Healthcare 'flubs in Florida'

Last night, the remaining four GOP candidates debated in Tampa, Florida and, as usual, there were a number of topics misrepresented as facts – Mitt Romney’s attacks on the federal health law among those.

But the mistakes were limited neither to Romney nor healthcare. FactCheck.org set the record straight on four aspects of the debate: Romney’s naval history flukes, Gingrich’s take on balanced budgets, and Romney’s take on Gingrich resigning in disgrace.

Here, then, is the excerpt relative to healthcare:

Romney continued his attacks on the federal health care law, saying that the country has $15 trillion in debt and President Obama “adds another trillion on top for Obamacare and for his stimulus plan that didn’t create private-sector jobs.”

But the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will reduce yearly deficits — by $119 billion over the 2012-2019 period — not add to them. Earlier this month at a debate in New Hampshire, Romney phrased this claim differently, saying that repealing the health care law would save “$95 billion a year.” That figure is the amount of new spending required by the law, but Romney didn’t factor in spending cuts and revenue provisions that, according to CBO, would more than cover the cost of the legislation.

This time, Romney took his claim a step further, wrongly saying that the law would increase the debt, not just spending. In fact, the CBO has said that the deficit would increase if the health care law was repealed, as Romney proposes.

As for the stimulus, the 2009 measure cost an estimated $825 billion. But Romney’s claim that it “didn’t create private-sector jobs” is wrong, according to nearly all economic estimates and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. CBO states that at its peak, in the third quarter of 2010, there were between 0.7 million and 3.6 million more people working than would have been the case without the stimulus.

And some portion of those jobs were private-sector jobs. Since the stimulus was signed in February 2009, overall employment by federal, state and local government has gone down — by more than 600,000 jobs — not up.

FactCheck.org did not call out Paul or Santorum muttering any truth-challenged flubs for that particular article but elsewhere on the Web Santorum is taking heat today for not correcting a woman attending one of his rallies who called President Obama an “avowed Muslim” not legally qualified to be President. And in light of his son Rand being detained at an airport, Ron Paul ratcheted up his effort to abolish the TSA.

Tonight President Obama will deliver his third State of the Union address, of which he offered a video preview. In closing, HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius was a guest on Jon Stewart’s Daily show, primarily to explain the benefits and progress of the health reform law – just not without a couple chuckles.

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