MSNBC VIDEO: Fact-Checking McCain's Debate Statements w/ Rachel Maddow

10/28/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

I was on Rachel Maddow's MSNBC last night to go over some McCain whoppers from the debate. You can watch the video here:

At the end of this post, you can see what I think were some of the most egregious ones. My overall thoughts: Obama won, but not as handily as I think he could have. He missed a huge opportunity to deliver the zinger of the night when McCain said "a lot of people might be interested in Senator Obama's definition of 'rich.'" I was waiting for Obama to hit that softball out of the park by responding that McCain's definition was people making over $5 million. But Obama seemed to shy away at times from drawing that kind of really stark contrast.

But again, I do think Obama won. McCain was clearly uncomfortable with economic issues, desperate to try to ramrod a debate over a global financial crisis into a completely unrelated discussion about earmarks. And I thought McCain's condescension repeatedly claiming Obama doesn't "understand" things made McCain look petty. My hope is that in the coming debates Obama takes it up one more notch.

MCCAIN CLAIM: "American business pays the second-highest business taxes in the world..."

FACT: Page 42 of this Bush Treasury Department report found that America has the second lowest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world, as a percentage of our GDP (ie. the real way to measure this). Last month, Congressional Quarterly reported: "Most corporations, including the vast majority of foreign companies doing business in the United States, pay no income taxes, according to a Government Accountability Office report released Tuesday."

MCCAIN CLAIM: "We've got to start also holding people accountable."

FACT: What about the lobbyists in McCain's own campaign? What about Phil Gramm, the guy who passed all this deregulation, and who continues to be a McCain economic adviser? What about holding THOSE people accountable right now?

MCCAIN CLAIM: "We have to do is get spending under control in Washington...How about a spending freeze on everything but defense, veteran affairs and entitlement programs"

FACT: Non-defense discretionary spending is at its lowest levels as a share of GDP in a generation, and are projected to be the lowest since the Hoover administration in coming years.

MCCAIN CLAIM: "We need very badly to understand that defense spending is very important and vital, particularly in the new challenges we face in the world, but we have to get a lot of the cost overruns under control."

FACT: Minutes later he said we need "a spending freeze on EVERYTHING BUT DEFENSE, veteran affairs and entitlement programs."

MCCAIN CLAIM: "I have opposed the president on torture of prisoner - Guantanemo Bay..."

FACT: The Los Angeles Times reported in February that "McCain squandered some of his moral authority by supporting the Bush administration's position that the CIA should have more leeway than military interrogators" in torturing prisoners. The Boston Globe reported that McCain "had a choice between his principles and propping up a failed president. He chose the latter...McCain, a Vietnam prisoner of war, has long condemned waterboarding as torture, making him more sensitive than President Bush on an issue that stained America's image. But the Arizona senator and virtual Republican nominee to replace Bush voted against the bill."

MCCAIN CLAIM: "If we drill off-shore and exploit a lot of these reserves, it will help, at temporarily, relieve our energy requirements. And it will have, I think, an important effect on the price of a barrel of oil."

FACT: The U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Information Agency has stated that the benefits from such drilling would be too small to have any significant effect on oil prices.

MCCAIN CLAIM: "America is safer today than it was on 9/11."

FACT: The New York Times reported in 2007: "On Tuesday, in a dark and strikingly candid two pages, the nation's intelligence agencies offered an implicit answer, and it was not encouraging. In many respects, the National Intelligence Estimate suggests, the threat of terrorist violence against the United States is growing worse, fueled by the Iraq war and spreading Islamic extremism."


John Mccain