Fact Checking the Sunday Shows — June 13, 2010

June 14, 2010 10:11 am ET

On Sunday, Carly Fiorina advanced her Senate campaign with a series of false Republican talking points about border security and her own background. Fiorina misrepresented her tenure at Hewlett-Packard, and lied about President Obama's funding for border security and the recently-departed head of the Minerals Management Service. House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence called the Obama administration's handling of the gulf oil disaster "slow." A timeline shows that claim is false. And since it wouldn't be Sunday without a Republican voice misrepresenting the Recovery Act, Rep. Pence pretended the package did not cut taxes (it did) and that it is not turning the economy around (it is).

Fox News Sunday

CLAIM: Carly Fiorina Dishonestly Claimed The Obama Administration Is Defunding Border Security

FIORINA: The truth is this. The federal government isn't doing its job. It's the federal government's job to secure the border. The Obama administration has defunded securing the border. And while Barbara Boxer stands up and challenges the constitutionality of the AZ law and vilifies the people of AZ, what she should be doing, what I would be doing, is figuratively standing on the president's desk and saying, Mr. President, the federal government needs to do its job and secure the border.

FACT: The Obama Administration Defunded Faulty "Virtual Fence" But Not Overall Border Security Efforts

PolitiFact Rates GOP Claim That Obama Defunded Border Security "False." In May, the nonpartisan fact-checking website PolitiFact.org examined a similar charge by Rep. Mike Pence:

The fact is, between 2007 and now, while spending on border fencing has gone down, overall spending on border security has increased.

Let's get to some numbers. 

[...]

The 2011 proposed budget, for example, includes $94 million to expand the number of Customs and Border Patrol officers -- putting the country on target to reach Bush's goal of 20,000 officers. Between 2007 and 2011, the Border Patrol budget increased from $2.3 billion to $3.6 billion. The budget for inspections at ports of entry increased from $1.8 billion in 2007 to $2.9 billion in 2011. In addition, Obama's proposed 2011 budget calls for $1.6 billion for customs enforcement programs to identify and remove illegal aliens who commit crimes; and $137 million to expand immigration-related verification programs.

"I would not say the Obama administration has cut back on border enforcement in general," said Marc Rosenblum, senior policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute. Rather, Democrats have shifted funding from border fencing to other border security items, such as increasing the number of border patrol officers.

"Most immigration experts will tell you that adding personnel is much more important than additional fencing," Rosenblum said. "No one thinks building fences, in and of itself, is very effective."

That's a policy debate.

But when Pence said "this administration and this Congress have been systematically cutting funding to border security since the Democrats took control," that's wrong. Funding for fencing is down, but funding for border security is up. In fact, discretionary spending on border security is up 55 percent between 2007 and 2011, even with a small proposed cut in 2011. We rate Pence's claim False.

[PolitiFact.org, 5/2/10, emphasis added]

The Obama Administration Cut Back "Virtual Fence" Funding Amid "Cost Overruns And Missed Deadlines." According to the New York Times: "Citing a plague of 'cost overruns and missed deadlines,' Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Tuesday that she would cut millions of dollars intended for a high-tech 'virtual fence' along the Mexican border that has produced little more than headaches for the federal government. Ms. Napolitano said her department would divert about $50 million in federal stimulus money intended for the project to other technological needs on the border, including laptops, radios, thermal-imaging devices and cameras requested by border guards." [New York Times, 3/16/10]

Government Accountability Office: Fence System "Over-Promised And Under-Delivered."  According to the New York Times: "Those first, limited segments of the fence are now expected to be delivered to the government early next year, and the Government Accountability Office has estimated that it would take several years to cover the entire border with equivalent technology... The accountability office has previously said Boeing pushed forward with designing the system without consulting with the Border Patrol, whose agents would be the primary users. It has released 14 critical reports that, taken together, point to a system that 'was over-promised and under-delivered,' said Richard Stana, director of homeland security and justice issues for the office. The office's latest report, to be released Thursday, says the department and Boeing have not designed tests well enough to assess the program. In some cases, the tests appeared designed to achieve positive results instead of evaluate the system." [New York Times, 3/16/10, emphasis added]

ABC News: Virtual Fence Plagued By "String Of Technical Glitches And Delays."  According to ABC: "An ambitious, $6.7 billion government project to secure nearly the entire Mexican border with a "virtual fence" of cameras, ground sensors and radar is in jeopardy after a string of technical glitches and delays. Having spent $672 million so far with little to show for it, Washington has ordered a reassessment of the whole idea." [ABCNews.com, 2/3/10]

CLAIM: Carly Fiorina Falsely Claimed That Her Tenure As CEO Of Hewlett-Packard Created Jobs

FIORINA: It is true I managed Hewlett-Packard through the worst technology recession in 25 years. And in those tough times we had to make some tough calls. It is also true that net-net we created jobs. We doubled the size of the company from 44 billion to 88 billion. We tripled the rate of innovation to 11 patents a day. We quintupled the cash flow. 

