Fact Checking The Sunday Shows - October 30, 2011

October 31, 2011 10:24 am ET

This week's Sunday talk shows included several GOP presidential contenders who have figured out that ignoring facts is a winning formula among their party's voters. While all the candidates who appeared on the shows parroted the same points they've been making for the past several months, there were also several new allegations. On Face the Nation, GOP frontrunner Herman Cain, after having adjusted his 9-9-9 tax plan to avoid tax hikes on those living in poverty, claimed that the exemption was there all along and that his critics simply misreported his plan. That's unlikely given that Cain has been on record defending taxing the income of those living in poverty. On This Week, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) was called out for misrepresenting immigration statistics. Rather than acknowledge her mistake and move on, Bachmann claimed that she did not say what the video clearly showed her saying. And on Fox News Sunday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) repeated a slew of easily debunked economic talking points, including that President Obama had overseen the creation of "practically no jobs."

Face the Nation

CLAIM: Cain Claimed His Tax Plan Was Never Intended To Tax The Income Of Those Below The Poverty Line

BOB SCHIEFFER (HOST): You know, although people like you, the same polls also show that a majority of Americans, a pretty substantial majority, really don't like your trademark 9-9-9 plan, your proposal to junk the current tax code and impose this 9 percent sales tax and 9 percent income tax and 9 percent corporate tax. You've already made a change in it, saying it ought to be 9-0-9 so poor people don't have to pay this additional tax. But do you think you're going to have to just go back to the drawing board on this?

HERMAN CAIN: Absolutely not. And one correction, Bob. I didn't make a change to it, 9-0-9. It was already in the analysis and it was misreported that I changed it. It's just that people who were trying to attack it didn't read the entire analysis.

SCHIEFFER: But it said nine. It said 9-9-9.

CAIN: Right...

SCHIEFFER: And now you say it's 9-0-9.

CAIN: No, no, no, no, what we're saying is we've always had a provision in the revenue that we collect to be able to allow people at or below the poverty level to pay zero on their income if they are at or below the poverty level. So we're not modifying it. That's been a part of it all along.

FACT: Original 9-9-9 Plan Made No Such Exemption For Those Living In Poverty

When Asked About Impact Of 9-9-9 Plan On The Poor, Cain Said They Would Pay A Lower Rate Then They Currently Pay, Not That They Would Be Exempt. From the October 9th edition of CBS' Face the Nation:

BOB SCHIEFFER (HOST): Let me ask you, one certainty is that poor people are going to have to pay more taxes.

HERMAN CAIN: No, no. Let's start with the payroll tax. It's 15.3 percent. Everybody pays that. So instead of paying 15.3 percent they're going to be paying 9 percent. That's a 6 percentage point difference. If you work that out for various income levels, they will have extra cash from that differential to pay the sales tax.

SCHIEFFER: Aren't poor people also going to get to pay a tax on food and a tax on medicine?

CAIN: We all will. We all will. You have to work—

SCHIEFFER: Do you think that's fair?

CAIN: Yes, because you give poor people more opportunity to stretch their dollar and leverage their income based upon their decisions whether to buy new or used goods. [CBS, 10/9/11]

Former Reagan Adviser Bruce Bartlett On Cain's Original Plan: "The Poor Would Pay More While The Rich Would Have Their Taxes Cut." According to former President Reagan adviser Bruce Bartlett: "It's important to understand that the 9 percent rates on personal and business income would apply to very different tax bases than now exist. For individuals, the tax would apply to gross income less only the deduction for charitable contributions. No mention is made of a personal exemption. This means that the 47 percent of tax filers who now pay no federal income taxes will pay 9 percent on their total income. And elimination of the payroll tax won't even help half of them because the earned income tax credit, which Mr. Cain would abolish, offsets both their income tax liability and their payroll tax payment as well. [...] At a minimum, the Cain plan is a distributional monstrosity. The poor would pay more while the rich would have their taxes cut, with no guarantee that economic growth will increase and good reason to believe that the budget deficit will increase. [New York Times, 10/11/11]

