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“Obama’s Energy Policies Have Caused Gas Prices to Skyrocket”

We’re back with a particularly glaring Whopper that has been spewed regularly by the Romney / Ryan ticket and their conservative backers, most notably during the second presidential debate.

Governor Romney has stated many times that gas prices were $1.60 per gallon when President Obama took office, and makes the argument that because gas prices have now risen to over $4.00 per gallon, Obama’s energy policies have failed.

What he won’t tell you is that the price of a gallon of gas in late 2008, months BEFORE Obama took office, was over $4.00.

The cost fell to $1.60 only because of the financial collapse – a collapse caused by the very policies to which Romney wishes to return us, by the way.

Mitt Romney knows the facts. While he is technically telling the truth, he has twisted the facts in order to mislead the American public. This is nothing new for the Romney/ Ryan ticket– in fact, you could argue that their entire candidacy is based on dishonesty, misrepresentations, and downright lies. (With a healthy dose of fearmongering thrown in for good measure.)

The chart below, courtesy of NewsVine, illustrates how ridiculous Romney’s argument really is:

“Democrats in Congress Forced Banks to Make Bad Loans”

“Democrats forced banks to make bad loans so that even people who couldn’t afford a house could own one.”

Right wingers have been saying this since soon after the financial collapse of 2008.  They have to make this argument, because otherwise responsibility for the sub-prime mortgage crisis falls primarily on President Bush and/or the free market.

It’s a total lie.

Conservatives point to the Community Reinvestment Act as the law forcing banks to make bad loans. What does the CRA actually do?

Sandra Braunstein, Director of the Division of Consumer and Community Affairs describes it thus to Congress:

Enacted in 1977, the CRA states that federally insured banks and thrifts have an obligation to help meet the credit needs of the communities in which they are chartered, including low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, consistent with safe and sound operations. The act also directs the federal bank and thrift regulatory agencies, including the Federal Reserve, to implement the CRA through regulations, and to examine banks and thrifts to determine whether they meet their CRA obligations.

Key phrase: “consistent with safe and sound operations.” Lawmakers were not concerned with making loans available to everyone, whether they could afford them or not– they were concerned with the process known as “redlining.”

Redlining describes the process by which banks literally draw a red line on a map through certain low-income neighborhoods and refuse to conduct operations there. As recently as 2004, the Department of Justice charged Chicago lender First American with redlining.

The key is that banning redlining did NOT and does NOT require banks to loan money to everyone who wants it— it just means that banks can not discriminate based on race or other factors. In other words, if a bank wants to loan money to poor white families, they have to loan money to poor African-American families. Through the CRA, banks are required to make decisions based on financial considerations (income, credit history, net worth) alone, not based on race, ethnicity, or what neighborhood you live in.

During the presidential election last year, conservatives pointed to this case as “evidence” that Barack Obama was partially responsible for the subprime collapse:

Case Name
Buycks-Roberson v. Citibank Fed. Sav. Bank Fair Housing/Lending/Insurance
Docket / Court 94 C 4094 ( N.D. Ill. ) FH-IL-0011
State/Territory Illinois
Case Summary
Plaintiffs filed their class action lawsuit on July 6, 1994, alleging that Citibank had engaged in redlining practices in the Chicago metropolitan area in violation of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA), 15 U.S.C. 1691; the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. 3601-3619; the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution; and 42 U.S.C. 1981, 1982. Plaintiffs alleged that the Defendant-bank rejected loan applications of minority applicants while approving loan applications filed by white applicants with similar financial characteristics and credit histories. Plaintiffs sought injunctive relief, actual damages, and punitive damages.

U.S. District Court Judge Ruben Castillo certified the Plaintiffs’ suit as a class action on June 30, 1995. Buycks-Roberson v. Citibank Fed. Sav. Bank, 162 F.R.D. 322 (N.D. Ill. 1995). Also on June 30, Judge Castillo granted Plaintiffs’ motion to compel discovery of a sample of Defendant-bank’s loan application files. Buycks-Roberson v. Citibank Fed. Sav. Bank, 162 F.R.D. 338 (N.D. Ill. 1995).

