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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Obama fact check from the debate

OBAMA: "I believe this is a final verdict on the failed economic policies of the last eight years, strongly promoted by President Bush and supported by Senator McCain, that essentially said that we should strip away regulations, consumer protections, let the market run wild, and prosperity would rain down on all of us. It hasn't worked out that way. And so now we've got to take some decisive action."

THE FACTS: McCain has indeed favored less regulation over the years but supported tighter rules and accountability on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac two years before the start of a financial crisis prompted in part by those giant mortgage underwriters. Obama was not a leader in that unsuccessful effort. Some of the current problems can be traced to legislation passed in 1999 that lifted many regulations over the financial industry. That deregulation was championed by then-Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, a McCain supporter, but also by President Clinton, who signed the legislation, and by former Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, now a top Obama economic adviser.


McCAIN: In a jab at Obama, McCain said that the last president to raise taxes during difficult economic times was Herbert Hoover during the Great Depression.

THE FACTS: While the recession of the early 1990s didn't compare to the Great Depression, Bill Clinton raised taxes.
— NBC News' blog First Read


OBAMA: Said McCain's proposal to give people a tax credit in exchange for treating employers' health insurance contributions as taxable wages amounts to "what one hand giveth, the other hand taketh away."

THE FACTS: Obama's suggestion that McCain's health care plan is a wash for families is misleading. McCain offers families a $5,000 tax credit to help them buy health insurance. The corresponding increase in taxable wages would result in a much smaller cost than the value of the tax credit, at least at first. Over time, the value of the tax credit may diminish as premiums rise. However, the Tax Policy Center estimates that McCain's plan would increase the federal deficit by $1.3 trillion over 10 years — mainly because it would lead to less tax revenue coming in, meaning it is a true tax break overall.
— The Associated Press


OBAMA: "Actually I'm cutting more than I'm spending so that it will be a net spending cut."

THE FACTS: Obama has many ambitious plans to spend more taxpayer dollars on a variety of federal programs, including clean energy technologies and job training. He's said he'll cut pork-barrel programs and the costs of the war in Iraq to pay for it — as well as raise taxes on the wealthy — but the specifics of his new spending plans greatly outweigh the few spending cuts he's identified.
— The Associated Press


OBAMA: "We're spending $10 billion dollars a month in Iraq, at a time when the Iraqis have a $79 billion dollar surplus — $79 billion dollars."

Well, not quite. As Factcheck.org put it, "The country was once projected to have as much as a $79 billion surplus, but no more. The Iraqis have $29 billion in the bank, and could have $47 billion to $59 billion by the end of the year."
— NBC News' blog First Read

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

obama and his terrorists buddies

Sol Stern
The Bomber as School Reformer http://www.city-journal.org/2008/eon1006ss.html
Voters—and debate moderators—shouldn’t let Bill Ayers and Barack Obama off the hook.
6 October 2008

Back in the early eighties, in an interview with David Horowitz and Peter Collier, Bill Ayers remembered his reaction upon learning that he would not be prosecuted by the government for his bombing spree as a member of the Weather Underground. “Guilty as hell, free as a bird—America is a great country,” he exulted. Ayers is now a university professor, but he must have been exulting all over again after reading Saturday’s front-page story in the New York Times.

The article explored the putative relationship between Ayers and Barack Obama during the time they worked together on the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a five-year philanthropic venture that, starting in 1995, distributed over $160 million in school-improvement grants to the Windy City’s public schools. Ayers wrote the grant proposal that secured seed money for the schools and ran the implementation arm of the project; Obama became chairman of the board that distributed the grants. Not only did the Times exonerate the Democratic presidential candidate of having anything like a “close” relationship with Ayers—their paths merely “crossed” while working on the Challenge, the paper said—but it also bestowed the honorific of “school reformer” on the ex-bomber. “Mr. Ayers has been a professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the author or editor of 15 books, and an advocate of school reform,” the article maintained. On Meet the Press Sunday morning, Tom Brokaw—who will be moderating tomorrow’s debate between the presidential candidates—picked up this now conventional wisdom and described Ayers as “a school reformer.”

Calling Bill Ayers a school reformer is a bit like calling Joseph Stalin an agricultural reformer. (If you find the metaphor strained, consider that Walter Duranty, the infamous New York Times reporter covering the Soviet Union in the 1930s, did, in fact, depict Stalin as a great land reformer who created happy, productive collective farms.) For instance, at a November 2006 education forum in Caracas, Venezuela, with President Hugo Chávez at his side, Ayers proclaimed his support for “the profound educational reforms under way here in Venezuela under the leadership of President Chávez. We share the belief that education is the motor-force of revolution. . . . I look forward to seeing how you continue to overcome the failings of capitalist education as you seek to create something truly new and deeply humane.” Ayers concluded his speech by declaring that “Venezuela is poised to offer the world a new model of education—a humanizing and revolutionary model whose twin missions are enlightenment and liberation,” and then, as in days of old, raised his fist and chanted: “Viva Presidente Chávez! Viva la Revolucion Bolivariana! Hasta la Victoria Siempre!”

As I have shown in previous articles in City Journal, Ayers’s school reform agenda focuses almost exclusively on the idea of teaching for “social justice” in the classroom. This has nothing to do with the social-justice ideals of the Sermon on the Mount or Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Rather, Ayers and his education school comrades are explicit about the need to indoctrinate public school children with the belief that America is a racist, militarist country and that the capitalist system is inherently unfair and oppressive. As a leader of this growing “reform” movement, Ayers was recently elected vice president for curriculum of the American Education Research Association, the nation’s largest organization of ed school professors and researchers.

Despite the Times story, American voters still don’t have an accurate picture of the relationship between Obama and Ayers during their work on the Annenberg Challenge. The paper’s account quoted several people who worked on the project as saying that they didn’t think Ayers had any role in selecting Obama for his position as chairman. But we haven’t heard a word about the subject from the two principals. For the first time in his life, Ayers seems to be observing Democratic Party discipline and won’t be talking until after November 4. Meanwhile, in one of the Democratic primary debates, Obama said that Ayers was just “a guy I know in the neighborhood”—which certainly qualifies as one of the biggest fibs told by any of the candidates so far.

Is it too much to hope that one of the moderators of the two remaining debates will press Obama for a fuller accounting of his work with Bill Ayers on the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, and also ask Obama what he thinks of Ayers’s views on school reform? If the mainstream media deem it important that voters know which newspapers one of the vice presidential candidates reads, they certainly ought to be demanding more information from a presidential candidate about whom he collaborated with in distributing $160 million to the public schools. How about it, Tom Brokaw?


Sol Stern is a contributing editor of City Journal and the author of Breaking Free: Public School Lessons and the Imperative of School Choice.