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10/06/2004

Fact Checking the Fact Checkers

I understand that sometimes newspapers have to put out hastily crafted work. So without much scorn, I just want to note a couple of errors in the Washington Post's factcheck of the VP debate.

Edwards asserted that "millionaires sitting by their swimming pool . . . pay a lower tax rate than the men and women who are receiving paychecks for serving" in Iraq. President Bush last year cut the tax rate on dividends to 15 percent, whereas most soldiers would be in a 15 percent tax bracket -- and pay an effective rate much less after taking deductions for children and mortgages.
The Post ignores the payroll tax. It also fails to mention deductions available to those living on dividends and capital gains, despite mentioning those available to soldiers.
Edwards, for his part, asserted that the war in Iraq has cost $200 billion "and counting," an assertion that Cheney called him on. Cheney said the government has "allocated" $120 billion. As of Sept. 30, the government has spent about $120 billion, and it has allocated -- or plans to spend -- $174 billion. The tab should run as high as $200 billion in the next year once other expected supplemental spending is added.
This is not a distortion by Kerry. It would be dishonest to calculate the cost of the war without including all current obligations.
Edwards asserted that "in the last four years, 1.6 million private-sector jobs have been lost." The actual number is close to 900,000 and will likely shrink further when Friday's jobs reports is released, though Bush is the first president in 72 years to preside over an overall job loss.
The Post is simply wrong here. According to the BLS, private employment in January 2001 was 111,560,000. As of the end of August, it is 109,910,000. That is 1,650,000 fewer jobs. The Post did not pay attention to Edwards' "private sector" - government employment has grown by 700,000 since Bush took office. [go here and click the first box for the data]

See also Exegesis, which has a very nice fact check.

 

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