

Romney said that “oil production is down 14 percent this year on federal land, and gas production was down 9 percent. Why? Because the president cut in half the number of licenses and permits for drilling on federal lands and in federal waters.” Obama replied, “Very little of what Governor Romney just said is true. We’ve opened up public lands. We’re actually drilling more on public lands than in the previous administration and — the previous president was an oilman.”

The Department of Energy, a federal government agency, reports that sales of oil from federal areas fell 14 percent between 2010 and 2011 and sales of natural gas production fell 9 percent. This is precisely what Romney said.

Obama has tried to take credit for expansion on private lands, while opposing expansion wherever possible on federally controlled areas. Romney was correct on this point as well.

Obama ran for office in 2008, bragging that his energy policies would necessarily cause the price of energy to increase. He has appointed people to his Administration that have said that gasoline and energy should cost more and who advocate policies that even they agree will increase energy costs. Obama himself has said that he was mostly unhappy with how quickly energy prices have risen, not that they have risen — implying that high prices are fine, but the public just needs more time to get used to the idea. Now that he’s put his anti-energy policies into place, he seems reluctant to take the credit for the higher prices. Al Gore did the same thing — called for European style energy price increases and then when the happened, he decried them if they hurt his political career.

Immigration

Obama said, “For young people who’ve come here, brought here oftentimes by their parents, have gone to school here, pledged allegiance to the flag, think of this as their country and understand themselves as Americans in every way except having papers, we should make sure we give them a pathway to citizenship. And that’s what I’ve done administratively.”

Actually, the truth is Obama’s administrative actions do not provide a pathway to citizenship. He has simply allowed them to apply to avoid deportation for up to two years and get a work permit in the interim. But this does nothing to extend legal status or provide a process that leads to citizenship.

Obama’s tax plan — is it just going back to the Clinton rates?

Obama said, “What I’ve also said is, for (those earning) above $250,000, we can go back to the tax rates we had when Bill Clinton was president.”

But that isn’t true. The “Bush” tax cuts (which could also be called the “Obama” tax cuts since he lobbied for their extension about two years ago) set the top income rate at 35 percent. Obama’s tax plan would push rates back up to the Clinton era rate of 39.6 percent. However, Obama’s plan goes well beyond Clinton’s rates. He has added a new Medicare surcharge for those households at is about 1%. He would also impose another new tax on investment income for high earners of almost 4% Totally it all, that is more than a ten percent tax increase over the Clinton era rates.

Letting Detroit Go Bankrupt

Obama has claimed throughout the campaign and in the debate that Gov. Romney wanted to bankrupt GM and Chrysler. Obama said, “What Governor Romney said just isn’t true. He wanted to take them into bankruptcy without providing them any way to stay open. And we would have lost a million jobs.”

However, Romney called for a “managed bankruptcy.” This is a process commonly used by companies that are struggling to discharge debts and reorganize and then emerge from bankruptcy leaner and stronger. It turns out this is what was done. The difference is that Romney did not think that taxpayer funds should have been used to fund the process.

To this day, the taxpayer is out more than half of the $80 billion that was paid out by the government. Many experts say that money will never be repaid. That, of course, is another falsehood that Obama has been spreading on the campaign trail — that the government got all its money back. That is simply not even close to being true.

Is it fair for Romney to pay a lower tax rate than someone earning 50,000? 

Obama said, “[Romney] was on 60 Minutes just two weeks ago and he was asked: ‘Is it fair for somebody like you, making $20 million a year, to pay a lower tax rate than a nurse or a bus driver, somebody making $50,000 year? And he said, ‘Yes, I think that’s fair.’ Not only that, he said, ‘I think that’s what grows the economy.’”

Obama is cherry-picking Romney’s statements and removing entire sentences in a disingenuous attempt to shape the narrative to his liking, but without regard to how accurate the charge is.

Obama carefully edits out a key part of Romney’s response and thus changes it entirely. Romney said, “It is a low rate. And one of the reasons why the capital gains tax rate is lower is because capital has already been taxed once at the corporate level, as high as thirty-five percent.” When you tax it once at 35% and then again at 15%, the tax rate is closer to 50% which is actually a very high tax rate.

Then the 60  Minutes interviewer asks Romney if he thinks that is fair. Then Romney responds, “Yes, I think it’s the right way to encourage economic growth, to get people to invest, to start businesses, to put people to work.”

Obama’s editing completely changes the meaning of what Romney said. Moreover, even if you only count Romney’s roughly 15% tax rate, that is still higher than the average household earning $50,000 which typically pay only about 7% effective tax rates. Thus, Romney pays almost double the effective tax rate of the average middle class household — and that doesn’t even count the fact that Romney’s capital gains income has already been taxed at a 35% rate at the corporate level.

On every conceivable level, Obama’s campaign ad and his debate claim are completely false and disingenuous. He is shamefully demagoguing this issue.

