Cheney & Edwards Mangle Facts: Getting it wrong about combat pay, Halliburton, and FactCheck.org
Cheney wrongly implied that FactCheck had defended his tenure as CEO of Halliburton Co., and the vice president even got our name wrong. He overstated matters when he said Edwards voted "for the war" and "to commit the troops, to send them to war." He exaggerated the number of times Kerry has voted to raise taxes, and puffed up the number of small business owners who would see a tax increase under Kerry's proposals.
Edwards falsely claimed the administration "lobbied the Congress" to cut the combat pay of troops in Iraq, something the White House never supported, and he used misleading numbers about jobs.
Cheney: "Well, the reason they keep mentioning Halliburton is because they're trying to throw up a smokescreen. They know the charges are false.They know that if you go, for example, to FactCheck.com (sic), an independent Web site sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania, you can get the specific details with respect to Halliburton."
Cheney Plugs FactCheck
Cheney got our domain name wrong -- calling us "FactCheck.com" -- and wrongly implied that we had rebutted allegations Edwards was making about what Cheney had done as chief executive officer of Halliburton. In fact, we did post an article pointing out that Cheney hasn't profited personally while in office from Halliburton's Iraq contracts, as falsely implied by a Kerry TV ad.
But Edwards was talking about Cheney's responsibility for earlier Halliburton troubles. And in fact, Edwards was mostly right.
Edwards on Halliburton: Partial Credit
We can only give Edwards partial credit for his Halliburton attack, however. He implied that Cheney was in charge of the company when it did business with Libya in violation of US sanctions, but that happened long before Cheney joined the company.
"Halliburton" Edwards: "While he (Cheney) was CEO of Halliburton, they paid millions of dollars in fines for providing false information on their company, just like Enron and Ken Lay. They did business with Libya and Iran, two sworn enemies of the United States. They're now under investigation for having bribed foreign officials during that period of time."
Edwards was also slightly off when he said Halliburton paid millions in fines "while he (Cheney) was CEO." What he meant was that it paid fines for matters that took place while Cheney was in charge. And in fact, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced Aug. 3 that Halliburton will pay $7.5 million to settle a matter that dates back to 1998, when Cheney was CEO.
Halliburton failed to disclose a change in its accounting procedures that resulted in making its earnings look better. Cheney himself was not charged with any wrongdoing, however. The SEC said Cheney "provided sworn testimony and cooperated willingly and fully in the investigation."
On other matters, Edwards said Halliburton "did business with Libya and Iran, two sworn enemies of the United States" and is now "under investigation for having bribed foreign officials" while Cheney was CEO.
Iran: Indeed, Halliburton has said it does about $30 million to $40 million in oilfield service business in Iran annually through a subsidiary, Halliburton Products and Services Ltd. The company says that the subsidiary fully complies with US sanctions laws, but the matter currently is under investigation by a federal grand jury in Houston.
Bribery Investigation: U.S. and French authorities currently are investigating whether a joint venture whose partners included a Halliburton subsidiary paid bribes or kickbacks to win a $12 billion construction project in Nigeria.
Libya: Edwards was wrong to include Libya, however. In 1995, before Cheney joined the company, Halliburton pled guilty to criminal charges that it violated the U.S. ban on exports to Libya and said it would pay $3.81 million in fines. Those violations dated back to 1987 and 1990.
"Lobbied to Cut Combat Pay" Edwards: They sent 40,000 American troops into Iraq without the body armor they needed. They sent them without the armored vehicles they needed. While they were on the ground fighting, they lobbied the Congress to cut their combat pay. This is the height of hypocrisy. -0- They said that they supported the troops; and then while our troops were on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, they went to the Congress and lobbied to have their combat pay cut. Cutting Combat Pay? Edwards twice accused the administration of having "lobbied the Congress" to cut the combat pay of troops in Iraq, when in fact the White House never supported such a plan. Rather, the Defense Department proposed allowing a temporary pay increase for all troops worldwide (even those not in Iraq or Afghanistan) to expire, and promised to maintain current pay levels for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan with separate pay raises if necessary. Army Times reported in its issue for the week ending Aug. 18, 2003 that a Pentagon budget assessment sent to Congress in July called for letting a temporary combat pay raise enacted earlier that year for troops worldwide expire at the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30. The result would have been a cut of $75 a month in "imminent danger pay" and $150 a month in "family separation allowances." But according to an Aug. 15 American Forces Press Service report, David S.C. Chu, defense undersecretary for personnel and readiness, said the department could raise hardship duty pay or incentive pay. The bottom line: "We are not going to reduce their compensation," Chu said. The Pentagon also said in an Aug. 14 news release : "This is an issue of