Ten Best: Election distortions, half-truths and flat out lies

by Keith Barber

Taxing Joe the plumber

During the third and final presidential debate between Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama, McCain brought up a plumber from Toledo, Ohio named Joe Wurzelbacher who spoke to Obama during a campaign stop last week. “Joe wants to buy the business that he has been in for all of these years… but he looked at your tax plan and he saw that he was going to pay much higher taxes,” McCain said. The truth: This statement appears to be a flat-out lie. Wurzelbacher told Obama the company makes up to $280,000. Based on Obama’s proposals and current tax policy, for Joe’s taxes to rise Joe would have to make $250,000 in net profit, after deducting all his expenses — employees’ pay, supplies, truck and fuel costs and other legitimate business expenses. He’d have to be an extremely successful plumber. In response to McCain’s statements, Obama said only 2 percent of small businesses would be subject to the tax. It seems likely that Obama is right, according to data and an analysis from the experts at the Tax Policy Center. According to the non-partisan think tank, the Obama plan provides three times as much tax relief for middle-class families than the McCain plan. One more thing: According to the Associated Press, Wurzelbacher isn’t really a licensed plumber and owes the state of Ohio nearly $1,200 in back taxes.

Bev Perdue is “killing jobs in North Carolina”

In a mailer sent to North Carolina voters, a national political action group allied with Republican gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory lambasts his Democratic opponent, Bev Perdue, for “failed policies” which are “killing jobs in North Carolina.” Inside, it argues that Perdue has failed to lower taxes, reduce pork-barrel spending or crack down on illegal immigration. It also repeats a claim that a 2001 bill made it easier for illegal immigrants to get driver’s licenses. That bill actually made it slightly harder. And secondly, to lay the state’s economic woes at the feet of the lieutenant governor is at best a stretch.

Elizabeth Dole has reduced taxes for families

This campaign is a clear distortion of the tax burden North Carolinians face, according to the Tax Foundation. Dole’s website claims that the US senator has supported lower taxes on hardworking North Carolinians. “As a result of tax relief Elizabeth Dole has supported and helped pass, an average salary earner in North Carolina has seen a 25-percent reduction in federal taxes. Small-business owners are saving over $3,600 a year and the average family of four had their federal taxes cut in half, saving them over $2,000 a year,” the website claims. However, the Tax Foundation, a nonprofit educational foundation based in Washington, DC, found that among states imposing personal income taxes, North Carolina’s ranks 9 th highest in the nation. North Carolina’s corporate tax structure consists of a flat 6.9-percent rate. Among states levying corporate income taxes, North Carolina’s top rate is the 27 th highest nationally. North Carolina ranks 40 th in the Tax Foundation’s State Business Tax Climate Index, which compares the states in five areas of taxation that impact business.

Obama “pals around” with terrorists

During a rally in Colorado, Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin accused Barack Obama of “palling around with terrorists” because of an old association with Bill Ayers, one of the founders of the Weather Underground. Its members took credit for bombings, including nonfatal explosions at the Pentagon and US Capitol, during the Vietnam War era. Obama, who was a child when the group was active, served on a charity board with Ayers several years ago and has denounced Ayers’ radical views and activities. The truth: At best, this is a distortion of the truth by Palin. The Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC) was a Chicago public school reform project from 1995 to 2001 that worked with half of Chicago’s public schools and was funded by the Annenberg Foundation. The project helped create a successor organization, the Chicago Public Education Fund (CPEF). Obama and Ayers, now an education professor in Chicago, both served on that board. Obama responded: “Ten years ago he served and I served on a school reform board that was funded by one of Ronald Reagan’s former ambassadors and close friends, Mr. Annenberg. Other members on that board were the presidents of the University of Illinois, the president of Northwestern University, who happens to be a Republican, the president of The Chicago Tribune, a Republican-leaning newspaper. Mr. Ayers is not involved in my campaign. He has never been involved in this campaign. And he will not advise me in the White House.”

John McCain is opposed to stem cell research A radio ad for the Obama-Biden campaign hammers McCain for being opposed to stem cell research. Not true. Meanwhile two spots from the McCain-Palin campaign, together with the Republican National Committee, describe McCain’s support for the research: “They’re largely accurate,” reports By saying that, “John McCain has stood in the way — he’s opposed stem cell research,” the Obama ad seriously misstates the view that McCain has held on this issue since 2001, when he began backing embryonic stem cell research, a position that was out of step with that of many of his fellow Republicans. “The McCain/RNC ads would probably lead listeners to believe that Palin shares McCain’s views on this topic. That’s not true. But we find that to be a minor flaw compared with the misrepresentation in Obama’s ad,” reports

Obama denied voting for a bill that called for increased taxes on people making as little as $42,000 a year

“McCain was right, though only for single taxpayers. A married couple would have had to make $83,000 to be affected by the vote, and anyway no such increase is in Obama’s tax plan,” reports

Obama said 95 percent of “the American people” would see a tax cut under his proposal. The actual figure is 81 percent of households, reports

Pat McCrory has increased tax burden on Charlotte residents

A recent ad by Bev Perdue’s campaign cites a study released in January by the conservative John Locke Foundation’s Center for Local Innovation that ranked Charlotte as having the highest combined county and municipal tax burden of North Carolina cities and towns with more than 25,000 residents. But the study looked at combined city and county rates. Charlotte’s property-tax rate is in the middle of other major cities in the state. Greensboro, Durham and Winston-Salem have a higher rate, while Asheville, Raleigh and Wilmington have lower rates. Over the past 10 years, Charlotte raised the property tax once. McCrory vetoed the increase, but the Democratic majority on the city council overrode it. The city’s sales tax rate is highest in North Carolina, however. Of the 100 counties in North Carolina, 91 have a 6.75-percent sales tax and eight have a 7-percent sales tax, according to the NC Department of Revenue. Only Mecklenburg County, home to Charlotte, has a 7.25-percent rate. McCrory lobbied for the sales tax — for a light rail system — and the defeat of a referendum to repeal it.

McCain’s health care plan mandates employers would be taxed for health benefits to employers

Obama mischaracterized an aspect of McCain’s health care plan, saying employers would be taxed on the value of health benefits provided to workers. Employers wouldn’t, but the workers would. McCain also would grant workers up to a $5,000 tax credit per family to cover health insurance, reports

Obama’s plan would hand over the health care system to the federal government. McCain misrepresented Obama’s plan by claiming he’d be “handing the health care system over to the federal government.” Obama would expand some government programs but would allow people to keep their current plans or chose from private ones, as well, says