9-9-9 Plan And New 9-0-9 Plan Are Steps Towards An Eventual National Sales Tax. As the Washington Post's Glenn Kessler explains: "But note that we said the "9-9-9" would happen eventually — and then only temporarily. That's because it is only the second step of a planned three-step process. The first step would cut individual and corporate tax rates to a top 25 percent rate (down from a current high of 35 percent). Then the final step would replace all of the taxes — even the 9s — with a national sales tax, known by proponents as a "Fair Tax." [Washington Post, 10/13/11]

National Sales Tax Would Have To Be Between 45 Percent And 60 Percent To Raise Enough Revenue. As a report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy notes: "For 2005 (a relatively low-tax year), we calculate that the required break-even sales tax rate would be between 45 percent and 53 percent, depending on how certain tax-base issues are resolved. A recent analysis by William Gale of the Brookings Institution finds that to match expected federal revenues over the upcoming decade would require a sales tax rate of about 60 percent. That figure is consistent with earlier analyses by Citizens for Tax Justice and the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation." [Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, September 2004]

National Sales Tax Is Regressive, Would Hurt Poor And Elderly The Most. As a report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy notes: "Under current law, federal income and estate taxes are progressive. That means that taxpayers with high incomes pay a larger share of their incomes in taxes than do middle- and low-income taxpayers. A national sales tax would be exactly the opposite. It would take a much higher share of the earnings of low- and middle-income families than the wealthy would have to pay. That's because most Americans must spend most or all of their incomes to make ends meet, while better-off people can afford to spend a much lower share of their incomes. Moreover, older Americans tend to spend a higher share of their incomes than younger ones, which means that a national sales tax would be particularly burdensome on the elderly." [Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, September 2004]

CLAIM: Cain Claimed Planned Parenthood Founder Margaret Sanger Targeted Black Communities For Genocide

BOB SCHIEFFER (HOST): OK. I want to ask you, since we're on the subject of abortion, there was at one point back there when the question of Planned Parenthood came up, and you said that it was not Planned Parenthood, it was really "planned genocide" because you said Planned Parenthood was trying to put all these centers into the black communities because they wanted to kill black babies before they were born.


SCHIEFFER: You still stand by that.

CAIN: I still stand by that.

SCHIEFFER: Do you have any proof that that was the objective of Planned Parenthood?

CAIN: If people go back and look at the history and look at Margaret Sanger's own words, that's exactly where that came from. Look up the history. So if you go back and look up the history. Secondly, look at where most of them were built. Seventy-five percent of those facilities were built in the black community. In Margaret Sanger's own words, she didn't use the word genocide, but she did talk about preventing the increasing number of poor blacks in this country by preventing black babies from being born.

FACT: There Is No Evidence Sanger Wanted Black Genocide

PolitiFact: Sanger's Reproductive Health Efforts Were Supported By Black Leaders, And There's No Evidence For Attempted Genocide. According to PolitiFact:

When she did open a Harlem clinic in the early 1930s, about half of its patients were white. Members of the black establishment, including DuBois and black newspaper the Amsterdam News, supported it. This was hardly the pro-genocide camp.

None of these centers performed abortions.

Those who think Sanger wanted black genocide cite the Negro Project. But even their strongest evidence, a passage from a letter she wrote advocating that organizers recruit black ministers for the project, does not come close to proving a genocidal plot.

Sanger wrote that "We don't want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs."

But her correspondence shows this sentence advocates for black doctors and ministers to play leadership roles in the Negro Project to avoid misunderstandings. Lynchings and Jim Crow laws gave blacks good reason to be wary of attempts to limit the number of children they bore. In Harlem, she hired a black doctor and social worker to quell those fears.

