Fact Checking the Debate in Iowa

Fact Checking the Debate in Iowa (ABC News)

Fact Check 1 Fact Check 2 Fact Check 3

Fact or Fiction Number 1 - We'll lose 1.6 million jobs over five years under the affordable healthcare act.

ABC News' Amy Bingham reports:

GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann came out swinging at the ABC News Iowa debate Saturday night, but rather than taking a jab at her comrades on stage, the Minnesota Congresswoman directed her ire at President Obama.

In her first answer of the evening Bachmann blasted the president's health care legislation, saying the Affordable Care Act would kill 1.6 million jobs.

"We can cut government bureaucracy, which is Obamacare," Bachmann said. "N.F.I.B. tells us, that's the small business agency, that we will lose 1.6 million jobs over five years if we keep Obamacare.  I wanna- I am committed to repealing Obamacare."

The National Federation of Independent Business report Bachmann cites shows 1.6 million jobs will be cut because of the law's tax increases and employer mandate. The report shows that more than 1 million of those lost jobs will be from small businesses.

But an analysis by Americans for Tax Reform and the Beacon Hill Institute found that the act will destroy far fewer jobs, more to the tune of 120,000 to 700,000.

Yet another report, from the Urban Institute, predicted the act "will not have noticeable effect on net levels of employment," because while some provisions of the act will negatively impact employment, those cuts will be offset by increases in the demand for health services.

Fact or Fiction Number 2 - Newt Gingrich would build a colony on the moon.

ABC News' Alexa Keyes reports:

Romney's first example of how he differs from Gingrich? Lunar colonies.

Romney and Gingrich sparred early at the ABC News Iowa debate Saturday night. When pressed to name the issues on which he and Gingrich disagree, Romney jabbed the former House speaker's ideas for space:

"We can start with his idea to have a lunar colony that would mine minerals from the moon," Romney said.

This is not the first time Romney has publicly taken issue with Gingrich's proposal to start a permanent colony on the moon. In an interview with the Des Moines Register on Friday, he dismissed the moon colony and suggested that the country has "other priorities for spending."

Gingrich quickly retorted, saying Romney would have become a career-politician had he not lost his U.S. Senate bid in 1994.

Fact or Fiction Number 3 - Payroll tax cut: band-aid, gimmick or something else all together?

ABC News' Greg Krieg reports:

To extend or not to extend? The debate over the future of the "Payroll Tax Holiday," one of Washington's most hotly contested issues right now, came to Iowa tonight. And like it has on Capitol Hill, it split the room.

Three of the six candidates on stage -Mitt  Romney, Newt Gingrich, and Ron Paul - are in favor of elongating the holiday. Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum and Rick Perry said they'd let it expire. The divide was rather predictable, as the latter three, self-styled Tea Party leaders and deficit hawks, tend to oppose anything they perceive as adding to the national debt.

Romney played both sides, saying he'd keep the provision despite its being "just a band-aid." Bachmann, meanwhile, called it a "gimmick" and accused the three candidates on the other side of the matter of "standing with President Obama."

So is the holiday, which is set to expire on Dec. 31, a short-term fix… or does it prop up demand and with it, a struggling economy?

Depends on who you ask.

Economists quizzed by ABC News were pretty much split on the issue. Some said that in these tough times any extra money tends to be stashed away, saved for the many rainy days still to come. Others, also noting the fragility of the economy, said that every bit helps. Less money in people's hands means less spending, and less spending hurts the recovery.

"I think that the economy is so fragile and the recovery is so weak that if the payroll tax is allowed to expire, you'd end up reducing money in consumer's pockets and that would end up reducing demand," said David Kautter, managing director of the Kogod Tax Center at American University in Washington, D.C.

Andrew Biggs, resident scholar at the conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute, disagreed.

"This really isn't a left-right issue, it's just a question of how big an effect you think it'll have and whether the stimulative effect is worth the cost. My guess is that it isn't," he said.