FACT: Fiorina Fired Thousands Of HP Employees...

Fiorina Laid Off Nearly 18,000 HP Workers During "Restructuring." The Omaha-World Herald reported: "Hewlett-Packard, based in Palo Alto, Calif., had a $ 903 million loss on revenue of $ 56.6 billion for its fiscal year that ended last Oct 31. According to a summary by Hoover's Inc., an Austin, Texas, provider of business information, Hewlett-Packard has undergone extensive restructuring under Chief Executive Officer Carly Fiorina. The company announced earlier this year that it planned to cut 17,900 people by October because of a weak economy and its merger with Compaq." [Omaha-World Herald, 9/29/03, via Lexis]

Fiorina Suggests Her Biggest Mistake Was Not Firing More People More Quickly. Fortune reported: "Fiorina does not agree, naturally, that there's been a brain drain (at HP). In fact, she believes that one lesson she's learned while running HP is that she should have moved more quickly in ejecting certain people. Smartened up now, she says, 'I would have done them all faster. Every person that I've asked to leave, whether it's been clear publicly or not, I would have done faster.'"  [Fortune, 2/7/05]

Millionaire Fiorina Called the Outsourcing of American Jobs "Right Shoring." The San Francisco Chronicle reported: "Labor unions have battled 'offshoring,' which Fiorina calls 'right-shoring,' for decades, he said."  [San Francisco Chronicle, 1/9/04]

Fiorina Defended The Outsourcing Of American Jobs As "A Natural Evolution Of Business." According to Investors Business Daily: "The National Science Board and the Computer Systems Policy Project have voiced concerns about the increased reliance on foreign workers and jobs moving offshore. But they are more concerned other countries are doing more to educate their work force, making them more competitive with the U.S. Indeed, Carly Fiorina, CEO of Hewlett-Packard, and Craig Barrett, CEO of Intel, defended their use of offshore labor when the CSPP unveiled its report, 'Choose to Compete,' on Jan. 7. It's a natural evolution of business, they said." [Investors Business Daily, 1/20/04, emphasis added]

...And The Merger She Claims Provided A "Net-Net" Growth Was Described As "Disastrous" And "A Flop"

Merger Failed To Produce for Shareholders, Make HP More Competitive.  Fortune reported: "First, under the only lens that matters, did the famed merger that Fiorina engineered between HP and Compaq produce value for HP's shareholders? Second, with that merger nearly three years past, is HP in shape to thrive in its brutally competitive world? The answers are no and doubtful...This was a big bet that didn't pay off, that didn't even come close to attaining what Fiorina and HP's board said was in store." [Fortune, 2/7/05]

Centerpiece Of Fiorina's Tenure Described As A "Flop."  According to the London Observer: "With hindsight, it's hard to see how Carly Fiorina, America's pre-eminent female executive, who was fired as CEO of Hewlett-Packard last week, could have survived. The centerpiece of her career - a $ 24 billion merger with Compaq - was a flop; HP's board was threatening to strip her of day-to-day responsibilities at the firm; As one of only eight women heading Fortune 500 companies, the HP/Compaq deal was Fiorina's fatal error: not just because the strategy was flawed -- two years on it has not achieved its goal of improving cost efficiencies in HP's PC business -- but also because she alienated too many people in the process of pursuing that goal." [London Observer, 2/13/05]

  • HP/Compaq Merger Described As "Disastrous."  According to the London Observer: "Since the merger, HP has lost market share and failed to revive its profit margins. It lost the number one position in personal-computer market share last year to Dell. While the share price of Dell has soared over the past 18 months, HP's has floundered. Indeed, the merger was so disastrous that Fiorina fought off three attempts to spin off HP's highly profitable printer business and cut the PC business adrift. After her departure last week, shares in the company rose nearly 10 per cent on that prospect." [London Observer, 2/13/05]

