Politics is not generally a fact-based realm, and last night's VP debate was no exception.
According to Robert Farley, the Deputy Managing Editor of FactCheck.org, both Joe Biden and Paul Ryan stretched or stomped all over the truth during the debate.
Some of the key fallacies the candidates uttered, Farley writes, included the following:
- Ryan said Obama's proposal to let tax rates rise for high-income individuals would "tax about 53 percent of small-business income." Wrong. Ryan is counting giant hedge funds and thousands of other multimillion-dollar enterprises as "small" businesses.
- Ryan exaggerated the claim that "20 million people...are projected to lose their health insurance if Obamacare goes through." According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, it's more likely that 3 million to 5 million Americans would no longer get health insurance through their employers. That number includes individuals who voluntarily chose to drop their employer-provided insurance to obtain coverage from another source. Ryan's 20 million figure came from a 2012 pessimistic scenario that a March 2012 CBO report said relied on extreme assumptions. The optimistic scenario? Work-based coverage increases by 3 million.
- Ryan was wrong when he said a rise in the jobless rate in Biden's hometown was "how it's going all around America." The rate nationally has sunk back to where it was when Obama took office. And in Ryan's hometown, it's more than 4 percentage points lower that it was at the start of Obama's term.
- Ryan claimed the Obama administration spent stimulus money on "electric cars in Finland." Not true. Although the cars have been assembled in Finland, the money went for work in the United States.
- Both Biden and Ryan twisted the facts about Romney's tax plan. Biden misrepresented the findings of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center while Ryan repeated a misleading claim that "six studies have verified" that the plan is mathematically possible.
- Ryan misquoted a Medicare official as saying "one out of six hospitals and nursing homes are going to go out of business" as a result of the Affordable Care Act. Not quite. The official said that many could become "unprofitable," and the the situation could be monitored to head off bad outcomes.
- Ryan was off base when he said of a cost-saving panel created by the Affordable Care Act, "not one of them even has to have medical training." Actually, the board must include physicians and other health care professionals among its members.
You can read the rest of Farley's analysis here.
So, given that politicians routinely play so fast and loose with the truth, is it fair to conclude that Americans just don't really care about the facts?
Farley hopes that's not the case.
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