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Reality Check: The 1st Presidential Debate

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(credit: CBS) Pat Kessler
Pat Kessler knows Minnesota politics. He's been on the beat long...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It may have been a surprise to some, but the first presidential debate had a great deal of substance.

Both candidates had plenty of time to say exactly where they stand. But each of them strayed from the facts repeatedly.

Gov. Mitt Romney asserted that he would cut tax rates and balance the budget.

“I’m not calling for a $1trillion tax cut,” he said. “What I have said is: I won’t put in place a tax cut that adds to the deficit. That’s part one, so there is no economist who can say my plan adds $5 trillion if I say I will not add to the deficit with my tax plan.”

That’s NOT TRUE.

Experts say it is not possible to reduce tax rates and raise revenues and balance the budget.

President Barack Obama said he wants to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans, and he says they would pay the same amount as they did in the ‘90s.

“For incomes over $250,000 a year…we should go back to the rates that we had under Bill Clinton, when we created 23 million new jobs, when we went from deficit to surplus and created a whole lot of millionaires to boot,” he said.

That’s NOT TRUE, either.

Wealthy Americans would actually pay more than they did in the Clinton years because there are new taxes imposed on rich taxpayers in the Obama health care bill.

Romney repeatedly said Obamacare is a government takeover of health care, and it cuts $700 billion from Medicare.

Both statements are FALSE.

And the president said everyone can keep their own doctors AND had promised premiums would go down $2,500.

And that’s NOT TRUE either.

Overall: Obama was in command of the facts, but Romney seemed comfortable, more comfortable than we have come to expect from him.

I thought Romney did very well.

And the night’s most memorable moment? Big Bird.

“I’m sorry Jim, I am going to stop the subsidy to PBS,” Romney said. “I’m going to stop other things. I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you, too. But I am not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from china to pay for it.”

That got a lot of people worked up. Within seconds, Twitter exploded.

There were 17,000 outraged tweets per minute about Big Bird.

By the way: public broadcasting makes up 0.012 percent of the budget.

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