Editor's Note: PolitiFact.com is a project of the St. Petersburg Times that aims to help you find the truth in politics. Every day, reporters and researchers from the Times examine statements by members of Congress, the president, etc. They research their statements and then rate the accuracy on their Truth-O-Meter.
Murtha claims the U.S. will have more troops in Afghanistan than Russia
Rep. John Murtha, a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee who chairs its defense subcommittee, is one of the Democrats concerned about President Barack Obama's plan to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan.
On Hardball with Chris Matthews on Dec. 2, 2009, Murtha said he was worried about the cost and complexity of Obama's strategy.
"This is a very complicated thing and very costly operation," said Murtha, D-Pa. "So you know, we got a lot of problems facing us, 104,000 contractors already in Afghanistan, in addition to the 68,000 troops. We're going to have more troops, Chris, than the Russians had in Afghanistan."
Murtha said "Russians," but it was clear that he was referring to the Soviet Union, which was still intact when its troops invaded Afghanistan in 1979. Murtha's comments got us wondering whether the United States would have more troops stationed in the country than the Soviet Union did after it invaded.
The Truth-O-Meter says: BARELY TRUE
Read more: Only if you count NATO, too
Obama says 'extremists' sent to U.S. from Afghanistan-Pakistan border area
President Barack Obama has decided to increase the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and he made the case for the increase in a speech at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.
"I make this decision because I am convinced that our security is at stake in Afghanistan and Pakistan," Obama said. "This is the epicenter of violent extremism practiced by al-Qaida. It is from here that we were attacked on 9/11, and it is from here that new attacks are being plotted as I speak.
"This is no idle danger; no hypothetical threat. In the last few months alone, we have apprehended extremists within our borders who were sent here from the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan to commit new acts of terror. And this danger will only grow if the region slides backwards, and al-Qaida can operate with impunity. We must keep the pressure on al-Qaida, and to do that, we must increase the stability and capacity of our partners in the region."
The Truth-O-Meter says: MOSTLY TRUE
Read more: Accused, but not convicted
Obama said cap and trade would increase electricity rates
In her new book, Going Rogue, Sarah Palin said President Barack Obama's support for a cap and trade plan was "misguided."
"The president has already admitted that the policy he seeks will cause our electricity bills to 'skyrocket.' Sadly, those hit hardest will be those who are already struggling to make ends meet," she wrote.
Here, we're looking at Obama's comments on electricity bills.
First, though, here's a quick summary of cap and trade for those who aren't famliar with it: To slow climate change, the government would set a cap on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. To comply, companies such as electric utilities must either upgrade to cleaner technologies or buy credits — also known as allowances — to continue polluting. Companies can buy and sell the credits as necessary to conduct their business.
We were familiar with Obama's original quote from his campaign for president. It came from a videotaped interview he did with the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board very early in the campaign in January 2008.
"Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket," Obama told the Chronicle. "Coal-powered plants, you know, natural gas, you name it, whatever the plants were, whatever the industry was, they would have to retrofit their operations. That will cost money. They will pass that money on to consumers."
The Truth-O-Meter says: TRUE
Read more: He said in '08
Boehner claims that the Senate health care bill includes an abortion fee
Republicans have found another flaw in the health care bill: They say Democrats are trying to impose a monthly abortion fee on anyone enrolled in the public health care option.
"Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-NV) massive, 2,074-page bill would levy a new 'abortion premium' fee on Americans in the government-run plan," wrote House Republican Leader John Boehner on the GOP's Web site.
The House version of the health care bill included an amendment promoted by Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., to prevent abortion from being offered through the public plan, as well as additional restrictions for insurers who sell on the exchange.
But the Senate version of health care reform represents a clean slate and includes a provision similar to one added by Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif., to the original version of the House legislation that would prevent the government from spending federal dollars on abortion procedures.
The Truth-O-Meter says: FALSE
Read more: There's no "fee" required by the bill
The public option was not discussed much during the campaign
Democrats hoping to pass health care legislation through the Senate need 60 votes to begin consideration of the bill and, ultimately, to pass it. That means every Democrat and the two independents who generally vote with them need to approve.
One of those independents is Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut. Lieberman favors health care reform but opposes the public option. He told Politico that he was keeping "all my options open" when it comes to votes on health care.
He said the public option has only recently become a key part of Democratic plans for a health care overhaul.
"It's classic politics of our time that if you look at the campaign last year, presidential, you can't find a mention of public option," Lieberman said. "It was added after the election as a part of what we normally consider health insurance reform — insurance market reforms, cover people, cover people who are not covered."
Politico pointed out, correctly, that Lieberman was wrong about the public option being added after the election. It was part of Obama's plans released publicly during the campaign.
But we wanted to check his statement that during the 2008 presidential election, "you can't find a mention of public option."
Read more: A few mentions, but not many
Hatch says Senate health care bill is longer than 'War and Peace'
They are both epic works of literature. One begins like this:
"Well, Prince, so Genoa and Lucca are now just family estates of the Buonapartes. But I warn you, if you don't tell me that this means war, if you still try to defend the infamies and horrors perpetrated by that Antichrist—I really believe he is Antichrist—I will have nothing more to do with you and you are no longer my friend, no longer my 'faithful slave,' as you call yourself! But how do you do? I see I have frightened you—sit down and tell me all the news."
