Friday, October 17, 2008

Six Whoppers from the Debate

Six Whoppers from the Debate

From Campaign for American's Future

Last night, John McCain repeated conservative arguments that are completely divorced from the facts. We need to take every possible opportunity to counter these right-wing whoppers. Here’s a short summary:

Whopper: “Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac caused the subprime lending situation that caused the housing market in America to collapse.”

Fact: The unregulated shadow banking system caused our financial crisis. The Federal National Mortgage Association, known as Fannie Mae, and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, known as Freddie Mac, backed relatively few subprime mortgages until the Bush Administration changed the rules in 2004, encouraging those companies to buy subprime loans late in the game. [Washington Post] Instead, it was unregulated banking companies that created the situation—years before Fannie and Freddie got involved—by encouraging mortgage companies to lend to individuals who could not afford the payments. [Dean Baker, McClatchy Newspapers]

Whopper: “Businesses in America today are paying the second highest tax rate of anywhere in the world.”

Fact: Compared to other industrialized countries, actual U.S. corporate taxes are low. According to a 2008 study by the World Bank and PricewaterhouseCoopers, the United States’ total corporate tax burden ranks 76th of over 100 countries. [World Bank] Almost all of our major trading partners and competitors—including Canada, Mexico, China, Russia, India, Japan, Germany, and France—collect more businesses taxes than we do. Our tax rate is relatively high, but the code is so riddled with loopholes that two-thirds of American corporations and foreign corporations doing business in the United States pay absolutely no federal income taxes—despite taking in $2.5 trillion in sales. [Government Accountability Office]

Whopper: “We can eliminate our dependence on foreign oil by building 45 new nuclear power plants, right away.”

Fact: Nuclear power won’t make the U.S. energy independent. At the fastest possible pace of construction, it would still take almost 40 years to build 45 new nuclear power plants. During the same period, at least that many nuclear plants will have to be retired as they become too old to operate safely. [Keystone Center] In fact, the only practical avenue to energy independence is increasing the percentage of power generated from renewable energy sources, raising fuel efficiency standards, and enacting the Apollo Alliance plan to invest in conservation, energy efficiency and clean power—and create more than 3 million new jobs. The largest short-term savings on energy will come from conservation—retrofitting buildings to be more efficient, raising fuel and appliance efficiency standards, and changing personal habits.

Whopper: “We can offshore drill now. We will reduce the cost of a barrel of oil because we show the world that we have a supply of our own.”

Fact: Offshore drilling would take 10 years to bring new oil to market, 20 years to reach peak capacity, and even then it wouldn’t lower gasoline prices. It takes years—to set up operations, dig test wells, and build a functioning oil rig—for a new well to provide oil for the market. On top of that, all of the oil-drilling ships in the world are booked for the next five years. [New York Times] So it would take 10 years before any oil is pumped out of new offshore wells, and about 20 years for those wells to reach peak capacity. Bush’s own Department of Energy reports that with new offshore drilling “any impact on average wellhead prices is expected to be insignificant.” [U.S. Department of Energy]

Whopper: “ now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy.”

Fact: ACORN, a 38-year-old grassroots community organization, is being smeared by the right wing. ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, was founded in 1970 and is the nation’s largest grassroots organization of low- and moderate-income people, with over 400,000 member families. ACORN has done something praiseworthy: it has encouraged over 1.3 million Americans to join the democratic process by registering to vote. A few people gave ACORN registration forms with false names, and ACORN was required by law to turn those in to elections officials. But not one instance of voter fraud associated with ACORN has been proven. The Center for American Progress wrote an excellent paper debunking the claims against ACORN. [Center for American Progress]

Whopper: “The Washington, D.C. school voucher system [is a model for success—the number of vouchers offered] “I think it’s a thousand and some, and some 9,000 parents asked to be eligible for that.”

Fact: The Washington D.C. school voucher system illustrates perfectly why vouchers don’t work. Two studies from the Bush Administration’s own Department of Education found that the voucher program in Washington D.C. has had no impact on students’ academic achievement. [Department of Education 2007, 2008] And when the vouchers were first offered, so few public-school parents applied for them that the D.C. school system had to give them away to children who were already attending private schools. [Washington Post] With 90 percent of America’s students attending public schools, we need a reform agenda that provides them with great schools—not a plan to siphon off scarce public funds to give private school vouchers to a few.

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