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Sorting out the truth in politics

Recent PolitiFact rulings involving Barack Obama and Mitt Romney

PolitiFact, the national fact-checking website of the Tampa Bay Times, has been covering the 2012 race for president since there were 12 candidates making the case to unseat President Barack Obama. With the general election between Republican Mitt Romney and Democrat Obama in full swing, here are a selection of our most popular and provocative claims. You can find the complete reports with extensive source lists at

Angie Drobnic Holan, deputy PolitiFact editor

The statement

"Under Obama's plan (for welfare), you wouldn't have to work and wouldn't have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check."

Mitt Romney, Aug. 6, in a campaign ad

The ruling

Obama has not moved to end welfare work requirements, and Romney's campaign has taken a hammering from fact-checkers for running multiple ads touting this false claim.

The statement

"Obamacare adds trillions to our deficits and to our national debt."

Mitt Romney, June 28, in a press conference

The ruling

The health care law includes new spending, but independent scorekeepers found it deficit neutral. That's because the law also includes cost-cutting and new taxes.

The statement

"Women (are) paid 77 cents on the dollar for doing the same work as men."

Barack Obama, June 21, in a campaign ad

The ruling

As a group, women tend to earn less than men, in part because they work fewer hours and in lower-paying professions. But the pay gap isn't that wide when they're doing "the same work."

The statement

Says Mitt Romney "backed a bill that outlaws all abortions, even in cases of rape and incest."

Barack Obama, July 24, in a TV ad

The ruling

Romney has said plainly that he favors exceptions for rape and incest, even though he opposes abortion. The bill the Obama campaign cited also included explicit exceptions for rape and incest.

The statement

President Obama was saying success "is the result of government," not "hard-working people," when he said, "If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen."

Mitt Romney, July 25, in an introduction to a Web video

The ruling

Obama was referring to infrastructure like roads and bridges when he said, "you didn't build that," not the businesses themselves. Republicans have repeated this false charge ever since.

The statement

In July 1996, Mitt Romney helped locate the missing teenage daughter of a partner at Bain Capital.

Chain email, Jan. 30, posted in blog and Facebook posts

The ruling

Romney did close down Bain Capital to look for the daughter, who went missing in New York City. She was found and returned unharmed to her parents.

The statement

"Obamacare is ... the largest tax increase in the history of the world."

Rush Limbaugh, June 28, in comments on his radio show

The ruling

The health care law includes some new taxes, but they're mostly on the wealthy and the health care industry. In any case, they're not the largest increases in the history of the United States, much less the world.

The statement

Says Barack Obama "robbed Medicare (of) $716 billion to pay for ... Obamacare."

Mitt Romney, Aug. 12, in an interview on 60 Minutes

The ruling

Obama is trying to rein in future Medicare spending by curbing payments to hospitals and health insurance companies. The $716 billion accounts for reduced payments over 10 years, and Medicare's budget still gets bigger every year.

The statement

Says U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan attacked the president for "the same amount of Medicare savings that (Ryan) had in his own budget."

Bill Clinton, Sept. 5, in a speech at the Democratic National Convention

The ruling

Both sides agree that future Medicare spending needs to be reined in. The budgets Ryan put together as chairman of the House Budget Committee accounted for the savings that were part of Obama's health care law.

The statement

"In 2008, candidate Barack Obama attacked John McCain for proposing cuts to Medicare."

Mitt Romney, Aug. 26, in a campaign ad

The ruling

A Romney ad points out that Obama once attacked McCain for proposing the same kind of spending reductions that Obama enshrined in law. The ad highlights the enduring bipartisan appeal of "Mediscare" tactics.

The statement

"In Florida, they're already talking about how the Ryan-Romney plan will end Medicare and replace it with a voucher."

Barack Obama, Aug. 20, in a radio ad

The ruling

The Ryan-Romney plans brings private insurance companies into Medicare and asks seniors to shop for a plan with a voucher-style credit. But traditional Medicare remains an option, and all plans are highly regulated.

The statement

"Today the Walton family of Walmart own more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of America."

Bernie Sanders, July 22, in a message on Twitter

The ruling

Many Americans have a low net worth, thanks to a crashed housing market and consumer debt. The wealth gap remains a campaign issue.

PolitiFact staff writers Molly Moorhead, Louis Jacobson, Jon Greenberg, Aaron Sharockman, Becky Bowers and Katie Sanders contributed to this report.

Recent PolitiFact rulings involving Barack Obama and Mitt Romney 09/10/12 [Last modified: Monday, September 10, 2012 1:42pm]
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