FactCheck.org http://www.factcheck.org A Project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center Thu, 11 Feb 2016 00:00:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.1 Trump Wildly Inflates Unemployment http://www.factcheck.org/2016/02/trump-wildly-inflates-unemployment/ http://www.factcheck.org/2016/02/trump-wildly-inflates-unemployment/#comments Wed, 10 Feb 2016 22:57:43 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=104377 Donald Trump said he “heard” the unemployment rate was really 42 percent. It’s not. That figure would include retirees, teenagers, stay-at-home parents and anyone else who doesn’t need or want to work.

The unemployment rate is actually 4.9 percent for January.

If Trump wanted to include the underemployed (part-time workers wanting full-time work) and the “marginally attached” (those who have given up looking for a job but had looked for one in the past year), then he could use 9.9 percent as his number for the underemployed and the unemployed. That’s the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ “U-6″ measurement of labor underutilization, its most comprehensive statistic on those who are underemployed or unemployed but want to work.

We fact-checked Trump on this topic back in June, when he said in his speech announcing his presidential candidacy that the “real” unemployment rate is “anywhere from 18 to 20 percent” and “maybe even 21 percent.” He was wrong then. The only figure of 18 percent we found came from a University of Maryland economist who included “the effects of immigration,” he said, and the “many” students who are being “duped” into applying for “useless programs” at universities and for-profit schools.

But Trump has doubled his already inflated figure since.

Trump has floated this 40-something number several times, most recently in his victory speech after winning the New Hampshire Republican primary (at the 11:21 mark).

Trump, Feb. 9: I am going to be the greatest jobs president that God ever created. Remember that. Don’t believe those phony numbers, when you hear 4.9 and 5 percent unemployment.

The number’s probably 28, 29, as high as 35. In fact, I even heard recently 42 percent. Do you think we’d have gatherings like this if we had, if we had 5 percent unemployment, do you really think we’d have these gatherings?

Back in July, he said on Fox News that “somebody actually last week said we have a 40 percent unemployment [rate].”

He also made the claim in a Time magazine interview in August, and a press conference in September. Our fact-checking colleagues at the Washington Post and Politifact wrote about those instances, with both organizations giving Trump their highest ratings for falsehoods.

We don’t mean to pile on, but Trump’s claim is bogus, and a real whopper. Forty-two percent of the American working-age public is not unemployed and wanting a job.

In his Time magazine interview, Trump claimed that 93 million Americans were out of work.

Trump, Time magazine interview, Aug. 20, 2015: Our real unemployment rate–in fact, I saw a chart the other day, our real unemployment–because you have ninety million people that aren’t working. Ninety-three million to be exact.

If you start adding it up, our real unemployment rate is 42%. We have a lot of room. We have a lot of people who want to work.

Trump is referring to the number of working-age Americans who are not in the labor force. As we pointed out when then Texas Gov. Rick Perry in 2014 said he was “worried” about those not in the labor force, they include everyone age 16 and over who isn’t working or looking for work: teenagers, college students, folks who are well into their retirement years, stay-at-home parents, the independently wealthy and more.

In fact, the current figure — 95 million as of January — includes only 6 million who say they want to work.

To be counted as officially “unemployed” by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a person without a job must have tried to find employment in the four weeks before the BLS survey is taken. The labor force includes everyone who is employed and unemployed. That means those who are counted as “not in the labor force” aren’t working and haven’t looked for work in the past month.

Since there are some Americans, currently 2 million, who have sought employment in the past year but not the past month (the “marginally attached”) and another nearly 6 million who are working part time but want full-time work, politicians sometimes use the BLS U-6 figure to capture those Americans. As we said, that measure of unemployment and underemployment is 9.9 percent — double the official unemployment rate, but nowhere close to the figure Trump has touted.

In June, David Stockman, a former director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan, used a “real unemployment rate” of 42.9 percent, which he based on the potential labor hours if every American adult, ages 16 to 68, worked full time. Obviously every American between those ages doesn’t work full time or even want to. Stockman noted: “Yes, we have to allow for non-working wives, students, the disabled, early retirees and coupon clippers. We also have drifters, grifters, welfare cheats, bums and people between jobs, enrolled in training programs, on sabbaticals and much else.”

The labor force participation rate, the percentage of the civilian population that is either employed or looking for work, has been on a downward trajectory since 2000. As we noted in our most recent “Obama’s Numbers” article, that’s partly due to the aging of the population. BLS data published in December 2015 show 44 percent of those not in the labor force in 2014 said they were retired. Other reasons for not working: Eighteen percent cited school; 19 percent cited illness or disability; and 15 percent cited home responsibilities. About 3.5 percent said they couldn’t find work or gave another reason.

This is the fourth time that we have fact-checked Trump claiming that he “heard” something that’s not close to being accurate.

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Debunking Obama’s Dubai Domicile http://www.factcheck.org/2016/02/debunking-obamas-dubai-domicile/ http://www.factcheck.org/2016/02/debunking-obamas-dubai-domicile/#comments Wed, 10 Feb 2016 19:18:30 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=103155 Q: Are the Obamas buying a vacation home in Dubai?
A: No. This rumor was circulated on a fake news website.


Is President Obama buying a four million dollar home in Dubai, and was a top Admiral fired by Obama for questioning why he was buying the home in Dubai?


This rumor started with an article posted on Jan. 10 by a disreputable news site, WhatDoesItMean.com, under the headline, Top US Admiral Fired For Questioning Obama Purchase Of Mansion in Dubai.”

WhatDoesItMean.com, Jan. 10: A stunning new Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) report circulating in the Kremlin today states that one of the United States Navy’s top commanders was relieved of his command a few hours ago after he sent out an “email/posting” revealing that President Barack Obama was in the process of purchasing a multi-million dollar seaside luxury villa in the United Arab Emirates city (UAE) of Dubai. 

This report is bogus. It’s from a website widely known as a fake news source that focuses on conspiracy theories. WhatDoesItMean.Com is self-described as “One Of The Top Ranked Websites In The World for New World Order, Conspiracy Theories and Alternative News.”

In fact, on their privacy policy page, the website explains its content is largely fiction:

WhatDoesItMean.com: Some events depicted in certain articles on this website are fictitious and any similarity to any person living or dead is merely coincidental. Some other articles may be based on actual events but which in certain cases incidents, characters and timelines have been changed for dramatic purposes. Certain characters may be composites, or entirely fictitious.

This website frequently uses outlandish headlines. Some of its most recent articles include:World Rushes To Obama’s Door For New ‘Miracle Bombs’ That Don’t Kill AnyoneandRussia Shockingly Adds Hillary Clinton To Terror Sponsor Watchlist.”

The purported author of the article on the Dubai home is Sorcha Faal, identified on the website as “Sister Maria Theresa … the 73rd Sorcha Faal of the Sorcha Faal Order, Elected as Mother Superior 3 February 2007.”

In fact, the Obamas are not purchasing the house in question, and Rear Adm. Rick Williams — the officer named in the story — was terminated for other reasons. 

The Dubai Villa

The article provides a detailed description of the home that it falsely claims Obama is buying:

WhatDoesItMean.com, Jan. 10: As to the “Obama house hunting mission” Admiral Williams was making his query about before being fired, this report continues, SVR intelligence “assests” in the UAE identified it as being a luxury seaside villa located in the Palm Jumeirah development of Dubai being offered for sale at the price of $4.9 million (18 million United Arab Emirates Dirham), and which a deposit on it was made this past week by the Washington D.C. based global public affairs company Podesta Group.

The article links to a home listing by Ocean View Real Estate for a villa in Dubai that was still on the market as of this report. On Jan. 13, the English-language tabloid Xpress from Dubai quoted the CEO of Ocean View Real Estate, Tim Boswell, as dispelling the notion that Obama had purchased, or was even looking at the home.

“On a serious note, I know that a man of Obama’s stature will send his ‘people’ to view the villa before buying it, but we are not aware of any such leads,” Boswell told the paper. “My villa has been up for sale since the last six weeks and I can assure you no presidents have viewed it so far.”

The image of this home has been circulated widely online, showing up on home improvement websites and being cited by some as the exterior of the Bulgari Resort Villa in Dubai, which will open in 2017.

And, despite what the article claims, Williams was not fired because he criticized Obama’s idea to purchase a home in Dubai.

In fact, the Navy Times reported on Jan. 9 that Williams was fired for viewing pornography on his work computer — which the bogus news article referenced when it said Williams was fired for “allegations of his misuse of government computer equipment.”

Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense authorized news outlet, reported on Jan. 9 that, prior to his firing, Williams had been commander of the Navy’s Carrier Strike Group 15 based in San Diego. The article said Williams was fired “due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command” based on the result of “an investigation into allegations of misuse of government computer equipment.” It provided no further details.

So, Williams was fired, but it had nothing to do with the president.

The Companies

WhatDoesItMean.com misappropriates the credibility of two companies with ties to Obama. The article falsely claims that the Podesta Group, a powerful lobbying firm, put a deposit on the Dubai home for Obama, and that DLA Piper provided legal representation. 

The Podesta Group was cofounded by Obama adviser John Podesta and his brother, Tony. DLA Piper is a multinational law firm that gained “critical mass with a 2005 merger between UK-based DLA LLP and Chicago-based Piper Rudnick,” as described by Forbes. Obama and his family lived in Chicago when he was a senator from Illinois. During Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign, two DLA Piper executives were Obama bundlers and the company’s employees were among his biggest donors.

