The economy and budget were top issues in many of the speeches at the Republican convention on Tuesday. Speakers from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who delivered the keynote address, to Democrat-turned-Republican Artur Davis criticized President Obama for presiding over rising debt and deficits and accused him of seeking to expand the role of government in the economy. Here is a look at some of the statements and how firmly they are grounded in fact.
Chris Christie on entitlements
Christie continued Republicans' attack on entitlements, accusing Democrats of avoiding hard questions on entitlement programs such as Medicare.
“They believe seniors will always put themselves ahead of their grandchildren. So they prey on their vulnerabilities and scare them with misinformation for the cynical purpose of winning the next election,” Christie said.
Democrats, including Obama himself, are guilty of using talking points on Medicare that bend the truth. They have repeatedly told seniors that a plan from Mitt Romney and vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan of Wisconsin would end up costing seniors an additional $6,400 over their current health care costs. That number comes from a Congressional Budget Office analysis of Ryan’s first budget plan, which would convert Medicare into a voucher program. It is also not a number that CBO’s economists offered themselves. Instead, it is an interpretation of CBO’s analysis. Liberal thinkers took CBO’s first estimates of Ryan’s Medicare plan and used simple subtraction to arrive at the $6,400 figure—taking the difference between what seniors would have to pay for the estimated cost of a private Medicare plan in 2022 and what traditional Medicare would cost seniors that same year.
Chris Christie on his New Jersey record
Christie blasted critics for insisting it was impossible to cut taxes and balance his state’s budget at the same time, with an $11 billion deficit. “Three years later, we have three balanced budgets in a row with lower taxes,” he said.
Christie did in fact balance the budget for a third straight year. But Politifact New Jersey last month gave the caveat that Christie, as governor, is actually required to do this under the state’s constitution. Touting the accomplishment essentially “pats the governor on the back for following the law,” according to Politifact, which assessed the same claim highlighted in earlier pro-Christie ads hailing a balanced budget as part of his reform movement.
The fact-checking group said that Christie was wading into “murky territory” when he claimed his state had no tax increases. Rates for gross income, sales, and corporation business taxes—New Jersey’s three major taxes—did not go up during Christie’s tenure, but the state did reduce funding for property-tax credit programs and the State Earned Income Tax Credit between fiscal 2010 and 2011, according to Politifact. It cited several experts as saying “reductions in at least one of those programs could represent a tax hike.”
John Kasich on Ohio’s budget
Ohio Gov. John Kasich said that when he took office in January 2011, the state’s “rainy day fund” had $0.89 – a statement Politifact has rated as true – and now boasts nearly “half a billion dollars.” He’s right: As of July this year, the Budget Stabilization Fund had $482 million to its name.
“We took our problems head on, we balanced our budget,” Kasich said. “That $8 billion deficit was eliminated without a tax increase.” While the statement is technically true – state taxes were not increased – Democrats point out that local taxes were sometimes raised in Ohio communities as a way of offsetting some of the budget cuts that Kasich imposed.
John Kasich on the national debt
“President Obama has doubled the national debt,” Kasich said, adding, “Each year he’s increasing that by $1 trillion.” Actually, the nation’s gross debt has increased by roughly 50 percent under the Obama administration: When the president took office on Jan. 20, 2009, the debt clocked in at $10.63 trillion. As of Monday, it was $15.98 trillion – a gain of $5.35 trillion.
The second part of Kasich’s claim is true — more than $1 trillion is tacked on each year – but the White House would point out that the economic downturn that Obama inherited meant that extra federal spending was already baked into the cake.