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FACT CHECK Issue by issue



Published: Wed, October 8, 2008 @ 12:00 a.m.

Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain stretched facts, sometimes past the breaking point, as they addressed the financial crisis and more during their second presidential debate. Some examples:

McCAIN: Said one way out of the financial crisis is to “stop sending $700 billion a year to countries that don’t like us.”

THE FACTS: Although he didn’t spell it out, he was referring — as he has in the past — to purchases of oil from countries hostile to the U.S. The figure is inflated and misleading. The U.S. is not spending nearly that much on oil imports and roughly one-third of what it does spend goes to friendly countries such as Canada, Mexico and Britain.

***

OBAMA: “I believe this is a final verdict on the failed economic policies of the last eight years, strongly promoted by President Bush and supported by Senator McCain, that essentially said that we should strip away regulations, consumer protections, let the market run wild, and prosperity would rain down on all of us. It hasn’t worked out that way. And so now we’ve got to take some decisive action.”

THE FACTS: McCain has indeed favored less regulation over the years but supported tighter rules and accountability on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac two years before the start of a financial crisis prompted in part by those giant mortgage underwriters. Obama was not a leader in that unsuccessful effort. Some of the current problems can be traced to legislation passed in 1999 that lifted many regulations over the financial industry. That deregulation was championed by then-Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, a McCain supporter, but also by President Clinton, who signed the legislation, and by former Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, now a top Obama economic adviser.

***

McCAIN: Complained that Obama’s “cronies and friends” had received money from Fannie and Freddie.

THE FACTS: McCain has his own ties to the mortgage giants. Rick Davis, his campaign manager, has been a focus of attention because Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae paid him or his lobbying firm more than $2 million dating back to 2000.

***

OBAMA: “Actually I’m cutting more than I’m spending so that it will be a net spending cut.”

THE FACTS: Obama has many ambitious plans to spend more taxpayer dollars on a variety of federal programs, including clean energy technologies and job training. He’s said he’ll cut pork-barrel programs and the costs of the war in Iraq to pay for it — as well as raise taxes on the wealthy — but the specifics of his new spending plans greatly outweigh the few spending cuts he’s identified.

Source: Associated Press


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