The parties voluntarily dismissed the case on May 12, 1998, pursuant to a settlement agreement.
Plaintiff’s Lawyers Alexis, Hilary I. (Illinois)
FH-IL-0011-7500 | FH-IL-0011-7501 | FH-IL-0011-9000
Childers, Michael Allen (Illinois)
FH-IL-0011-7500 | FH-IL-0011-7501 | FH-IL-0011-9000
Clayton, Fay (Illinois)
FH-IL-0011-7500 | FH-IL-0011-7501 | FH-IL-0011-9000
Cummings, Jeffrey Irvine (Illinois)
FH-IL-0011-7500 | FH-IL-0011-7501 | FH-IL-0011-9000
Love, Sara Norris (Virginia)
FH-IL-0011-9000
Miner, Judson Hirsch (Illinois)
FH-IL-0011-7500 | FH-IL-0011-9000
Obama, Barack H. (Illinois)
FH-IL-0011-7500 | FH-IL-0011-7501 | FH-IL-0011-9000
Wickert, John Henry (Illinois)
FH-IL-0011-9000

Unbelievably, they somehow missed the point of the case. The case summary states “Plaintiffs alleged that the Defendant-bank rejected loan applications of minority applicants while approving loan applications filed by white applicants with similar financial characteristics and credit histories.” Could it be any simpler?

Obama and his colleagues were NOT demanding that everyone receive loans. They were demanding that race not be a factor.

This talking point needs to be thrown out the window. Banks did not make subprime loans because they had to. They made bad loans because they could package them up (into mortgage backed securities) and sell them. They didn’t CARE whether people paid them back or not. These MBS’s worked their way across the globe, crippling many financial institutions when the payments stopped rolling in.

Conservatives, face reality: the free market is NOT perfect. It’s the best economic system known to man, but guess what– people are selfish.  The market needs to be regulated.  Admitting as much does not make you a socialist, it makes you a realist.

“President Obama Is Soft On Terror”

“President Obama is trying to pretend we are not at war. He seems to think if he has a low-key response to an attempt to blow up an airliner and kill hundreds of people, we won’t be at war.” –Dick Cheney

Since the attempted Christmas day attack on a Detroit-bound airliner, many right-wingers have resumed criticizing President Obama’s stance on terrorism. Former VP Dick Cheney has led the chorus in recent days. While the Obama administration may not embrace warfare with the glee of the Cheney/Bush team, it’s categorically untrue to assert that the administration has gone soft on terrorism.
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“Democrats Don’t Support the Military”

“Democrats don’t support our troops.”

Of all the lies right wingers tell, this one is the most disgusting.  For instance, Rush Limbaugh recently said this:

I actively think that liberals seek the defeat of the military. I think they’re happy. I think liberals get excited when the military doesn’t work because they have a general pacifist view of everything. They think the use of the American military is always unjust, uncalled for, unwise, and unfair, being that we’re the only superpower. And any time we take it on the chin, I think they’re happy because it allows them to say, “See, this doesn’t work.”

Limbaugh couldn’t be more wrong. Every democrat or liberal that I’ve ever met has a tremendous amount of respect for the men and women serving in the military. So much respect that they don’t want to see their lives lost in battle unless it is really, truly necessary. Read More

“Republicans Stand For Fiscal Responsibility”

“The republican party is the party of fiscal responsibility.”

Good one!  That’s a hilarious statement.  What’s not amusing is that congressional republicans have used fiscal responsibility as a pretense to block nearly everything President Obama has attempted to get done.  They’ve done this with a straight face, bitching and moaning about the horror of the national debt, despite the fact that every single republican administration since Nixon has dramatically increased the federal budget deficit.  In contrast, democratic administrations have either been deficit neutral (Jimmy Carter) or, incredibly, presided over budget surpluses (Clinton).
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