Fact checking Obama's speech in La Crosseby Tom Scheck, Minnesota Public Radio
Speaking to a crowd of 15,000 people this morning in La Crosse, Sen. Barack Obama outlined his plans to improve health care, cut middle class taxes and move the nation towards energy independence.
Here's what Obama said -- and didn't say -- during his speech.
La Crosse, Wis. — Sen. Barack Obama started his speech by focusing on the need to pass the $700 billion rescue package for the financial services industry.
He said failing to do so would turn a crisis into a catastrophe, but he emphasized that he wouldn't abandon some of his core priorities in light of the bailout. For example, he said he would continue pushing for his tax cut package.
"I will cut taxes, listen, cut taxes La Crosse, for 95 percent of their workers and their families," he said.
That is true - according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, which studied Obama's tax plan. The group said 95 percent of working families will see a income tax cut under Obama's plan.
The group said, though, that the number of people getting a tax cut under Obama's plan falls to 81 percent when you factor in seniors and adults without children.
On the deficit, Obama said this:
"We can't run up a credit card, have a party and leave our children pay the bill. It is time to put an end to the runaway spending and the record deficits. It's not how you would run your family budget and it must not be how Washington handles your tax dollars."
But The Tax Policy Center said it's virtually impossible for Obama to erase the debt in the near future unless he finds new sources of revenue or cuts spending. The study said Obama's tax cut plan alone would increase the deficit by $3.5 trillion over the next 10 years.
Obama does call for a tax increase for couples making more than $250,000 a year, but the group said that doesn't go far enough. The Tax Policy Center said Obama would have to cut spending dramatically -- nearly zeroing out non-defense discretionary spending to erase the deficit.
After the speech, Obama said he couldn't erase the debt in the near term, but said it's important to start addressing the problem.
And in his speech Obama did mention some spending cuts.
He suggested withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq and getting Iraq's government to pay more of the cost of reconstruction.
"Iraq has a $79 billion surplus," he said. "The notion that we are putting our tax dollars in at a time of desperate economic circumstances makes no sense, and we're going to change it."
Iraq does have billions of surplus money but its not as large as Obama claims. FactCheck.org says the $79 billion claim is outdated because the Iraqi government already spent some of that money. The group said the new surplus is between $47 billion and $59 billion.
Obama also said he would save money by allowing the federal government to negotiate drug costs with pharmaceutical companies and would cut other Medicare costs.
"We should stop sending $15 billion a year in overpayments to insurance companies for Medicare and then we should go after tens of billions of dollars in Medicare and Medicaid fraud," he said.
There is money to be had. Nonpartisan congressional investigators have found that some private insurance companies in a program known as Medicare Advantage charge more to administer services than traditional government-run Medicare. About a fifth of Medicare recipients are in those private plans. Other studies have found that Medicare and Medicaid fraud is occurring.
On energy, Obama questioned whether increased drilling will solve the nation's energy issues.
"We are not going to be able to drill are way out of the problem. We use 25 percent of the world's oil and only 3 percent of the world's oil reserves," he said.
That statement is true according to the Energy Information Administration. But Obama's plan on energy might be a bit ambitious.
He said he's committed to investing billions in renewable energy. He also wants to increase fuel efficiency standards and will help car manufacturers make hybrid vehicles.
"We can free ourselves from Middle Eastern oil in 10 years and in the process we can stop global warming - that is the great mission of this generation and I'm going to make it happen when I'm president of the United States of America," Obama said.
A Stanford University energy economist said it's nearly impossible for Obama to end foreign oil consumption in 10 years unless people stop driving and flying. He said the U.S. consumes about 21 million barrels of oil a day.
Obama could make a dent in that figure, he said, if he increased fuel efficiency standards and adopted other clean energy standards.