Updated: Presidential Debates — Bruin Fact Check

Updated 10/13/12

Vice President Joe Biden, left, listens to Congressman Paul Ryan during the Vice Presidential Debate at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. (Mark Cornelison/Lexington Herald-Leader/MCT)

SECOND DEBATE: JOE BIDEN AND PAUL RYAN

Claims by Paul Ryan

“We should not have called Bashar Assad a reformer when he was turning his Russian-provided guns on his own people.”

 Our Verdict: Mostly True

 Two weeks after Assad responded to anti-government demonstrations with violent reprisals on his own citizens, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” When asked about the situation in Syria, she said: “Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s a reformer. What’s been happening there the last few weeks is — is deeply concerning. But there’s a difference between calling out aircraft and indiscriminately strafing and bombing your own cities, then police actions, which frankly have exceeded the use of force that any of us would want to see.”

After criticism of those remarks, Clinton claimed that she was quoting the opinions of members of Congress, not speaking for the administration itself. While it is clear that the reformer comment was in the context of quoting the opinions of other government officials, it is less clear why Clinton would have cited the opinion if not in agreement with it.

“We cannot allow Iran to gain a nuclear weapons capability. Now let’s take a look at where we’ve gone- come from. When Barack Obama was elected, they had enough fissile material- nuclear material- to make one bomb. Now they have enough for five. They’re racing toward a nuclear weapon. They’re four years closer toward a nuclear weapons capability.”

Our Verdict: Mostly False

There is one estimate from the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) could produce enough weapons-grade uranium to produce up to five bombs. However, the report concluded that it would take Iran months to do so. According to NPR, there is no evidence that Iran is currently enriching up to 90 percent, which is necessary in order to create a nuclear bomb. Discovery News states that “right now Iran is almost at 20 percent (enrichment).”

ISIS estimated that it would take “many additional months” to get the point where they could test a nuclear device and “and even longer to make a reliable warhead for a ballistic missile.”

The Washington Post and CNN both quote officials who state that the United States would have plenty of warning if Iran was successfully enriching uranium to weapon’s grade.

“What troubles me more is how this administration has handled all of these issues. Look at what they’re doing through Obamacare with respect to assaulting the religious liberties of this country. They’re infringing upon our first freedom, the freedom of religion, by infringing on Catholic charities, Catholic churches, Catholic hospitals.”

Our Verdict: False

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops has filed a lawsuit against the government saying the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is a threat to their religious liberty because it requires insurers to provide birth control coverage without additional co-payments.

However, the administration exempted all churches, houses of worship and groups whose primary purpose is to spread religious faith. Religious affiliated groups such as charities and hospitals that deal with the general public would also not be required to provide coverage directly. However, their insurance providers would be required to offer the coverage to employees of those institutions, free of charge.

Claims by Joe Biden 

‘‘Well, we weren’t told they wanted more security [in Libya]. We did not know they wanted more security again.”

 Our Verdict: False

Biden’s statement contradicts testimony given to Congress by Charlene R. Lamb, a deputy assistant secretary for diplomatic security. Lamb testified that she personally denied a request from the Bengazi embassy for more security, because they wanted to train Libyans for that purpose.

Eric Nordstrom, the top security official in Libya, also told Congress that he was criticized for seeking more security for the Bengazi embassy.

 “The congressman here cut embassy security in his bunged by $300 million below what we asked for.”

 Our Verdict: Partially True

The Obama Administration requested $1.801 billion for embassy security, construction and maintenance. The House of Representatives cut that amount to $1.537 billion, a difference of $264 million dollars, less than the $300 million Biden cites. In addition, that budget covered all three areas – security, construction and maintenance – not just security.

There are 5.2 million new jobs, private-sector jobs.

Our Verdict: True

According to statistics analyzed by Politifact.com, there were 111 million private sector jobs in the U.S. in 2009, the year President Obama took office. That number dropped to 106.8 million in 2010, due to the effects of the economic recession. By May 2012, private sector jobs numbers were back up to 111 million, a difference of 5.2 million.

“97 percent of the small businesses in America pay less – make less then $250,00”

Our Verdict: True.

There is some disagreement as to the specific definition of “small business.” The Small Business Association uses the term for any business with less than 500 employees. Republicans often use the term to describe businesses that file their tax returns as individuals, rather than corporations. According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, only three percent of small businesses, as defined by filing under the individual tax code, earn more than $250,000 a year.

