Facts went astray on a variety of issues during Wednesday's debate between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain.
Obama: “Every dollar that I've proposed, I've proposed an additional cut, so that it matches.”
The facts: The bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates his programs would add $281 billion to the deficit at the end of his first term. The analysis includes his plans to save money.
McCain: “We have to stop sending $700 billion a year to countries that don't like us very much.”
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The facts: This is a reference to U.S. spending on oil imports that McCain has repeatedly made. But the figure is inflated and misleading. According to government agencies that track energy imports, the U.S. spent $246 billion in 2007 for all imported crude oil, a majority of it coming from friendly nations including Canada and Mexico. An additional $82 billion was spent on imported refined petroleum products such as gasoline, diesel and fuel oil. A majority of the refined products come from refineries in such friendly countries as the Netherlands, Canada, the U.K., Trinidad-Tobago and the Virgin Islands.
Obama: “One hundred percent, John, of your ads – 100 percent of them – have been negative.”
The facts: The is true when it comes to McCain's current spots. But by saying McCain's ads “have been” all negative, Obama ventures into misleading territory. McCain is currently running all negative ads, according to a study by the University of Wisconsin-Madison. But he has run a number of positive ads during the campaign.
McCain: “Sen. Obama is spending unprecedented amounts of money in negative attack ads on me.”
The facts: Obama is spending unprecedented amounts of money on ads, period — negative or otherwise. Obama is outspending McCain and the Republican Party by more than 2-to-1 in presidential ads. At one point in August, 90 percent of the ads Obama was airing were against McCain. A study conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that about 34 percent of Obama's ads are now negative.
Obama: Said he would be “completely supportive” of late-term abortion restrictions “as long as there's an exception for the mother's health and life.”
The facts: Obama leaves himself a lot of latitude in this answer. A woman's “health” has been so broadly interpreted that it can include conditions, including psychological conditions, that are difficult to diagnose or prove. Abortion foes say that makes the ban meaningless, because it leaves too much subjective judgment in the equation.
McCain: “Sen. Obama, as a member of the Illinois state Senate, voted in the Judiciary Committee against a law that would provide immediate medical attention to a child born in a failed abortion. He voted against that.”
Obama: “If it sounds incredible that I would vote to withhold lifesaving treatment from an infant, that's because it's not true.”
The facts: As a state senator, Obama opposed three legislative efforts, in 2001, 2002 and 2003, to give legal protections to any aborted fetus that showed signs of life. The 2003 measure was virtually identical to a bill President Bush signed into law in 2002 – a bill that passed before Obama was in the U.S. Senate, but one that Obama said he would have supported. Illinois already had a law to protect aborted fetuses born alive and considered able to survive. Critics said the proposed legislation would have undermined Roe v. Wade in ways the federal law would not.