But, as we said, the Dubai house is still on the market for now and the real estate agent listing it said Obama has expressed no interest in it.


Faal, Sorcha. “Top US Admiral Fired For Questioning Obama Purchase Of Mansion In Dubai.” whatdoesitmean.com. 10 Jan 2016.

Kumar, Anjana. “‘No, I haven’t sold my Palm villa to Obama.'” Gulfnews.com. 13 Jan 2016.

Myers, Meghann. “Navy strike group commander fired for viewing porn at work.” Navy Times. 9 Jan 2016.

Admiral relieved of duty 6 months after taking the helm of Carrier Strike Group 15.” Stars and Stripes. 9 Jan 2016.

Ho, Catherine. “The Podesta Group has earned at least $1.15m lobbying for Puerto Rico.” Washington Post. 29 June 2015.

Parnell, David. “Roger Meltzer Of DLA Piper, On Law Firm Legacies, China, And Defining The ‘Global Elite.'” Forbes. 19 Oct 2015.

National Journal. “Hill People: David Morgenstern.” 12 Feb 2011.

Eilperin, Juliet. “John Podesta: The backbone of the second Obama term departs.” 23 Feb 2015.

Barack Obama’s Bundlers.” Opensecrets.org. Undated, accessed 2 Feb. 2016.

Barack Obama: Top Contributors, 2012 Cycle.” Opensecrets.org. Undated, accessed 2 Feb. 2016.


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The Facts About Zika http://www.factcheck.org/2016/02/the-facts-about-zika/ http://www.factcheck.org/2016/02/the-facts-about-zika/#comments Wed, 10 Feb 2016 17:22:35 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=104248 Several members of Congress wrote to government officials about the recent Zika virus outbreak in Brazil and a suspected rise there in the number of microcephaly cases. But some of those letters overstated what’s known about these two phenomena.

  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand claimed: “Over 4,000 babies in Brazil … have been born in the last year with microcephaly.” As of Jan. 29, Brazil’s Health Ministry reported 4,180 suspected cases, but only 270 were confirmed. The remaining cases were either under investigation (3,448) or discarded (462).
  • Sen. Richard Blumenthal said those 4,000 cases in Brazil “have been linked to the outbreak of the Zika virus.” As of Jan. 29, only six of the 270 confirmed babies with microcephaly had tested positive for Zika. Health officials say evidence strongly suggests a link between Zika and microcephaly, but they also emphasize the link hasn’t been scientifically confirmed.

The senators were reacting to the Zika virus’ spread through the Americas, including Brazil, and a rise in the number of suspected cases of microcephaly. Microcephaly is normally thought of as a rare neurological condition, where an infant’s head is substantially smaller than the heads of other children of the same age and sex. However, the condition often signifies a deeper problem — abnormal brain development.

Doctors in Brazil began noticing a possible increase in microcephaly cases around August 2015, as reported by the New York Times. The Zika virus likely spread to the country roughly a year earlier.

Researchers in Brazil theorize that the virus initially spread to their country during the FIFA World Cup tournament in July 2014. But a group of scientists in French Polynesia believe Zika may have spread from their country to Brazil during the Va’a World Sprint Championship canoe race held in Rio de Janeiro in August 2014.

There is plenty of concern among groups such as the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the concern, in part, arises from a lack of knowledge about Zika and its potential causal link to microcephaly. We’ll explain what’s known about that possible relationship and the cases in Brazil so far.

Counting Cases of Microcephaly

On Jan 28., Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York, wrote a letter to Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, urging the institute “to prioritize research into developing diagnostic tests, vaccines and therapeutic drugs to fight the continued spread of the Zika virus.” In her letter, she claimed: “Over 4,000 babies in Brazil … have been born in the last year with microcephaly.”

But according to information provided by Brazilian authorities, that’s inaccurate.

From Oct. 22, 2015, to Jan. 29, 2016, Brazil’s Ministry of Health reported 4,180 suspected cases of microcephaly, which included 3,448 cases under investigation, 270 confirmed cases and 462 discarded cases.

The fact that more cases have been discarded than confirmed shows that diagnosing microcephaly is not straightforward.

SciCHECKinsertAccording to the Mayo Clinic, microcephaly is broadly defined as “a rare neurological condition in which an infant’s head is significantly smaller than the heads of other children of the same age and sex.” The syndrome is usually “the result of the brain developing abnormally in the womb or not growing as it should after birth.”

Different organizations and doctors have different definitions for “significantly,” however.

As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains: “Although a universally accepted definition of microcephaly does not exist, microcephaly is most often defined as head circumference … greater than 2 standard deviations below the mean, or less than the 3rd percentile based on standard growth charts.”

A review article published by the American Academy of Neurology in 2009 provides similar information: “Microcephaly is an important neurologic sign but there is nonuniformity in its definition and evaluation.” The article, though, also points to two standard deviations from the norm as the most often used definition.

The condition can be rooted in different causes, including chromosomal abnormalities, decreased oxygen to the fetal brain, infections during pregnancy, alcohol or drug abuse during pregnancy, and malnutrition.

Evidence of microcephaly can be found as early as the latter stages of the second trimester using an ultrasound, says the CDC. The condition can also be diagnosed after a baby is born. After birth, doctors will measure the circumference of a baby’s head.

If the baby’s head falls within a range that is below what its pediatrician defines as normal for its age, the doctor may request additional tests. A CT or MRI scan can provide information about the development of the newborn’s brain. These tests may be needed to confirm microcephaly in infants.

Early diagnosis does have the potential to lead to false diagnosis. According to National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: “Some children with microcephaly will have normal intelligence and a head that will grow bigger, but they will track below the normal growth curves for head circumference.”

The difficulty with definitively diagnosing microcephaly has lead some to question whether Brazil underreported cases in the past — and whether they overreported their 2015 cases as well.

For context, the Associated Press and the New York Times write that out of 3 million births in 2014, Brazilian doctors reported only about 150 cases of microcephaly. But 150 cases is surprisingly small for a country the size of Brazil. For comparison, Margaret Honein, a CDC epidemiologist, told the AP the United States “has an estimated 2,500 cases of microcephaly a year” out of 4 million births.

Researchers at the Latin American Collaborative Study of Congenital Malformations (ECLAMC) have also questioned Brazil’s past and present recording of microcephaly cases, reported Nature.

On Dec. 30, Jorge Lopez-Camelo and Ieda Maria Orioli, researchers at ECLAMC, published a report outlining how Brazilian authorities may have underreported cases of the neurological condition in the past and how they might be overreporting cases today.

For example, the ECLAMC report stated that defining microcephaly as a head size two standard deviations smaller than the norm “includes necessarily a large number of normal individuals.”

The authors also told Nature that the current “surge might largely be attributed to the intense search for cases of the birth defect, and misdiagnoses, because of heightened awareness in the wake of the possible link with Zika.”

In a Q&A on its website, the CDC says: “The baseline prevalence of congenital microcephaly [in Brazil] is difficult to determine because of underreporting, and the inconsistency of clinical criteria used to define microcephaly.” It adds that while “population-based estimates of congenital microcephaly in Brazil vary, the number of infants with microcephaly currently being reported in Brazil is greater than would be expected.”

Regardless, Gillibrand was inaccurate when she definitively wrote: “Over 4,000 babies in Brazil … have been born in the last year with microcephaly.” According to Brazil’s current count, only 270 cases have been confirmed.

The Possible Zika-Microcephaly Link

On Jan. 29, Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, wrote a letter to President Obama urging the administration to “increase funding for research related to combatting” Zika. In his letter, Blumenthal wrote: “More than 4,000 cases of microcephaly and birth deformities in infants in Brazil have been linked to the outbreak of the Zika virus.” That claim is inaccurate.

As previously mentioned, there have only been 270 confirmed cases of microcephaly, not “more than 4,000.” Also, while scientists and public health authorities have seen a correlated increase in reported cases of both microcephaly and Zika in Brazil, they stress that a causal link has yet to be established. As of Jan. 29, only six of the 270 confirmed babies with microcephaly also tested positive for Zika.

For example, on Jan. 28, when reporters asked about “the numbers” supporting a causal link between Zika to microcephaly, Dr. Anne Schuchat, the principal deputy director of the CDC, wasn’t able to give hard numbers. Instead, she said it’s “an ongoing investigation, information is being gathered.”

Blumenthal would have been correct if he had said — as the White House wrote on its website — that Zika “may be linked” to microcephaly.

As of Feb. 5, the World Health Organization reported that “Brazilian national authorities estimate that between 497,593 and 1,482,701 cases of Zika virus infection have occurred since the outbreak began” around August 2014.

The Zika virus is primarily spread through mosquito bites, in particular the Aedes species, which also spreads the dengue and chikungunya viruses. However, there have been cases of the Zika virus transmission through sexual contact, including one probable case in 2011, a possible case in 2015 and a confirmed case in Texas on Feb. 2, 2016.

According to the CDC, “about 1 in 5 people infected with Zika virus become ill.” Of the people who do become ill, the symptoms are usually mild, often include “fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes)” and last “several days to a week.” The virus “usually remains in the blood of an infected person for about a week but it can be found longer in some people.”

Since Zika often entails a silent to mild infection, it is difficult to conclusively diagnose by symptoms alone.

To be clear, Blumenthal does have reason to raise concern about the possible link between Zika and microcephaly.

