Saturday, October 09, 2004 checks the words of President Bush

Below excerpts from on yesterday's second presidential debate:

George W. Bush

Bush's Timber-Growing Company

Kerry: "The president got $84 from a timber company that owns, and he's counted as a small business. Dick Cheney's counted as a small business. That's how they do things. That's just not right."

Bush: "I own a timber company?

That's news to me."


Bush got a laugh when he scoffed at Kerry's contention that he had received $84 from "a timber company." Said Bush, "I own a timber company? That's news to me."

In fact, according to his 2003 financial disclosure form, Bush does own part interest in "LSTF, LLC", a limited-liability company organized "for the purpose of the production of trees for commercial sales." (See "supporting documents" at right.)

So Bush was wrong to suggest that he doesn't have ownership of a timber company. And Kerry was correct in saying that Bush's definition of "small business" is so broad that Bush himself would have qualified as a "small business" in 2001 by virtue of the $84 in business income.

"They're Working"
Bush: "There are other ways to make sure drugs are cheaper. One is to speed up generic drugs to the marketplace, quicker. Pharmaceuticals were using loopholes to keep brand -- brand drugs in place, and generics are much less expensive than brand drugs. And we're doing just that.

Another is to pass -- to get our seniors to sign up to these drug discount cards, and they're working."


Bush defended his opposition to importing cheaper, price-controlled drugs from Canada, saying another way to make drugs cheaper is "to get our seniors to sign up to these drug discount cards, and they're working." But in fact they're not working nearly as well as originally advertised.

Seniors complain the cards are confusing, and healthcare advocates fault the Department of Health and Human Services for failing to effectively publicize the program. The Associated Press reported that of the 7 million poor seniors who are eligible for the card and a $600 subsidy, only 1.3 million have actually signed up to receive the discount.

And as widely reported, total enrollment -- counting both poor and non-poor -- is at 4.4 million, and over half of those were enrolled automatically by heath maintenance organizations. The overall total is still 3 million shy of the number the administration predicted would be enrolled by the end of 2004.

$28 Billion a Year?
Bush: "Secondly, he says that medical liability costs only cause a 1 percent increase. That shows a lack of understanding. Doctors practice defensive medicine because of all the frivolous lawsuits that cost our government $28 billion a year."

Bush recycled his claim that lawsuits force physicians to practice "defensive medicine" that adds substantially to medical costs, and increases federal spending for health-care programs by $28 billion a year. We de-bunked that one back in January.

As we said then, both the General Accounting Office (recently re-named the Government Accountability Office) and the Congressional Budget Office criticize the 1996 study the Bush administration uses as their main support for that claim. These nonpartisan agencies suggest savings from passage of limits on malpractice damages --- if there are any savings at all -- would be relatively small.

Bush's claim rests mainly on a single 1996 study by two Stanford economists who said caps on damage awards could hold down overall medical costs by 5% to 9%. They studied heart patients who were hospitalized, compared costs in states with and without limits on malpractice lawsuits, and then projected their findings to the entire health-care system.

But both the GAO and the CBO questioned such a sweeping conclusion. When the CBO attempted to duplicate the Stanford economists’ methods for other types of ailments they found “no evidence that restrictions on tort liability reduce medical spending.”

Rationing of Health Care?
Bush: "And finally, he said he's going to have a novel health care plan. You know what it is? The federal government is going to run it.

It's the largest increase in federal government health care ever. . . .

Government-sponsored health care would lead to rationing. It would ruin the quality of health care in America."

Bush escalated his attack on Kerry's proposal to expand health-care insurance through an expensive assortment of subsidies and expansions of Medicare and Medicaid. The president stated Kerry's plan "would lead to rationing" of medical care, and "would ruin the quality of health care in America."

Bush's attack in the debate echoed a grossly misleading claim made in his earlier TV ad, which said Kerry's health plan would put "Washington bureaucrats in control" of medical decisions, putting "big government in charge. Not you Not your doctor." That view isn't supported by neutral experts, however, as we reported on Oct. 4.

Actually, an estimated 97% of Americans who now have health insurance will simply keep the plan they have, according to projections by the independent, politically neutral health-care research firm The Lewin Group .

And The Lewin Group's vice president, John Sheils, disputes the Bush ad's claim:

Sheils: I don’t see how, in Kerry’s plan, decisions on medical procedures would be made in Washington under any circumstances, under any proposal.

Other Dubious Claims

-Bush said Kerry voted 98 times to "raise taxes" during his 19-year Senate career. But as we reported Aug. 30, the Bush campaign's list of votes includes 43 votes for budget measures that merely set targets for taxes without actually legislating changes to the tax code. And it counts multiple votes on the same bills, including 16 votes on the 1993 Clinton package of tax increases and spending cuts.

-Bush once again claimed 900,000 "small businesses" would see a tax increase under Kerry's proposal to raise taxes only on persons making over $200,000 a year. As we showed earlier , that's an inflated number. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center calculates that 471,000 small employers would see an increase in taxes.

-Bush claimed that "we increased that child credit by $1,000," when in fact it has increased by half that much under his legislation. It was $500 before Bush took office, and his tax-cut bills doubled it.

For more on yesterday's debate, visit


Post a Comment

<< Home