Nashville Presidential Debate part II
A few more errors and misstatements from Tuesday's presidential debate in Nashville, TN, that we did not get around to addressing in the live Fact Check.
"Senator Obama's secret that you don't know is that his tax increases will increase taxes on 50 percent of small business revenue."
The Arizona senator claimed that his rival will harm small businesses through a series of taxes and fines that will cut into their revenues. His claim is based on part of an Obama proposal to allow the present Bush tax cuts on individuals making more than $250,000 a year to expire, as scheduled, in 2011. McCain argues that many small business owners pay taxes as individuals rather than corporations. However, a study by the Tax Policy Center cited by Factcheck.org here estimated that around 663,000 taxpayers reporting some kind of business income would face higher taxes under the Obama proposal. This is a small fraction of the total number of small business-owners in the country, previously put by McCain at around 23 million.
McCain also claimed that Obama will fine small businesses who fail to provide health insurance for their employees. This is not the case. The Obama health care plan specifically exempts small businesses from a requirement imposed on large companies that they contribute to a national health fund if they fail to make "a meaningful contribution" to their employees' health care costs.
"We're going to have to explore new ways to get more oil, and that includes offshore drilling. It includes telling the oil companies, that currently have 68-million acres that they're not using, that either you use them or you lose them."
The Democratic candidate has repeatedly claimed on the campaign trail that oil companies are not exploiting land already leased to them by the government, and it is therefore unnecessary to provide them with yet more land. His claim rests on a Department of the Interior report classifying neary 68 million acres of land leased to oil companies as "non-producing." But "non-producing" is not the same as "undeveloped." A long process of geological exploration is required before drilling can begin. It can also take many years to secure the necessary bureaucratic permits for sinking oil wells.
"Meg Whitman was CEO of a company that started with 12 people and is now 1.3 million people in America make their living off eBay..
As my fellow fact checkers at Politifact have pointed out, John McCain has got this particular factoid wrong on several occasions. In October 2007, he claimed that 50,000 Americans made their living from eBay. A July 2005 Nielsen survey commissioned by the on-line auction giant reported that 724,000 Americans regarded eBay as their "primary or secondary source of income," and could therefore be considered "professional eBay sellers." In addition, another 1.5 million Americans occasionally sold goods on eBay.
"We're going to work with your employer to lower the cost of your premiums by up to $2,500 a year. And we're going to do it by investing in prevention. We're going to do it by making sure that we use information technology so that medical records are actually on computers instead of you filling forms out in triplicate when you go to the hospital."
Barack Obama claimed last night that he will cut insurance premiums by up to $2,500 a year by investing in prevention electronic health records. He has made this claim repeatedly on the campaign trail, but it has been greeted with skepticism by independent experts.
The Obama campaign has seized on a 2005 study by the Rand Corporation, which estimated that the nationwide adoption of paperless health records would result in savings of $77 billion. But the shift toward electronic records has already been underway for some years without any cuts in health care premiums. Furthermore, the Rand study estimated that the process will not be complete until 2019, two years after the end of a second Obama presidential term.
The Rand study has itself been critiqued by the Congressional Budget Office which argues that it is based on an artificially high adoption rate of 90 percent which is unlikely over the next decade. The shift to a fully computerized system of medical records will itself require large investments in technology which are beyond the reach of small and medium-sized medical practices.
Obama has claimed that his health care reform proposals will result in overall savings of around $200 billion a year, a figure that includes the $77 billion in information technology savings. According to the Obama campaign, improving prevention programs would result in savings of another $80 billion a year.
Even if the reforms proposed by Obama resulted in significant savings for doctors and health insurance companies, there is no guarantee that the savings will be passed on to the consumer. The promised $2,500 cut in health premiums is a back-of-the-envelope calculation based largely on wishful thinking.
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