The other starts like this:
"Part A of title XXVII of the Public Health Service 10 Act (42 U.S.C. 300gg et seq.) is amended (1) by striking the part heading and inserting the following: 13 ‘‘PART A—INDIVIDUAL AND GROUP MARKET REFORMS’’; (2) by redesignating sections 2704 through 2707 as sections 2725 through 2728, respectively (3) by redesignating sections 2711 through 2713 as sections 2731 through 2733, respectively . . . "
The first passage comes from Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace. The second comes from Harry Reid's health care bill. Republicans have been comparing them to make the point that the Democratic plan is big and will lead to a bloated bureaucracy. In a Nov. 19, 2009, news release, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said that the 2,074-page bill was "longer than Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace."
We decided to see if he was right.
Read more: Health bill has more pages but not as many words
Bono claims U.S. gives about half the aid as European countries, percentage-wise
With all due respect to the musical prowess of Bill Clinton and Mike Huckabee, we think this is the first time we've checked a bona fide rock icon with our Truth-O-Meter.
But U2's Bono is no ordinary rock star. He's also a political activist, using his pop status to advocate for African aid and AIDS relief.
Which is how Bono came to be asked by an Associated Press music writer what he thought about President Barack Obama with regard to funding the fight against AIDS in Africa.
"The Obama administration is just getting going," Bono said. "(He) has promised to double aid over the next years, because even though (President George W.) Bush tripled it ... the United States is still about half as what European countries give as a percentage, and I think he knows that's not right."
We decided to check whether Bono was right that "the United States is still about half as what European countries give as a percentage."
This turned into a tricky fact-check because Bono appears to have interchanged two different funding issues in his comment: global HIV/AIDS relief and foreign aid.
The Truth-O-Meter says: HALF TRUE
Read more: Let's call this the remix version
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs fires back at Cheney over troop levels in Afghanistan
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs fired back at former Vice President Dick Cheney the day after Cheney said President Obama "seems afraid to make a decision" about a general's public plea for 40,000 more U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
"The White House must stop dithering while America's armed forces are in danger," Cheney said in a speech at the Center for Security Policy on Oct. 21.
In his daily press briefing the next day, Gibbs said Cheney's comments were "curious" given that "the vice president was for seven years not focused on Afghanistan."
And, Gibbs said, the comments were "even more curious given the fact that (a request for) an increase in troops sat on desks in this White House, including the vice president's, for more than eight months, a resource request filled by President Obama in March."
Gibbs is referring here to a request for additional troops made by the previous top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David McKiernan, during President George W. Bush's final year in office.
Read more: Gen. McKiernan wanted more troops for Afghanistan
Beck says 45 percent of physicians would quit if health reform passes
Physicians are important players in the health care debate. They've been courted by both supporters and opponents of the Democratic reform plan. President Barack Obama held a Rose Garden ceremony with some of them recently. And now opponents of the Democratic health care plan are citing poll results that supposedly show that lots of doctors would be so unhappy with the reforms that they'd quit their jobs.
Fox News Channel political commentator Glenn Beck mentioned this on his Oct. 12, 2009, show during a wide-ranging critique of the Democratic plan. He said that the plan could harm doctors financially and make medical students have doubts about pursuing the profession. "Do you really think that you're going to see an increase in medical students? I don't think so," Beck said. "Especially consider that the percentage of doctors who say they'll quit if this is passed is only 45 percent. No worries. Ha! You'll be able to find a good doctor. Really, you will."
Read more: A questionable assertion based on questionable data
Flexible spending accounts under health care reform might get new limits
As Congress considers a sweeping health care reform bill, groups are springing up that represent obscure aspects of the current system.
The latest group raising concerns represents companies that provide flexible spending accounts. The group, known as Save Flexible Spending Plans, sent us a press release with the dire warning that a proposal approved by the Senate Finance Committee "would drastically restrict the use of flexible spending accounts (FSAs) in order to help pay for health care reform."
"FSAs are a lifeline for working Americans, often making the difference between staying afloat and going into debt over health care needs, and sometimes between getting necessary treatment and avoiding it altogether because of the cost," said Joe Jackson, the organization's chairman and CEO of the benefits company WageWorks.
Read more: Flexible spending account lovers, beware!
E-mail claims Iowa policy seeks to round up Iowans who might be exposed to the swine flu
Patty Quinlisk, medical director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, has been amazed by the amount of misinformation and blatant lies swirling around about the H1N1 virus and the federal plans to distribute a vaccine.
But even she was a bit thrown when a man called last month and asked her whether Iowa was creating concentration camps for people with H1N1. Seriously.
"We don't have concentration camps here in Iowa," she said.
And then she sighed.
"Those are words I never thought I'd have to say."
Read more: No concentration camps for those with H1N1 virus in Iowa
Levin claims that other Western countries have lifted their bans
President Barack Obama has repeatedly said that he plans to repeal the military's "don't ask, don't tell" rule, which prevents openly gay and lesbian people from serving in the military.
But so far, no go.
"Meet the Press" host David Gregory asked Michigan Democrat Carl Levin, who chairs the Senate's Armed Services Committee, whether Obama would follow through on his promise.
"I think he, he will and he can," Levin said on the Oct. 11, 2009, episode. "I think it has to be done in the, in the right way, which is to get a buy-in from the military, which I think is now possible. Other militaries in the West, the British and other Western armies, have ended this discriminatory policy. We can do it successfully."
Read more: Levin's done his research
Welcome to the American Morning blog where you can get daily news updates from American Morning's reporters and producers. Join us for "the most news in the morning," weekdays from 6-9 a.m. ET, only on CNN.