As Dr. Margaret Chan, director general of the WHO, said on Jan. 28, the possible link to more serious conditions like microcephaly changed the risk profile of Zika from “a mild threat to one of alarming proportions.”

At this point in time, scientists and health officials believe the increase in reported cases of Zika and microcephaly are positively correlated — meaning, when reported cases of Zika went up in certain areas, an increase in reported cases of microcephaly followed.

Health officials strongly suspect a casual link, though they have little direct evidence to support it — as of Jan. 29, only six babies have had microcephaly and tested positive for Zika in Brazil.

Scientists also have some understanding of the mechanism behind how Zika could, in theory, lead to microcephaly. Though they stress much still needs remains unclear about this mechanism. As Nature reports, “many researchers say that epidemiological data alone will not convince them of a link between Zika and microcephaly; they would like to see evidence of how and why the virus causes the condition. With this in mind, scientists are developing animal models to investigate Zika’s effects on the body.”

Based on what is known, on Feb. 1, the WHO declared the Zika outbreak a public health emergency. During a speech in Geneva announcing the news, Chan emphasized the need to “coordinate international efforts” to better understand the relationship between Zika and microcephaly. The New York Times reported that an “emergency designation from the W.H.O. can prompt action and funding from governments and nonprofits around the world.”

On Feb. 2, Dr. Anthony Costello, WHO director for maternal, child and adolescent health, also said the organization has set a global response unit for Zika “using all the lessons we’ve learned from the Ebola crisis.” The New York Times reported that the WHO’s decision to declare Zika a public health emergency may have been influenced by the criticism it received for “its tardiness in declaring Ebola an international emergency” during the 2014 outbreak.

Due to the possible transmission and microcephaly-Zika link, the CDC also issued travel precautions to certain countries, including Brazil, for pregnant women or women who are trying to become pregnant. While they haven’t issued a formal travel notice, the WHO says that: “Travellers should take the basic precautions … to protect themselves from mosquito bites.”

According to the CDC, “a mother already infected with Zika virus near the time of delivery can pass on the virus to her newborn around the time of birth, but this is rare.” It also writes “it is possible that Zika virus could be passed from a mother to her baby during pregnancy. We are studying how some mothers can pass the virus to their babies.”

Thomaz Gollop, a fetal medicine specialist who runs his own clinic in São Paulo, told us by email that he believes a “causal relationship” had been established in the six microcephalic babies who tested positive for Zika.

But he also said: “We do not have a prospective scientific study to state with scientific reasoning that it was in fact, the Zika virus that caused these defects. However the suspicion is very strong!”

In order to confirm a causal link, scientists and health officials, like those at the CDC and NIH, have said that they would need to find and study more cases where contracting Zika during pregnancy may have led to babies with microcephaly and brain defects. But, as previously mentioned, some researchers also want more mechanistic evidence before they definitively say Zika causes microcephaly.

Some mechanistic evidence supporting the theory that Zika causes microcephaly does already exist, however.

When G.W.A. Dick, a researcher at the National Institute for Medical Research in the United Kingdom at the time, first described the virus in 1952, he found that: “Zika virus is highly neurotropic in mice and no virus has been recovered from tissues other than the brains of infected mice.” Neurotropic means “affecting the nervous system.” Dick also wrote that: “Neuronal degeneration, cellular infiltration and areas of softening are present in [Zika] infected mouse brains.”

In 1971, T.M. Bell, a researcher at Newcastle General Hospital in the U.K. at the time, and colleagues, also found that “pathological changes in the brain are correlated with growth of the [Zika] virus.”

To be clear, Bell and Dick’s work is still evidence for a causal link between Zika and brain defects – but on the cellular level instead of the individual or population level. But when researchers find evidence for cellular-level causal links, this provides them with clues about the mechanisms behind how one variable may lead to another.

This research also was conducted in mice and not humans. While viruses can affect different organisms differently, scientists often use mouse models to perform experiments that otherwise wouldn’t be permitted on humans. But Dick and Bell’s work does show that Zika has the mechanistic potential to cause microcephaly.

Health officials may have also seen a similar spike in microcephaly cases during a Zika outbreak in French Polynesia in 2013-14.

The WHO says a Zika outbreak was reported for the first time in Yap in 2007, but it wasn’t until the French Polynesian outbreak in 2013 that “national health authorities reported potential neurological and auto-immune complications of Zika virus disease” during the French Polynesia outbreak.

As the New York Times reported: “French Polynesia is the only area outside of Brazil to be affected by a Zika outbreak in which public health officials have identified an increase in the number of fetuses and babies with unusually small heads.”

Reason for Doubt

But the ECLAMC report pointed out (page 7) that the investigation of a possible Zika-microcephaly link during the French Polynesian outbreak took place in November 2015, after Brazil declared a state of emergency. For this reason, the report says the investigation is “not an independent event.” Since Zika only circulates in the body for a short period, this also makes retroactive analysis of an outbreak difficult.

As previously mentioned, diagnosing microcephaly isn’t straightforward. But Zika isn’t the easiest to diagnose either.

In the report summary (pages 9-10), Lopez-Camelo and Orioli point out that identifying the Zika virus in the blood is difficult due to its short circulation period. Its similarity with the dengue virus also makes definitive diagnosis problematic. Reuters and The Scientist have also written about the difficulties of testing for Zika using current serological, or blood-testing, tools.

During roughly the week of infection, when the virus is still present in the body, health officials can use a test that identifies Zika by its ribonucleic acid. Since every virus has its own specific RNA — or every organism for that matter — the test has a high degree of accuracy.

After that first week though, health officials have to test for Zika antibodies. The immune system produces antibodies in response to viruses and other pathogens. But a virus’ antibodies aren’t as specific to it as its RNA, so this method sometimes “cross-reacts” with dengue antibodies. And dengue is widespread in Brazil.

However, researchers worldwide are currently working to develop better diagnostic tests for Zika. Fauci, for example, told reporters on Jan. 28 that the NIH is working to develop “diagnostic platforms that can rapidly determine if a patient is infected with Zika or has been infected either recently or in the past, and distinguish it from other viruses, particularly Dengue infection.”

Lavinia Schüler-Faccini, a researcher at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil, told us by email that, in the six microcephalic babies that did test positive for Zika, “the virus genetic material was identified by RT-PCR” — that is, through Zika RNA. She also told us these were “severe cases of stillborns or babies that died shortly after birth — where a chronic and generalized infection was present.”

Despite the severity of the microcephaly cases where researchers did find the Zika virus present, Lopez-Camelo and Orioli question Brazil’s overall numbers.

Lopez-Camelo and Orioli also reviewed microcephaly records in Brazil dating back to 1967 and compared those numbers to reports in 2015. On average, Brazil sees roughly two cases of microcephaly for every 10,000 births. But the Brazilian state of Pernambuco tends to see more cases each year – 10 on average, according to the Pan American Health Organization, a regional office of WHO.

In 2015, 147,597 babies were born in Pernambuco. Based on the historical data, the researchers estimated that the maximum number of expected cases of microcephaly would be around 45 for that number of births and without any potential influence of Zika. Yet in 2015 Pernambuco officials reported 1,153 cases, according to the ECLAMC report.

If Zika had been infecting people at rates similar to the 2007 outbreak in Micronesia, which includes Yap Island, the virus could potentially explain an additional 353 cases of microcephaly – not an additional 1,108 cases, the authors say. This, among other findings, gave Lopez-Camelo and Orioli reason to question Brazil’s numbers.

The Jury’s Still Out

The point is, much is still not known about the possible relationship between the Zika virus and microcephaly. There is evidence that the two conditions are positively correlated within certain areas of Brazil and possibly French Polynesia. While strongly suspected, scientists and health officials have little direct evidence to support a casual link, but that’s due, in part, to the nature of Zika and microcephaly diagnosis. Lastly, Zika does appear to target the brain, but some scientists say much more mechanistic research needs to be done to confirm a causal link between the virus and microcephaly.

In short, much is still unknown about Zika, microcephaly and their possible link. The WHO declared the outbreak a public health emergency for precisely this reason — to “coordinate international efforts” to better understand the two conditions’ potential relationship and to control Zika’s spread.

As a result, Blumenthal was inaccurate when he said that the Zika outbreak “has been linked” with “4,000 cases” of microcephaly in Brazil. The jury is still out on the Zika-microcephaly link – and the numbers behind it.

Editor’s Note: SciCheck is made possible by a grant from the Stanton Foundation.

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Our Children’s Future http://www.factcheck.org/2016/02/our-childrens-future/ http://www.factcheck.org/2016/02/our-childrens-future/#comments Tue, 09 Feb 2016 22:03:45 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=101733 pg16insertPolitical Leanings: Republican/Pro-Ben Carson Super PAC

Spending Target: Unknown

Our Children’s Future is a super PAC supporting Republican presidential candidate and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.

The PAC filed with the Federal Election Commission on April 30, 2015. Jeff Reeter, former campaign finance chairman for Carson, is its chairman. The group describes itself as focusing on “large-dollar fundraising,” but it reported raising only about $100,000 through Dec. 31, 2015.

Super PACs may solicit and spend unlimited amounts of money explicitly advocating for or against specific candidates, but they may not coordinate that spending with the candidates themselves.

On Oct. 22, 2015, Our Children’s Future and The 2016 Committee announced they would combine efforts to form “a unified, comprehensive strategy to increase voter education in early primary states through print, online and broadcast advertising as well as grassroots engagement.” According to the groups’ joint announcement, Our Children’s Future will retain its focus on “large-dollar” fundraising, while The 2016 Committee will continue to focus on small grassroots fundraising and advocacy. Currently, the two organizations remain separate entities.