Obama’s China Connection

Obama attacked Romney for holding investments that did business in China. When Romney fired back and asked Obama about his investments in China, he made a lame attempt at humor: “You know, I don’t look at my pension. It’s not as big as yours, so it – it doesn’t take as long.” Mr. President, that didn’t even make sense. If it isn’t big and if doesn’t take long, why not look at it?  That was just stupid response.

Here are the facts, independent reports say that Obama holds shares in mutual funds that invest in Apple, Wal-Mart, Bristol-Myers, General Electric and other American companies that have significant operations in China. As Bill Clinton said at the DNC in Charlotte, “It takes a lot of brass to accuse someone else of doing what you’re doing.” Amen brother!

Is Obama the tax cutter he claims:  

Obama said, “I told you I would cut taxes for middle-class families, and I did. I told you I’d cut taxes for small businesses, and I have.”

Obama has made this claim repeatedly during the campaign. But repetition isn’t a good replacement for truth or accuracy. The liberal Huffington Post points out, “Some of those “tax cuts” that Obama mentioned weren’t really tax cuts at all. Rather, as The New York Times recently reported, they were incentives. In other words, small businesses had to spend money — on health insurance, a new employee, or new equipment — in order to see any savings.” CNN pointed out that most of the so-called tax cuts were temporary –such as the temporary payroll tax holiday.

Obama’s claim of being a tax cutter also ignores the fact that Obama raised many taxes on the middle class. He also enacted the now infamous ObamaCare “penalty” or as the Supreme Court ruled it, “a tax.” Finally, Obama’s taxes on “millionaires and billionaires” hits many who earn less than $200,000 and it also hits many small businesses.

Planned Parenthood and Mammograms

Obama attacked Romney on grounds that he would cut funding for Planned Parenthood which Obama described as providing mammograms to women to help prevent breast cancer. Obama has been making this silly claim for months. But again, repetition, doesn’t make it true. Planned Parenthood does not perform mammograms. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, no Planned Parenthood facility in the United States is even licensed to do mammograms. Moreover, the Department of Health and Human Services said in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request that no Planned Parenthood clinic in the United States has mammogram equipment. If Planned Parenthood doesn’t do mammograms, the most it could do is help pay for them. But anyone can do that and federal funding can do that without giving America’s number one abortion provider funding.

The reason Obama misrepresents these facts is because he understands that the general public doesn’t want to provide taxpayer dollars to fund abortions — Planned Parenthood’s real business. So he changes the subject and tried to make it about something folks can support — a fight against breast cancer. But it is not an honest argument.

Can you get tax breaks for shipping jobs overseas?

Obama said, “You can ship jobs overseas and get tax breaks for it.” Obama has said this for years — even before he ran for president in 2008. Interestingly, he has never proposed any legislation to fix it. But the real reason for his inaction is because there are no tax breaks specifically given to businesses for moving abroad.

Companies can deduct their normal and standard expenses because they pay income taxes on their net income, not their gross income. This includes deducting the cost of office or factory space, employees salaries and benefits and the cost of moving your business from one location to another, even within the United States from one state to another. But there is no special deduction which incentivizes as a business to move abroad. If companies move abroad, it is because tax rates are lower (the U.S. corporate tax rate is the highest in the world), labor costs are less, or regulatory burdens are less. Obama misses that point and pretends that the tax code creates an incentive for businesses to move abroad to obtain a moving deduction. That is simply another vapid argument.

Is Obama a champion for women in the workplace?

A questioner asked, “In what new ways do you intend to rectify the inequalities in the workplace, specifically regarding females making only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn?” One of the problems with this question is it is premised in inaccurate facts. As Diana Furchtgott-Roth pointed out: “Women make about 95 percent of what their male counterparts earn, if the male counterparts are in the same job with the same experience.”

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which Obama bragged about either hasn’t worked or there isn’t a big problem with unfair pay. In almost four years since its passage, women have filed only about 35 lawsuits under the law claiming that they have been underpaid. More damming is the fact that women staffers in the Obama White House are paid less than men. Moreover as the Washington Post and the Daily Mail reported, “top female advisers felt left out by a boy’s club in the [Obama] White House where rampant infighting sabotaged the administration’s economic decisions, according to a controversial new book… [A] female senior aide is quoted as calling the [Obama] White House a hostile environment for women.” Gov. Romney’s female staffers and his cabinet officials speak very highly of how he treated them and how he paid them. An interesting contrast with Obama who apparently only talks a good game.

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George Landrith is the president of Frontiers of Freedom, a public policy think tank devoted to promoting a strong national defense, free markets, individual liberty, and constitutionally limited government. Mr. Landrith is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, where he was Business Editor of the Virginia Journal of Law and Politics. In 1994 and 1996, Mr. Landrith was a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from Virginia’s Fifth Congressional District. You can follow George on Twitter @GLandrith.