Pre-Debate, New York Times Defends Obama from 'Bad Hand' Dealt by Bush

On Wednesday, New York Times political reporters Jackie Calmes (pictured) and John Harwood offered a pre-debate fact-check which predictably leaned in Obama's favor: "A Closer Look at  Assertions the 2 Sides Have Made on Economic Issues."

The first presidential debate is likely to focus on economic issues as President Obama and Mitt Romney clash over the size and role of government. Here are some topics that could come up.

DEBT Mr. Romney blames Mr. Obama for annual trillion-dollar deficits adding to what is now a $16 trillion national debt.

Nonpartisan analysts agree that Mr. Obama inherited a bad hand: the 2009 deficit was a projected $1.2 trillion when he took office because of Bush-era policies and an economic crisis that slashed tax collections and increased spending for jobless aid and other safety-net programs. He has added $1.4 trillion in stimulus spending and tax cuts, and he has continued the Bush policies that Democrats blame for the swing from surpluses to deficits: income tax cuts, a Medicare drug benefit and war operations.

But Mr. Obama’s health care law, rather than adding $1 trillion to deficits as Mr. Romney says, includes offsetting cost savings and tax increases. And Mr. Obama proposes tax increases on the wealthy and spending cuts.

Calmes has asserted that claim before. Yet there is immense skepticism that Congress will stick to reducing payments to Medicare, among other things required that would make Obama-care actually reduce the deficit. The House Budget Committee (chaired by Paul Ryan) accuses the White House of using "gimmicks and double-counting," which the CBO is required to take at face value. And conservative economists have predicted Obama-care will add to the deficit.

Mr. Romney’s claim that Mr. Obama has taken $716 billion from Medicare benefits to pay for the health care law has been widely debunked. The cuts would affect those providing health care, not beneficiaries. The health law, in fact, expanded Medicare benefits. Mr. Ryan included identical savings in Republican budgets he passed in the House.

Does the Times truly believe that cuts to health care providers will not affect health-care for patients at all?