“And, by the way, they talk about this Great Recession as if it fell out of the sky, like, “Oh, my goodness, where did it come from?” It came from this man voting to put two wars on a credit card, to at the same time put a prescription drug benefit on the credit card, a trillion-dollar tax cut for the very wealth. I was there. I voted against the. I said, no, we can’t afford that.”

 Our Verdict: Partially True

Biden is correct that Ryan voted for both wars and the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit. However, he’s not entirely truthful about his own voting record.

When Biden was a Senator, he did vote for the Afghanistan resolution which authorized “the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States.”

According to NBC News, he also voted for an early version of Medicare prescription drug coverage, but did not support the final version of the bill which was signed into law by then President George W. Bush.

Claims by Moderator Martha Raddatz

“Let’s talk about Medicare and entailment. Both Medicare and Social Security are going broke and taking a larger share of the budget in the process.”

 Our Verdict:  False

According to the Washington Post, PolitiFact, Factcheck.org and the AARP, neither Medicare nor Social Security are going broke. However, Medicare is taking up a higher portion of the federal budget and does have significant funding challenges that need to be addressed through tax increases, benefit reductions or a combination of both. The Affordable Care Act extended the number of years that the Medicare Hospital Trust Fund, the most financially troubled part of Medicare, is fully funded to 2024. After that year, the Hospital Trust Fund would still be able to cover 87 percent of its costs, without affecting other parts of Medicare.

Social Security is also taking up a larger portion of the federal budget. However, Social Security is in a much stronger position, because it’s paid for through payroll taxes on current workers and on interest from money that the federal government borrowed from Social Security to pay for other parts of the federal budget. At current tax rates, it’s able to pay full benefits until 2033. Without tax increases and/or benefit changes, Social Security would still be able to pay up to 75 percent of benefits through the payroll taxes the program collects.

FIRST DEBATE 

Claims by Mitt Romney

“Your plan is to take the tax rate on successful small businesses from 35 percent to 40 percent. The National Federation of Independent Businesses has said that will cost 700,000 jobs.”

Our Verdict: Possibly True.

During the debate, Candidate Romney contended that President Obama’s proposed tax increases upon American small businesses, which would result in a five percent increase from their current rate of 35 percent to 40 percent, would ultimately result in the loss of 700,000 jobs. This statement is supported by the findings of a study conducted by Drs. Robert Carroll and Gerald Prante, and published by the international accounting firm of Ernst and Young. The results of the study indicated that “Employment in the long-run would fall by 0.5% or, roughly 710,000 fewer jobs, in today’s economy” as a result of said increases.

However, the study Romney cites was conducted on behalf of a number of organizations, most notably the United States Chamber of Commerce and the S Corporation Association, which are commonly accused of demonstrating bias in favor of Republican candidates and proposals. No other independent studies have been published which explicitly prove or disprove the findings of the Ernst and Young study, suggesting that it is in one’s best interest to reserve judgment regarding the statement until additional information is provided by other sources.

We’ve got 23 million people out of work or stopped looking for work in this country. It’s just — it’s — we’ve got — when the president took office, 32 million people on food stamps; 47 million on food stamps today; economic growth this year slower than last year, and last year slower than the year before.”

Our Verdict: Mostly True.

Mitt Romney misleadingly states that 23 million people are out of work in this country, when the actually number is 12.5 million. His statement would have been true if he had mentioned that in that number of 23 million he was including the unemployed, the 8 million who work part-time but want full-time, and those 2 million who are marginally attached according to United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Romney did state a correct number, but it came from three different groups not just the unemployed.

Romney’s statement that there are 47 million people on food stamps today is correct according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

Romney’s last statement was that for the past three years every year, the economic growth is slower and slower.  According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Romney was correct. In 2010 all four quarters had a GDP growth of about 2 percent. In 2011 we had one-quarter with a growth of about 4 percent, but the other three were under 2 percent. In 2012 both quarters so far have had a GDP growth of under 2 percent.

At the same time, gasoline prices have doubled under the president. Electric rates are up. Food prices are up. Health care costs have gone up by $2,500 a family.”

Our Verdict: Mostly True

According to cbsnews.com in a Consumer Price Index report from August, the food index rose 2 percent in the past 12 months. This rise in cost is mainly due to the recent drought in the Midwest, which The New York Times says has affected 88 percent of the corn crop.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, on average U.S. residential electricity cost is up 48 cents per kilowatt per hour since 2010.