The facts of the Negro Project suggest nothing more genocidal than a public health project. Black leaders DuBois and Mary McLeod Bethune, founder of the National Council of Negro Women, and the pastor of the influential black Abyssinian Baptist Church were members of its advisory council. First lady Eleanor Roosevelt was supportive. [PolitiFact, 4/8/11]

This Week

CLAIM: Bachmann Denied Getting Statistics Wrong On Illegal Immigrants From State Sponsors Of Terror

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR (HOST): Congresswoman Bachmann, I just want to read from the report of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, that the 59,000 represents the total illegal immigrants apprehended from all countries other than Mexico, but only 11 of them were from Yemen, and just five were illegal immigrants from Syria, not 59,000. I mean, how do you get those figures so wrong?

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN: I did not state in my — in the full context of my remarks I didn't say that 59,000 came solely from states that were state sponsors of terror. I said it included among them are — but you're missing the main point that I made. The fact that the United States government has failed to secure our borders has put the American people at risk. If there was even one individual that came illegally across our border from a state sponsor of terror, that alone would show the failure of the United States government. The fact that we have 59,000 other than Mexicans coming across in one year certainly poses a threat. But no, I didn't say that they were all from the state sponsors of terror. So that would be inaccurate for you to report that.

CLAIM: Bachmann Claimed She Did Not Refer To Yemen As A State Sponsor Of Terror

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR (HOST): Well, it is in fact in your statement there. I'm hearing what you're saying now to sort of talk about what you actually meant. But of course, Yemen is not classified as a state sponsor of terrorism. But can I actually move on—

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN: That's right. That is right. Yemen is not a state sponsor of terror. Nor did I say that they were. There are on the secretary of state's website, listed the nations that are state sponsors of terror. And that's what is wrong, and that's what's worrisome, the fact that we do have individuals that are from state sponsors of terror coming across unimpeded on the United States' southern border, and that's why I have stated that within one year of being in office, I would build the fence that is so necessary on our border.

FACT: Bachmann Got It Wrong On Yemen's Status And On Immigrants From State Sponsors Of Terror

Rep. Bachman Said 59,000 Illegal Immigrants Came From Yemen And Syria Alone, Referred To Both Countries As State Sponsors Of Terror. According to the Los Angeles Times:

Michele Bachmann was laying out a tough immigration policy recently when she veered off script to make a point that she said underscored the national security implications of a porous border.

"Fifty-nine thousand this year came across the border, as was said in the introduction, from Yemen, from Syria. These are nations that are state sponsors of terror," the Minnesota congresswoman and Republican presidential candidate said, citing a report she had heard. "They're coming into our country!" [Los Angeles Times, 10/23/11]

Fox News Sunday

CLAIM: Perry Claimed Texas Created More Jobs Than Any Other State

GOV. RICK PERRY: If you want to know how somebody is going to perform in the future, take a look at their past. And as governor of the state of Texas, we created more jobs in the state than any other state in the country. And I think that's what Americans are really interested in.

FACT: Texas Jobs Number Not What They Seem

Nobel-Winning Economist Krugman: "The Texas Miracle Is A Myth" Because Job Growth In The State Has Not Kept Up With Population Growth. According to Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman of the New York Times:

So what you need to know is that the Texas miracle is a myth, and more broadly that [the] Texan experience offers no useful lessons on how to restore national full employment.

It's true that Texas entered recession a bit later than the rest of America, mainly because the state's still energy-heavy economy was buoyed by high oil prices through the first half of 2008. Also, Texas was spared the worst of the housing crisis, partly because it turns out to have surprisingly strict regulation of mortgage lending. 

Despite all that, however, from mid-2008 onward unemployment soared in Texas, just as it did almost everywhere else. 

In June 2011, the Texas unemployment rate was 8.2 percent. That was less than unemployment in collapsed-bubble states like California and Florida, but it was slightly higher than the unemployment rate in New York, and significantly higher than the rate in Massachusetts. [...]

So where does the notion of a Texas miracle come from? Mainly from widespread misunderstanding of the economic effects of population growth.

For this much is true about Texas: It has, for many decades, had much faster population growth than the rest of America - about twice as fast since 1990. [...] 

