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Mr. Romney can be expected to argue during the debate, as he has on the campaign trail and in ads, that Mr. Obama is to blame for looming budget cuts for the military. It’s a huge oversimplification of the debt-reduction talks between Mr. Obama and congressional Republicans that fell apart in the summer of 2011.

The result of those negotiations, the Budget Control Act of 2011, called for $1.2 trillion in budget cuts over 10 years. But it also required a congressional supercommittee to find another $1.2 trillion in savings. If the supercommittee failed, the law called for automatic, across-the-board cuts to go into effect in 2013, with half of the cuts targeted for defense.

While the White House reportedly came up with the idea for the defense cuts, neither side wanted or expected those cuts to take place. The cuts were viewed as an incentive to force Republicans to reach an agreement, just as automatic cuts to social programs were seen as an incentive to compel Democrats to compromise.

With the first debate focused on domestic policies, the economy will, of course, be central.

Simon Rosenberg, founder of the New Democratic Network, a left-leaning think tank in Washington, said he expects Mr. Romney’s biggest “whopper” in the debate to be “that the economy is worse today than when Obama took office.”

Asked to predict the president’s biggest whopper in the debate, Republican strategist Ron Bonjean said: “He will probably try to paint America as generally better off than we were four years ago and use manipulated statistics to back up that claim.”

Mr. Romney has attacked the president’s economic leadership, saying people are not better off than they were four years ago. Mr. Obama will point to 30 straight months of job growth in the private sector, although he acknowledges the unemployment rate is still too high — it was 8.1 percent in August, while the jobless rate was 7.2 percent when Mr. Obama took office.

That raises another claim likely to surface in the debate: Mr. Romney’s argument that the president “promised” that his stimulus plan would lower the unemployment rate below 8 percent. Actually, the president didn’t make such a promise, but his top economic adviser issued a report predicting that, with the stimulus program, unemployment would peak at just under 8 percent in 2009.

Mr. Romney also could claim, as he has in recent months, that he didn’t raise taxes as governor of Massachusetts. While he didn’t raise state income or sales taxes, he did raise hundreds of millions of dollars through fees, and closed business tax loopholes that generated about $350 million per year.