Saturday, January 26, 2008

Fact Check of GOP debate in Florida

By Calvin Woodward of the Associated Press on Thursday's GOP debate.

Fact Check: Misfires in GOP Debate

WASHINGTON - A number of assertions in the latest Republican presidential debate went unchallenged because candidates spent more time criticizing Democrats from afar than challenging - and correcting - each other face to face.

THE SPIN: John McCain took issue with a questioner's statement that he favors "mandatory caps" on greenhouse gas emissions.

"No, I'm in favor of cap-and-trade," McCain said.

"And all we are saying is, 'Look, if you can reduce your greenhouse gas emissions, you earn a credit. If somebody else is going to increase theirs, you can sell it to them.' And, meanwhile, we have a gradual reduction in greenhouse gas emissions."

THE FACTS: McCain has proposed mandatory caps on greenhouse gas emissions.

The Arizona senator has been among the most vocal supporters in Washington of capping greenhouse gases, proposing legislation to do that several times, and criticized the Bush administration for resisting mandatory measures.

In a cap-and-trade system, companies that outperform pollution requirements could sell the right to pollute to companies that don't meet the limits. But overall emissions would have to come down, and ever more stringently as years pass.

The bill McCain co-sponsored with Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman last year proposed that pollution allowances be cut by two-thirds between 2012 and 2050. A section of the bill is titled: "Mandating Emissions Reductions."

THE SPIN: Mitt Romney boiled down Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton's health care plan to what he regarded as its essence: a government giveaway.

"Her health care plan, quite simply, is one which says, 'Look, we're going to give health insurance to everybody by the government.'"

THE FACTS: Clinton's plan does not propose that the government give everyone health insurance. Most people and companies would pay for it, like now.

The New York senator proposes that the government help those who can't afford the insurance to buy it, so that everyone can be covered, and uses tax credits to small business and other spending to try to make that possible. Existing health insurance plans would be preserved for those who want it, while people could choose to join other programs she proposes to create.

THE SPIN: Rudy Giuliani again talked up his record as New York mayor.

"I'm the only one who's actually turned around a government economy. I mean, the reality is, when I became mayor of New York the economy of New York was in very, very bad shape - tremendous deficits, 10 1/2 percent unemployment, 300,000 jobs gone. We turned that around, cut unemployment by more than half, brought in 450,000 new jobs, and we cut taxes by 17 percent."

THE FACTS: The unemployment rate fell from about 10 percent when he took office to a little over 6 percent before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, rising after to 7.6 percent. The rate did not fall by more than half.

On deficits, an analysis by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania found that he inherited a $2.3 billion deficit in 1994 and produced surpluses during his mayoralty, but projected a $2.8 billion deficit in his last budget, released the spring before the attacks.

THE SPIN: Mike Huckabee aired his proposal to eliminate federal income, investment and payroll taxes in favor of a national sales tax, an idea he has likened elsewhere to "a magic wand relieving us from pain and unfairness."

Questioned about a 30 percent sales tax, he said "it's 23 percent" if the government is to bring in the same money it is getting now. He said his plan "untaxes the poor, untaxes the elderly."

THE FACTS: A mathematical exercise is required to understand why 30 percent and 23 percent are both applied to the plan.

If an item costs $100 before tax and $130 after tax, that's $30 more, which most shoppers would consider a 30 percent rate.

But proponents of the sales tax cast it another way. They say that because $30 is 23 percent of $130, the rate is really 23 percent.

Huckabee does not exempt the elderly from the tax, despite claiming he "untaxes the elderly."

By that, he means that he thinks most retirees keep their spending under the poverty-line level, and so would be sheltered.


TrolleyRider said...

I don't support huckabee but I do support the Fair Tax, which is what he was talking about. The Fair Tax sends every citizen with a social security number (I believe over 16, but not sure about this, it might be by dependency?) a check that will make up for their sales tax on spending up to the poverty level. So basically no one will be paying taxes on the first so much that they spend every month, whether they actually spend that money or not. Under that system you choose how much taxes you want to pay, because only NEW goods are taxed, nothing that is used including houses and cars.

So if the elderly had their houses paid off, and were only buying food for their household, most likely they wouldn't HAVE to spend more than the amount they'd be getting the sales tax back for. Same with those currently in poverty.

This allows them to save more money and climb out of poverty, if they make smart decisions with the money they are left with.

I'd highly recommend reading The Fair Tax by Neal Boortz if you want to find out more about the tax system being proposed. It's under 200 pages and a very quick read.

The other thing to take into account is a good that costs $100 right now has the taxes the producer, the trucking company and the store all have to pay worked into the $100 price. Once those taxes and even more importantly the cost of complying with those costs are removed, prices will fall accordingly. That will help to cushion the sales tax as well.

Ian said...

While John McCain showed a genuine interest in understanding how Gov. Huckabee handles the critics on FairTax's regressivity (it's less regressive than the current system), any FairTax supporter who supports it ought to be backing the candidate capable of selling it to the American people.

And there is no better salesman of the FairTax than Gov. Huckabee. (It also may be why his poll numbers are on the rise in Florida, the Super Tuesday states, and dominate in Georgia!)

Let us hope that the Reagan coalition is dead - that's the story of how Wall St. not only keeps Main Street down, but actually destroys new companies, and raping them of fees, before taking them into bankruptcy, laying off their workers, and auctioning off their parts. Then, to add insult to injury, enriching them, and their clients additionally through loopholes in the tax code that let them shelter gains from U.S. taxation offshore - all of this is documented about Romney and Bain Capital.

Huckabee's great appeal is that he understands how the FairTax will free us from tax slavery and once again restore freeholder status to Americans, enabling us to much more easily reach the next rung of the wealth ladder, in order to re-fuel America as the center of enterprise and a tax-free haven for global business.