Obama on Medicaid
Obama said Romney’s plan would result in “effectively a 30 percent cut” in the federal health program that covers health care for poor children and seniors receiving long-term care. Romney wants to give states complete control over their Medicaid spending (currently the federal government sets a lot of rules for Medicaid spending, because it contributes an average of half of the Medicare dollars in each state), and has pledged to hold spending to 20 percent of GDP.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, giving states total control of just a portion of Medicaid—often called “block granting”—would cut lots of money from the program. The federal government would save $287 billion over 10 years if long-term Medicaid care was given straight to states, more than Medicaid spent in total in 2010. The liberal Center for Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that for Romney to reach his pledge to keep spending within the 20 percent-of-GDP threshold, Medicaid would have to be reduced by at least 44 percent by 2022.
Romney on Dodd-Frank financial reform:
According to Romney, 122 community and small banks have closed since the Dodd-Frank financial reform law passed in July 2010. Although the exact numbers are difficult to pin down, PolitiFact rated a claim by then-GOP hopeful Newt Gingrich that Dodd-Frank is destroying community banks as “false” in November:
“Gingrich said that community banks ‘are being destroyed by Dodd-Frank.’ But as a whole, they are healthier than a year ago," PolitiFact reported. "No doubt the improvement in the economy has helped, but community banks also have benefited from a reduction in fees paid to the [Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.] as a result of Dodd-Frank. From the point of view of community banks, Dodd-Frank is imperfect and still unfolding. But it has exempted community banks from many new regulations. That said, the shape of the rules to come will make a big difference in its final impact on them. To say that this industry is being destroyed by Dodd-Frank is untrue and unlikely to be true in the future if regulators continue to respond to the concerns of small banks. We rate Gingrich's statement false.”
According to a recent Associated Press story, 43 banks have closed so far in 2012, compared with 73 at the same time last year and 157 in the entire year of 2010.
Obama on premium support:
Obama said Romney’s plan for Medicare—which would eventually give seniors a choice between private insurance and the traditional Medicare plan—would lead to the “collapse” of the federal health program for the elderly, as insurance companies figure out how to cover only healthy, cheaper seniors.
“Every health care economist who looks at it says the traditional health care system will collapse,” Obama said.
That’s not exactly true. While even health economists who back Medicare premium-support plans can’t say the theory would ultimately lead to lower costs for seniors, there are certainly health economists who think the problem of health insurance companies cherry-picking the healthiest seniors could eventually be prevented through regulation.
Romney on energy production on federal lands:
Romney made an oft-repeated GOP claim that energy production is down on federal lands because of Obama administration actions. “All of the increase in natural gas and oil has happened on private land, not on government land,” Romney said.
Romney is both right and wrong, depending on what fossil fuel you’re talking about. Oil production is up 12 percent from 2008 to 2011, according to a March report by the Energy Information Administration that analyzes energy production on public lands. Natural gas production on public lands, however, is down 16.5 percent between 2008 and 2011. Coal production is also down 7.8 percent during the same time period.
Most of the increase in natural gas has been on private lands due to the vast reserves of shale gas found in states like Pennsylvania. Between 2007 and 2011, there was a 30 percent increase in natural-gas production on private lands. Oil production has stayed relatively the same but has increased slightly in the past two years.
Obama on Romney’s economic plan:
Obama made the assertion that "Governor Romney's central economic plan calls for a $5 trillion tax cut—on top of the extension of the Bush tax cuts, that's another $1 trillion.” As Wonkblog’s Ezra Klein points out, that’s only the cost of Romney’s tax plan “if you assume he doesn’t close any tax breaks to pay for it. Romney has said he’ll close tax breaks to pay for all of it--but he hasn’t named any of those tax breaks.” In other words, it’s difficult to call this claim--or Romney’s quick repudiation of it--true or false. Romney insists a guiding principle for his reform plan is that it would be deficit-neutral, while Obama has indicated he will not give Romney credit for offsets he won’t name. Jump ball.
Romney on preexisting conditions:
Romney challenged Obama’s claim that his health care plan lacks an adequate way to get people with preexisting conditions health insurance. Obama said Romney’s plan is what we already have enshrined in law: If you lose your health insurance for a few months but keep health insurance coverage, either through a temporary government-subsidized plan (often called COBRA) or by purchasing a plan on your own, you can’t be denied insurance coverage for having a preexisting condition at your next job, if they offer health insurance. But that protection does not help people who can’t get health insurance through their jobs.
Romney maintained that he does have a plan that “deals” with preexisting conditions. He wants to extend the same protection that people get with employer coverage to Americans who buy insurance on the individual market. In other words, if you lose your job and your health insurance, but maintain temporary coverage, then insurance companies would have to offer you coverage in the individual market. What Romney’s plan doesn’t address (yet) is how that coverage would be affordable. Without regulation, insurance companies could charge thousands and thousands of dollars to cover someone with a preexisting condition, potentially making it unaffordable for anyone but the very wealthy.
Obama on overseas tax credit:
At one point, the candidates sparred over whether business owners can currently take advantage of a tax credit to “send jobs overseas.”
Obama’s claim that such a credit exists is partly true, as PolitiFact found in its investigation of a similar issue last year: Business owners can deduct the costs of closing down U.S. operations as standard business expenses as they move to foreign-based operations.
Romney on education funding:
Romney said he would not cut money for education, a statement that goes against the cuts outlined in running mate Paul Ryan's budget plan, which Romney has supported. If he is going to keep the promise to retain current education funding, he would have to find other places to cut to make up the difference, but he has not offered any ideas of the sort on the campaign trail.
He was responding to an ongoing refrain from the Obama campaign that Pell Grants and college financial aid would be cut under a Romney administration. Obama has also asserted in campaign ads, but not in the debate, that class sizes would increase under Romney due to budget cuts. Romney has said he would trim the inefficiency in the Pell Grant program, which has been interpreted to mean narrowing eligibility—i.e., fewer awards. But Romney has not said that he would cut the amount of the individual awards.
Romney and his plan to create 12 million jobs:
Romney says he will create 12 million new jobs during his first term. The Washington Post examined this claim after Romney’s speech at the Republican National Convention and concluded it “is a fairly safe bet by Romney, even if he has a somewhat fuzzy plan for action.” The Post added that “the number is less impressive than it sounds. This pledge amounts to an average of 250,000 jobs a month, a far cry from the 500,000 jobs a month that Romney claimed would be created in a ‘normal recovery.’ In recent months, the economy has averaged about 150,000 jobs a month.”
Moody’s Analytics expects the economy to gain 12 million jobs by 2016 no matter who wins in November.
Romney on U.S. and Spain:
“Spain—Spain spends 42 percent of their total economy on government. We're now spending 42 percent of our economy on government. I don't want to go down the path to Spain. I want to go down the path of growth that puts Americans to work with more money coming in because they're working,” Romney said.
No one wants to swap financial positions with Spain these days. But is the United States spending as much on government? Pretty much, PolitiFact reports—but that’s not the whole story. While 42 percent is a little higher than the figures provided by the Office of Management and Budget, it’s the same as the measure provided by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development; Spain’s government expenditures, according to OECD, are 45.8 percent of its economy.
“Depending on which data set you use, Romney’s numbers are either correct or close. But they don’t tell the whole story. A large share of the spending has come not from the cost of government employees, buildings, and equipment but from transfer payments that individual Americans ultimately control (and, in many cases, under programs which they had paid into to begin with),” PolitiFact said.