Six numbers to ignore from the presidential campaign
The presidential race has been replete with statistics and data tossed out by the candidates that purport to show something threatening or wrongheaded about their opponent's policies. Typically, they don't just make up their numbers; instead, they take research produced by someone else (often an ideologically friendly source), then apply their own spin. And in many cases, that spin takes the statistic so far out of context, it becomes misleading at best. Here are six examples of numbers frequently cited by the Obama and Romney campaigns that voters should either ignore or take with a very large grain of salt. --Jon Healey
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To deflect criticism about the fatal attack on the U.S. ambassador to Libya, the Obama campaign has accused GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan of proposing to cut $300 million from the budget for embassy security. As Vice President Joe Biden put it in his debate with Ryan, "the congressman here cut embassy security in his budget by $300 million below what we asked for." But there was no such reduction in Ryan's budget, which didn't specify a funding level for embassies. Instead, the figure was derived by the Obama campaign by assuming across-the-board cuts to all discretionary programs based on the overall spending caps the budget proposed. That's quite a stretch, especially considering how Republicans have sought to cut social programs in order to maintain spending on security-related needs.