Sorry for the length, but I didn't have time to write a short blog.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Truth Will Out

Let's talk about political ads.  Being in one of the swing states, I've already reached my limit of ads.  I've even advocated on my Facebook page for turning off the sound when one comes on.  You can join the movement if you like. Still, we should really find out the truth of the ads.  Unlike one campaign official who announced that they would not be dictated to by fact checkers, political ads are usually shaded one direction or the other.  It's too bad that news organizations seem too afraid to call a lie a lie because of journalistic equity.  Politicians have always shaded the truth in their ads, but a bold faced lie ...

I look at a number of sites that do fact checking and I wanted to look at the ads that fall into the category of mostly false to liar, liar pants on fire.  This is what I discovered...

I can't even begin to cover the amount of shading and out right lies that go on in campaign ads.  For the most part, the "Approved" ads are generally given a partly true rating to both campaigns.  There are, however, a couple that are considered to be completely false.

The American for Posperity ad that refers to the deficit is false.  The quotes from Obama are taken out of context and not referring to the deficit.  The deficit the ad keeps showing is not, for the most part a result of his management.  The deficits growth under the Obama administration is actually 4.something trillion.  Much of that is probably the interest on the money the US borrowed.  The remaining 11 trillion is a result of borrowing money, the bailouts, the crash and two unfunded wars. I suppose we should not be surprised by the shading of these ads since the whole "you didn't build it" was also taken out of context.  I actually saw the speech live on TV when Obama gave it and that is very definitely taking words out of context.

Priorities USA and the Mitt Romney and Bain are to blame for the premature death of Joe Soptic's wife. I would point out that the ad was pulled after only a few days.  Romney and Bain did make a great deal of money of GS Technologies formerly called GST Steel.  It was a leveraged buy out.  It is unclear if the plant would have survived given labor costs and Asian competitors.  For the most part, the closing of the plant and the millions made by Bain and Romney is true.  However, the issue of the woman's sickness and death which actually occurred nearly five years after the plant closed is a complex one.  She did have insurance for one or two years through her own job, but lost the job when she was injured and as a result lost her insurance.  Sopic did not have insurance because he was at GST.  Romney had long since left Bain and, even though there is a complex series of events and insurances, had nothing to do with her death.  The implications of the ad as far as the human factor is false.

Both the above ads are from Super-PACs.  Be ready for more from them.

What of the "approved ads"  Did Romney outsource jobs?  Did Obama cut Medicare?  Did Obama drop the welfare work requirement?  Did Romney request a waver on the welfare work requirement? Will Romney/Ryan cut medicare?

The gutting of the welfare work requirement.  This one has been debunked as false and as a blatant lie by so many fact checking organizations it has been rated as a "pants on fire" level.  Romney did not ask for a waiver but did support the idea of including one. What is troubling is that even though the ad has been discredited, it continues not only to run but also to have others added in with it, and it is not a Super-PAC ad. It is in reference to this ad that the Romney Campaign basically announced they were not going to let the facts get in the way.

Did Romney outsource jobs?  Partially true.  The companies that outsourced jobs also created some in the USA.  There is no proof that, as Romney has stated, he created a 100,000 jobs, but pioneering outsourcing may be something of a stretch too.  Romney did turn around Staples and Sports Authority.  He also leveraged companies. It is true that Bain did and does buy a company using its assets for the loan and then will fire all the workers and then rehire them with much less in benefits until the company goes under or turns around.  One of my favorite companies was a loss because of a Bain leveraged buyout, KB Toys (this was referenced in a Gingrich ad during the primaries and was rated mostly true).

Did Obama cut Medicare.  Again yes and no, but the ad is rated misleading to false.  ObamaCare uses money recouped by closing loopholes and fraud plus stabilizing payments to carriers.  It does not take anything from current recipients.  It also extended the program's viability by 8 to 12 years.  The fact remains as baby boomers retire, work must be done to save Medicare.

Does the Romney/Ryan plan change Medicare.  The answer again is complicated.  The original Ryan plan cuts exactly the same amount from Medicare that ObamaCare does, but the cuts come from recipients.  The Romney plan is a voucher plan.  It does not affect anyone age 55 and over.  Everyone else, not so good.  The voucher would be on at least the second lowest tier of Medicare so if there is no control on insurance, then everyone would pay more.  The money that it could cost is accurate.  The program does cut Medicaid. It is not even close to the medical plan that congress receives which is one of the best.

Did Romney save the Olympics and as implied the future of the Olympics.  He did successfully mange the Utah Olympics but he had help. He received funding from the government to help support the games which were in serious trouble in Utah.  He also helped to make sure that there was money left to support the facilities once the Games were over.  He did not secure the Olympics for the future.  The Games have survived two world wars and a number of, revolts, the great depression, recessions, two boycotts, revolutions, and the fall of governments .  The failure of the Olympic games in Utah would have been an embarrassment for the US but would not have prevented them from continuing in years following. By the standards above, a badly ran Olympics would have been barely a hiccup for the international community.

Romney and Massachusetts.Yes it did rank 47th in job creation.  The debate is how much influence over job creation a governor actually has.  The answer is not much.  Yes Romney did cut taxes.  Yes he also raised fees, although some of the fees mentioned in the ad were only proposed but never enacted.  He did balance the budget, but it is a state constitutional requirement as it is in many states.  He was however, quite unpopular in terms of job approval in MA.  The ads here are usually rated as partially true by most fact checkers.

By the way, lying in a political ad is protected by the first amendment.  Candidates are not required to tell the truth, even in part.

There are three major fact checking organizations on the web.  They are http://www.politifact.comhttp://www.factcheck.org