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The following is a fact-check from the 5/23 episode of Meet the Press.


REP. JOE SESTAK (D-PA) | Oil companies are currently having record profits. – HALF TRUE

MR. GREGORY:  …which is what specific, painful choice would you advocate as United States senator to deal with the debt?

REP. SESTAK:  Close those tax loopholes.  All right?  Carried interest for Wall Street upwards of $80 billion to $100 billion a year, they get taxed at 15 percent.  Eighty billion dollars for tax loopholes for oil companies that literally have record profits, $352 billion a year that’s not collected in taxes from small businesses and individuals…(unintelligible)…corporations.

So thanks to FactCheck.org for looking into this one:

It’s true that ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP, ConocoPhillips and Shell all saw big jumps in net income in 2010 compared with 2009 – but they’re still not earning what they did back in 2008. And for nearly all of those companies, 2007 first quarter earnings were higher than the most recent profits posted as well. Here’s our chart on oil companies’ profits, drawn from their filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission and company reports:

The chart FactCheck.org created:

We agree with their analysis and rate Rep. Sestak’s misleading statement as HALF TRUE. Yes the oil companies are going through a several year period during which they have had record profits, but not specifically last or this year.


This fact-check took a combined 15 minutes.

The following is a fact-check from the 5/23 episode of Meet the Press.


RAND PAUL

1) The US has an annual deficit of $2 trillion – HALF TRUE

2) The interest to that debt is $383 billion – TRUE

DR. PAUL: We have an annual deficit of nearly $2 trillion. Interest alone on the debt is $383 billion.

1) According to the Treasury Department, the national debt for fiscal year 2009 was $1.786 trillion. Mr. Paul said that it was “nearly $2 trillion.” Our conclusion hinges on our understanding of “nearly.” It would be reasonable to assume that if you spent $1.78 on something, you could probably refer to the amount spent as “nearly $2.00” When the difference is 22 cents, that does not seem like a big deal, but when the difference is hundreds of billions of dollars, we believe it is misleading to classify $1.786 trillion as nearly $2 trillion. Because of this, we rate the first part of Mr. Paul’s statement HALF TRUE.

Incidentally, if you wanted to look at the total deficit for the length of one year specifically prior to May 22, 2010 when Mr. Paul made this statement, the national debt was $1.686 trillion. (5/21/09-5/22/10)

2) Also according to the Treasury Department, the net interest on the outstanding debt of fiscal year 2009 was indeed $383 billion. Because of this, we rate the second part of Mr. Paul’s statement TRUE.


Continue reading…

The following is a fact-check of the May 23, 2010 episode of Meet the Press:


SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX) | A recent NY Times poll said that 57% of independents sympathize with the tea party movement. – FALSE

SEN. CORNYN:  The fact is, as a New York Times poll said recently, that 57 percent of independents, the people who actually win elections, or, or tip the balance of elections, sympathize with the tea party movement.

Looking at every recent poll posted on the New York Times website, including the poll they conducted in April specifically regarding the tea party movement, there is absolutely no data that even comes close to backing up or even properly relating to Sen. Cornyn’s statement.

In the April poll by NYT/CBS which specifically looked at the tea party, the respondents consisted of 31% Democrats, 28% Republicans, 33% independents, and 7% don’t know/no answer. Of the overall respondents, 21% had a favorable view of the tea party and 25% thought its supporters views reflected those of most Americans. There were no breakdowns made available of those two responses based on party affiliation. Only 18% of the overall respondents identified themselves as tea party supporters, and of that 18%, only 40% identified themselves as independents.

In a February poll by NYT/CBS which consisted of  30% Democrats, 28% Republicans, and 42% independents, only 26% said they had a favorable view of the tea party.

Neither poll ever used the term “sympathy” or “sympathize” regarding questions on the subject of tea party support or favorability.

Unless there is some “recent” poll by the New York Times not listed on the New York Times website or on Pollster.com, then “the fact is” Sen. Cornyn’s statement is as FALSE as any statement could possibly be.


This fact check took a combined 2 hours, 10 minutes.

The following is a fact-check from the 5/23 episode of Meet the Press.


SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX)

1) Since President Obama was sworn into office the national debt has increased 23% – MOSTLY TRUE

2.) President Obama and the Democratic leadership in Congress are “responsible” for that 23% increase in the national debt – HALF TRUE (Highly Misleading)

3) Under Obama’s budget the debt-to-GDP ratio will increase to 90% by 2020 – TRUE

4) Greece’s debt-to-GDP ratio is 115% – MOSTLY TRUE

SEN. CORNYN: There they go again blaming it on George Bush. I don’t know when this administration, when the Democratic leadership that got the majority in November 2008 are going to take responsibility for the 23 percent increase in the national debt since President Obama was sworn into office. Under the president’s own budget, our debt-to-GDP ratio will be up to 90 percent by 2020, 90 percent, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Greece is at a 115 percent.

1) According to the Treasury Department, the current holding of debt on the day President Obama was sworn in, January 20, 2009, was $10.618 trillion and on May 21, 2010, the debt was at $12.978 trillion. This means that in that time the debt has increased by 22.31%. So Sen. Cornyn was off by .69%. Therefore stating that the debt has gone up by 23% since Obama was sworn in is MOSTLY TRUE.

2) However, it is also worth examining how Sen. Cornyn attaches that number to a statement or assertion that seems to indicate that Pres. Obama and the Democratic leadership are “responsible” for this total increase. To suggest that is highly misleading. Pres. Obama’s first budget did not take effect the day he was sworn in. If looking at the debt that Pres. Obama and the Democratic majority are “responsible” for as Sen. Cornyn suggests, then Oct 1, 2009 is the reasonable start date, when fiscal year 2010 and Pres. Obama’s first budget took effect. The debt at that point was $11.920 trillion, meaning the increase from then to May 21 was 8.95%. We agree with this analysis from crowd-checker kcars1:

The line for how much debt/spending a president is responsible is a difficult line to draw, particularly in this case because there has been so much extra-budgetary, emergency activity. The president enters office operating on the previous president’s budget for 9 months. In addition, there is greater than 50% of the budget that is already committed and which takes years to alter (Social Security, Medicare, and Net Interest). Adding to all of that, no one does zero-based budgeting, so programs already in place are likely to suck up a few dollars — at the very least in the process of being wound down.

So while Sen. Cornyn’s statement regarding the specific percentage increase and timeline is factual, the larger assertion he seems to be making is half true at best. Obviously Pres. Obama and the Democratic majority in Congress are responsible for some of the increase, indeed probably a majority of it, but if Sen. Cornyn means to imply they are totally or solely responsible for the 23% increase, that is false. If he meant some responsibility, then the statement would of course be true. Since we cannot know for sure which he meant, we deem it misleading and HALF TRUE.

3) Under Obama’s budget the debt-to-GDP ratio will increase to 90% by 2020- According to the Congressional Budget Office’s projection, if the current economic conditions and tax rates stay the same, the debt-to-GDP ratio will be 90% in 2020. Therefore, we rate this statement as TRUE.

4) Greece’s debt-to-GDP ratio is 115%- According to CIA-The World Factbook, the debt-to-GDP ratio was 113.4% in 2009. Because of the 1.6% discrepancy, we’ll rate this statement MOSTLY TRUE.


Special thanks to crowd-checker kcar1 for assisting with this fact-check.


This fact-check took a combined 2 hours.


The following is a fact-check of the May 23, 2010 episode of Meet the Press:


SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX) | 56% of Americans want to repeal the healthcare bill.LIKELY FALSE

SEN. CORNYN:  Sixty percent of the people–I think it’s 56 percent nationwide–believe the healthcare bill that my friend Mr. Menendez and my friend Mr. Sestak support, they want to repeal it because they realize we can’t afford because it raises premiums, raises taxes, and cuts Medicare in order to create a new entitlement program.

OK looking at Cornyn’s statement alone, it is constructed to be LIKELY FALSE. He does not say “a recent poll said” or any other qualifier of the number, just “56 percent nationwide.” Of course it’s virtually impossible that a statement like that, as an absolute, could be true. Putting that aside for a moment what Sen. Cornyn is referring to is a Rasmussen poll which came out last week indicating that 56% of the likely voters they surveyed favored repealing the recent health care bill. In fact another Rasmussen poll out this week puts that number at 63%. In addition, perhaps a minor point, but Rasmussen polled “likely voters” in these surveys, and again Sen. Cornyn did not say “likely voters” he said “Americans.”

