Fact Check: Obama and Biden Speak at the DNC
Checking President Obama's and VP Biden's DNC speeches from Charlotte.
Sept. 7, 2012 -- intro: Barack Obama formally accepted the Democratic nomination for president Thursday during the third and final night of the party's 2012 convention in Charlotte, N.C. The president and Vice President Joe Biden addressed a packed Time Warner Cable Arena, with even more hopeful conventioneers turned away at the doors after the speeches were moved inside -- from the 73,778-seat Bank of America Stadium -- because of worries about the weather.
Inside, there was a storm of anticipation before President Obama's speech, with former Arizona congresswoman Gabby Giffords' surprise appearance a notable highlight.
Unlike the Republicans, the Democrats decided to have both ends of their ticket speak on the final night (Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney spoke on Wednesday and Thursday of last week, respectively), so here's a look at both the president's and vice president's speeches, and where they might have run afoul of the facts.
title: Obama: 'You can choose a future where we reduce our deficit without wrecking our middle class. Independent analysis shows that my plan would cut our deficits by $4 trillion.'
text: The $4 trillion figure achieved a certain status in Washington when the much-disputed, ultimately ignored, Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction commission pegged it as the cuts their proposals would have yielded over ten years.
So does Obama manage to get there on his own?
The answer: Only if everything goes exactly as planned.
The first $1 trillion in cuts are already on the books. As he noted in his speech, the president negotiated them with Congress last summer. More cuts are banked by letting the Bush tax cuts expire (the top marginal rate would return to 39.5 percent from 35 percent) and closing a number of arcane loopholes, all of which, in theory, would have a multiplier effect as the resulting interest payments on the national debt would be lessened.
Then there's the issue of military spending. The Congressional Budget Office has already worked nearly a trillion dollars of war expenses into its long-term deficit projections. President Obama, by ending the war in Iraq and winding combat operations in Afghanistan (by 2014), is subtracting that as-yet-unspent money from the future debt load.
quicklist: 2 title: Obama: 'My opponent said it was 'tragic' to end the war in Iraq, and he won't tell us how he'll end the war in Afghanistan.'
text: Obama takes Romney's statement about the decision to remove combat troops from Iraq -- as of late-December 2011 -- pretty far afield from the point the Republican was attempting to make.
Here's the Romney quote, from 2011, in its entirety: "It is my view that the withdrawal of all of our troops from Iraq by the end of this year is an enormous mistake, and failing by the Obama administration. The precipitous withdrawal is unfortunate, it's more than unfortunate, I think it's tragic. It puts at risk many of the victories that were hard won by the men and women who served there."
Romney was lamenting the pace of the withdrawal, not the decision to end the war.
quicklist: 3 title: Obama: 'I'll use the money we're no longer spending on war to pay down our debt and put more people back to work, rebuilding roads and bridges, schools and runways. After two wars that have cost us thousands of lives and over a trillion dollars, it's time to do some nation-building right here at home.'
text: This statement gives the impression that money "saved" from ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is sitting idly in our back pocket, just waiting to be spent on the "right" stuff. It's as if you decided to cancel $10,000 in plane tickets to Barcelona, then got up the next day and used your "savings" to put a down payment on a car. The logic is terribly flawed. One of the main reasons the debt has soared like it has in the past decade is that the government has paid for its military adventures with borrowed cash. This money the president is speaking about here doesn't exist unless it's added, again, to the overall debt load.
title: Obama: 'I recognize that times have changed since I first spoke to this convention. The times have changed, and so have I.'
text: The president might want to check in with Mrs. Obama on this one. She told a different story during her speech Tuesday night.
"Today, after so many struggles and triumphs and moments that have tested my husband in ways I never could have imagined," Michelle Obama said, "I have seen firsthand that being president doesn't change who you are, it reveals who you are."
And then: 'So when people ask me whether being in the White House has changed my husband, I can honestly say that when it comes to his character, and his convictions, and his heart, Barack Obama is still the same man I fell in love with all those years ago.'
Hard to imagine President Obama losing any love from voters here, but he might want to compare notes with the first lady.
title: Biden: 'Barack had to sit at the end of his mom's hospital bed and watch her fight cancer and fight her insurance companies at the same time.'
text: It's true the president's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, who died in 1995 from ovarian cancer, had a dispute with her insurance company. But it was not over her treatment. According to the book "A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama's Mother," by Janny Scott, Dunham's hospital in Hawaii "billed her insurance company directly, leaving Ann to pay only the deductible and any uncovered expenses, which, she said, came to several hundred dollars a month.
To cover those charges as well as living expenses, she filed a separate claim under her employer's disability insurance policy. That policy, however, contained a clause allowing the company to deny any claim related to a preexisting medical condition."
Cigna called on that clause and refused to pay Dunham's expenses, saying that based on earlier ailments suffered during her time in Indonesia (where her condition was misdiagnosed) they were not required to cover anything beyond what was owed to her health-care providers. The insurer never did pay, even after Obama, by then an attorney, took up his dying mother's case.
title: Biden: 'But what they [Republicans] didn't tell you, is that their plan would immediately cut benefits to more than 30 million seniors already on Medicare.'
text: At first blush, this seems like an outright lie. The Medicare overhaul proposed by Romney and Ryan would not affect current beneficiaries or anyone at or over the age of 55. Their plan would not cut benefits now, although it could in 10 years when they would switch the burden of coverage from the government, which pays Medicare beneficiaries' doctors directly, to seniors, who would be given money to spend on private insurance plans. Democrats say those stipend would be insufficient to cover costs, leaving patients no choice but to pay for care out of their own pockets.
But that's not the issue here. When Biden refers to "their plan," he is really alluding to Romney and Ryan's plan to repeal Obama's health-care law. Under the law, preventive care like routine checkups and physicals are covered by insurers with no co-pay; The idea being that if people go to the doctor before they get sick, they're more likely to snuff out potential illness before it becomes dangerous and, more to the point, costly to treat.
If the Affordable Care Act is, in fact, repealed, an estimated 32.5 million Medicare and Medicare Advantage beneficiaries would go back to paying for preventive care. The money assigned to closing up the prescription drug "donut hole" would also dry up.
ABC News' Sarah Parnass contributed to this report.
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