Hewlett Alleged Merger Would Result In Even More Job Losses.  The Washington Post reported: "HP has said the merger would result in 15,000 layoffs. But Hewlett said in his filing that the company's management knew that it risked losing 24,000 jobs. Hewlett also referred to an internal company memo that notes that profits for the merged operation for 2002 and 2003 may be 'significantly below' the projections company executives have put before the public." [Washington Post, 3/29/02 via Lexis]

See Political Correction's Complete Fact-Check Of Fiorina's Record At HP HERE

Meet the Press

CLAIM: Carly Fiorina Claimed That Former Head Of Minerals Management Service Was Hired From The Oil Industry

FIORINA: And may I just say, it was Ken Salazar who put in place the Secretary or the Head of MMS, who just recently resigned, and who came from the industry.

DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: No she didn't.

FIORINA: So I think this is a question of the blame-game to say this is all about the Republicans saying 'small government.'

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: She came from the house.

FIORINA: This is about efficient and effective government--

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Liz Birnbaum? Came from the House.

FIORINA: --and efficient and effective response.

FACT: As Rep. Wasserman Schultz Correctly Pointed Out, Former MMS Chief Elizabeth Birnbaum Did Not Work In The Oil Industry Prior To Joining The Regulatory Agency

Birnbaum Worked For House Administration Committee Prior To MMS Appointment. According to the Washington Post: "Birnbaum, who took the helm of MMS on July 15, had spent most her Washington career as an environmental advocate, working either for the government or nonprofit groups. Prior to leading MMS she had served as staff director for the House Administration Committee. But from 2001 to 2007 she served as vice president for government affairs and general counsel for the advocacy group American Rivers. She was also no novice to Interior, having worked there from 1999 to 2001, during the Clinton administration. In her last year on the job there, she worked as the department's associate solicitor for mineral resources, helping develop rules and litigating on behalf of MMS." [Washington Post, 5/27/10]

State of the Union

CLAIM: Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) Accused President Obama Of Being "Slow To Respond" To Gulf Oil Crisis

PENCE: This administration did not send cabinet-level officials to the region until 10 days after the explosion occurred. It would be two weeks after the explosion occurred that we began to hear from members of uh, of Congress from the region, that you literally had fishermen uh, standing on, on docks, you had parish presidents who were waiting for BP to give them permission to go out and deploy boom uh, to uh protect their wetlands and their coastline. Then we began to hear from Governor Bobby Jindal about a delay in permitting for the construction of barrier islands. I think what's become clear to people at every end of the political spectrum, and now even on the editorial pages of the New York Times, is that this administration was slow to respond, and continues to fail-- well, continues to fail to provide the kind of energetic leadership that the American people expect, and Candy, that the law demands.

FACT: Timeline Shows Initial Robust Response From White House

April 20 (10 p.m.): Oil Rig Explosion. According to ABC: "An overnight explosion in the Gulf of Mexico rocked the Deepwater Horizon oil rig off the Louisiana coast, sending spectacular bursts of flame into the sky. The fires were still raging today." [ABCNews.com, 4/21/10]

April 21: After Briefing, President Dispatches Deputy Secretary of Interior, Coast Guard To The Region. In a statement, Robert Gibbs said: "The President was briefed in the Oval Office this afternoon by a number of senior officials including Department of Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano, Admiral Thad Allen, United States Coast Guard Commandant, Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar...as well as a host of senior white house officials... The United States Coast Guard informed the President that search and rescue efforts are ongoing. The President made sure that the entire federal government was offering all assistance needed in the rescue effort as well as in mitigating and responding to the environmental impact and that this response was being treated as the number one priority... Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Hayes was dispatched to the region yesterday to assist with coordination and response." [WhiteHouse.gov, 4/22/10]

  • BP Confirms U.S. Coast Guard Was "Leading The Emergency Response." In an April 21 press release, British Petroleum stated that it was "working closely with Transocean and the U.S. Coast Guard, which is leading the emergency response, and had been offering its help - including logistical support." [BP.com,4/21/10]
  • CNN.com: "The U.S. Coast Guard Launched A Major Search Effort." According to CNN:

The U.S. Coast Guard launched a major search effort Wednesday for 11 people missing after a "catastrophic" explosion aboard an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico engulfed the drilling platform in flames.