According to a 2012 survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation that has analyzed employee heath benefits, Romney is fairly correct. Since Obama took office, the average annual premium for family coverage through an employer has risen from $13,375 in 2009 to $15,745 in 2012, an increase of $2,370 over the past four years.

Romney’s statement about gas prices, however, is misleading. The average current gas price is $3.78, which is a little more than twice the average gas price the week that the president took office in January 2009. But according to Consumer Reports, an average of $1.85 on January 19, 2009 was unusually low due to the economic crisis, when prices fell, which resulted in low demand. The American Automobile Association says, the average national gas price was only 16 cents lower than it is now ($3.62 on October 1, 2008).

All of the increase in natural gas and oil has happened on private land, not on government land. On government land, your administration has cut the number of permits and licenses in half.”

 Our Verdict: Partially True

 According to CNN’s fact check of the debate, gas production on private land has increased by 16.4 billion cubic feet per day since 2005. On federal land, natural gas production has been falling since 2002. CNN attributes the trend to a decrease in offshore gas drilling. Onshore gas production on federal land is actually higher under the Obama administration that it was during the Bush administration. By the end of Obama’s term, oil and gas production in production on federal lands will average 675,000 barrels per year, compared to 609,000 barrels per year under the last term of President Bush. Romney is correct in pointing out an imbalance, but since new permits have been issued for federal lands, CNN deems his statement exaggerated.

Romney’s claim that licenses and permits have dropped by half is an exaggeration, as well. There has been a 42 percent drop in leases and 37 percent drop in drilling permits under the Obama administration. However, the Institute for Energy Research said “this decrease isn’t a result of President Obama’s policies exclusively, but it is the result of decades and policies that have systematically reduced energy production on federal lands.”

Spain spends 42 percent of their total economy on government. We’re now spending 42 percent of our economy on government.”

 Our Verdict: Mostly True

Romney seems to have gotten his information from The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, which claims that we are spending 42.2 percent of our total economy on government spending. However, other sources, including  Politifact.com, say the number is actually 35.4 percent. Politifact.com also says that, “Romney’s numbers… don’t tell the whole story. A large share of the spending has come from not from the cost of government employees, buildings and equipment but from transfer payments that individual Americans ultimately control (and, in many cases, under programs which they had paid into to begin with).

[Dodd-Frank legislation] … designates a number of banks as too big to fail, and they’re effectively guaranteed by the federal government.. There’ve been 122 communities and small banks that have closed since Dodd-Frank.”

Our Verdict: Technically true, but misleading.

According to research by CNN, 196 banks have failed since Dodd-Frank was past in 2010, “most of which would qualify as small or community banks.” However, there is no clear causal link between the failure of these banks and the passage of Dodd-Frank.

 “You put $90 billion into — into green jobs. And I — look, I’m all in favor of green energy. $90 billion, that would have — that would have hired 2 million teachers. $90 billion.”

Our Verdict: False

Romney claimed several times that President Obama put $90 billion into green energy, implying that the expenditure was in one year. The $90 billion amount was paid over several years, and only $21 billion went to renewable energy projects. The rest of the money went to several categories, including transit projects, job training, research and development for clean coal, and modernizing the electric grid.

His  claim that the money could have gone to hiring two million new teachers was also incorrect for two reasons. According to money.USnews.com, teachers make roughly about $50,000 thousand dollars a year. With some math, it can be shown that about $100 billion would be needed to hire these teachers.

Further, FactCheck.Org points out that a significant portion of the $90 billion was given in the form of loans, and teachers cannot be hired through loans.

 “What things would I cut from spending [to eliminate the deficit]? …Is the program so critical it’s worth borrowing money from China to pay for it? And if not, I’ll get rid of it. Obamacare’s on my list… I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I’m going to stop other things…. Number two, I’ll take programs that are currently good programs but I think could be run more efficiently at the state level and send them back to the state. Number three, I’ll make government more efficient and to cut back the number of employees, combine some agencies and departments. My cutbacks will be done through attrition, by the way.”

Our Verdict: Mostly False.

Cutting Obamacare will actually raise the federal budget deficit by $109 billion over the 2013-2022 period, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Cutting PBS will only cure a miniscule percent of the deficit: 1/100th of 1%, to be exact.

Without specific details of the agencies and departments that Romney intends to target, it is impossible to calculate whether combining them will save money.

