WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice
President Joe Biden has mangled a heaping helping of facts over the
years. Despite being newer to presidential-campaign politics, Republican
Paul Ryan has already earned something of a reputation for taking
flying leaps past reality.
How did they do Thursday night?
Here's a look at some of their claims:
on whether U.S. should have beefed up security at the U.S. Consulate in
Libya before the deadly terrorist attack there: "We weren't told they
wanted more security there."
RYAN: "There were requests for more security."
THE FACTS: Ryan is right, judging by testimony from Obama administration officials at a congressional hearing this week.
R. Lamb, a deputy assistant secretary for diplomatic security, told
lawmakers she refused requests for more security in Benghazi, saying the
department wanted to train Libyans to protect the consulate. "Yes,
sir, I said personally I would not support it," she said.
Nordstrom, who was the top security official in Libya earlier this year,
testified he was criticized for seeking more security. He said
conversations he had with people in Washington led him to believe that
it was "abundantly clear we were not going to get resources until the
aftermath of an incident. How thin does the ice have to get before
someone falls through?"
RYAN: "We should have spoken out
right away when the green revolution was up and starting, when the
mullahs in Iran were attacking their people. We should not have called
Bashar Assad a reformer when he was turning his Russian-provided guns on
his own people.
THE FACTS: Neither President Barack Obama nor
anyone else in his administration ever considered the Syrian leader a
"reformer." The oft-repeated charge stems from an interview Secretary of
State Hillary Rodham Clinton gave in March 2011 noting that "many of
the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent
months have said they believe he's a reformer." She did not endorse
that view. The comment was widely perceived to be a knock at senators
such as John Kerry of Massachusetts who maintained cordial relations
with Assad in the months leading up to his crackdown on protesters.
BIDEN: "We went out and rescued General Motors."
FACTS: Actually, the auto bailout of General Motors and Chrysler began
under President George W. Bush. The Obama administration continued and
___ RYAN: "And then they put this new
Obamacare board in charge of cutting Medicare each and every year in
ways that will lead to denied care for current seniors. This board, by
the way, it's 15 people, the president's supposed to appoint them next
year. And not one of them even has to have medical training."
FACTS: Ryan is referring to the Independent Payment Advisory Board,
created under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul law. It has
the power to force cuts in Medicare payments to service providers if
costs rise above certain levels and Congress fails to act. But it
doesn't look like the board will be cutting Medicare "each and every
year," as Ryan asserts. Medicare costs are currently rising modestly and
the government's own experts project the board's intervention will not
be needed until 2018 and 2019 at the earliest — after Obama leaves
office if re-elected to a second term.
BIDEN, when asked who would pay more taxes in Obama's second term: "People making a million dollars or more."
FACTS: Obama's proposed tax increase reaches farther down the income
ladder than millionaires. He wants to roll back Bush-era tax cuts for
individuals making over $200,000 and couples making more than $250,000.
"We cannot allow Iran to gain a nuclear weapons capability. Now, let's
take a look at where we've gone — come from. When Barack Obama was
elected, they had enough fissile material — nuclear material — to make
one bomb. Now they have enough for five. They're racing toward a nuclear
weapon. They're four years closer toward a nuclear weapons capability."
FACTS: Ryan's claim is misleading. Iran isn't believed to have produced
any of the highly enriched uranium needed to produce even one nuclear
weapon, let alone five. That point isn't even disputed by Israel, whose
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu implored the world at the United
Nations last month to create a "red line" at enrichment above 20
percent. Iran would have to enrich uranium at much higher levels to
produce a weapon. There is intelligence suggesting that Iran has worked
on weapon designs, but not that it has developed a delivery system for
any potential nuclear warhead.
BIDEN: "What we did is, we saved $716 billion and put it back, applied it to Medicare."
FACTS: Contrary to Biden's assertion, not all the money cut from
Medicare is going back into the program in some other way. The
administration is cutting $716 billion over 10 years in Medicare
payments to providers and using some of the money to improve benefits
under the program. But most of the money is being used to expand health
care coverage outside of Medicare.
RYAN: "What troubles
me more is how this administration has handled all of these issues. Look
at what they're doing through Obamacare with respect to assaulting the
religious liberties of this country. They're infringing upon our first
freedom, the freedom of religion, by infringing on Catholic charities,
Catholic churches, Catholic hospitals."
THE FACTS: The requirement
under the health care law that most employers cover birth control free
of charge to female employees does not apply to churches, houses of
worship, or other institutions directly involved in propagating a
religious faith. It does apply to church-affiliated institutions such as
hospitals and charities that serve the general public.
BIDEN: "Romney said 'No, let Detroit go bankrupt.'"
FACTS: GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has gotten endless grief
through the campaign for the headline put on his November 2008 opinion
essay that he wrote for The New York Times. But his point was never that
he wanted the auto industry to go down the tubes.
using government money to bail out Chrysler and General Motors, instead
favoring privately financed bankruptcy restructuring. His prescription
seemed improbable. Automakers were hemorrhaging cash and the banking
system was in crisis, so private money wasn't available. Without the
government money, it's likely both companies would have gone out of
business. Romney did propose government-guaranteed private loans for
both companies after bankruptcy.
RYAN: "This one tax would actually tax about 53 percent of small-business income."
BIDEN: "Ninety-seven percent of the small businesses in America pay less — make less than $250,000."
FACTS: Both are correct, but incomplete, when sizing up the effect on
small business of raising taxes for individuals making more than
$200,000 and married couples making more than $250,000, as Obama wants
to do. Republicans say that would hit small-business owners who report
business income on their individual income tax; Democrats say the
overwhelming majority of small businesses would not be affected.
to a 2010 report by the Joint Committee on Taxation, the official
scorekeeper for Congress, about 3 percent of people who report business
income would face a tax increase under Obama's plan. That support's
The same report says those business owners account for about half of all business income. That supports Ryan.