Obama & Romney strayed from facts in debate

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Obama and Romney

Obama and RomneyASIDE from Mitt Romney’s threat to defund Big Bird, the most commonly cited quip in his debate with President Obama may have been: “Mr. President, you’re entitled as the president to your own airplane and to your own house, but not to your own facts.”

The remark could have applied almost equally to Romney, who charters a private campaign plane, has no shortage of houses and, like Obama, displayed a flexible attitude toward matters of fact Wednesday night in the first presidential debate. Independent fact-checkers came down harder on the Republican challenger than on the incumbent president. But both sides were guilty of, at best, twisting facts for political gain.

Here is a look at some of the major issues discussed in the debate and how the candidates’ statements comport with the truth:

Healthcare

Obama, whose 2008 pledge to reduce insurance premiums is unfulfilled, continued to overstate the impact of the new healthcare law, claiming erroneously that premium increases had slowed in recent years. In fact, the average employee share of an employer-provided health plan jumped from $3,515 in 2009 to $4,316 in 2012, an increase of more than 22%, according to a survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust. That is up from an increase of 18% between 2006 and 2009.

But Romney made more false claims about the healthcare law and his own plans to replace it.

The GOP nominee rehashed an oft-debunked claim by conservatives that the law includes a new government board that is “going to tell people ultimately what kind of treatments they can have.”

The panel — known as the Independent Payment Advisory Board — is instead charged with recommending ways to control Medicare spending if it increases too rapidly. The independent experts on the board can suggest cuts to how much the federal government pays healthcare providers, but are explicitly prohibited from cutting benefits or rationing care.

Romney also threw out several dubious and discredited studies about the impact of the law, including a survey by consulting giant McKinsey that claimed 30% of employers would drop health coverage. McKinsey was forced to retract the report after admitting that many respondents didn’t actually manage health benefits for their companies.

At the same time, Romney misrepresented his own healthcare proposals, claiming, for example that people with preexisting medical conditions are covered in his plan. In fact, Romney has said only sick Americans who currently have insurance will be guaranteed coverage in the future. Read more at LA Times

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