Senate GOP challenges Obama's budget claims from debate

Senate Republicans quickly struck back, and are hitting Obama with their own fact checks on Thursday. 

Leading the charge is Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), ranking member on the Budget Committee. He has long argued that Obama’s claims about his own budget are gimmicky. 

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“The debt is the greatest challenge facing our country. But the president continues to falsely represent his budget plan to the American people. These serial misrepresentations have the effect of lulling the citizenry to the danger instead of rallying them to action,” he said in a statement.

Sessions is focusing on moments in the debate where Obama said he modified the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles deficit plan and presented it to Congress. Obama said his “balanced” plan reduces the deficit by $4 trillion and has a 2.5 to 1 ratio of spending cuts to tax increases. 

This analysis uses administration math that employs budget techniques that have been derided as gimmicks. To make the ratio work, Obama is claiming about $1.7 trillion in savings from already-enacted budget deals with Congress, claiming savings due to the end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and counting interest payments as spending.

Sessions said “the biggest obstacle we face in preventing this crisis is a president who refuses tell the truth about his plan and a Democrat Senate that refuses to produce any plan at all.”

The Obama campaign and its surrogates, such as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), are saying Romney has been “dishonest” by failing to flesh out his plan for tax rate cuts that do not add to the deficit.  They are also focusing on claims he made that patients with preexisting conditions will be covered by his healthcare plans, something that was walked back by advisers immediately.

The strategy mirrors the Obama attacks on Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) for playing loose with the facts in his convention nomination acceptance speech. In that address Ryan blamed Obama for not adopting the Simpson-Bowles plan, while failing to mention that he himself voted against the plan. Ryan also attacked Obama, as did Romney in the debate, for cutting $716 billion from Medicare even though Ryan made the same cuts in his budget.