PolitiFact: The Roundup

The clock was ticking toward Crossover Day in the General Assembly, and lawmakers were scrambling to beat Monday’s deadline for most bills to clear at least one legislative chamber. Bill authors and opponents were churning out quotes, and PolitiFact was putting the ones dealing with guns, jobs and religious freedom to the truth test.

Abbreviated versions of our fact checks are below.

Full versions can be found at www.politifact.com/georgia/.

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State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur: More than 80 percent of Georgians don’t support legislation to ease gun restrictions in houses of worship, in bars and on campuses.

The Georgia House of Representatives recently passed legislation that would increase the types of places where guns are allowed. Oliver said the measure doesn’t reflect what the majority of Georgians want.

House Bill 875, written and co-sponsored by several Republican lawmakers, would lift restrictions on guns in houses of worship and bars, and allow school board members to arm themselves. It would no longer be a crime for licensed gun owners carrying a firearm on a college campus, where they are banned, under the legislation. Instead, the penalty would be a $100 fine.

The bill does include some restrictions, such as the mentally ill cannot get a gun license.

Most of the polling data we reviewed show a majority of Georgians oppose firearms in houses of worship or on college campuses. But there’s not much data that we saw that surpasses the 80 percent mark.

Oliver’s overall point that most Georgians oppose firearms in bars, on campuses and in houses of worship is on the mark. But her specific percentage is too high, and she used the number to pursue a specific political point.

We rated her statement Half True.

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Americans for Prosperity Georgia chapter: “Obamacare will mean 2.1 million fewer jobs by 2021.”

The Georgia chapter of Americans for Prosperity, a longtime critic of the Affordable Care Act — or Obamacare — rallied at the state Capitol and came armed with what it said was projections from the Congressional Budget Office.

PolitiFact Georgia wondered whether the Georgia chapter was correct in its assessment that Obamacare will mean 2.1 million fewer jobs in 2021.

Our partners at PolitiFact in Washington had looked at a similar claim and found one major flaw. The National Republican Congressional Committee claimed in a television ad that “nonpartisan government analysts say Obamacare will cost our economy up to 2.5 million jobs.” PolitiFact noted that the CBO report did not use the word “jobs.”

The CBO report suggested some people will choose to work fewer hours, others may quit their jobs in order to get health care subsidies they would not receive if they continued to work their regular schedule.

The CBO report did not say the health care law would result in a reduction of 2.5 million jobs. It specifically said “more than 2.5 million people are likely to reduce the amount of labor they choose to supply to some degree” and added that “many of them will not leave the labor force entirely.”

We believe that is an important distinction. This claim does contain some element of truth, but some of the details are incorrect.

We rated the statement Half True.

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State Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus: A Georgia religious freedom bill would help Catholic institutions that, under Obamacare, could be forced to provide abortion-inducing drugs.

McKoon authored one of two bills that pulled Georgia into the national debate over religious freedom and discrimination.

Critics say McKoon’s legislation, Senate Bill 377, could open the door to private business owners declining on religious grounds to serve people they believe are gay, bisexual or transgender.

McKoon was selling his bill, in part, as a potential buffer against the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare. He told reporters that SB 377 would be “another tool in the tool kit of those who are fighting on the Obamacare front —- Catholic health institutions who are being asked to provide abortion services, that sort of thing.”

“At minimum, I would like for those institutions to have the potential to have the religious-liberty test that this law would give them,” said McKoon, an attorney who has served in the General Assembly since 2011.

Several experts we checked with said they can’t see McKoon’s bill having the stated effect. They said state law can rarely, if ever, trump a federal law.

We rated McKoon’s statement false.

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New York Times columnist David Brooks: “Chained CPI would save $1 trillion in the second decade off the federal budget debt.”

President Barack Obama has yet to formally roll out his 2014-15 budget, but it is already notable for one idea that won’t be in it. Something called chained CPI, or consumer price index, has become a flash point in the debate over the deficit and spending on entitlement programs.

It is a technical shift that would affect everything from how much the government bumps up government payments to how it calculates the taxes we owe. Put simply, using chained CPI would save the government money (and cost you some money).

The president included a version of chained CPI in last year’s budget. Excluding it this year avoids a fight within Democratic ranks over preserving the value of Social Security.

As part of a panel discussion on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Brooks said using the chained CPI would reduce U.S. debt by $1 trillion in the period of 11 to 20 years. That number did not come from the Congressional Budget Office, the one government body that members of both parties count on for impartial long-term projections.

Also, the chained CPI estimate Brooks cited goes beyond what Obama proposed last year.

In 2013, the president exempted programs for low-income people and offered extra payments for Social Security recipients who had been on the rolls a long time.

Those caveats would bring down the savings, no matter what the real number is.

We rated Brooks’ statement Half True.

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