Romer, who went on to head Obama's White House Office of Economic Advisers, said after she left the White House in 2010 that the projection was so far off because she — like nearly every other economic forecaster — had failed to anticipate how deep the recession was and the extent to which conditions would continue to worsen. Their report was never an official Obama administration assessment or projection.
That stimulus plan, with a price tag of $787 billion at the time, wound up costing $825 billon. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has said that the stimulus increased the number of people employed by 1.4 million to 3.3 million and cut the unemployment rate between 0.7 and 1.8 percentage points. Economists continue to debate whether the stimulus lived up to its promise or was worth the cost, but few seriously argue that it failed to create jobs and many believe it helped to end the recession.
OBAMA: "You'd think they'd say: 'You know what? Maybe some rules and regulations are necessary to protect the economy and prevent people from being taken advantage of by insurance companies or credit card companies or mortgage lenders.'"
THE FACTS: As zealous as they sound on the subject, Republicans aren't proposing to throw out all regulations. Romney, for one, proposes changing, but not repealing, the Sarbanes-Oxley law that tightened accounting regulations in response to corporate scandals. He does want to repeal the Dodd-Frank law toughening financial-industry regulations after the meltdown in that sector, and he wants environmental rules loosened to spur energy production.
Even in the heat of GOP primaries, however, Romney wasn't talking about throwing out the federal rulebook. "We don't want to tell the world that Republicans are against all regulation," he said. "No, regulation is necessary to make a free market work. But it has to be updated and modern." He said as much Tuesday night, that "we, of course, understand in a free market that regulations are necessary and critical."
ROMNEY: Obama "is destroying the Medicare Advantage program, eliminating the coverage that millions of seniors depend on and reducing choice by two-thirds."
THE FACTS: The Medicare Advantage program seems to be doing quite well. Premiums, on average, are down 7 percent while enrollment is up nearly 10 percent this year. About one-fourth of Medicare beneficiaries currently get their coverage through private health insurance plans available under Medicare Advantage. The program provides a choice of private plans that usually offer lower out-of-pocket costs than traditional Medicare.
Under the George W. Bush administration, the plans had been overpaid when compared with the cost of care in traditional Medicare. Obama's health care law scaled that back, cutting more than $130 billion over 10 years. Critics warned of an exodus from the program, but that hasn't happened, partly because the health care law staggered Medicare Advantage cuts to make them more manageable.
The Obama administration has also worked to soften the impact in the initial years, for example, by pumping in $6.7 billion in quality bonuses, most of which will be awarded to plans rated merely average.
There are fewer Medicare Advantage plans now than when the health care law passed, giving rise to Romney's complaint about less choice. But administration officials say seniors have an average of 26 plans to choose from in nearly every county.
OBAMA: "Cap and trade was originally proposed by conservatives and Republicans as a market-based solution to solving environmental problems. The first president to talk about cap and trade was George H.W. Bush. Now you've got the other party essentially saying we shouldn't even be thinking about environmental protection; let's gut the EPA."
THE FACTS: Obama is right that cap and trade was a Republican idea — first put in place to control sulfur dioxide emissions, or acid rain, under the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments that passed overwhelmingly. The idea is to cap overall emissions of a certain pollutant while letting companies trade pollution allowances, essentially using a combination of the government and private market to make the environment cleaner.