FactWatch: Ron Paul flubs his facts

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Texas Rep. Ron Paul

Charlie Neibergall/AP

No stranger to presidential campaigns, Ron Paul of Texas has made his share of factual flubs. Paul declared his 2012 candidacy for the Republican nomination May 13.

  • He falsely claimed last December that the estate tax "especially harms small and family-owned businesses." But if the estate tax was returned to 2009 levels, less than 8 percent of estates taxed in 2011 would be family farms and businesses, according to the Tax Policy Center. The tax deal struck by President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans would affect 440 such estates, more than half of which are worth more than $20 million each. Paul also said that the estate tax was "double taxation." That’s only the case for cash that had been taxed when it was earned as income. Investments, such as stocks, bonds and real estate, would not have been taxed before, if they had not been sold prior to the owner’s death.
  • He made the wild claim that "16,500 armed bureaucrats" from the IRS would enforce the mandate that everyone have health insurance. That figure came from a partisan analysis based on false assumptions. Plus, the IRS will mainly distribute tax credits, not enforce penalties. And "armed"? Very few, if any, new hires would actually carry guns. As of 2009, the IRS had only 2,725 (3 percent of all employees) who were "special agents," sworn law enforcement officers assigned to criminal cases and authorized to carry guns. The health care law also bans criminal penalties for those not abiding by the mandate.
  • In the 2008 campaign, Paul pushed the bogus conspiracy theory that government bureaucrats and foreign corporations were plotting a "NAFTA Superhighway" and the creation of a North American Union with a single currency. It’s all a myth.
  • He also claimed in the last presidential race that the U.S. had a "$1 trillion foreign operation" to maintain "our empire." But his $1 trillion figure included all defense spending, plus half of NASA’s funding, medical and retirement pay for veterans, the U.S. Border Patrol, airport security, the issuing of passports, cargo inspections, the FBI’s counter-terrorism unit, and 92 percent of interest payments on the debt, among other items.

Paul’s libertarian views have attracted a fervent following. He’s running for president for the third time.

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