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The 2016 Committee http://www.factcheck.org/2016/02/the-2016-committee/ http://www.factcheck.org/2016/02/the-2016-committee/#comments Tue, 09 Feb 2016 22:01:35 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=101689 pg16insertPolitical Leanings: Republican/Pro-Ben Carson Super PAC

Spending Target: Unknown

The 2016 Committee is a super PAC supporting Republican presidential candidate and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson. Its mission is “to raise support and awareness of Dr. Carson’s candidacy and organize a grassroots army of activists to propel Dr. Carson through the nomination process and into the White House.”

John Philip Sousa IV is the chairman of The 2016 Committee. Sousa, a descendant of the famous composer, has been a financial consultant and one-time congressional candidate. He currently serves as a board member for the self-described low-immigration group known as the Federation for American Immigration Reform. He also has served as vice chairman of Americans Against Illegal Immigration (a now-defunct PAC active in California between 2005 and 2009). Additionally, Sousa created and served as chairman of Americans for Sheriff Joe, a PAC which supported Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s reelection campaign in 2012.

Bill Saracino serves as the group’s national director. Saracino, a career campaign operative, has worked on more than 75 campaigns, according to The 2016 Committee’s website. Like Sousa, Saracino worked on Arpaio’s reelection in 2012.

Chuck Muth, a longtime conservative activist, is the group’s communications director. He is president of Citizen Outreach, a Nevada-based conservative advocacy organization, former executive director of the American Conservative Union, former executive director of the Nevada Republican Party, and former national chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus.

The 2016 Committee’s focus, according to its website, is on organizing a grassroots following, mobilizing traditional Republican voters, and especially targeting health care workers, minority voters, and evangelicals. Additionally, much of its spending goes towards the production and dissemination of education materials, most notably Sousa’s campaign primer, Ben Carson: Rx for America.

The 2016 Committee had raised nearly $10 million as of Dec. 31, 2015, according to the group’s year-end report filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Among the committee’s largest donors are Colorado conservative Tatnall Hillman, who gave $56,000, and Louis Mogas, founder and chairman of Texas-based Mogas Industries, who gave $22,000. Hillman is a major donor to Republican causes.

The 2016 Committee has announced a partnership with another pro-Carson super PAC, Our Children’s Future. A statement released jointly by both organizations said Our Children’s Future will focus on fundraising from large donors, while The 2016 Committee focuses on grassroots fundraising and advocacy. Currently, the two organizations remain separate entities, but they still could combine in the future.

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FactChecking the Eighth GOP Debate http://www.factcheck.org/2016/02/factchecking-the-eighth-gop-debate/ http://www.factcheck.org/2016/02/factchecking-the-eighth-gop-debate/#comments Sun, 07 Feb 2016 08:53:16 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=104151 Summary

Days before the New Hampshire primary, the top seven Republican presidential candidates stretched some facts in the eighth GOP debate.

  • Sen. Ted Cruz incorrectly claimed that waterboarding doesn’t meet the “generally recognized” definition of torture. The definition he gave reflects a controversial 2002 Bush administration memo.
  • Businessman Donald Trump claimed that his campaign couldn’t get tickets to the debate and that the RNC told him there were “all donors in the audience.” The RNC told us each candidate received an equal allotment of tickets.
  • Cruz said his Iowa staffers spread misinformation about Ben Carson suspending his campaign based on CNN’s reporting, claiming CNN “didn’t correct” its story for nearly three hours. That’s false. CNN only reported that Carson wasn’t heading directly to New Hampshire after the Iowa caucus.
  • New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said that Sen. Marco Rubio was incorrect in claiming that New Jersey’s credit rating had been downgraded nine times under Christie. The state’s debt rating has been lowered nine times all told by three different rating agencies.
  • In referring to terrorists, Rubio claimed that “we’re not interrogating anybody right now.” Not true. What has changed is that the administration no longer subjects terrorism suspects to indefinite interrogation at Guantanamo Bay.
  • Cruz said he would “end welfare benefits for those here illegally.” But immigrants in the U.S. illegally are already barred from receiving most government benefits, including food stamps and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
  • Rubio said Hillary Clinton “believes that all abortion should be legal, even on the due date of that unborn child.” Clinton has said she’s “open” to restrictions on late-term abortions if there are exceptions for endangerment of the life and health of the mother.
  • Christie and Ohio Gov. John Kasich argued over whether Ohio had a bigger government in terms of employees now than when Kasich took office. That depends on whether one counts state university employees.
  • And we heard claims we’ve written about before — on the Iran hostage crisis, Planned Parenthood and deportations of immigrants.


The debate, hosted by ABC News, WMUR and the news website Independent Journal Review, included seven candidates — former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and businessman Donald Trump. Two candidates, former CEO Carly Fiorina and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, didn’t place high enough in polls to make it on the stage. The debate was held at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Cruz on Waterboarding and Torture

Cruz incorrectly claimed that waterboarding doesn’t meet the “generally recognized” definition of torture:

Q. Senator Cruz, is waterboarding torture?

Cruz: Well, under the definition of torture, no, it’s not. Under the law, torture is excruciating pain that is equivalent to losing organs and systems, so under the definition of torture, it is not. It is enhanced interrogation, it is vigorous interrogation, but it does not meet the generally recognized definition of torture.

Actually, the definition cited by Cruz is far from being “generally recognized” or accepted.

For example, the United Nations Convention Against Torture states: “[T]he term ‘torture’ means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession … when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.”

That multilateral treaty was ratified by the U.S. Senate on Oct. 27, 1990, on an unrecorded division vote. The U.S. is one of 158 nations that are parties to the convention.

The definition cited by Cruz is much narrower and quite controversial. It paraphrases the language in a 2002 memo from the Justice Department to then-President George W. Bush’s chief legal counsel, stating the opinion that under U.S. law, “Physical pain amounting to torture must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.”

But to call that “generally recognized” is false. In fact, it has been vigorously disputed by a number of outside legal experts.

They include Kathleen Clark, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis, who submitted testimony to a Senate subcommittee in 2009 calling the definition “bizarre” and inaccurate.

At the same hearing, another law professor, David Luban of Georgetown University Law Center, called the definition “a selective and, in places, deeply eccentric reading of the law.”

In fact, as we have written before, a U.S. Military Commission charged three Japanese soldiers with violating the laws and customs of war during World War II for committing torture, including “water treatment.” The Japanese soldiers were accused of forcing water into the mouths and noses of U.S. prisoners. All three were convicted.

Cruz is entitled to his opinion that waterboarding isn’t torture. But he’s wrong when he claims his definition is “generally recognized.”

An All-Donor Audience?

During a heated exchange with Bush on eminent domain, Trump dismissed those who were booing him by saying his campaign could not get tickets because they were all given to donors, citing the Republican National Committee as his source. The RNC told us that that is inaccurate.

Trump: Let me talk. Quiet. A lot of times …


… that’s all of his [Bush’s] donors and special interests out there.


So — it’s what it is. That’s what — and by the way, let me just tell you, we needed tickets. You can’t get them. You know who has the tickets for the — I’m talking about, to the television audience? Donors, special interests, the people that are putting up the money.


That’s who it is. The RNC told us. We have all donors in the audience. And the reason they’re not loving me …


… the reason they’re not — excuse me. The reason they’re not loving me is, I don’t want their money.

According to the RNC, each candidate received an equal allotment of tickets for the event, which had an audience of 1,000. The largest bloc of tickets went to the host, St. Anselm College in Manchester, which received 200 tickets.

Other tickets were distributed to the state party and the debate sponsors (ABC News, WMUR and the Independent Journal Review) and Google, which sponsored the “spin room” where campaign surrogates are available to be interviewed by the media.

Only 75 RNC donors were in the audience, according to the RNC.

Cruz Blames CNN

During the debate, Cruz apologized to Carson for spreading false information on the night of the Iowa caucus that Carson was suspending his campaign. In doing so, Cruz wrongly blamed CNN for an erroneous report on Carson, and claimed CNN “didn’t correct” its story till 9:15 p.m.

In fact, CNN accurately reported that Carson was not going directly to New Hampshire but rather would stop in Florida and Washington, D.C., before going on to New Hampshire. Cruz got the timeline wrong, too.

First, a little background: Cruz was apologizing for phone calls that were made to Iowa voters on Feb. 1, the night of the Iowa caucus, informing them that Carson was suspending his campaign. Carson released an audio of the call, which said: “Hello. This is the Cruz campaign with breaking news. Dr. Ben Carson will be suspending campaigning following tonight’s caucus. Please inform any Carson caucus-goers of this news and urge them to caucus for Ted instead.”

Here’s Cruz’s version of what happened, which wrongly blames CNN for his campaign’s inaccurate assumption of what was accurately reported:

Cruz: Let me tell you the facts of what occurred for those who are interested in knowing. On Monday night, about 6:30 p.m., CNN reported that Ben was not going from Iowa to New Hampshire or South Carolina. Rather, he was, quote, “Taking a break from campaigning.”

They reported that on television, CNN’s political anchors, Jake Tapper and Dana Bash and Wolf Blitzer, said it was highly unusual and highly significant. My political team saw CNN’s report breaking news and they forwarded that news to our volunteers, it was being covered on live television.

