Claims on tax cuts, job gains need another look
In the first presidential debate Wednesday, President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney packed their responses with accusations about each other's policies and defenses of their own. Here are a few claims that deserve a deeper look:
Private-sector job gains
Claim • Obama said the U.S. economy has created 5 million private-sector jobs in the past 30 months.
Facts • The United States has gained 4.6 million private-sector jobs since the labor market bottomed in February 2010 or 5.1 million under preliminary revisions released last week that are not part of the official tally by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Still, that's weak by historical standards. Under President George W. Bush, the private sector also added 5 million jobs in the 30 months after employment hit bottom after the 2001 downturn.
Claim • Obama says Romney's tax plan would cut taxes by $5 trillion over 10 years, inflating the deficit.
Facts • Romney has proposed cutting tax rates by 20 percent in each bracket, which the liberal Center for Budget and Policy Priorities says would cost $4.9 trillion over 10 years. Romney said his plan will be paid for by curtailing tax deductions, so middle-class people pay less overall and upper-income people don't see lower taxes. Romney has declined to say what tax deductions he would end. The non-partisan Tax Policy Center has contended that middle-class families would see taxes rise about $2,000 a year under Romney's plan if he keeps his promise to make the tax reform revenue-neutral, arguing that it can't be done without ending popular middle-class deductions on mortgage interest and charitable contributions. The conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute has said that the gap can be closed by ending tax breaks targeting the wealthy. Romney said he would not raise taxes and would not approve any tax cut that would expand the deficit.
Taxes for the wealthy
Claim • Romney says he wouldn't cut taxes on the wealthy.
Facts • Romney wants to cut personal taxes by 20 percent for everyone, including the wealthy. He also wants to cut taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains for Americans with adjusted gross income below $200,000. Obama, however, wants to return taxes to Clinton-era rates for individuals who make more than $200,000 in annual taxable income and families who make more than $250,000. So Romney wants to maintain tax cuts for the wealthy that Obama would eliminate.
Claim • North America can become energy independent under Romney's plan, creating 4 million jobs.
Facts • This is likely to happen anyway, possibly as soon as the end of the decade, Citigroup said in a report earlier this year. The key factor is not changes in policy, but changes in drilling technology that have let America increase oil production faster than any other nation in the world in the past four years, Citigroup said.