Texas tends, in good years and bad, to have higher job growth than the rest of America. But it needs lots of new jobs just to keep up with its rising population - and as those unemployment comparisons show, recent employment growth has fallen well short of what's needed. [New York Times8/14/11, emphasis added]

Government Jobs Have Increased In Texas Largely Due To Population Growth. According to the Washington Post:

Perry says the "Texas miracle" rests on conservative pillars that he would bring to the White House: minimal regulation and government, low taxes and a determination to limit the reach of Uncle Sam.

What he does not say is that much of that job growth has come because of government, not in spite of it.

With a young and fast-growing population, a large and expanding military presence and an influx of federal stimulus money, the number of government jobs in Texas has grown at more than double the rate of private-sector employment during Perry's tenure. [...]

Analysts call the growth in government employment in Texas a natural consequence of the surging population, which has grown by more than 20 percent in the past decade to 25.1 million. The increase has caused local governments and school systems to hire more teachers, budget analysts, compliance officers and police officers.

"A lot of growth has been happening in the public sector to respond to a growing population," said Don Baylor Jr., a senior policy analyst with the Center for Public Policy Priorities, a research and advocacy group in Austin. "That has been an ongoing driver of our job growth." [Washington Post, 8/20/11]

Texas Benefits From Size, Location Factors That Make Its Economy Fundamentally Different From Most States. As reported by the Wall Street Journal: "Texas also benefits from factors not easily replicated elsewhere. Among them: Texas' massive size, which can support job-rich infrastructure such as the Port of Houston; its oil and gas deposits; its proximity to Mexico, an important trading partner; and its young and expanding population." [Wall Street Journal7/27/11]

Rising Energy Prices Buoy Texas Economy. As reported by the Houston Chronicle: "When oil prices are high, job growth in Texas historically has exceeded that of the nation, said Keith Phillips, the senior economist and advisor at the San Antonio branch of the Dallas Federal reserve. He said Texas entered the recession late and came out early, mirroring trends in oil prices, which rose towards the beginning of the recession, fell in 2009, but have been steadily rising since. 'If you look at what states were expanding, they are almost all the energy states,' he said. 'When oil prices are high, our job growth is stronger relative to that of the nation.' Based on Dallas Fed research, a 10 percent increase in oil prices leads to a 0.3 percent rise in employment and a 0.5 percent rise in GDP for the state of Texas." [Houston Chronicle7/31/11, emphasis added]

As Home To Multiple Military Bases, Texas Was Positioned To Gain From Increased Defense Spending Since 9/11. As reported by the Houston Chronicle:

The federal government has significantly expanded its military spending in the decade since 9/11, and that has been good news for Texas, home to major bases like Fort Bliss and Fort Hood.

For example, over the past three years the Army has relocated about 14,000 troops to Fort Bliss, which is outside El Paso, and plans to permanently relocate an additional 6,000 troops there in the next two years, according to CNNMoney.

"If there were military bases that expanded, there are government jobs that are being created," [Brookings Institution economist Howard] Wial said, explaining that military spending has the potential to make a big impact on the Texas economy because beyond supplying jobs on the base, it pumps money into the local economy.

According to a fact sheet issued in August of 2009 by the Fort Hood Public Affairs Office, "Fort Hood is the largest single site employer in Texas, directly inserting nearly $3 billion annually into the Texas economy." [Houston Chronicle7/31/11, emphasis added]

  • CNNMoney: "Fort Bliss, Covering An Area Larger Than Rhode Island," Is "Having A Dramatic Impact On An Otherwise Depressed Economy." As reported by CNNMoney: "The U.S. military base Fort Bliss, covering an area larger than Rhode Island, has become one of America's largest military installations, and that's having a dramatic impact on an otherwise depressed economy. Congress might not have known it then, but its move to expand Fort Bliss as part of the 2005 changes under the Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) has coincidentally saved El Paso, Texas from falling into the depths of the latest economic recession. Whereas home construction has continued to drop to record lows across most of the country, this city of 751,000 is experiencing relatively robust growth. In fact, the influx of soldiers, military personnel and their families has created a shortage of housing units on the base, helping drive up demand for housing and developers in El Paso, according to U.S. military officials." [CNNMoney, 11/16/10, emphasis added]

