5 Facts You Need to Know for Tonight's Presidential Debate

Debates move quickly. The candidates toss out facts at breakneck speeds, trying to get across their entire plans in just 90 minutes. Tonight, Obama and Romney will square off in a debate that’s been billed as high-steaks — Obama will seek to regain the momentum, while Romney hopes to sustain his.


So as the candidates barrel through the details of their respective plans, here are some facts you should keep on hand:

1. The deficit is largely a product of tax cuts and wars. The newest report out from the Congressional Budget Office shows that we have a still-large but slowing budget shortfall, with the deficit at $1.1 trillion for 2012. But the issues that are adding the most to our deficit aren’t health care costs or the stimulus; wars and tax cuts are responsible for that:

2. When US officials asked for more security in Libya, they wanted it in Tripoli, not Benghazi. The attack on the United States embassy in Libya was a tragedy that has had a confusing aftermath. Republicans have claimed that employees at the Benghazi embassy asked for more security in the days before the attack, but actually it was the embassy in Tripoli, not Benghazi where the attack occurred, that sought longer hours for its security guards.

3. 72 million people would be uninsured under Romney’s health plan. A recent study of Romney’s health care plan shows that it would increase health care premiums for most Americans, and would leave 72 million people uninsured. If the Affordable Care Act were repealed, 60 million Americans would remain uninsured. Under Obama’s plan, that number is expected to drop to 27.1 million:

4. If the DREAM Act were passed, it would add $329 billion to the economy by 2030. President Obama has vowed the pass the DREAM Act — a bill that provides a pathway to citizenship for young, undocumented students and service members — while candidate Romney has said he’d veto it. According to a joint report by the Center for American Progress and the Partnership for a New American Economy, passing the DREAM Act “would add $329 billion to the U.S. economy and create 1.4 million new jobs by 2030.”

5. The “six studies” that lend credibility to Romney’s tax plan are 3 blog posts, 2 conservative reports, 1 op-ed. The idea that a Romney administration could give a 20 percent tax cut to everyone, and then pay for it by eliminating loopholes and deductions for the wealthy has been strong refuted by the Tax Policy Center. Romney has cited six other “studies” that confirm his plan could work, but those are dubious: One is a report by the conservative Heritage foundation, one is a paper from a former Bush adviser, one is an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, and three are blog posts.

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