Regardless, determining just how many Americans support repealing the health care bill is not as simple as looking at one poll or polls from one firm.  For instance, the national average of polls done by Pollster.com for the last two months indicate that opposition to health care reform is trending down, with 45.6% of the population opposing health care reform while 41% approve, and of the polls that track it, an average of 17.2% either don’t know or have no opinion. In addition a May 6-10 poll by NBC/WSJ indicated that of a surveyed group in which 38% thought the health care bill was a good idea and 44% thought it was a bad idea, only 42% said they would more likely to vote for a candidate who wanted to repeal the bill. (55% said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who wanted to change the bill) An earlier Indiana University poll in mid-April found that 51% supported repealing the bill. And a May poll by (conservative polling firm) Resurgent Republic found that only 35% of respondents agreed with GOP efforts to “repeal and replace” the health care bill.

Now there is not a lot of polling regarding the specific question of favoring repeal of the health care bill, and Rasmussen has looked at it on a weekly basis, but that does not in any way mean that Rasmussen’s results can be taken alone to be an accurate representation of what the overall American population thinks. So not only is Sen. Cornyn’s statement LIKELY FALSE because of its wording, the statistic itself is LIKELY FALSE as well. Polls undoubtedly indicate that the health care bill is still opposed by plurality of Americans, but a statement of fact cannot be made that 56% favor repealing it.


Special thanks to crowd-checker Andrew Tyndall for assisting with this fact-check.


This fact-check to a combined 2 hours.


ED NOTE: This post was corrected: the word “plurality” was inserted for “majority” in the final paragraph.

SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D-NJ) | There are 12 million unauthorized immigrants in America.TRUE

SEN. MENENDEZ:  And I’ve said to–you know, I’ve mentioned various times that the governor of Arizona should speak to her two U.S. senators and to her Republican colleagues in the Senate to make sure that they join us in an effort to make sure we control the borders and, at the same, time deal with the 12 million people in this country.

We fact-checked a similar statement from Senator Shelby on the 4/25/2010 Meet the Press. According to a Department of Homeland Security report released in February, as of 2009 the population of unauthorized immigrants in the United States was 10.8 million, while an April 2009 Pew Hispanic Center report indicated the number was then 11.9 million. Though his number may be a little bit high, we rate Sen. Menendez’s statement TRUE.


This fact-check took 10 minutes.

The following is a fact-check of the May 23, 2010 episode of Meet the Press:


SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX) | Rand Paul is leading Jack Conway by 25 points in the KY Senate race – TRUE

SEN. CORNYN: But the fact of the matter is Rand Paul’s leading his opponent in the, in the general election by 25 points.

Sen. John Cornyn got his number from a poll by Rasmussen Reports conducted on May 20, 2010. The Rasmussen poll predicted that Rand Paul stands at 59% and that John Conway sits at 34%, which is a 25 point lead in Paul’s favor. But there are two other polls that predict differently. A Daily Kos poll, conducted on May 10, 2010, predicted that Paul is 12 points ahead of Conway. Public Policy Polling predicted Paul is only 1 point ahead of Conway and this poll was conducted on May 1, 2010. Because he cited an existing and recent poll, we rate Sen. Cornyn’s statement TRUE.


This fact-check took a combined 1.5 hours.


Here are the fact-checkable statements from the May 23, 2010 episode of Meet the Press.
Transcript | Video

If you can help us research them please either email us or (preferably) post your work in the comments below. (Anonymity is fine) Also let us know how long you spent researching each fact, we will be tracking it. The success of Meet the Facts depends on the crowd-checking of people like you, please help if you can!


SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX) | Rand Paul is leading Jack Conway by 25 points in the KY Senate race. – CHECKED: TRUE

SEN. CORNYN:  But the fact of the matter is Rand Paul’s leading his opponent in the, in the general election by 25 points.

RAND PAUL (video) | The US has an annual deficit of $2 trillion. CHECKED: HALF TRUE The interest to that debt is $383 billion. CHECKED: TRUE

DR. PAUL:  We have an annual deficit of nearly $2 trillion.  Interest alone on the debt is $383 billion.  I think there is a day of reckoning coming.  I don’t want that day of reckoning to involve chaos as we’re seeing in Greece.

SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D-NJ) | At the time the Obama administration took over, the Iraq/Afghanistan wars, a trillion dollars in tax cuts, and a new entitlement program were all unpaid for.