Now, at the time, I was at the caucuses, I was getting ready to speak at the caucuses just like Ben was, just like everyone else was. I knew nothing about this. A couple hours later, I found out about it. I was told that Ben was unhappy. I called him that evening because I respect him very, very highly. I didn’t reach him that evening.

I reached him the next day and apologized. He asked me then, he said, Ted, would you make this apologize in public? I said, yes, I will. And I did so. I regret that subsequently, CNN reported on that — they didn’t correct that story until 9:15 that night. So from 6:30 p.m. to 9:15, that’s what CNN was reporting.

Subsequent to that initial report, Ben’s campaign put out a statement saying that he was not suspending his campaign. I wish that our campaign staff had forwarded that statement. They were unaware of it, I wish that they had, that’s why I apologized.

Here’s actually what happened:

On Feb. 1 at 7:43 ET (6:43 CT), CNN political reporter Chris Moody tweeted that “Carson won’t go to NH/SC, but instead will head home to Florida for some R&R. He’ll be in DC Thursday for the National Prayer Breakfast.”

A minute later, CNN’s Dana Bash reported on air that Carson was going to Florida and D.C.

Bash, Feb. 1: We should say that our Chris Moody is breaking this news, that Ben Carson is going to go back to Florida to his home regardless of how he does tonight here in Iowa. He’s going to go there for several days.

And then afterwards, he’s not going to go to South Carolina. He’s not going to go to New Hampshire. He’s going to come to Washington, D.C., and he’s going to do that because the national prayer breakfast is on Thursday.

CNN’s Jake Tapper, sitting next to Bash on the set, called it “very unusual.” Tapper and Bash tossed the show back to Blitzer in Washington, D.C., who said the report on Carson was “very significant” and thanked them for the report. Blitzer then quickly pivoted to other election news.

No one on CNN — Moody, Bash, Tapper or Blitzer — said Carson was suspending his campaign.

In fact, Moody almost immediately tweeted that Carson’s campaign would continue. The tweet — which was also stamped at 7:43 ET (6:43 CT), the same time as his first tweet — said, “Ben Carson’s campaign tells me he plans to stay in the race beyond Iowa no matter what the results are tonight.”

Also, Jason Osborne — a senior strategist for Carson — tweeted from Clive, Iowa, that Carson was “not standing down.” He tweeted that Carson “will be going to Florida to get fresh clothes b4 heading back out on the campaign trail.”

So, Cruz’s claim that CNN “didn’t correct that story until 9:15 that night” is wrong: CNN didn’t have to “correct” the story because it didn’t get it wrong, and the information that Carson would continue to campaign beyond Iowa was reported by CNN and confirmed by Carson’s top strategist long before 9:15 p.m.

CNN spokesman Matt Dornic issued a statement on Cruz’s debate claim that read, “What senator Cruz said tonight in the debate is categorically false. CNN never corrected its reporting because CNN never had anything to correct. The Cruz campaign’s actions the night of the Iowa caucuses had nothing to do with CNN’s reporting. The fact that Senator Cruz continues to knowingly mislead the voters about this is astonishing.”

Jake Tapper’s Twitter response was more succinct: “Good Lord.”

New Jersey’s Credit Downgrades 

Christie said that Rubio was giving “incorrect and incomplete information” when he claimed that New Jersey’s credit rating had been downgraded nine times under Christie. But the state’s debt rating has been lowered nine times, collectively, by three different rating agencies.

Rubio: Under Chris Christie’s governorship of New Jersey, they’ve been downgraded nine times in their credit rating. This country already has a debt problem, we don’t need to add to it by electing someone who has experience at running up and destroying the credit rating of his state. …

Christie: … You see, everybody, I want the people at home to think about this. That’s what Washington, D.C. does. The drive-by shot at the beginning with incorrect and incomplete information and then the memorized 25-second speech that is exactly what his advisers gave him.

Standard and Poor’s downgraded New Jersey’s debt rating from AA to AA- in February 2011, then from AA- to A+ in April 2014 and then A+ to A in September 2014.

Fitch Ratings made the same downgrades in August 2011, May 2014 and September 2014.

And Moody’s Investors Service adjusted its ratings for New Jersey downward from Aa2 to Aa3 in April 2011, Aa3 to A1 in May 2014 and A1 to A2 in April 2015.

Those are the nine downgrades that Rubio was talking about.

Rubio Wrong on Interrogations

Rubio wrongly claimed that when it comes to terrorists, “we’re not interrogating anybody right now.” While the administration no longer subjects terrorism suspects to indefinite interrogation at Guantanamo Bay, it still detains and interrogates terrorism suspects.

Rubio raised the issue when he was asked whether he thought waterboarding is torture.

Rubio: Well, when people talk about interrogating terrorists, they’re acting like this is some sort of law enforcement function. Law enforcement is about gathering evidence to take someone to trial, and convict them. Anti-terrorism is about finding out information to prevent a future attack so the same tactics do not apply.

… But, here’s the bigger problem with all this, we’re not interrogating anybody right now. Guantanamo’s being emptied by this president. We should be putting people into Guantanamo, not emptying it out, and we shouldn’t be releasing these killers who are rejoining the battlefield against the United States.

We wrote about this issue in detail back in January 2015 when Sen. Lindsey Graham similarly claimed the Obama administration has a policy of “not interrogating or detaining terrorist suspects anymore.”

National Security Council spokesman Ned Price told us then that it is simply inaccurate to claim the Obama administration no longer interrogates terrorism suspects.

“As a general rule, the government will always seek to elicit all the actionable intelligence and information we can from terrorist suspects taken into our custody,” Price said.

It’s true that as a matter of policy, the Obama administration has not sent any new detainees to Guantanamo. In the 2008 campaign, Obama vowed to close the controversial detention facility, claiming that it undermined national security.

In 2009, the White House created an interagency team called the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group. HIG includes representatives from the FBI, CIA, State Department, Department of Defense and other agencies. When terrorism suspects are caught, the team is immediately deployed to put together an interrogation plan on a case-by-case basis. HIG also does research on the most effective methods of interrogation.

According to an Associated Press story on Oct. 8, 2013, when the U.S. wants to interrogate a suspect before reading him Miranda rights and presenting him to a court, the Obama administration is questioning terrorists aboard U.S. naval vessels. Christopher Anders, senior legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union, told us that sometimes authorities have delayed the reading of Miranda rights for several weeks, using an expansive version of emergency exemptions.

“It’s just not true that we’re no longer interrogating or detaining terrorists,” Stephen Vladeck, a law professor at American University and an expert on national security law, told us in January 2015. “Each time we’ve arrested a high-value terrorism suspect overseas, they’ve been subjected to at least some sustained period of interrogation prior to their transfer to the United States for purposes of standing criminal trial.”

In an address at Harvard on Sept. 16, 2011, CIA Director John Brennan said, “In the past two years alone, we have successfully interrogated several terrorism suspects who were taken into law enforcement custody and prosecuted, including Faisal Shahzad, Najibullah Zazi, David Headley, and many others. In fact, faced with the firm but fair hand of the American justice system, some of the most hardened terrorists have agreed to cooperate with the FBI, providing valuable information about al-Qa’ida’s network, safe houses, recruitment methods, and even their plots and plans.”

Rubio may be of the opinion that terrorism suspects ought to be interrogated indefinitely at Guantanamo Bay, and he may question the administration’s policy of ultimately turning terrorism suspects over for prosecution in federal courts. But he goes too far with the claim that “we’re not interrogating anybody right now.”

Welfare for Immigrants Here Illegally?

Cruz said that if he becomes president “we will end welfare benefits for those here illegally.” But people living in the U.S. illegally are already broadly disqualified from collecting federal benefits from government programs, according to current law, with only limited exceptions.

The only exceptions for receiving federal benefits are:

  • Emergency medical care (which includes emergency labor and delivery)
  • Emergency disaster relief that is provided for the short term and is not a cash payment
  • Limited immunizations and testing, and treatment of symptoms of communicable diseases
  • Certain community programs, such as soup kitchens or crisis counseling, as specified by the Attorney General
  • Limited housing or community development assistance to those already receiving it in 1996

Some immigrants in the U.S. illegally do end up receiving benefits through bureaucratic mistakes or through deliberate fraud. But they are not legally eligible for federally funded “welfare” programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, once known as food stamps.

Clinton’s Stance on Late-Term Abortion

Rubio said Hillary Clinton “believes that all abortion should be legal, even on the due date of that unborn child.” In September Clinton said she would be “open” to restrictions on late-term abortions, but only if exceptions were carved out for cases in which the life and health of the mother are in danger.

During the debate, Rubio called the Democratic candidates for president “extremists” on the issue of abortion.

“Why doesn’t the media ask Hillary Clinton why she believes that all abortion should be legal, even on the due date of that unborn child,” Rubio said.

It is certainly true that Clinton has been a staunch defender of abortion rights. But Clinton has said she’s open to restrictions on late-term abortions, provided exceptions would be given when the health and life of the mother are an issue.

In an interview with Chuck Todd on “MTP Daily” that aired on Sept. 28, 2015, Clinton offered what is perhaps her most complete answer on her position on late-term abortions during the 2016 presidential campaign (starting at the 1:28 mark).

Todd, Sept. 28, 2015: Are there reasonable restrictions that you would ever support on abortion?