 “Middle- income Americans have seen their income come down by $4,300.”

Our Verdict: Misleading

Romney is basing his numbers on a report by Sentier Research. Using figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, Sentier found that median household income dropped from $54,481 to $50,065 between December 2007 (when the recession began) and February 2012. However, the higher number dates from nearly 11 months before Obama was elected to office.

Romney also did not mention that real median household income has been decline for nearly a decade, and has continued since President Obama took office.

FactCheck.org calls Romney’s claim inaccurate. The decline in income since President Obama took office is $2,492, even once adjustments for inflation are made, according to Census figures.  FactCheck also notes that Sentier research presented evidence income decline bottomed out last year.

“The idea of cutting $716 billion from Medicare to be able to balance the additional cost of Obamacare is, in my opinion, a mistake.”

Our Verdict: Partially True.

Obama has proposed reducing the cost of Medicare by cutting pay to doctors and hospitals totaling $716 billion, not cutting benefits to Medicare recipients.

The money saved from the reducing the growth of Medicare is then used to offset costs associated with providing coverage for the uninsured under Obamacare.

“A study by McKinsey and Company of American businesses said 30 percent of [businesses] are anticipating dropping people from [health] coverage.”

Our Verdict: True

According to various fact checking sources, primarily Factcheck.org and abc.com, McKinsey and Company’s predictions are reliable. In fact, it states directly in the company’s study that, “More than 30 percent of employers overall, and 28 percent of large ones, say they will definitely or probably drop coverage after 2014.”

A report from one of the company’s various news sources, McKinsey Quarterly, states that, “Our research suggests that when employers become more aware of the new economic and social incentives embedded in the law and of the option to restructure benefits beyond dropping or keeping them, many will make dramatic changes.”  These predicted effects by the study are based on the regulations provided by the Affordable Care Act which are set to take effect in 2014.

Claims by Barack Obama

“Governor Romney’s central economic plan calls for a $5 trillion tax cut – on top of the extension of the Bush tax cuts – that’s another trillion dollars – and $2 trillion in additional military spending that the military hasn’t asked for. That’s $8 trillion.”

Our Verdict: Mostly True

This statement by Barack Obama is true to a certain extent, but omits many vital details. Romney’s budget does call for lowering tax rates to 20 percent for all income brackets, which would lower revenues by $480 billion a year. President Obama has extrapolated that figure over 10 years.

Romney stated in rebuttal that he will offset these revenue losses by reducing tax deductions and eliminating loopholes, but failed to specify what deductions and loopholes he would include. The Tax Policy Center concluded that it “was not mathematically possible” to make up the revenue difference through growth and closing deductions.

When Obama stated that the military hadn’t asked for the $2 trillion dollars Romney had in his plan, he was telling the truth. Romney plans to increase military spending by 17 percent in 2013, while the Department of Defense has actually requested less money for 2013 than it requested for 2012. Romney again stated that he could help pay for this plan by reducing tax deductions and eliminating loopholes, failing to specify what deductions and loopholes would be eliminated.

“And that’s why independent studies looking at this said the only way to meet Governor Romney’s pledge of not reducing the deficit or—or—or not adding to the deficit is by burdening middle class families. The average middle class family with children would pay about $2,000 more.”

Our Verdict: True

According to PoliticalFact.com and Brookings.edu, they agree with Obama’s statement that the average middle class family would pay about $2,000 more than normal under Romney’s tax plan. The Tax Policy Center found that Romney would be unable to meet his deficit goal without eliminating deductions exemptions that could potentially add up to $2,000 a year for middle-income taxpayers.

“Under Romneys tax plan] the average person making $3 million is getting a $250,000 tax break.”

Our Verdict: True

The non-partisan Tax Policy Center analyzed Romney’s tax plan using computing models also used by the Congressional Budget Office and the U.S. treasury. They concluded that Americans earning more than $1 million dollars a year would receive an average tax cut of $256, 603 under Romney’s proposal. Romney has said that he wants to maintain current tax rates for the wealthy and not give them a tax cut, but the specifics of this plan have been found to be mathematically impossible by the Tax Policy Center and Factcheck.org.

“Under Governor Romney’s definition, there are a whole bunch of millionaires and billionaires who are small businesses. Donald Trump is a small business.”

