With the Democratic convention underway, fact-checkers have already pored over the first day of coverage, looking for tidbits of untruth, outright lies and verbal blunders. Not surprisingly -- after all, this is politics and many politicians, regardless of party, have a penchant for stretching the truth -- numerous deceptive statements were identified.
FactCheck.org, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, found a plethora of lies and presented them, in detail, on Wednesday morning. The Washington Post's The Fact Checker did the same. Going speaker-by-speaker and point-by-point, both outlets noticed oddities in discussions and comments about taxation, job growth under Romney when he was governor of Massachusetts and statistics surrounding equal pay, to name just a few problematic subjects.
Here are five of the most pervasive lies:
1) During the keynote address, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro claimed that Romney would raise taxes on the middle class -- something the candidate has pledged not to do. There's no real evidence at this point that this statement holds any validity.
2) Romney's personal taxes, too, were on the docket. During his speech, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said, "We learned that he [Mitt Romney] pays a lower tax rate than middle-class families." The Fact Checker notes that this comment -- or a variation of it, rather -- once earned the Obama campaign Three Pinocchios. WaPo explains:
Romney certainly made a lot of money in 2010 — $21.7 million, according to his tax return — and yet his tax rate was about 13.9 percent. As we have noted before, he achieves this rate because much of his income is treated as capital gains and dividends, which are taxed at a preferential rate of 15 percent, and because he donates about 14 percent of his income to charity.
3) Jobs, too, were on the agenda. Castro said that there have been 4.5 million "new jobs" under president Obama's watch. This, too, is not the complete truth. The economy, as FactCheck.org highlights, recovered 4 million jobs (of the 4.3 million lost) since the president took office.
4) As far as the economic health of Massachusetts goes, one speaker, a Democratic governor, charged that Romney "left his state 47th out of 50 in job growth." In reality, the state, moved from 50th in job creation during the governor's first year at the helm to 28th when it came to Romney's final year (47th was the average when all years were considered throughout his term).
5) FactCheck.org also reports that equal pay advocates misrepresented the numbers surrounding the disparity between men and women in the workforce. While their insinuation that women make 77 cents for every dollar earned by men is true, this is an overall average. When it comes to women and men doing the same work, the gap is much smaller. Also, the disparity may not be attributable to job discrimination (or it may have a minimal impact).
A fascinating addition at the end of The Fact Checker's analysis is a charge that the Democratic Party is being dishonest about its history on race and civil rights. On the party's web site, a historical analysis claims, "For more than 200 years, our party has led the fight for civil rights, health care, Social Security, workers’ rights, and women’s rights."
Despite the fact that this had nothing to do with examining the first day of the convention -- which was the purpose of The Fact Checker's analysis -- The Washington Post went on to correct the Democratic record, writing:
It certainly appears to ignore the party’s long and troubled history with race, literally leaping from the “200 years” phrase to 1920, when the women’s suffrage amendment was enacted.
The Web history mentions the leadership of President Woodrow Wilson in helping pass the 19th amendment, without noting that he was a racist or that he repressed civil liberties — even to the point of jailing one of his rivals for the presidency in 1914 (socialist Eugene Debs). [...]
The highly sanitized Web version looks silly by failing to mention such unpleasant facts.
Truly, a fascinating gut-check, especially considering the party's continued choice to ignore these historical blemishes.