Lies from the Barack Obama campaign

Obama’s 100% negative lie

Friday, October 17th, 2008

Why do candidates ever use absolute terms like 100%?

OBAMA: And 100 percent, John, of your ads — 100 percent of them have been negative.

MCCAIN: It’s not true.

OBAMA: It absolutely is true.

A quick search yielded this ad, which does not mention Obama, and focuses on McCain’s strengths. CNN and MarketWatch (part of the Wall Street Journal digital network) have also called the claim by Biden and by Obama false.

Perhaps Obama referred to a study by the Wisconsin Advertising Project mentioned on MarketWatch:

Sen. John McCain did go “100% negative” for at least one week during his current campaign for the presidency, a study finds….the Wisconsin Advertising Project says the GOP candidate aired only negative ads for the week of Sept. 28 to Oct. 4…Throughout the entire campaign from June 4 to Oct. 4, 47% of McCain’s ads have been negative, 26% were positive and 27% were a mix. For Obama, the mix has been 35% negative, 39% positive and 25% mixed.

It may be true for 1 week, but without that qualification to say 100% of McCain’s ads have been negative is a lie.

Biden’s lie about the Obama/Biden clean coal position

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

On September 17, 2008 at a campaign stop in Ohio, Joe Biden said:

We’re not supporting clean coal. Guess what. China’s building two every week. Two dirty coal plants. And it’s polluting the United States. It’s causing people to die.

China is burning three hundred years of bad coal unless we figure out how to clean their coal up. Because it’s going to ruin your lungs and there’s nothing we can do about it. No coal plants here in America. Build them, if they’re going to build them, over there. Make ‘em clean, because they’re killing us.

According to the Obama/Biden energy plan:

Develop and Deploy Clean Coal Technology. Carbon capture and storage technologies hold enormous potential to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions as we power our economy with domestically produced and secure energy. As a U.S. Senator, Obama has worked tirelessly to ensure that clean coal technology becomes commercialized. An Obama administration will provide incentives to accelerate private sector investment in commercial scale zero-carbon coal facilities. In order to maximize the speed with which we advance this critical technology, Barack Obama and Joe Biden will instruct DOE to enter into public private partnerships to develop 5 “first-of-a-kind” commercial scale coal-fired plants with carbon capture and sequestration.

The Obama/Biden plan supports clean coal; In fact, it explicity calls for 5 “clean coal” plants developed in the US with the aid of their administration. When Joe Biden says otherwise, he’s lying.

Obama’s lies about his “Google for government” listing every dollar of government spending

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

During the first presidential debate between McCain and Obama on September 27:

but I think it is that it is also important to recognize I work with Tom Coburn, the most conservative, one of the most conservative Republicans who John already mentioned to set up what we call a Google for government saying we’ll list every dollar of federal spending to make sure that the taxpayer can take a look and see who, in fact, is promoting some of these spending projects that John’s been railing about.

According to the public record, the law (emphasis ours):

FEDERAL AWARD.—The term ‘‘Federal award’’—

(A) means Federal financial assistance and expenditures that—

(i) include grants, subgrants, loans, awards, cooperative agreements, and other forms of financial assistance;

(ii) include contracts, subcontracts, purchase orders, task orders, and delivery orders;

(B) does not include individual transactions below $25,000; and

(C) before October 1, 2008, does not include credit card transactions.

Obama’s lying about his “Google for government”. It just doesn’t track all federal spending.

Obama’s lie about the impact of McCain’s Social Security plans

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

From an Obama speech on September 20 in Daytona Beach:

And I’ll protect Social Security, while John McCain wants to privatize it.  Without Social Security half of elderly women would be living in poverty - half.  But if my opponent had his way, the millions of Floridians who rely on it would’ve had their Social Security tied up in the stock market this week.  Millions would’ve watched as the market tumbled and their nest egg disappeared before their eyes.  Millions of families would’ve been scrambling to figure out how to give their mothers and fathers, their grandmothers and grandfathers, the secure retirement that every American deserves. So I know Senator McCain is talking about a “casino culture” on Wall Street - but the fact is, he’s the one who wants to gamble with your life savings.

There are two formal plans McCain has supported privatizing Social Security. In his 2000 campaign, McCain’s social security plan was described in the NY Times:

Mr. McCain called for 20 percent of the Social Security payroll tax to be placed in individual retirement accounts in which workers would be able to choose from an approved list of investment options. He said they would also be guaranteed that they would never get less in benefits than if they had stayed in the current Social Security system. To pay for the transition to such accounts, Mr. McCain would devote $729 billion of the non-Social Security surplus over 10 years to Social Security.