Our Verdict: False

According to the U.S. Small Business Association, a small business is defined by a maximum number of employees ranging from 100 to 500, depending on the particular product being provided. According to CNN, “The Trump Organization employs 22,000 people. But Trump also runs a number of other companies that employ fewer than 500, meaning that — under the federal government’s definition — he qualifies as a small business.” The definition is not Romney’s; it is that of the SBA.

“You know, his — his running mate, Congressman Ryan, put forward a budget that reflects many of the principles that Governor Romney’s talked about… if you extrapolated how much money we’re talking about, you’d look at cutting the education budget by up to 20 percent.”

 Our Verdict: Unable to Verify

The actual numbers in the Romney Ryan plan do not give enough specifics to entirely verify or disprove this statement. As stated by the U.S. Department of Education, the current budget for discretionary spending on education is $68.1 billion. Approximately $166 billion is intended to be cut from education, training, employment, and social services programs in the Romney Ryan budget, as stated by the Congressional Budget Office. Due to these 4 separate sectors’ budget being lumped together into a single figure, one can not say exactly know the true cuts for each sector.

But if one were to divide that figure of $166 billion evenly by 4 for each sector; the number would be $41.5 billion. With some simple math one can see that in comparison to the current education budget, the Romney Ryan plan will cut over 60% of education spending. So it is possible that Obama was underestimating the effects of the Romney Ryan plan.

“My tax plan has already lowered taxes for 98 percent of families, I also lowered taxes for small businesses 18 times.”

Our Verdict: Mostly True

Again, this statement is true to a certain extent, but leaves out important information. The first half of the statement made by the President is true. Obama has made tax cuts to families earning less than $250,000 a year, which is 98 percent of American families.

The question of tax cuts for small business depends on how you define “small.” The Small Business Association defines a small company as one with less than 500 employees. Obama has targeted small businesses with 16 tax cuts, but many of those cuts were only available to companies smaller than the SBA standard.

“The oil industry gets $4 billion a year in corporate welfare. Basically, they get deductions that those small businesses that Governor Romney refers to, they don’t get.”

 Our Verdict: True

According to the Congressional Research Service analysis of the Obama administration’s tax proposals, eliminating tax breaks for oil and gas companies would generate approximately $3.9 billion per year. The oil industry estimates that the cost of eliminating those tax breaks for their companies would be even higher; they estimate the move would cost them$8.5 billion a year.

“When I walked into the Oval office, I had more than a trillion-dollar deficit greeting me.”

Our Verdict: True

The Congressional Budget office states that the deficit was at $1.2 trillion two weeks before Obama took office in 2009. The CBO blamed that deficit on two things: a decline in tax revenue as a result of the economic crisis in 2008-2009 and a slight increase in spending, by both Presidents Bush and Obama, in an attempt to stimulate the economy.

“I worked with Democrats and Republicans to cut a trillion dollars out of our discretionary domestic budget. That’s the largest cut in the discretionary domestic budget since Dwight Eisenhower.”

Our Verdict: Mostly False

According to Factcheck.org, Obama was referencing the House’s Cut, Cap, and Balance Act with bipartisan approval.  It should be noted that the act has received very little Democratic support with only five out of 193 votes.

President Obama’s suggested trillion-dollar cut from the discretionary domestic budget is, in fact true, provided the right circumstances. The analysis on Factcheck.com suggests that if Obama signs the House’s follow-up act to Cut, Cap and Balance, government spending will be cut by $1.2 trillion dollars within the next decade. Obama’s statement that he’s cut a trillion dollars is not a done deal; only time will tell if his claims will be proven true.

The final sentence in the quote from Obama’s response states that this spending cut will be the largest since President Eisenhower. Speculation suggests that this may not be true. Obama plans on beginning the cuts with the initial trillion, and then following up with a four trillion deficit-reduction plan.

According to Polifact.com, “Using deficits as a percentage of GDP. Obama’s budget projects that the deficit in 2021 will represent 3.1 percent of GDP. From 1961 to 2011, the percentage was lower than 3.1 percent in 32 out of the 51 years. So by this measure, too, Obama’s comparison is way off. In fact, in five years — one under President Richard Nixon and four under President Bill Clinton — the federal government ran a surplus. So those years alone would have made the president’s claim incorrect.”

This analysis of Obama’s statement proves that while he does plan on ideally cutting a trillion dollars from the domestic budget, it is only a potential possibility and may not happen. Obama is exaggerating the support for his actions as well the budget cut’s historical significance.