Another 17 people were injured -- three critically -- in the blast aboard the Deepwater Horizon, which occurred about 10 p.m. Tuesday. The rig was about 52 miles southeast of Venice, Louisiana, said Coast Guard Senior Chief Petty Officer Mike O'Berry. As of late afternoon Wednesday as many as six firefighting vessels were working to contain the massive fire caused by the explosion.

"It obviously was a catastrophic event," O'Berry said.

[CNN.com, 4/22/10]

April 23: Coast Guard "Focused On Mitigating The Impact Of The Product Currently In The Water." On April 23, the Coast Guard stated:

The Department of the Interior, MMS [the U.S. Minerals Management Service], and the Coast Guard continue to support the efforts of the responsible parties to secure all potential sources of pollution. Both federal agencies have technical teams in place overseeing the proposals by BP and Transocean to completely secure the well. Until that has occurred and all parties are confident the risk of additional spill is removed, a high readiness posture to respond will remain in place. 

Although the oil appears to have stopped flowing from the well head, Coast Guard, BP, Transocean, and MMS remain focused on mitigating the impact of the product currently in the water and preparing for a worst-case scenario in the event the seal does not hold. Visual feed from deployed remotely operated vehicles with sonar capability is continually monitored in an effort to look for any crude oil which still has the potential to emanate from the subsurface well.

"From what we have observed yesterday and through the night, we are not seeing any signs of release of crude in the subsurface area. However we remain in a 'ready to respond' mode and are working in a collaborative effort with BP, the responsible party, to prepare for a worst-case scenario," Landry stated early Friday morning.

[D8ExternalAffairs.com, 4/23/10]

April 25: Storms Delay Response Efforts. According to the Associated Press: "Stormy weather delayed weekend efforts to mop up leaking oil from a damaged well after the explosion and sinking of a massive rig off Louisiana's Gulf Coast that left 11 workers missing and presumed dead... The bad weather began rolling in Friday as strong winds, clouds and rain interrupted efforts to contain the spill. Coast Guard Petty Officer John Edwards said he was uncertain when weather conditions would improve enough for cleanup to resume. So far, he said, crews have retrieved about 1,052 barrels of oily water." [AP4/25/10 via SunTimes.com]

April 28: Federal Officials Realize Spill Was Far More Severe Than BP Led Them To Believe. According to the New York Times: "Government officials said late Wednesday night that oil might be leaking from a well in the Gulf of Mexico at a rate five times that suggested by initial estimates. In a hastily called news conference, Rear Adm. Mary E. Landry of the Coast Guard said a scientist from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had concluded that oil is leaking at the rate of 5,000 barrels a day, not 1,000 as had been estimated. While emphasizing that the estimates are rough given that the leak is at 5,000 feet below the surface, Admiral Landry said the new estimate came from observations made in flights over the slick, studying the trajectory of the spill and other variables." [New York Times4/28/10]

April 29: Napolitano Declares Spill "Of National Significance." In a press conference, Secretary Napolitano said: "Last night BP alerted us to additional oil leaking from their deep underwater well.  They are working, with our support, to estimate the size of this breach. As has just been mentioned, the President has urged, out of an abundance of caution and mindful of new and evolving information, that we must position resources to continue to confront this spill. That being said, we have been anticipating and planning, and today I will be designating that this is a spill of national significance.  What that means is that we can now draw down assets from across the country, other coastal areas, by way of example; that we will have a centralized communications because the spill is now crossing different regions." [WhiteHouse.gov, 4/29/10, emphasis added]

  • EPA Preparing For Oil To Hit Shore. In a press briefing, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said: "[A]s the oil does hit the shoreline, EPA will provide support to assess the impacts on the coastal shoreline and play a key role in implementing the cleanup. As a daughter of the Gulf Coast, I know that it is our job to ensure people that we will be eyes and ears working with the states who have valuable and vital resources to monitor air, water and land quality." [WhiteHouse.gov, 4/29/10]
  • AP: "Air Force Sends Planes To Help With Gulf Oil Spill." According to the Associated Press: "Two Air Force planes have been sent to Mississippi and were awaiting orders to start dumping chemicals on the oil spill threatening the coast, as the government worked Friday to determine how large a role the military should play in the cleanup." [AP4/30/10 via AJC.com]
  • WSJ: Navy Joins Obama's "Robust Response." According to the Wall Street Journal: "The U.S. Navy said it will send more than 12 additional miles of inflatable oil booms to the Gulf, as well as seven towable skimming systems and 50 contractors with experience operating the equipment... Mr. Obama also ordered a more robust response to the spill from the military and federal agencies. The U.S. Navy said it will send more than 12 additional miles of inflatable oil booms to the Gulf, as well as seven towable skimming systems and 50 contractors with experience operating the equipment, according to military officials at the Pentagon. The Navy is making two large facilities available to the Coast Guard personnel and BP-employed contractors who are currently taking the lead in fighting the spill. Military officials said the booms and skimmers were being sent to a Naval construction base in Gulfport, Miss. The Navy also opened its air base in Pensacola, Fla., to the effort." [Wall Street Journal4/30/10]