That plan, which would have privatized 20% of Social Security payroll-based contributions, would not have affected senior citizens currently receiving benefits at all. There doesn’t seem to be any maximum age, so it’s possibly Floridians could have enrolled in 2001 and entered retirement this years, having 7 years of partially privatized Social Security. But even for those people, McCain’s offered a guarantee that they would never receive less benefits, so if the market tanked they’d be ensured the baseline funds. 

The second possible plan, Bush’s 2005 proposal which McCain supported, doesn’t provide for workers older than 54 to participate in privatization. Though it offered no guarantees of benefits, no one enrolled in that plan would be eligible for social security yet. Thus no one affected in that scenario would “rely” on social security. (That plan did not privatize current retiree’s holdings either.)

Obama lied when he told senior citizens their Social Security fund would have evaporated under McCain’s plan. That’s simply not the case in either privatization plan McCain’s supported.

Joe Biden’s “Roosevelt on TV” lie

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

From his recent interview with Katie Couric:

“When the stock market crashed, Franklin Roosevelt got on the television and didn’t just talk about the princes of greed. He said, ‘look, here’s what happened.’”

Your history’s a little off, Biden. Roosevelt was elected in 1932 and inaugurated in 1933, both after the 1929 crash. Plus TV’s were not yet made for consumer production, and were considered experimental technology. Ben Smith of Politco Writes:

As Reason’s Jesse Walker footnotes it: “And if you owned an experimental TV set in 1929, you would have seen him. And you would have said to yourself, ‘Who is that guy? What happened to President Hoover?’”

As with anyone, if he comes out to correct it, we’ll remove it from the tally. +1 for the blue camp.

Thanks for the tips, Bob F. and David C.

Biden fabricates new quote built from McCain’s original

Friday, September 19th, 2008

At a September 15, 2008 rally in Michigan Senator Biden said:

In the midst of this housing crisis, John McCain said, “I will fight for those that lost their real estate investments.” He went on to say, “It’s not the role of government to bail out big banks or small borrowers.” What about small borrowers? What about homeowners? What about the people who don’t invest in homes, but live in them? There’s an important distinction between the predators and the preyed upon.

According to the official press release, McCain’s quote was actually:

“As I promised last night, I will fight for those that lost their jobs, savings, and real estate investments.”

Changing McCain’s quote is not just unfair, it’s dishonest. Biden eliminated the middle of McCain’s sentence; the reference to fighting for those that lost their jobs and savings. He built a new McCain quote by assembling the beginning and the end or the original, only preserving McCain’s reference to real estate investments. Biden may have claimed he was quoting McCain, but he wasn’t - he was just lying.

Obama’s campaign’s time traveling to lie about Black’s lobbying

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

From Barack Obama’s ‘It’s Over’ ad:

John McCain’s chief advisor lobbies for oil companies, even from Russia and China.

John McCain’s chief advisor, Charlie Black was reported as ending his lobbying roles in March. According to the New York Times:

He said he was now in retirement, after stepping down as chairman of his lobbying firm, BKSH & Associates Worldwide, in March, although he had been advising Mr. McCain for months prior to leaving the firm.

No one is disputing that Black was a lobbyist, but it’s a straightforward lie from to say he’s lobbying for anyone now.

Obama’s campaign’s lie about McCain’s email ignorance needs troubleshooting

Sunday, September 14th, 2008

From the team’s ad “Still”:

He admits he still doesn’t know how to use a computer…
Can’t send an email…

The Obama ads cites a New York Times interview where John McCain says:

I use the Blackberry, but I don’t e-mail, I’ve never felt the particular need to e-mail. I read e-mails all the time, but the communications that I have with my friends and staff are oral and done with my cell phone.

Obama’s campaign has a serious bug in their ad. It’s a lie to say Senator McCain said he can’t email, when he only said he doesn’t send them.

Obama’s lies on McCain’s education record

Friday, September 12th, 2008

In a recent “Obama approved” ad”, McCain education accusations flew:

John McCain doesn’t understand. John McCain voted to cut education funding. Against accountability standards. He even proposed abolishing the Department of Education. And John McCain’s economic plan gives $200 billion more to special interests while taking money away from public schools.

Of the issues pointed out, some are misleading, and some are outright lies.

