This month Factcheck.org took the McCain campaign to task for being “less than honest” in campaign ads about Barack Obama. See: McCain “less than honest” in campaign ad
Now, the Obama campaign has joined the campaign mudchucking.
This was a Obama campaign stop Saturday, Sept. 20th in Daytona Beach, Florida.
Obama said that “if my opponent had his way, the millions of Floridians who rely on it would’ve had their Social Security tied up in the stock market this week.” According to Factcheck.org, Obama referred to “elderly women” at risk of poverty, and said families would be scrambling to support “grandmothers and grandfathers.”
“That’s not true. The plan proposed by President Bush and supported by McCain in 2005 would not have allowed anyone born before 1950 to invest any part of their Social Security taxes in private accounts. All current retirees would be covered by the same benefits they are now.”
On Friday, another Obama ad characterized the “Bush-McCain privatization plan” as “cutting Social Security Benefits in half.” Factcheck called it a falsehood sure to frighten seniors who rely on their Social Security checks. In truth, McCain does not propose to cut those checks at all. Watch Obama-Biden Ad: “Social Security”
FactCheck.org is a nonpartisan, nonprofit project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. Its goal is to reduce deception and confusion in U.S. politics by monitoring the accuracy of statements major U.S. political players in TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews, and news releases.
Factcheck’s Brooks Jackson added that when they contacted the Obama campaign for comment on the Social Security statement, spokesman Tommy Vietor defended Obama’s remarks as accurate:
Vietor: “You don’t have to be retired to rely on Social Security. Millions of people who will one day retire rely on Social Security as they plan their future. Senator Obama’s bottom line is absolutely true. If McCain got his way and we had private accounts . . . people who are relying on that money for their retirement would be in a very difficult situation.“
Jackson said Factcheck would grant Vietor a point if Obama had made any mention of workers being fearful of their future retirement (although this would apply only to those who had chosen to participate in private accounts, and not to everybody.) But Obama did not say that. Instead, he referred to “elderly women” in danger of poverty. He spoke of families “scrambling to figure out how to give their mothers and fathers, their grandmothers and grandfathers” a secure retirement – not to families worrying about their own retirement. If Obama did not mean what he said to be a reference to current retirees, he could say so clearly and amend his words.
America needs straight talk from both campaigns on issues that impact us all. A recent Gallup poll found a majority of Americans say they are worse off financially than a year ago. That fact is only made worse by the near economic collapse that unfolded in America’s financial markets last week.
Campaigning on lies and half truths just doesn’t serve the interests of our country. False and misleading political ads erode trust. They destroy confidence. They drive people apart, not together. It won’t help McCain or obama lead this nation if one or the other wins the presidency.
Kudos to CNN’s Larry King live for featuring Vivica Novak, FactCheck.org deputy director, as a frequent guest on the program. Novak is one of the few plain speaking voices in this presidential race dedicated to separating truth from fiction in a candidates claims.