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Fact-Checking The GOP Debate: What Candidates Said About The Economy


In an interview for Wednesday's Morning Edition, Bill Adair, editor of PolitiFact.com and Washington bureau chief for the St. Petersburg Times, talked with NPR's Steve Inskeep about how candidates at Tuesday night's GOP debate rated on PolitiFact's Truth-O-Meter. Bill and PolitiFact staff writer Angie Drobnic Holan wrote about their conclusions for PolitiFact.com and It's All Politics:

The economy was the main topic at the Republican presidential debate at Dartmouth College. And the debate began with several candidates agreeing on a big cause of the economic crisis: the government.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said that in the early 1960s, all levels of government were "consuming about 27 percent of the U.S. economy," a number that has risen to 37 percent today. With that trendline, he said, "we cease at some point to be a free economy." Romney was close to right on the percentages. But the U.S. economy is still considered free by conservative groups that create measures of economic freedom. We rated Romney's statement Mostly False.

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann put the blame on federal requirements about mortgages. We checked similar claims about the financial crisis in 2008 when Sen. John McCain blamed the crisis on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. We rated those claims Half True.

Bachmann also said that "15 political appointees will make all the major health care decisions for over 300 million Americans." The appointees she's talking about will look for ways to reduce costs for Medicare, the government health insurance program for people over age 65. We rated her statement False.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman said, "I created a flat tax in the state of Utah. It took that state to the No. 1 position in terms of job creation." He created a flatter tax — not a pure flat tax — and Utah did experience job growth. But it wasn't No. 1, and the causation was questionable. We rated his statement Half True.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry said he switched from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party at younger age than President Ronald Reagan did. We've rated that True.

Bachmann, to make her point that the government spends too much, said the U.S. borrows 40 cents for every dollar it takes in. We've rated that True.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Adair
Angie Drobnic Holan