targeting those most deserving, and certainly people serving in Iraq and Afghanistan are in these categories." "You Voted For the War" Cheney: It's awfully hard to convey a sense of credibility to allies when you voted for the war and then you declared: Wrong war, wrong place, wrong time. You voted for the war, and then you voted against supporting the troops . . . -0- We've seen a situation in which, first, they voted to commit the troops, to send them to war, John Edwards and John Kerry, then they came back and when the question was whether or not you provide them with the resources they needed -- body armor, spare parts, ammunition -- they voted against it. Cheney Overstates Iraq Resolution Cheney repeatedly said Edwards had voted "for the war" and "to commit the troops," when in fact the Iraq resolution that both Kerry and Edwards supported left the decision to the president and called for intensified diplomacy. The resolution for which Edwards and Kerry voted said, "The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate." And Edwards made clear in a statement at the time of his vote that he hoped to avoid war by enlisting broad support from the United Nations and US allies: Edwards ( Oct. 10, 2002 ): I believe we should act now for two reasons: first, bipartisan congressional action on a strong, unambiguous resolution, like the one before us now, will strengthen America's hand as we seek support from the Security Council and seek to enlist the cooperation of our allies. If the administration continues its strong, if belated, diplomacy, backed by the bipartisan resolve of the Congress, I believe the United States will succeed in rallying many allies to our side. Second, strong domestic support and a broad international coalition will make it less likely that force would need to be used. In fact, not even Bush himself characterized the resolution as a vote "for war" at the time. Speaking at the White House Rose Garden Oct. 2, 2002, Bush said: Bush (Oct. 2, 2002): None of us here today desire to see military conflict, because we know the awful nature of war. Our country values life, and never seeks war unless it is essential to security and to justice. America's leadership and willingness to use force, confirmed by the Congress, is the best way to ensure compliance and avoid conflict. Saddam must disarm, period. If, however, he chooses to do otherwise, if he persists in his defiance, the use of force may become unavoidable. Confusion over Jobs Edwards: Here's what's happened: In the time that they have been in office, in the last four years, 1.6 million private sector jobs have been lost, 2.7 million manufacturing jobs have been lost . And it's had real consequences in places like Cleveland. Cheney: And the data he's using is old data. It's from 2003 . It doesn't include any of the gains that we've made in the last years. We've added 1.7 million jobs to the economy. Jobs Figures Both Edwards and Cheney quoted selective and misleading figures about jobs, and even Cheney got confused. Edwards said 1.6 million private sector jobs and 2.7 million manufacturing jobs had been lost during the Bush administration. Both figures are accurate, but omit the growth in employment by federal, state and local governments. The net loss in total employment is actually 913,000 as of August, the most recent figures available. Cheney claimed Edwards was using old data from 2003, which wasn't the case. Cheney correctly noted that 1.7 million jobs have been added in the past year, since payroll employment bottomed out in August of last year. New employment figures are due on Friday from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the last report before election day. It now appears certain that Bush and Cheney will end their term with payroll employment still below where it was when they took office, the first time that's happened since the Hoover administration. "First Time" Cheney: You've got one of the worst attendance records in the United States Senate.Now, in my capacity as vice president, I am the president of Senate, the presiding officer. I'm up in the Senate most Tuesdays when they're in session. The first time I ever met you was when you walked on the stage tonight. Cheney's "First Time" Cheney claimed Edwards has such a poor attendance record in the Senate that he was just meeting Edwards for the first time during the debate, even though Cheney visits the Senate every Tuesday. But the Kerry-Edwards campaign quickly documented at least two instances in which Cheney had met Edwards previously. Edwards escorted Elizabeth Dole when she was sworn in as North Carolina's other senator on January 8, 2003, according to Gannet News Service. Cheney administered the oath. Cheney also was present with Edwards at a National Prayer Breakfast on Feb. 1, 2001, when a transcript shows Cheney acknowledged Edwards among those at the gathering: Cheney: (Feb. 1, 2001): Thank you. Thank you very much. Congressman Watts, Senator Edwards, friends from across America and distinguished visitors to our country from all over the world, Lynne and I are honored to be with you all this morning. Confusion over Casualties Edwards: It's one of the reasons that we're having so much difficulty getting others involved in the effort in Iraq. You know, we've taken 90 percent of the coalition causalities . American taxpayers have borne 90 percent of the costs of the effort in Iraq. Cheney: The 90 percent figure is just dead wrong. When you include the Iraqi security forces that have suffered casualties, as well as the allies, they've taken almost 50 percent of the casualties in operations in Iraq , which leaves the U.S. with 50 percent, not 90 percent. 