“When you talk about shifting Medicaid to states, we’re talking about potentially a 30—a 30 percent cut in Medicaid over time”

Our verdict: True

Currently, payment for Medicaid is divided between federal and state governments, “with Washington paying 50 percent of the costs in higher-income states and about 70 percent in lower-income states like Arkansas,” according to The New York Times. According to independent researchers, Mitt Romney’s budget proposals would result in substantial funding cuts to Medicaid from the federal government. President Obama seems to be fairly accurate with the amount cut from shifting Medicaid to states. It is estimated that  under Romney’s plan, Medicaid could be cut $95 billion in 2016 and $1.0 trillion from 2014 through 2022.  With cuts of that height, the payments to hospitals, physicians, and other health care providers, “jeopardize beneficiaries’ access to care.” Analysts predict that state governments would be unable to make up the funding gap.

“Every study has shown that Medicare has lower administrative costs than private insurance does.”

 Our Verdict: True

According to numerous studies private insurance administrative costs are much higher than Medicare’s administrative costs.

“Right now you can actually take a deduction for moving a plant overseas.”

Our Verdict: Misleading

The actual deduction written into the tax code is based on the costs companies incur doing business. If a company moves a factory from one place to another, whether inside or outside the United States, they can deduct the cost of the move from their taxes. So, the tax break is not specifically related to moving a plant overseas, per se, but rather for moving a factory period. The Joint Committee on Taxation “estimated [eliminating this deduction] would bring in $168 million over the next decade”.

Companies can defer paying U.S. taxes, however, if they have overseas operations. According to Doug Holtz-Eakin, former director of the Congressional Budget Office, “Companies operating overseas are supposed to pay both U.S. taxes and the taxes of the country they’re operating in. To lessen the burden, U.S. tax code allows companies to defer the U.S. chunk of that until the money is brought back into America”

“It’s estimated that by repealing Obamacare, you’re looking at 50 million people losing health insurance…”

Our Verdict: False

About 50 millions Americans don’t have health insurance. The Congressional Budget Office predicts that without Obamacare, that number will rise to 60 million by 2022. With Obamacare, the CBO estimates that number will drop by 32 million, not 50 million.

“The idea, which was originally presented by Congressman Ryan, your running mate, is that we would give a [Medicare] voucher to seniors and the could go out in the private marketplace and buy their own health insurance. The problem is that because the voucher wouldn’t necessarily keep up with health care inflation, it was estimated that this would cost the average senior about $6,000 a year.”

 Our Verdict: Mostly False

President Obama is basing his figure on an older version of Paul Ryan’s Medicare proposal from 2009. The Congressional Budget Office did estimate that by 2022, Seniors would see a 14 percent increase in their costs for healthcare under the Ryan plan. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities estimated that would cost seniors $6,000 on average.

However, Romney has stated that he supports a more recent version of Ryan’s plan, which includes a number of proposals that could potentially offset the out-of-pocket costs for seniors. Ryan has not submitted this more recent plan to the CBO for scoring, so it is impossible to predict any potential costs for seniors.

Over the last two years, health care premiums have gone up, its true but they’ve gone up slower than any time in the last 50 years.”

Our Verdict: False

Obama is mixing up premiums and overall health care spending. Health care premiums continue to rise at a rate faster than wages. Premiums for family job-based coverage have risen $2,400 since Obama was elected president. However, overall health care spending has been growing “at historically low levels” according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

“One of the things that I did as president was we were sending $60 billion to banks and lenders as middlemen for the student loan program, even though the loans were guaranteed. So there was no risk for the banks or the lenders, but they were taking billions out of the system…And we said, “Why not cut out the middleman?” And as a consequence, what we’ve been able to do is to provide millions more students assistance, lower or keep lower interest rates on student loans.”

Our Verdict: True

According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Education, President Obama signed a bill in 2010 that lent money to banks and lenders for the loan program, called the Federal Family Education Loan, or FFEL. The source also claims that the federal government discarded FFEL, thereby “cutting out the middleman,” because its net revenues from borrower and lender fees exceeded the program costs, which the president reaffirmed in the debate. Thereafter, Congress created a new bill in order to directly loan money to students, called the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, or SARFA. Nancy Pelosi’s Democratic Leader affirms the president’s statements that SARFA kept low interest rates on student loans, and that more than $60 billion of taxpayers’ money were invested into education as part of previous FFEL legislation.