Houston Chronicle: "Texas Escaped The Foreclosure Bust." As reported by the Houston Chronicle: "Texas escaped the foreclosure bust that crippled other states' economies - only 6 percent of Texas mortgage borrowers are in or near foreclosure, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, while the national average is nearly 10 percent. [...] [Federal Reserve economist Keith] Phillips said that because housing prices never rose during the housing boom, partly because Texas has cheap, open land for building, they also didn't crash during the recession." [Houston Chronicle7/31/11]

CLAIM: Perry Claimed Allowing Companies To Pay Lower Taxes On Repatriated Profits Would Boost Economic Growth

GOV. RICK PERRY: Let me tell you any jobs at this particular point in time helps. But you give confidence to the American people. Give you a good example — bring in that money that's offshore, the money that can be repatriated at 5.5 percent in my plan. That will create, according to the Chamber of Commerce, American Chamber of Commerce, $360 billion worth of economic activity.

FACT: Repatriated Profits Would Likely Do Little To Help With Growth

The Last Time The Tax Rate On Repatriated Earnings Was Reduced, There Was No Evidence Of An "Increase In Domestic Investment Or Employment." According to the Center for Tax Justice: "A conceptually similar proposal was enacted as part of the American Jobs Creation Act (P.L. 108-357). The provision provided a temporary reduced rate for repatriated earnings, with the condition that the repatriated earnings be used for domestic investment. While empirical evidence is clear that this provision resulted in a significant increase in repatriated earnings, empirical evidence is unable to show a corresponding increase in domestic investment or employment." [Center for Tax Justice, 5/27/11]

Most Companies Used Repatriated Profits To Purchase More Stock Or Pay Shareholders Bigger Dividends. According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, "The evidence shows that firms mostly used the repatriated earnings not to invest in U.S. jobs or growth but for purposes that Congress sought to prohibit, such as repurchasing their own stock and paying bigger dividends to their shareholders. Moreover, many firms actually laid off large numbers of U.S. workers even as they reaped multi-billion-dollar benefits from the tax holiday and passed them on to shareholders." [CBPP, 6/23/11]

CLAIM: President Obama Added $4 Trillion To The Debt And "Practically No Jobs Being Created"

GOV. RICK PERRY: Americans are sick and tired of Washington's business as usual. They're sick and tired of seeing hundreds of thousands of federal employees be put on the tax roles that they are having to pay the jobs of stimulus dollars, $4 trillion worth of debt under this president's watch and practically no jobs being created.

FACT: The Economy Shed Millions Of Jobs During The Bush Recession Until President Obama's Policies Began To Turn Things Around

The Economy Shed Almost 8 Million Jobs Under Republican Policies Before The Recovery Act Could Affect The Economy. According to economist Robert J. Shapiro:

From December 2007 to July 2009 - the last year of the Bush second term and the first six months of the Obama presidency, before his policies could affect the economy - private sector employment crashed from 115,574,000 jobs to 107,778,000 jobs. Employment continued to fall, however, for the next six months, reaching a low of 107,107,000 jobs in December of 2009. So, out of 8,467,000 private sector jobs lost in this dismal cycle, 7,796,000 of those jobs or 92 percent were lost on the Republicans' watch or under the sway of their policies. Some 671,000 additional jobs were lost as the stimulus and other moves by the administration kicked in, but 630,000 jobs then came back in the following six months. The tally, to date: Mr. Obama can be held accountable for the net loss of 41,000 jobs (671,000 - 630,000), while the Republicans should be held responsible for the net losses of 7,796,000 jobs. [Sonecon.com, 8/10/10, emphasis added]

