Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

PunditFact fact-checks the Feb. 23 news shows

Violent uprisings in Ukraine had pundits and politicians wondering Sunday if the Eastern European country will be the first theater in a new Cold War between the United States and Russia.

On Fox News Sunday, U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., set up the conflict as a proxy struggle between President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"I believe the president needs to up his game and send a clear, unequivocal, public message to Putin not to interfere in what is happening in Ukraine — to let the Ukrainian people determine their future," Ayotte said.

Others debated to what extent the United States should be involved.

Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, generally trends toward greater intervention. On ABC's This Week, he talked about the 2004 political revolution in Ukraine, and how the United States did not do enough to let democracy take hold. "Ten years ago there was the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, it was the first color revolution in spite of other efforts around the world. … All honor to the people of the Ukraine," he said. "That first revolution unfortunately slipped away. I think that's partly our fault."

Whether the United States did as much as it could for Ukraine is out of the purview of fact-checkers. But we can see if Kristol was right that the Ukraine Orange Revolution set off a series of color revolutions across the world.

It did not, experts told us.

The first "color" revolution took place in Georgia in November 2003, when Georgian protesters overthrew the government of Eduard Shevardnadze.

Ukraine's Orange Revolution came a year later and ended when opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko was elected president. The revolution was originally branded "orange" because that was Yushchenko's signature campaign color.

As such, Kristol's claim rates False.

On NBC's Meet the Press, a roundtable of experts also touched on domestic issues, including the forthcoming release of President Barack Obama's 2014-15 budget proposal. The big headline? Obama is dropping a proposal to reduce the annual growth in Social Security benefits. The technical term is "chained CPI" (consumer price index).

The decision has big economic consequences, said David Brooks of the New York Times. "Chained CPI would save $1 trillion in the second decade off the federal budget debt."

Chained CPI matters because so many bits and pieces of the government's business are indexed to inflation. The list includes tax brackets, pension benefits, the cut-off point for tax credits, who's eligible for food stamps, and most prominent of all, Social Security benefits.

The aim of all this indexing is to keep everything in line with the actual cost of living. If a retiree has $100 to spend on groceries today, 15 years from now he or she should be able to buy the same amount of food even if prices went up. The problem is, economists generally agree that the way the government measures inflation today exaggerates inflation by a tiny bit. The technical problem is that as prices of some goods and services rise, people will change what they buy. Chained CPI adjusts for that.

The $1 trillion figure comes from a group called the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, which advocates for aggressive steps to cut deficits. The estimate uses work from the Congressional Budget Office, the nonpartisan budget analysts used by Congress, but is not an official CBO estimate, said Jason Peuquet, a research fellow at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

For good reason.

CBO sometimes goes beyond a typical 10-year window, but it offers many caveats when it does. In a long-term projection for Social Security, for instance, CBO ran 500 different scenarios. It stood by the general direction of its conclusions but not the specific numbers.

Also, the chained CPI estimate Brooks cited goes beyond what Obama proposed last year. In 2013, the president exempted programs for low-income people and offered extra payments for Social Security recipients who had been on the rolls a long time.

Those caveats bring down the savings, no matter what the real number is. We rate Brooks' statement Half True.

Staff writers Jon Greenberg and Julie Kliegman contributed to this report. Aaron Sharockman is the editor of PunditFact.com.

The statement

The Ukraine Orange Revolution in 2004 "was the first color revolution."

Bill Kristol, on ABC's "This Week"

The ruling

PunditFact ruling: False

The Rose Revolution in Georgia happened a year before Ukraine's Orange Revolution. We rate Kristol's statement False.

The statement

"Chained CPI would save $1 trillion in the second decade off the federal budget debt," a report shows.

David Brooks, on NBC's "Meet the Press"

The ruling

PunditFact ruling: Half True

The figure comes from an extrapolation of Congressional Budget Office data. It also includes extending chained CPI measurement well beyond what President Barack Obama was considering as part of his budget proposal. We rate the statement Half True.

PunditFact fact-checks the Feb. 23 news shows 02/23/14 [Last modified: Sunday, February 23, 2014 9:00pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. On the Camino de Santiago, Day 18: Despite feeling ill, this pilgrim passes the midpoint in her 500-mile journey on foot

    Travel

    Day 18: Lédigos to El Burgo Ranero: 34.3 km, 12.25 hours (Total for Days 1-18 = 428 km (266 miles)

    Today was a struggle.

  2. Former Rays/current Cubs manager Joe Maddon featured on NBC Sunday news show

    Blogs

    Former Rays and current Cubs manager Joe Maddon will be featured on this week's "Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly" show at 7 p.m. on NBC, the Harry Smith interview covering not just Maddon's on-field accomplishments but his extensive efforts to help his hometown of Hazleton, Pa.

    "Here's what's so …

    Joe Maddon talking with NBC News' Harry Smith.
  3. For starters: Souza returns to lineup

    Blogs

     

  4. Actor John Heard dies at age 72

    Blogs

    John Heard, who played so many roles in the '80s but was probably best known as the dad in the Home Alone movies, has died, according to media reports. He was 72.

  5. Linkin Park cancel tour, including Tampa concert, after death of singer Chester Bennington

    Blogs

    This news is not a surprise, but it is now official: Linkin Park has canceled their upcoming North American tour following this week's death of singer Chester Bennington.

    Linkin Park's Chester Bennington