Clinton: I’ve said that there were, and that’s under Roe v. Wade, that there can be restrictions in the very end of the third trimester, but they have to take into account the life and health of the mother. I remember in ’96, Chuck, the president, my husband, vetoed a very restrictive legislation on late-term abortions, and he vetoed it at an event in the White House where we invited a lot of women who had faced this very difficult decision, that ought to be made based on their own conscience, their family, their faith, in consultation with doctors. Those stories left a searing impression on me. Women who think their pregnancy is going well, and then wake up and find some really terrible problem. Women whose life is threatened themselves if they carry their child to term, and women who are told by doctors that the child they’re carrying will not survive. And so, again, I am where I have been, which is that if there is a way to structure some kind of constitutional restrictions that take into account the life of the mother and her health, then I’m open to that. But I have yet to see the Republicans willing to actually do that, and that would be an area, where if they included health, you could see constitutional action.

Clinton offered an almost identical position during a debate when running for the Senate in 2000 .

Clinton, Oct. 8, 2000: I have said many times that I can support a ban on late-term abortions, including partial-birth abortions, so long as the health and life of the mother is protected. I’ve met women who faced this heart-wrenching decision toward the end of a pregnancy. Of course it’s a horrible procedure. No one would argue with that. But if your life is at stake, if your health is at stake, if the potential for having any more children is at stake, this must be a woman’s choice.

Ohio Government Workers 

Christie and Kasich traded barbs over the number of state employees in Ohio, with Christie claiming that “John has a bigger government now and more employees than he had when he walked in the door.” Kasich responded: “We have the lowest number of state employees in 30 years.”

Who’s right depends on what one includes as state employees.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 172,100 state government employees in Ohio in December, about 4,100 more than when Kasich took office in January 2011.

According to the Ohio Department of Administrative Services, however, the number of state employees dropped from 55,442 in 2011 to 51,806 in 2015. That’s 3,636 fewer employees. The 2015 total was 14 more than in 2014, which was, as Kasich said, the fewest number of state employees in 30 years.

What gives?

As a spokesman for the Kasich campaign explained, the Bureau of Labor Statistics includes higher education and university medical center employees in its statistics. They may technically be state employees, but the governor does not control how many people those institutions employ. And so it’s a stretch for Christie to say Ohio has a “bigger government” because there are university employees at state schools.

Deja Vu

As is the case in politics, old claims were repeated:

  • Cruz again credited President Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy for the release of U.S. hostages by Iran on the day Reagan was inaugurated in 1981. “The second avenue of change is foreign policy, and foreign policy can change the fastest,” Cruz said. “It’s worth remembering that Iran released our hostages the day Reagan was sworn in.” We interviewed several experts on the Iran hostage crisis, and they told us the hostages were released that day as a final insult to President Jimmy Carter.
    For instance, the CIA station chief at the time, Tom Ahern, who was held hostage, told us that one of his tormentors “told me that we were not going to get out as long as Carter was president,” a statement that reflected hatred for Carter. “I never heard anybody talk about fear of Reagan,” Ahern said.
    Experts cited other reasons for the release: Iran’s need to focus on a war with Iraq, the hostage-takers having achieved their goal of smearing political opponents, fear of having to restart the negotiation process, and being tired of holding the hostages (the crisis lasted 444 days).
  • Christie suggested Planned Parenthood made a profit off the sale of fetal tissue for research, but there’s no evidence of that so far. Christie said Planned Parenthood “engages in the systematic murder of children in the womb, in order to maximize the value of their body parts for sale on the open market.” The sale of fetal tissue for research purposes was the focus of secretly recorded videos by an anti-abortion group. Several politicians have claimed Planned Parenthood was profiting from the practice, but four experts in the field of human tissue procurement told us the dollar amounts discussed in one of the videos ($30 to $100 per patient) would be a reasonable fee to reimburse costs associated with handling and transporting tissue. In January, a Texas grand jury investigating the matter cleared Planned Parenthood and instead indicted the two people behind the undercover videos, including on a misdemeanor charge of attempting to buy human organs.
  • Cruz repeated his inflated claim that Bill Clinton “deported 12 million people” and George W. Bush “deported 10 million people” over their presidencies, respectively. Based on Department of Homeland Security figures for “removals,” which are defined as “the compulsory and confirmed movement of an inadmissible or deportable alien out of the United States based on an order of removal,” there were more than 827,100 people removed, or deported, during the fiscal years that span Clinton’s two-terms in office (FY 1993-FY 2000) and more than 2 million people during the fiscal years when Bush was in office most of the time (FY 2001-FY 2008). In order to get somewhat close to the figures Cruz mentioned, one would have to include the number of “returns” under those presidents, not just the “removals.” A return occurs when an apprehended immigrant leaves the U.S. voluntarily before being ordered to do so through a formal removal proceeding.

— by Eugene Kiely, Brooks Jackson, Lori Robertson, Robert Farley and D’Angelo Gore


United Nations Treaty Collection: Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. 10 Dec 1984.

Library of Congress. “Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; Senate Consideration of Treaty Document 100-20.” Congress.gov. Accessed 7 Feb 2016.

Bybee, James S. “Memorandum for Alberto R. Gonzales, Counsel to the President.” 1 Aug 2002.

Clark, Kathleen. “Written Testimony of Kathleen Clark; Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts.” Washington University. 20 May 2009.

Luban, David. “Testimony of David Luban; Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts.” Georgetown University Law Center. 13 May 2009.

Farley, Robert. “Detaining and Interrogating Terror Suspects.” FactCheck.org. 9 Jan 2015.

Ghosh, Bobby. “White House Announces New Interrogation Team.” Time. 24 Aug 2009.

Ambinder, Marc. “FBI’s High-level Interrogation Group Is Up And Running” The Atlantic. 6 Feb 2010.

Whitehouse.gov. Remarks of John O. Brennan, “Strengthening our Security by Adhering to our Values and Laws.” 16 Sep 2011.

MSNBC.com. “Clinton on Trade, Abortion and Obama.” MTP Daily. 28 Sep 2015.

OnTheIssues.org. Hillary Clinton: Late term abortion only if life or health are at risk. 8 Oct 2000.

Bank, Justin. “Social Security for Illegal Immigrants?” FactCheck.org. 1 Mar 2009.

U.S. Government Accountability Office. “Immigration Benefits: Additional Controls and a Sanctions Strategy Could Enhance DHS’s Ability to Control Benefit Fraud.” Mar 2006.

Robertson, Lori. “Rubio, Cruz on Reagan and Hostages.” FactCheck.org. 26 Jan 2016.

Kopan, Tal. “Texas grand jury clears Planned Parenthood, indicts its accusers.” CNN.com. 26 Jan 2016.

Levitan, Dave. “Unspinning the Planned Parenthood Video.” FactCheck.org. 21 Jul 2015.

Gore, D’Angelo. “Ted Cruz on Deportations.” FactCheck.org. 16 Dec 2015.

Simanski, John. “Immigration Enforcement Actions: 2013.” U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Sept 2014.

Marcus, Samantha. “N.J. credit rating cut record ninth time as Moody’s cites pension shortfall.” NJ Advance Media for NJ.com. 17 Apr 2015.

Gabriel, Trip and Rappeport. “Ted Cruz’s Campaign Spread False Report in Iowa That Ben Carson Was Quitting Race.” New York Times. 5 Feb 2016.

College Hosts Republican Debate: Saturday, February 6.” Press release. Saint Anselm College. 2 Feb 2016.

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Trump Off-Base on Cruz Loan Rates http://www.factcheck.org/2016/02/trump-off-base-on-cruz-loan-rates/ http://www.factcheck.org/2016/02/trump-off-base-on-cruz-loan-rates/#comments Fri, 05 Feb 2016 21:56:11 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=103931 Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump claimed that the loan rates Sen. Ted Cruz received during his 2012 Senate run were “lower than you could get, lower than anybody could get.” In fact, the evidence shows the interest rates Cruz reported were attainable at the time.

One of Cruz’s loans — a line of credit from Citibank — carried an interest rate of “prime – floating,” according to his personal financial disclosure form. We don’t know what type of line of credit Cruz received, but TD Bank currently advertises a home equity rate lower than that for “qualified customers” — prime minus 0.5 percent. PNC Bank, too, offers a rate lower than prime.

Citibank’s website currently says its home equity lines carry rates of prime plus an additional margin. When we asked Citibank about the prime floating rate Cruz secured for his line of credit in 2012, Kamran Mumtaz, a Citi spokesman, told us: “The interest rate offered was consistent with the product offering at the time.”

A floating rate is a variable interest rate that can change — in this case, it would change if the prime rate changes.

Cruz’s loans became a campaign issue in mid-January when the New York Times reported that he had taken out large loans from Goldman Sachs and Citibank to help finance his 2012 Senate campaign but failed to disclose those loans on campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. Cruz instead reported that he was making personal loans to his campaign from his own funds. He later — after the primary election — disclosed the loans in personal financial disclosure reports to the secretary of the Senate, but not the purpose of the loans.

Cruz said his failure to properly report the loans to the FEC was “an inadvertent filing error” and wrongly claimed that the loans were “transparent.” We covered the timeline of Cruz’s loans and when he disclosed them in our Jan. 15 story “Cruz Loans Not ‘Transparent.’

On Jan. 31 on ABC’s “This Week,” Trump attacked Cruz for not only the nondisclosure of the loans but the interest rates Cruz had received.

