The Fact Checker: Geppetto Checkmark

Mitt Romney’s correct stat on the ‘Buffett Rule’

(Jessica Kourkounis/GETTY IMAGES)

“Someone calculated that the taxes he [Obama] would raise in his Buffett Rule would pay for 11 hours of government.”

— Mitt Romney, April 16, 2012

President Obama’s proposal to add a tax surcharge to adjusted gross incomes over $1 million, named after billionaire investor Warren Buffett, has generated scorn in Republican ranks, such as the comment above by the presumptive GOP nominee and former Massachusetts governor. (Romney was borrowing an observation first made by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.)

It would seem to be a simple math exercise to check this fact. But this is Washington…..let’s have some fun with “baselines.”


The Facts

 The Republican calculation is based on the fact that in 2013, the Buffett Rule would raise $5.1 billion in revenue in 2013, according to the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation. (Alternatively, you can use the 10-year revenue figure of $47 billion and come up with an annual average of nearly $5 billion a year.)

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Rick Santorum and welfare reform (Fact Checker biography)

(Chris Keane, Reuters)

“I wrote the welfare reform bill in the Contract with America. I was the ranking member on that subcommittee. And when I came to the Senate, through a quirk, I ended up managing the bill on the floor of the United States Senate and working with President Clinton and getting a bill signed after he vetoed it twice to end welfare. We bloc-granted the program, got rid of the federal entitlement -- the only one in the history of the country that’s ever been done. And I was the principal author of it in the United States Senate, managed the bill on the floor.”

-- Rick Santorum, remarks during the GOP presidential debate in New Hampshire, Jan. 4, 2012

Santorum’s debate comments echo a claim from a campaign ad that portrays him as a “full-spectrum conservative” who has the best chance to beat President Obama in the general election. Our colleagues at PolitiFact already covered this issue, calling the former Pennsylvania lawmaker’s assertion about welfare reform “Half True.” We have a different take.

Santorum isn’t the only Republican candidate to tout the 1996 welfare-reform act as one of his own accomplishments. Fellow presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich talks up his own involvement, having pushed hard for the overhaul while serving as speaker of the House after the 1994 Republican Revolution.

We examined the comments Gingrich made on welfare and Medicare reform, determining that he deserved one Pinocchio for exaggerating the impact of those measures. Santorum’s statement is different because he isn’t talking about impacts. He’s bragging about his role in the reform effort. We looked back at how the welfare overhaul became law to determine whether Santorum was involved in pushing the legislation as much as he claims.

The Facts

Santorum is one of many 1990s politicians who pushed for welfare reform, and not all of them were Republicans. In fact, President Bill Clinton vowed during his first run for office to “end welfare as we know it,” among other promises, such as resurrecting the economy.

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