PolitiFact: "True" That "Most Job Losses" Happened Before Obama Policies Took Effect. According to PolitiFact's analysis of President Obama's statement that "most of the jobs that we lost were lost before the economic policies we put in place had any effect": "Looking at BLS data on seasonally adjusted non-farm employment from December 2007, when the recession officially began, to January 2009, the month before the stimulus was enacted (a 25-month period), the jobs number declined by 4.4 million. ... When [Obama] refers to his economic policies, we presume he is referring to his main economic stimulus, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It passed in February 2009, but it took several months before the impact of its spending was felt in the economy. Job loss didn't stop, but Obama is right that it slowed down. In the 19 months from February 2009 through September 2010, the month of the most recent preliminary data, the overall job decline in the private and public sectors was 2.6 million. And the number of jobs lost per month has declined from around 700,000 a month at the beginning of the administration to months in which there were small net gains. ... 'I watched the president on Stewart's show last night, and I thought his basic point about the timing of the employment losses was correct and ought to be noncontroversial,' Gary Burtless, a labor markets expert at the centrist-to-liberal Brookings Institution said in an e-mail." [PolitiFact.com, 10/27/10, emphasis added]

Since June 2009, The Private Sector Has Gained Over One Million Net Jobs. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, there were 107,936,000 private-sector jobs in June 2009. As of September 2011, the most recent report available, the data show that total is up to 109,349,000 — a net gain of 1,413,000 jobs in the private sector. [BLS.gov, accessed 9/18/11]

CBO: The Recovery Act Created Jobs, Lowered Unemployment, And Boosted GDP. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office:

On that basis, CBO estimates that ARRA's policies had the following effects in the fourth quarter of calendar year 2010:

  • They raised real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) by between 1.1 percent and 3.5 percent,
  • Lowered the unemployment rate by between 0.7 percentage points and 1.9 percentage points,
  • Increased the number of people employed by between 1.3 million and 3.5 million, and
  • Increased the number of full-time-equivalent jobs by 1.8 million to 5.0 million compared with what would have occurred otherwise, as shown in Table 1. (Increases in FTE jobs include shifts from part-time to full-time work or overtime and are thus generally larger than increases in the number of employed workers). [CBO, February 2011]

FACT: Bush Policies And Economic Downturn Were Responsible For Increased Debt

Economic Downturn, Bush Tax Cuts, And Two Wars "Explain Virtually The Entire Debt" Over The Next Decade. As the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities explains: "Some critics continue to assert that President George W. Bush's policies bear little responsibility for the deficits the nation faces over the coming decade — that, instead, the new policies of President Barack Obama and the 111th Congress are to blame.  Most recently, a Heritage Foundation paper downplayed the role of Bush-era policies (for more on that paper, see p. 4).  Nevertheless, the fact remains: Together with the economic downturn, the Bush tax cuts and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq explain virtually the entire deficit over the next ten years." [CBPP, 6/28/10]

Major Bush Policies Cost $5.07 Billion Between Fiscal Years 2002-2009. According to the New York Times:

Budget estimates that didn't foresee the recessions in 2001 and in 2008 and 2009 also contributed to deficits. Mr. Obama's policies, taken out to 2017, add to deficits, but not by nearly as much. A few lessons can be drawn from the numbers. First, the Bush tax cuts have had a huge damaging effect. If all of them expired as scheduled at the end of 2012, future deficits would be cut by about half, to sustainable levels. Second, a healthy budget requires a healthy economy; recessions wreak havoc by reducing tax revenue. Government has to spur demand and create jobs in a deep downturn, even though doing so worsens the deficit in the short run. Third, spending cuts alone will not close the gap. The chronic revenue shortfalls from serial tax cuts are simply too deep to fill with spending cuts alone. Taxes have to go up. In future decades, when rising health costs with an aging population hit the budget in full force, deficits are projected to be far deeper than they are now. Effective health care reform, and a willingness to pay more taxes, will be the biggest factors in controlling those deficits.

[New York Times, 7/23/11]