Trump, Jan. 31:But [Cruz is] a liar. He didn’t even put down on his financial disclosure forms that he borrowed money from banks at low interest loans, lower than you could get, lower than anybody could get. He’s got these favorable deals from banks on Wall Street and he never put it down on his financial disclosure forms.

Cruz reported on the personal financial disclosure form filed with the Senate in July 2012 that he got a line of credit at “prime – floating” from Citibank for $250,001 – $500,000 (that’s the range he checked on the form) and a margin loan from Goldman Sachs at “3 percent, floating” for $100,001 to $250,000. Both in 2012.

In May 2013, Cruz filed his annual personal financial disclosure report to the Senate, which shows the Goldman Sachs loan had increased in 2012 to the $250,001-$500,000 range. He reported the same interest rates. Cruz’s wife, Heidi Nelson Cruz, was an executive with Goldman Sachs at the time.

Are those rates “lower than anybody could get” and “favorable deals from banks on Wall Street”?

We asked Greg McBride, chief financial analyst for Bankrate.com, who told us in an email: “Both rates were certainly possible in the marketplace at the time.”

Interest rates are, of course, dependent upon the borrower’s credit rating, income and ability to repay the loan, and the amount borrowed. But it’s not unusual for a line of credit loan, like Cruz says he obtained from Citibank, to have a variable interest rate of the prime rate — or lower. As we said, TD Bank is currently offering a variable rate lower than prime on home equity lines of credit. That advertised rate is 3 percent.

In 2012, the prime rate — which is, explains the Federal Reserve, the rate posted by most of the top 25 U.S. commercial banks — was 3.25 percent, a quarter of 1 percent lower than what it is today.

In its Jan. 13 article on Cruz’s loans, the New York Times also didn’t detect anything unusual about the rates Cruz was given, writing: “Both loans had floating interest rates around 3 percent, according to Mr. Cruz’s Senate disclosures, which appear to be generally in line with rates available to wealthy borrowers at that time.”

In fact, rates can be lower for higher amounts of borrowing. We found that’s the case at PNC Bank, which advertises variable rates just under prime for borrowing amounts of $100,000 or more, and rates above prime for lower borrowing amounts.

As for Cruz’s Goldman Sachs loan, that was a margin loan, which is borrowing against the value of securities or investments in one’s portfolio. Margin loan rates vary. A 2000 paper published in the New England Economic Review by Peter Fortune, a senior economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, says banks set margin loan rates based on the “broker call money rate” or the prime rate or their own base rates.

Fortune, September/October 2000, New England Economic Review: The rate charged their margin customers by brokers is typically quoted as a premium over the broker’s “base lending rate.” A widely used base lending rate is the broker call money rate, though some brokers use the bank prime rate and others define their own base rate using information on a range of market interest rates.

The call money rate is currently 2.25 percent, so some lenders would charge a margin loan rate at something higher than that. In 2012, that call money rate was lower — 2 percent.

As with home equity lines of credit, margin loan rates can be lower for higher borrowing amounts. Fidelity currently advertises on its website that its margin rates are “as low as 3.75%,” if one borrows more than $500,000. “The rate you pay depends on your outstanding margin balance—the higher your balance, the lower the margin rate you are charged,” Fidelity says.

We asked Goldman Sachs to comment on the 3 percent floating rate that Cruz reported having on his margin loan in 2012, which totaled something between $250,001 and $500,000, but we have not received a response. We also asked the Trump campaign for support for the claim that Cruz got a “favorable deal” and rates “lower than anybody could get.” We haven’t received a response to that request, either.

From the available evidence, the interest rates Cruz reported were attainable at the time.

Clarification, Feb. 5: We updated the story to make clear we don’t know what type of line of credit Cruz received in 2012. 

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Facts on Rubio’s Immigration Record http://www.factcheck.org/2016/02/facts-on-rubios-immigration-record/ http://www.factcheck.org/2016/02/facts-on-rubios-immigration-record/#comments Fri, 05 Feb 2016 17:22:07 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=104121 In his latest fact-checking video, CNN’s Jake Tapper looks at the facts behind Ted Cruz’s attacks on Marco Rubio’s immigration record.

As part of our partnership with CNN’s “State of the Union,” Tapper reviews two claims we wrote about in “Cruz Distorts Rubio’s Immigration Stance.” We found that Cruz made overly broad accusations in both instances:

  • Cruz claims Rubio “advocates amnesty for criminals who are here illegally.” But Rubio supports deporting felons, and he has supported legislation that would bar legal status for those with three or more misdemeanors and those with a single serious misdemeanor, such as a domestic violence or drunk driving offense.
  • Cruz claims Rubio said “that he would not revoke President Obama’s illegal executive amnesty on the first day in office.” Rubio said he wouldn’t immediately revoke Obama’s 2012 order protecting so-called “Dreamers” — young people brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents. But Rubio has said he would revoke Obama’s 2014 executive action that protects as many as 5 million adults from deportation.

All of Tapper’s videos can be found on our “State of the Union with Jake Tapper” Web page.

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FactChecking the MSNBC Democratic Debate http://www.factcheck.org/2016/02/factchecking-the-msnbc-democratic-debate/ http://www.factcheck.org/2016/02/factchecking-the-msnbc-democratic-debate/#comments Fri, 05 Feb 2016 10:01:13 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=104065 Summary

We found several false and misleading claims in the debate between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders.

  • Sanders claimed Clinton called Barack Obama “naive” in 2007 because he “thought it was a good idea to talk to our enemies.” That lacks context. Clinton objected not to meeting with enemies, but to Obama’s statement that he would do so without preconditions.
  • Sanders claimed that NAFTA and other trade deals have cost “millions” of U.S. jobs, but independent economists have said the impact on the economy was small.
  • Clinton revised history in discussing her opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. She supported the trade deal as secretary of state.
  • Sanders mixed and matched two different sets of data to claim that “millions of Americans … are working longer hours for low wages.”
  • Sanders said that his campaign “did not suggest that we had the endorsement” of the Nashua Telegraph in a new TV ad running in New Hampshire. In fact, the ad leaves that false impression.
  • Clinton said “the Wall Street guys are trying so hard to stop me.” But Clinton and PACs that support her have raised millions from Wall Street interests.
  • Sanders said that his campaign could better deliver a large voter turnout, the key to a Democrat winning the White House in November. But statistics on voter turnout in presidential elections don’t show such a clear partisan trend.
  • Sanders wrongly claimed that “not one Republican has the guts to recognize that climate change is real.” Two of the Republican presidential candidates, not to mention more Republicans in Congress, have said climate change is real and humans contribute to it.
  • While discussing the Trans Pacific Partnership, Sanders ascribed a misleading figure for the minimum wage in Vietnam.
  • Sanders claimed that the United States has “the highest rate of childhood poverty of almost any major country on earth.” But the childhood poverty rate is higher in several industrialized economies.


The Feb. 4 debate, held in Durham, New Hampshire, was hosted by MSNBC a few days ahead of the Feb. 9 New Hampshire primary.

Did Clinton Call Obama ‘Naive’?

Sanders left out an important piece of context when he reminded voters that Clinton once called President Obama “naive” on foreign policy. Sanders claimed Clinton said Obama was naive “because he thought it was a good idea to talk to our enemies.” Clinton responded that she wanted to “correct the record” to reflect that her comment in 2007 was not simply that Obama said he would meet with enemy leaders, but that he would do so without preconditions. The record is in Clinton’s favor on this one.

Sanders: And I would say if I might, madam secretary — and you can correct me if I’m wrong. When you ran against Senator Obama you thought him naive because he thought it was a good idea to talk to our enemies. I think those are exactly the people you have to talk to and you have to negotiate with.

Clinton: Well senator, let me just correct the record if I can. You know — let me correct the record. As I certainly recall, the question was to meet with without conditions. And you’re right, I was against that. I was against it then I would be against it now.

Part of diplomacy, the hard work of diplomacy is trying to extract whatever concessions you can get, and giving something the other side wants. Of course you’ve got to try to make peace with, and work with those who are your adversaries, but you don’t just rush in, open the door, and say, “Here I am. Let’s talk and make a deal.” That’s not the way it works.

This is not the first time Sanders has made this claim. Our fact-checking colleagues at PolitiFact weighed in when Sanders characterized Clinton’s comment in a similar way during a Jan. 17 interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Let’s rewind the tape back to July 2007, at a different Democratic presidential debate. During the CNN/YouTube debate, the question was posed, “Would you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?”

Then-candidate Obama responded, “I would. And the reason is this, that the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them — which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration — is ridiculous.”

Clinton offered a more nuanced answer.

“Well, I will not promise to meet with the leaders of these countries during my first year,” Clinton said. “I will promise a very vigorous diplomatic effort because I think it is not that you promise a meeting at that high a level before you know what the intentions are. I don’t want to be used for propaganda purposes. I don’t want to make a situation even worse. But I certainly agree that we need to get back to diplomacy, which has been turned into a bad word by this administration. And I will purse very vigorous diplomacy. And I will use a lot of high-level presidential envoys to test the waters, to feel the way. But certainly, we’re not going to just have our president meet with Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez and, you know, the president of North Korea, Iran and Syria until we know better what the way forward would be.”

In an interview the following day with the Quad-City Times, Clinton sharpened her attack, calling Obama’s comment “irresponsible and frankly naive.”