90% of the Casualties Cheney disputed Edwards's statement -- often repeated by Kerry -- that US forces have suffered "90% of the coalition casualties" in Iraq, saying that in fact Iraqi security forces "have taken almost 50 percent" of the casualties. Both men have a point here, but Edwards is closer to the mark. Edwards is correct counting only "coalition" forces -- those of the US, Britain and the other countries that took part in the invasion and occupation of Iraq. According to CNN.com , which keeps an updated list, 1,066 US service men and women had died from hostile action and other causes during the Iraq operation as of Oct. 5, of a total 1,205 for all coalition countries. That's just over 88% of the coalition deaths. We know of no accurate count of deaths suffered by Iraqi security forces, but an estimate reported both by the Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post puts the figure at 750. Lumping those estimated Iraqi deaths with fatalities suffered by coalition forces produces a total of 1,955. Of that, the estimated Iraqi portion is 38% (not "almost 50%" as Cheney claimed) and the US total amounts to 55%. "900,000 Small Businesses" Cheney: Well, the fact of the matter is a great many of our small businesses pay taxes under the personal income taxes rather than the corporate rate. And about 900,000 small businesses will be hit if you do, in fact, do what they want to do with the top bracket. That's not smart because seven out of 10 new jobs in America are created by small businesses. Small Businesses Cheney made a puffed-up claim that "900,000 small businesses will be hit" should Kerry and Edwards raise taxes on individuals making more than $200,000 a year, as they promise to do. As we've explained before, 900,000 is an inflated figure that results from counting every high-income individual who reports even $1 of business income as a "small business owner." Even Cheney and his wife Lynne would qualify as a "small business owner" under that definition because Mrs. Cheney reports income as a "consultant" from fees she collects as a corporate board member, even though she had no employees and the business income is only 3.5% of the total income reported on their 2003 tax returns. A better figure comes from the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, which recently calculated that the Kerry tax increase would hit roughly 471,000 small employers. That's barely half the figure Cheney used. Other Dubious Claims. Cheney used a misleading figure to support the idea that the administration was "deeply concerned" about the toll that AIDS has taken on poor countries, stating that the administration has "proposed and gotten through the Congress authorization for $15 billion to help in the international effort." That's true, but the $15-billion figure was to be spread over five years -- and when it came to asking for money to be actually appropriated and spent Bush sought only $2 billion for the fiscal year that just ended. Congress increased that to $2.4 billion. Cheney and Edwards both made misleading statements about each other's education records, specifically on the No Child Left Behind law. Cheney claimed "they were for it; now they're against it." But while Kerry has criticized the law as being underfunded and called for some changes he has not called for the law's repeal. Edwards claimed "they said they were going to fund their No Child Left Behind; $27 billion short today." In fact, overall federal funding for education grew 58% in Bush's first three years, though many governors and congressional Democrats say even more is required. Cheney said Edwards "has got his facts wrong. I have not suggested there's a connection between Iraq and 9/11." But The Washington Post reported Oct. 6 that Cheney often "skated close to the line in ways that may have certainly left that impression on viewers," especially by repeatedly citing the possibility that hijacker Mohamed Atta met with an Iraqi official, a theory disputed by the 9/11 Commission. Cheney claimed Kerry had voted 98 times to raise taxes. As we've pointed out before , that's an inflated figure that counts multiple votes on the same tax bills, and also counts votes on budget measures that only set tax targets but don't actually bring about tax increases by themselves. Sources Pam Easton, "Halliburton To Pay Fine For Failing To Disclose Accounting Change," The Associated Press, 3 Aug 2004. Bloomberg Business News, "Company Fined In Trade With Libya," The New York Times , 15 July 1995. Richard Whittle and James Landers, "Cheney's Years at Halliburton Under Scrutiny, Inquiries Into Company Political Allies Say," The Dallas Morning News , 8 Sept. 2004: 1A. WashingtonPost.com, " A Halliburton Primer ," 11 July 2002. Forces: U.S. & Coalition/Casualties , CNN.com, accessed 6 Oct 2004. Raju Chebium, "Dole To Focus On National Security, Economy, Health care," Gannett News Service , 8 Jan. 2003. Vice President Dick Cheney Delivers Remarks At National Prayer Breakfast," FDCH Political Transcripts , 1 Feb. 2001. Editorial, "Our Kerry Iraq Guide," The Wall Street Journal 30 Sept. 2004: A16. Vince Crawley and Dario Lopez-Mills. "Pentagon Pushes for Cuts in Danger, Separation Pays." Army Times . 18 Aug. 2003. Vince Crawley. "DoD Officials Vow to Keep Combat Pays Intact." Army Times. 25 Aug. 2003. Kathleen T. Rhem. "Officials: No Intention of Lowering Pay for Troops in Iraq, Afghanistan." American Forces Press Service. 15 Aug. 2003. Jacob Freedman, "Bush's Top Legislative Accomplishments," Congressional Quarterly Weekly, 27 Aug. 2004. Glenn Kessler and Jim VandeHei , "Misstatements Include Iraq, Taxes And Voting," The Washington Post, 6 Oct. 2004: A15.