See a more complete timeline of the response here

FACT: Pence's Account Of Barrier Island Plan Ignores Legal Requirement That Army Corps Of Engineers Study Impacts Of Such Plans, Even In Emergencies

Associated Press: Federal Law Requires Army Corps Of Engineers To Review Louisiana's Request For Sand Berms. According to the Associated Press: "In a statement, the Corps said the state's application is being processed as an emergency permit. The agency said that under federal law, the Corps had to comment on the proposal, leading the state to file a revised plan on May 14. The agency said the information is now being evaluated for potential environmental impacts. The Corps said it is working closely with the state - and will make a decision as quickly as possible." [Associated Press, 5/24/10]

Associated Press: Army Engineers Were Concerned Berm Plan Could Have "Inadvertent" Negative Outcome. According to the Associated Press: "Gov. Bobby Jindal and leaders from several coastal parishes want to ring the state's southeastern coastline with a $350 million, 86-mile network of sand berms. However, the corps says the barrier could inadvertently alter tides and end up driving oil east -- into Mississippi Sound, the Biloxi Marshes and Lake Borgne." [Associated Press, 5/27/10]

CLAIM: Rep. Pence Said Obama Economic Policies Have Failed, Despite Evidence The Recovery Is Working

PENCE: This is an administration uh, that is, that is uh, groping for some economic policy. I mean, the truth is, the President likes to talk about the failed economic policies of the past, the truth is, the economic policies of this administration and this Congress are the failed economic policies of the present.

FACT: The Recovery Act Has Gradually Turned Our Economy Around

Job Statistics Trend Shows Recovery Act Is Working. Below is a graph prepared by the Speaker's office showing not job gains or losses per month since December 2007.

[Job Totals Per Month Since Dec 2007, The Gavel, 6/4/10]

CLAIM: Rep. Pence Implied That Recovery Act Did Not Include Tax Cuts

PENCE: We need fiscal discipline in Washington, D.C. We need to abandon this spending approach to stimulus, adding to deficits and debt, and we need to provide immediate, across-the-board tax relief for working families, small businesses and family farms. We need a new approach.

FACT: The American Recovery And Reinvestment Act Included Roughly $288 Billion In Tax Relief

PolitiFact: "Nearly A Third" Of Recovery Act Is Tax Breaks. According to PolitiFact.com: "Nearly a third of the cost of the stimulus, $288 billion, comes via tax breaks to individuals and businesses. The tax cuts include a refundable credit of up to $400 per individual and $800 for married couples; a temporary increase of the earned income tax credit for disadvantaged families; and an extension of a program that allows businesses to recover the costs of capital expenditures faster than usual. The tax cuts aren't so much spending as money the government won't get -- so it can stay in the economy. Of that $288 billion, the stimulus has resulted in $119 billion worth of tax breaks so far." [PolitiFact.com, 2/17/10]

FACT: The Recovery Act DID Provide "Across-The-Board Tax Relief For Working Families"

The Recovery Act Cut Taxes For 95% Of Working Families.  According to PolitiFact.com:

Under the stimulus bill, single workers got $400, and working couples got $800. The Internal Revenue Service issued new guidelines to reduce withholdings for income tax, so many workers saw a small increase in their checks in April 2009.

The tax cut was part of Obama's campaign promises. During the campaign, Obama said he wanted $500 for each worker and $1,000 for working couples. Since the final number was a bit less than he promised, we rated his promise a Compromise on our Obameter, where we rate Obama's campaign promises for fulfillment. 

During the campaign, the independent Tax Policy Center researched how Obama's tax proposals would affect workers. It concluded 94.3 percent of workers would receive a tax cut under Obama's plan based on the tax credit to offset payroll taxes. According to the analysis, the people who wouldn't get a tax cut are those who make more than $250,000 for couples or $200,000 for a single person. [PolitiFact.com, accessed 2/17/10]

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