In the rough-and-tumble of a town hall-style presidential debate, the facts took something of a beating this week.
Mitt Romney wrongly claimed that it took 14 days for President Barack Obama to brand the assault on the U.S. Consulate in Libya a terrorist act. Obama yet again claimed that ending the Afghanistan and Iraq wars makes money available to “rebuild America,” even though it doesn’t.
A look at some of their claims:
OBAMA: The day after last month’s attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, “I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people and the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened. That this was an act of terror and I also said that we’re going to hunt down those who committed this crime.”
ROMNEY: “I want to make sure we get that for the record, because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.”
OBAMA: “Get the transcript.”
THE FACTS: Obama is correct in saying that he referred to Benghazi as an act of terrorism on Sept. 12, the day after the attack. From the Rose Garden, he said: “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. … We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act.”
OBAMA: “Let’s take the money that we’ve been spending on war over the last decade to rebuild America, roads, bridges, schools. We do those things, not only is your future going to be bright, but America’s future is going to be bright as well.”
THE FACTS: What Obama didn’t mention is that much of the money that has been paying for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was borrowed.
ROMNEY: “I know he keeps saying, ‘You want to take Detroit bankrupt.’ Well, the president took Detroit bankrupt. You took General Motors bankrupt. You took Chrysler bankrupt. So when you say that I wanted to take the auto industry bankrupt, you actually did. And I think it’s important to know that that was a process that was necessary to get those companies back on their feet, so they could start hiring more people. That was precisely what I recommended and ultimately what happened.”
THE FACTS: What Romney recommended did not happen, and his proposed path probably would have forced General Motors and Chrysler out of business.
ROMNEY: “The proof of whether a strategy is working or not is what the price is that you’re paying at the pump. If you’re paying less than you paid a year or two ago, why, then, the strategy is working. But you’re paying more. When the president took office, the price of gasoline here in Nassau County was about $1.86 a gallon. Now, it’s $4 a gallon. The price of electricity is up. If the president’s energy policies are working, you’re going to see the cost of energy come down.”
THE FACTS: Presidents have almost no effect on energy prices; most are set on financial exchanges around the world. When Obama took office, the world was in the grip of a financial crisis and crude prices — and gasoline prices along with them — had plummeted because world demand had collapsed. Crude oil prices have since risen even as U.S. oil production has soared in recent years because global demand is reaching new heights as the developing economies of Asia use more oil.
Other energy prices have fallen during Obama’s term. Electricity prices, when adjusted for inflation, are down, and homeowners are finding it much cheaper to heat their homes with natural gas. That’s because natural gas production has surged, reducing prices both for homeowners and for utilities that burn gas to generate electricity.