Fact-Checking the First Presidential Debate
In the first presidential debate of the general election campaign, President Obama and Mitt Romney went head-to-head over issues ranging from health care, to job creation, to tax cuts. Below, CBSNews.com looks into the facts behind those charges.
ROMNEY: "We've got 23 million people out of work or stopped looking for work in this country."
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 12.8 million unemployed Americans as of July.
However, if you add up the number of Americans looking for more work, one gets to Romney's figure. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there were 8.2 million Americans in July who were working part-time "because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job."
Additionally, there were 2.5 million people who were "marginally attached to the labor force." The Bureau explains, "These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey."
This adds up to more than 23 million, figure the Romney campaign has highlighted repeatedly.
OBAMA: "Over the last 30 months, we've seen 5 million jobs in the private sector created."
The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently announced that private sector job growth likely grew by 453,000 more jobs than previously announced between March 2011 to March 2012 time period - which puts total private sector job growth over the last 30 months at 5.1 million, verifying Mr. Obama's charge. That figure does not take into account the approximately 676,000 public sector job losses that have occurred during the president's term, however, and doesn't include the massive private sector job losses at the beginning of his term. Still, many argue that the president can't be held responsible for those early losses, which were not a result of policies he had implemented.
Cost of Living
ROMNEY: "The people who are having the hard time right now are middle-income Americans. Under the president's policies, middle-income Americans have been buried. They're just being crushed. Middle- income Americans have seen their income come down by $4,300. This is a -- this is a tax in and of itself. I'll call it the economy tax. It's been crushing. At the same time, gasoline prices have doubled under the president. Electric rates are up. Food prices are up. Health care costs have gone up by $2,500 a family. Middle-income families are being crushed."
According to a May study by Sentier Research, an Annapolis-based research firm, real median American income in March was down by $4,300 since January 2009, when President Obama took office. But his statement that gas prices "have doubled under the president" is misleading. The average current gas price is $3.78, slightly more than twice the average gas price the week that the president took office in January. But that figure - an average of $1.85 on January 19, 2009, according to Consumer Reports -- was exceptionally low due to the economic crisis, when prices fell as a result of low demand. According to the American Automobile Association, the average national gas price was just 16 cents lower than it is now -- $3.62 -- on October 1, 2008.