ST. LOUIS – President Bush (search) said he raised the child tax credit by $1,000, when in fact his tax package did half that much. And not even a fresh jobs report could make John Kerry (search) get it right when he talked about employment losses under the president.
A mix of familiar misstatements and some new ones came out of the second presidential debate. The town-hall format was looser Friday, and so were some of the facts.
A day after acknowledging in the clearest terms yet that Saddam Hussein (search ) had no weapons of mass destruction when the United States invaded Iraq, Bush declared in the debate: "Saddam Hussein was a threat because he could have given weapons of mass destruction to terrorist enemies."
Kerry charged, "The president has presided over an economy where we've lost 1.6 million jobs."
Kerry meant — but once again did not say — that those were private sector job losses. Overall, with employment gains in the public sector, the economy has lost 821,000 jobs in Bush's time, according to the last employment report to be released before the election.
Talking up his tax cuts, Bush said, "You remember we increased that child credit by $1,000." Actually, his package increased the child credit to $1,000, up by $500.
Also in the debate:
Bush said of Usama bin Laden's Al Qaeda (search ) organization, "We've already (got) 75 percent of his people," a loose interpretation of intelligence findings that up to three-quarters of the group's leadership from before Sept. 11, 2001 — not the rank and file — has been run down.
Kerry, defending himself from the knock that he's wishy-washy, denied that he changed positions on Bush's education reforms, now criticizing what he voted for. He said his complaint with the changes is that Bush did not put enough money behind them.
But Kerry's problems with the No Child Left Behind Act (search ) have gone beyond that. He also says too much emphasis is placed on tests for measuring student achievement and that additional factors, such as attendance and parental satisfaction, should be considered.
Kerry startled Bush by saying that the president is counted as a small business for tax purposes because he once earned $84 from a timber company he owns.
"I own a timber company?" Bush asked. "That's news to me." Then he paused and added, "Need some wood?"
That baffling exchange arises from an analysis by the Annenberg Public Policy Center's FactCheck.org debunking Bush's claims that Kerry's plans to raise taxes on the richest Americans would increase the tax burden on 900,000 small businesses.
The analysis found that the Bush campaign is counting every rich person who has even $1 of outside business income as a small business owner, even if they have no employees.
The analysis said even Bush qualifies under that definition because he reported $84 in income from his part-ownership of a timber enterprise on his 2001 federal tax return.