The second presidential debate in graphs

October 17, 2012

Both President Obama and Mitt Romney tossed out plenty of statements and figures in the second presidential debate on Tuesday. Many of them were ripe for charting. So we've compiled some graphs that help add context for some of our favorite moments in the debate.

Romney: College grads are hurting. "With half of college kids graduating this year without a college -- excuse me, without a job. And without a college level job, that’s just unacceptable." It's worth noting that college grads are still doing better than those at other educational levels.


Obama: Auto rescue. "I said we’re going to bet on American workers and the American auto industry, and it’s come surging back." Auto sales have been one of the bright spots of the recovery (thanks in part to a boom in subprime lending), though U.S. light vehicle sales are still below their levels in 2006 and 2007:

Obama: Fuel efficiency. "That’s why we doubled fuel efficiency standards on cars. That means that in the middle of the next decade, any car you buy, you’re going to end up going twice as far on a gallon of gas." This is true, although the United States is still somewhat lagging by international standards:


Source: International Council on Clean Transportation

Obama: Oil production. "So here’s what I’ve done since I’ve been president. We have increased oil production to the highest levels in 16 years. Natural gas production is the highest it’s been in decades." Here's a graph from the Energy Information Administration showing that domestic petroleum and fuel production is at its highest level since 1994:

Romney: But Obama can't take credit for the oil boom. "As a matter of fact, oil production is down 14 percent this year on federal land, and gas production was down 9 percent. Why? Because the president cut in half the number of licenses and permits for drilling on federal lands, and in federal waters." The chart is below, using EIA data, and here's a fuller look at Romney's contention:

Source: <a href="http://www.eia.gov/analysis/requests/federallands/">Energy Information Administration</a><span style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</span>

Romney: Capping tax deductions to pay for his tax cuts. "In terms of bringing down deductions, one way of doing that would be say everybody gets -- I’ll pick a number -- $25,000 of deductions and credits, and you can decide which ones to use." Here's how far that would go to make Romney's tax plan revenue-neutral:


(Source: Third Way)

Romney: Cut capital gains taxes on the middle class. "Every middle-income taxpayer no longer will pay any tax on interest, dividends or capital gains." As this graph from the Tax Policy Center shows, few people in the middle-income brackets actually pay capital gains taxes to begin with -- most of the burden falls on the wealthy:


(Source: Data from the Tax Policy Center)

Romney: The deficit will lead to higher taxes for Americans. "A recent study has shown the people in the middle class will see $4,000 per year in higher taxes as a result of the spending and borrowing of this administration." It's worth noting that this is an average. The burden is expected to fall heaviest on the richest Americans, according to the American Enterprise Institute:


Obama: Laying out his tax plan. "So what I’ve said is, your first $250,000 worth of income, no change. And that means 98 percent of American families, 97 percent of small businesses, they will not see a tax increase." That's not quite right. A little less than 4 percent of Americans have more than $250,000 in taxable individual income. Here's the breakdown:


(Source: Tax Policy Center)

Romney: Deficits under Obama. "And then we have his own record, which is we have four consecutive years where he said when he was running for office, he would cut the deficit in half. Instead he’s doubled it. We’ve gone from $10 trillion of national debt, to $16 trillion of national debt." Here's how the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities breaks down the causes of the debt increase:

 

Obama: The gender wage gap. "The first bill I signed was something called the Lily Ledbetter bill. And it’s named after this amazing woman who had been doing the same job as a man for years, found out that she was getting paid less." Here's a graph showing the gender earnings gap for full-time workers in the United States -- it's improving, but women still make just 77 percent of what men do, on average:


(Source: Institute for Women's Policy Research)

Obama: What Planned Parenthood does. "When Governor Romney says that we should eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood, there are millions of women all across the country, who rely on Planned Parenthood for, not just contraceptive care, they rely on it for mammograms, for cervical cancer screenings." Here's the graph on what Planned Parenthood does (and here's a critique of the chart):

Obama: Jobs record. "We were losing 800,000 jobs a month when I started. ... 
Now, we’ve seen 30 consecutive -- 31 consecutive months of job growth; 5.2 million new jobs created." Here's a graph showing job gains and losses from slightly before Obama took office in January 2009 to the present:


Romney: Obama jobs record isn't good enough. "He said that by now we’d have unemployment at 5.4 percent. The difference between where it is and 5.4 percent is 9 million Americans without work." This is true. One could argue that the White House underestimated the depth of the recession, but back in 2009 they did forecast that unemployment would be down to around 5 percent by now. (Note that this graph is a year old, the unemployment rate is now down to 7.8 percent.)


Romney: Obamacare will raise premiums. "[Obama has] said that by now middle-income families would have a reduction in their health insurance premiums by $2,500 a year. It’s gone up by $2,500 a year." True, though note that these increases are part of a long-standing trend:

Romney: Food stamps are up. "How about food stamps? When [Obama] took office, 32 million people were on food stamps. Today, 47 million people are on food stamps." Here's the chart:

Obama: Illegal immigration. "We do have to deal with our border so we put more border patrol on the -- any time in history and the flow of undocumented works across the border is actually lower than it’s been in 40 years." Obama is correct, and border apprehensions have been dropping steadily in recent years, as the stats from the U.S. Border Patrol show below. But it's a trend that began well before Obama took office and is the result of the faltering U.S. economy as well as increased border enforcement:


(Source: US Border Patrol)

Obama: Exports. "The way we’re going to create jobs here is not just to change our tax code, but also to double our exports. And we are on pace to double our exports, one of the commitments I made when I was president." Exports have risen, but so have imports, which have continued to outpace exports and have kept the trade deficit high:


(Source: Cleveland Fed)

Romney: Chinese currency manipulation. "One of the reasons -- or one of the ways [the Chinese] don’t play by the rules is artificially holding down the value of their currency. Because if they put their currency down low, that means their prices on their goods are low." Worth noting that in the past three years, Chinese's currency has been steadily rising against the dollar:

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