1) Proposal to abolish the Department of Education. While many conservatives have campaigned on abolishing what they consider an unconstitutional Department (including Ronald Reagan, Ron Paul and many others), McCain had done no such thing. He has never “proposed” it in the legislative sense. A search on the Library of Congress reveals no McCain-proposed legislation abolishing the Department. As far as we can tell, he has never initiated or specifically called for it, and it has certainly never been a mantle of his campaign. When asked about it, he responded favorably, but never actively proposed it as the ad states. Via

Frank Sesno: Senator McCain, would you favor doing away with the Department of Housing and Urban Development or the Department of Energy?

Sen. John McCain: I would certainly favor doing away with the Department of Energy and I think that given the origins of the Department of Education, I would favor doing away with it as well.

He never “proposed”, this is a lie.

2) Cutting funding Factcheck outlines the facts: for 4 of the 5 sources sited, McCain proposes a freeze on all discretionary increases for a year. Same amounts, no cuts. Perhaps if they were expecting an increase and they didn’t get it, it could be seen as a cut, but that’s stretching it. They are getting the same amount of money, no less, as “cutting funding” implies. On the fifth, once in ‘95 he did vote to cut funding for schools with an across the board budget cut. Clinton stopped it, and this was part of the famous “gridlock” era in the 90’s. Preventing increases are not cuts, but this one vote was a literal cut, so this would not be considered a lie.

3) Giving $200 billion to special interests McCain wants to lower taxes on all corporations. The total projected loss of tax revenue is $730 billion over 10 years according to the Tax Poicy Center’s analysis. The $200b number itself remains a mystery to us. FactCheck cites that the $200b is over the first 5 years, and applies to all incorporated entities - including small businesses. We’re having a hard time verifying it. If factcheck is correct, to say that the entire $200 billion is for special interests when it’s actually for all corporations would be a lie. Since the figure is in dispute, we will have to keep this as a really fishy perspective on the numbers.

Regardless, this ad contains a lie. +1 for the boys in blue.

Burton’s dishonorable take on McCain’s ability to define honor

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

According to Bill Burton, Obama’s press secretary:

Last week, John McCain told Time magazine he couldn’t define what honor was.

Referring to the actual Time interview in question, you can read the exchange:

There’s a theme that recurs in your books and your speeches, both about putting country first but also about honor. I wonder if you could define honor for us?
Read it in my books.

I’ve read your books.
No, I’m not going to define it.

But honor in politics?
I defined it in five books. Read my books.

It’s clear McCain wouldn’t define honor in that Time interview, but it’s irresponsible and even dishonorable to suggest that his unwillingness to answer equates with an inability to answer. In fact, McCain’s reason for not defining ‘honor’ is his perceived over-abundance of answers.

Obama may pay for the dimes, but he misses a few of the billions

Monday, September 8th, 2008

From Barack Obama’s speech at the DNC:

Now, many of these plans will cost money, which is why I’ve laid out how I’ll pay for every dime – by closing corporate loopholes and tax havens that don’t help America grow.

But according to

In July, the campaign told the Los Angeles Times that they estimate the yearly cost of their proposed tax cuts at $130 billion. They put revenue from closing tax loopholes at just $80 billion.

There are other chunks of change here and there you could add to either column, but there’s just no way to make those numbers meet the way he’s claiming they do.

Obama stretches “average family income”

Monday, September 8th, 2008

Technically not a lie: +0 Lies

According to Obama:

“the average American family” saw its income “go down $2,000″ under George Bush.

According to FactCheck

That’s not correct. Census figures show average family income went down $348.
As it turns out, when Obama said “average family income,” he didn’t mean “average,” and he didn’t mean “family,” either. An Obama aide says he was really referring to median income – which is the midpoint – and not to the average. And Obama was talking only about “working families,” not retired couples.
For all families, median family income actually inched up under Bush by $272.

So if i remember my 8th grade math correctly, median is a TYPE of average, so technically this is not a lie. And when you are discussing the average family income, it is understandable to be referring to families actually making an income - working families. So you get by with no lies this time Obama…

Biden’s got the rounding thing down pat

Sunday, September 7th, 2008

From his speech at the DNC:

…but no, none, no relief for 100 million American families, that’s not change; that’s more of the same. 

From [pdf]:

In fact, McCain’s plan would leave nearly 66 million households without a tax cut – not 100 million. 

Using this sort of rounding, the 100-year-old Biden’s been serving in the Senate for 0 years.

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