SEN. MENENDEZ:  Well, we’ll have to remind, David, the, the public that Republicans left this president and this Democratic majority with two wars raging abroad unpaid for, a couple of trillion dollars in tax cuts unpaid for, a new entitlement program unpaid for;

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX) – CHECKED: 4 RESULTS
1) Since President Obama was sworn into office the national debt has increased 23%.
2) Under Obama’s budget the debt-to-GDP ratio will increase to 90% by 2020.
3) Greece’s debt-to-GDP ratio is 115%

SEN. CORNYN:  There they go again blaming it on George Bush.  I don’t know when this administration, when the Democratic leadership that got the majority in November 2008 are going to take responsibility for the 23 percent increase in the national debt since President Obama was sworn into office.  Under the president’s own budget, our debt-to-GDP ratio will be up to 90 percent by 2020, 90 percent, according to the Congressional Budget Office.  Greece is at a 115 percent

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX) | A recent NY Times poll said that 57% of independents sympathize with the tea party movement. – CHECKED: FALSE

SEN. CORNYN:  The fact is, as a New York Times poll said recently, that 57 percent of independents, the people who actually win elections, or, or tip the balance of elections, sympathize with the tea party movement.

REP. JOE SESTAK (D-PA)
1) There is currently $80-100 billion in tax loopholes for Wall Street.
2) There is currently $80 billion in tax loopholes for oil companies.
3) Oil companies are currently having record profits. CHECKED: HALF TRUE
4) There is currently $352 billion in tax loopholes for individuals and small businesses.

MR. GREGORY:  …which is what specific, painful choice would you advocate as United States senator to deal with the debt?

REP. SESTAK:  Close those tax loopholes.  All right?  Carried interest for Wall Street upwards of $80 billion to $100 billion a year, they get taxed at 15 percent.  Eighty billion dollars for tax loopholes for oil companies that literally have record profits, $352 billion a year that’s not collected in taxes from small businesses and individuals…(unintelligible)…corporations.

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX) | 56% of Americans want to repeal the healthcare bill. – CHECKED: LIKELY FALSE

SEN. CORNYN:  Sixty percent of the people–I think it’s 56 percent nationwide–believe the healthcare bill that my friend Mr. Menendez and my friend Mr. Sestak support, they want to repeal it because they realize we can’t afford because it raises premiums, raises taxes, and cuts Medicare in order to create a new entitlement program.

SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D-NJ) | CT Senate candidate Linda McMahon tried to intervene in an investigation on narcotics use in the professional wrestling industry.

SEN. MENENDEZ:  These are, these are the veterans of Connecticut.  But, listen, I’ll, I’ll take a crusading attorney general who did serve in the Marines vs. John’s candidate who–Linda McMahon–who actually operated the World Wrestling Entertainment which became a dirty business.  She tried to intervene in an investigation on a narcotics issue in, in that industry.  She peddled violence to kids, let wrestlers have their bodies ultimately be damaged, all for the purposes of making money.

SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D-NJ) | There are 12 million unauthorized immigrants in America. – CHECKED: TRUE

SEN. MENENDEZ:  And I’ve said to–you know, I’ve mentioned various times that the governor of Arizona should speak to her two U.S. senators and to her Republican colleagues in the Senate to make sure that they join us in an effort to make sure we control the borders and, at the same, time deal with the 12 million people in this country.

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX)
1) The “Arizona bill” expressly bans racial profiling.

2) Pres. Obama’s budget essentially maintains previous level of spending for securing the border.
3) 23,000 people have died in Mexico since 2006.

SEN. CORNYN:  David, I wish that the president of the United States, the president of Mexico, the attorney general, and the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security would have done what anybody can do with Internet access, which is to download a copy of the Arizona bill and read it for themselves. It expressly bans racial profiling. And, frankly, the people of Arizona have had to step up in the absence of a sensible immigration reform plan, starting with border security.  The president’s budget is essentially a flatline in terms of additional boots on the ground and additional resources to, to secure the border, with drug wars raging in Mexico–23,000 people have died in Mexico since 2006.  This is having a spillover effect in the United States, and we’ve got to secure the border as a predicate to dealing with the larger issue.

ANDREA MITCHELL (NBC) | The Gulf of Mexico accident was preventable. Negligence was involved.

MS. MITCHELL:  Yes, but this is not an inevitable accident.  This was an accident caused by systems that were not there, systems that they had promised would be there, valves, we are now reading today, that were, were disregarded. There are, there are real mistakes here that need to be fixed


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