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Truth Squad: fact-checking the GOP presidential debate

Updated Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2011 | 9:09 p.m.

GOP Presidential Debate

Mitt Romney and Rick Perry take part in the GOP presidential debate sponsored by CNN on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2011, at the Venetian. Launch slideshow »

Candidates pick fights during GOP debate

KSNV coverage of a heated GOP debate among presidential candidates at the Sands Convention Center, Oct. 18, 2011.

Herman Cain talks 9-9-9 tax plan

KSNV interview with Republican candidate Herman Cain to discuss his purposed tax plan, Oct. 18, 2011.

The Las Vegas Sun fact-checked several of the claims made during tonight’s GOP presidential debate. Here’s what we found.

The claim (by Mitt Romney):

“Obamacare ... is a huge burden on this economy.”

The background:

Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2010, which opponents have labeled “Obamacare.” Its most prominent feature mandates that individuals be insured.

This, according to an analysis by the state of Nevada, will cost the state $613 million between 2014 and 2019. The state is putting together a plan to implement most parts of the federal health care legislation, even as Nevada is a party in a lawsuit arguing that parts of the legislation are unconstitutional.

More immediately, a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis found that although health care premiums rose sharply last year — about 9 percent — the federal health care legislation was responsible for only 1-2 percent of the increase.

True or false?:

It’s in the eye of the beholder, as so much is with the health care law.

Only a few provisions of the health care legislation have taken effect. Most won’t kick in until 2014.

And from those that have, the impact so far is minimal. For example, in Nevada only about 300 people have enrolled in a program to provide health insurance to individuals with pre-existing medical conditions.

•••

The claim (by Mitt Romney):

Herman Cain's tax plan would add a 9 percent sales tax on goods on top of state and local sales taxes.

The background:

Cain has proposed a so-called 9-9-9 tax plan — a 9 percent flat tax on businesses (“Gross income less all purchases from other U.S. located businesses, all capital investment, and net exports”); 9 percent individual flat tax on income after charitable deductions; and a 9 percent sales tax.

Cain said his plan would lower taxes and costs on goods elsewhere, adding that state taxes and federal taxes were "apples and oranges."

That prompted Mitt Romney to quip that Nevadans would get a "fruit basket" of taxes.

True or false?:

True. It would add a 9 percent sales tax to other sales taxes. (In Clark County, the sales tax rate is 8.1 percent.)

•••

The claim (by Rick Perry): Mitt Romney employed illegal immigrants.

The background: Perry made the claim to argue that Romney had no credibility when it came to taking a tough stance against illegal immigration.

Romney tried to brush it off as false, but Perry persisted.

The claim was made during Romney's 2008 campaign, from a report by the Boston Globe, following up on another report from December 2006 about the crew caring for Romney's 2 1/2-acre yard.

True or false?: True.

According to the newspaper stories, Romney hired a landscaping company that hired undocumented workers.

"The employees told the Globe that company owner Ricardo Saenz never asked them to provide documents showing their immigration status and knew they were illegal immigrants," the Globe reported in 2006.

Perry's point was that Romney never verified the immigration status of those workers even after the first story ran. "Romney continued to employ the same landscaping company — until today," according to the story in December 2007. Reporters interviewed workers who said they were in the country without documentation.

•••

The claim (by Mitt Romney): Gingrich supported an individual mandate for health insurance before he opposed it.

The background: To some GOP voters, Romney wears a scarlet H for the health care bill he signed as governor of Massachusetts, which is similar to the 2009 health care legislation passed by Congress and signed by Obama. The plan, as noted above, would require individuals to get health insurance or face a tax penalty.

Romney’s defense Tuesday night was that Gingrich and other conservative groups, like the Heritage Foundation think tank, originally proposed such a mandate.

True or false?: True.

During the 1980s and 1990s, Democrats pushed for a requirement that employers provide health insurance or a “single-payer” system. In an effort to come up with an alternative, the mandate for individuals to get health insurance was indeed a Republican idea.

Gingrich took issue with Romney tagging him with the idea. But pressed, he conceded he supported the Heritage Foundation’s plan for health insurance.

Here’s the CNN transcript:

ROMNEY: Actually, Newt, we got the idea of an individual mandate from you.

GINGRICH: That's not true. You got it from the Heritage Foundation.

ROMNEY: Yes, we got it from you, and you got it from the Heritage Foundation and from you.

GINGRICH: Wait a second. What you just said is not true. You did not get that from me. You got it from the Heritage Foundation.

ROMNEY: And you never supported them?

GINGRICH: I agree with them, but I'm just saying, what you said to this audience just now plain wasn't true.

ROMNEY: OK. Let me ask, have you supported in the past an individual mandate?

GINGRICH: I absolutely did with the Heritage Foundation against Hillarycare.

ROMNEY: You did support an individual mandate? Oh, OK. That's what I'm saying. We got the idea from you and the Heritage Foundation.

GINGRICH: OK. A little broader.

ROMNEY: OK.

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