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Sorting out the truth in politics

Checking out the candidates' claims from Republican debate

Boosted by his newly minted front-runner status, Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain bounced into Tuesday's GOP debate in Las Vegas as the latest possible conservative foil to Mitt Romney.

So . . . naturally Cain and his "9-9-9" tax plan became the immediate focus of attacks from the group of Republicans hoping to knock him off stride.

9-9-9, Cain says, is the first step to creating a national flat or "fair" tax. It would replace the current complicated tax system with a 9 percent personal income tax, a 9 percent national sales tax and a 9 percent tax on businesses.

Cain's national sales tax would be on top of state and local sales taxes.

More people have started to criticize Cain's plan, saying it's a regressive series of taxes that will force poorer and middle-class Americans to pay more in federal taxes. And that includes some of Cain's rivals Tuesday night.

Here's a roundup of claims PolitiFact rated from the debate on that and other issues:

• After an initial attack from U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, Cain responded to CNN moderator Anderson Cooper by saying that 9-9-9 "does not raise taxes on those that are making the least." That, he said, is "simply not true." However, a PolitiFact analysis of Cain's plan found that statement False. A new analysis from the independent Tax Policy Center found that the large majority of people who make $75,000 a year or less would pay more in federal taxes.

• Romney tried to deflect criticism of changes to Massachusetts' health care laws while he served as governor by noting that state residents support the changes by a 3 to 1 margin. That claim rates True.

• Texas Gov. Rick Perry accused Romney of hiring illegal immigrants, a claim Romney strongly denied. "You had illegals working on your property," Perry said. Romney said he hasn't employed an illegal alien, a claim we rated Mostly False.

• Romney countered with two immigration criticisms of Perry. He said that the illegal immigrant population of Texas increased by 60 percent from 2000 to 2010, while California and Florida had "no increase." That rated Half True. Romney also said that "over the last several years, 40 percent (of) the jobs created in Texas were created for illegal aliens." Another Half True.

• Talk turned to the Troubled Asset Relief Program, better known as TARP, which passed in 2008. Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum said the plan was a mistake and criticized Perry for supporting it. Perry said Santorum had his facts wrong. PolitiFact Texas looked at a similar statement from Perry about his non-support for TARP and ruled it Half True.

• When an audience member asked why the United States continues to give foreign aid, Perry said the country needed to have a "real debate" about cutting foreign aid spending. As PolitiFact previously has noted, foreign aid currently makes up 1 percent of the federal budget, with Israel receiving a significant chunk of the support in military and economic aid.

• Romney, Perry and Santorum later played a game of who used to be more liberal (though no one was accusing Santorum of being liberal). Romney pointed out that Perry chaired Al Gore's campaign for president. We rated a similar claim from Bachmann Half True. And Santorum said Romney ran for office in 1994 to the left of former U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy. The Truth-O-Meter heard a similar statement back in 2007 from former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. "He's (Romney) the one who said that he would be to the left of Teddy Kennedy on gay rights," Giuliani said back in 2007. That specific claim rated Mostly True.

Read the full version of these rulings and more at

Checking out the candidates' claims from Republican debate 10/19/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 19, 2011 10:47pm]
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