“I think it is wrong for any president to say that he or she will not talk to people because they’re bad or they’re evil,” she said. “But the question was very specific, as to whether either of us would talk to a list of leaders of five countries with which the United States has serious difficulties within the first year of becoming president, and I thought that was irresponsible and frankly naive to say that he would commit to meeting with Chavez and Castro and others within the first year. As I said last night, there needs to be a lot of diplomatic effort.”

So Clinton wasn’t saying Obama was naive simply “because he thought it was a good idea to talk to our enemies,” as Sanders put it. To the contrary, Clinton said she would support “vigorous diplomacy” with the envoys of enemy countries. In the very interview in which Clinton made the “naive” comment, she began by saying that “it is wrong for any president to say that he or she will not talk to people because they’re bad or they’re evil.” But she cautioned against the president meeting with the leaders of rogue nations until the legwork of diplomacy has been well-established.

Old NAFTA Claim Still Wrong

Sanders claimed that the North American Free Trade Agreement and subsequent international trade deals have cost “millions” of U.S. jobs.

Sanders: [T]he current trade agreements over the last 30 years were written by corporate America, for corporate America, resulted in the loss of millions of decent-paying jobs, 60,000 factories in America lost since 2001, millions of decent-paying jobs.

The fact is, the U.S. has gained nearly 31 million jobs since the month before NAFTA took effect on Jan. 1, 1994. And economists have been debating whether more or fewer jobs would have resulted in the absence of the landmark trade deal among the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

As we wrote in 2008: “Nearly all economic studies say NAFTA’s net effect on jobs was negligible.” Back then, it was then-Sen. Barack Obama attacking Hillary Clinton, claiming that “1 million jobs have been lost because of NAFTA” (which her husband, Bill Clinton, lobbied for and signed).

We reported then that “those figures are highly questionable and from an anti-NAFTA source. Other economic studies have concluded the trade deal resulted in much smaller job losses or even a small net gain.”

The passage of time hasn’t changed the consensus view of independent economists. A 2015 report from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service stated: “The overall net effect of NAFTA on the U.S. economy has been relatively small.”

CRS, April 16, 2015: In reality, NAFTA did not cause the huge job losses feared by the critics or the large economic gains predicted by supporters. The net overall effect of NAFTA on the U.S. economy appears to have been relatively modest, primarily because trade with Canada and Mexico accounts for a small percentage of U.S. GDP.

Clinton’s Revisionist History

Clinton revised history when she discussed the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal recently signed by 12 nations, including the United States.

Clinton: I said that I was holding out that hope that it would be the kind of trade agreement that I was looking for. I waited until it had actually been negotiated because I did want to give the benefit of the doubt to the administration. Once I saw what the outcome was, I opposed it.

That was her position as a presidential candidate, when she was under pressure from labor unions to come out against the trade agreement. But before that, as secretary of state, Clinton supported the pact, as mentioned by moderator Chuck Todd.

Speaking in Australia, on Nov. 15, 2012, Clinton called the TPP “the gold standard in trade agreements.” In Singapore two days later, Clinton said the pact will “establish strong protections for workers.”

“Better jobs with higher wages and safer working conditions, including for women, migrant workers and others too often in the past excluded from the formal economy will help build Asia’s middle class and rebalance the global economy,” she said in Singapore.

On Jan. 18, 2013, Clinton met with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida. At a press conference after the meeting, Clinton said they discussed the TPP, which she said “holds out great economic opportunities to all participating nations.”

Clinton left office a few weeks later on Feb. 1, 2013.

Longer Hours for Less Pay?

Sanders repeated his talking point that “millions of Americans … are working longer hours for low wages.” (Typically, he says “lower wages,” as he did in a Dec. 29, 2015, Facebook post, a Jan. 14 tweet, and a campaign ad that began airing in November.)

Sanders: Millions of Americans are giving up on the political process. And they’re giving up on the political process because they understand the economy is rigged. They are working longer hours for low wages. They’re worried about the future of their kids, and yet almost all new income and wealth is going to the top 1 percent.

Let’s look at the official figures. The average weekly hours of production and nonsupervisory employees in the private sector have declined — from a high point of 38.8 hours a week in May 1965 to 33.7 hours a week in December 2015, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average weekly hours dropped to a low of 33 in June 2009, at the official end of the Great Recession, and have gone up a bit to 33.7, where weekly hours also were in January 2008.

For all employees in the private sector, BLS data are only available since 2009, showing a small increase in weekly hours from 33.8 hours to 34.5 hours on average.

At the same time that average weekly hours for production and nonsupervisory employees were going down, the average weekly earnings also declined. BLS numbers show average weekly earnings for those employees in May 1965 were $320.69, in 1982-84 dollars, compared with $307.94 in December 2015. That’s a drop in inflation-adjusted earnings of 4 percent, during a time period in which the hours worked declined 13 percent.

So that’s lower earnings for fewer hours worked.

Average weekly earnings for all workers, adjusted for inflation and seasonal factors by BLS, have gone up 4.2 percent from March 2009 to December 2015, during that small increase in weekly hours. Hourly earnings are up, too, over that time period, by 2.1 percent, adjusted for inflation.

Full-time workers polled by the Gallup organization report working more hours than the BLS numbers show, but over time that figure has held steady, not increased. The 2013-14 Gallup survey found the average week for full-time workers was 46.7 hours. “The amount of hours that all U.S. full-time employees say they typically work each week has held fairly steady over the past 14 years, except for a slight dip to just under 45 hours in Gallup’s 2004-2005 two-year average,” Gallup wrote of its most recent poll. “Part-time workers have averaged about 20 hours per week less than full-timers, although the precise figure shifts more for part-timers. This is partly due to the lower sample size of this group, resulting in greater volatility in the measure.”

So how does Sanders support his claim that “millions of Americans” (or the “average person,” as he claimed on Twitter) are working longer hours for lower wages? By comparing apples to oranges.

The campaign pointed to a chart from the Pew Research Center that used BLS data on hourly wages for production and nonsupervisory employees. That chart shows a slight increase in inflation-adjusted hourly wages, of about $1.50, from 1964 to 2014.

But the campaign points to a slight decrease in hourly wages if measured from 1975 to 2014. Of course, those production and nonsupervisory employees’ average weekly hours went down over that time period, from 36.1 hours in January 1975 to 33.8 hours in December 2014. That’s lower wages for fewer hours.

Why start the clock in 1975? Because the Sanders camp points to a different set of data to claim that the hours worked went up.

The campaign cites a 2011 Brookings Institution report that found the number of total hours worked by two-parent families in the middle 10 percent (in terms of earnings) had gone up since 1975 — mainly because more women entered the workforce.

“In 2009, for instance, the typical two-parent family worked 26 percent longer than the typical family in 1975,” the Brookings report says. “The 26 percent increase in hours worked mainly reflects increases in work outside of the home among women. In fact, among two-parent families with median earnings, the hours of men were relatively constant over time, while hours worked by women more than doubled from 1975 to 2009.”

So, these individuals in the two-parent family — mom and dad — weren’t each working longer hours for lower pay. Instead, the family as a whole posted longer hours because women worked more hours outside the home. Dads’ hours remained constant.

And while these families’ median hours increased 26 percent, their median wages earned went up 23 percent.

Brookings did find a “dramatic” increase in the hours worked by single-parent families (53 percent since 1975) but also an even larger corresponding percentage increase in earnings (about 69 percent). The reason again was pegged to an increase in women’s participation in the labor force and increases in their wages.

To sum up: The Sanders campaign cites BLS data showing hourly wages went down slightly over a time period in which average weekly hours also went down. And then it cites Brookings data on a subset of families showing that hours worked went up over a time period in which wages also went up.

Sanders’ claim relies on mixing and matching two different sets of data. By the same logic, one could also wrongly claim that Americans are working fewer hours, using the BLS data, for higher wages, using Brookings’ report.

As for Sanders’ claim that “almost all new income and wealth is going to the top 1 percent,” he has cited the work of economists Emmanuel Saez of the University of California, Berkeley, and Gabriel Zucman of the London School of Economics and Political Science for such claims in the past. We wrote in July that he exaggerated in saying that “almost all of the wealth rests in the hands of the few,” even by the Saez-Zucman study, which some economists have disputed. That study found that the top 1 percent held 41.8 percent of the nation’s wealth in 2012. That’s not “almost all.”

The June 2015 update of the Saez-Zucman study on income says that 55 percent of real income growth from 1993 to 2014 went to the top 1 percent (see Table 1, page 8). Even more recently, from 2009 to 2014, during the economic recovery, 58 percent of real income growth went to the top 1 percent. That’s a majority, but also not “almost all.”

Sanders’ Endorsement Ad

Sanders went too far when he said “we did not suggest that we had the endorsement” of the Nashua Telegraph in a new TV ad running in New Hampshire.

MSNBC moderator Rachel Maddow asked Sanders if he was “losing control” of his campaign. She said, for example, “the Nashua Telegraph has complained recently that you falsely implied in an advertisement that they had endorsed you when they did not.”

Sanders denied that the ad made any such an implication.

Sanders: [A]s I understand it, we did not suggest that we had the endorsement of a newspaper. Newspapers who make endorsements also say positive things about other candidates, and to the best of my knowledge, that is what we did. So we never said, never said that somebody, a newspaper endorsed us that did not. What we did say is blah blah blah blah was said by the newspaper.

As we wrote, however, that ad leaves the false impression that Sanders was endorsed by the Nashua Telegraph and the Valley News. Neither paper has made an endorsement.

The campaign titled the TV ad “Endorsed.” It starts with the narrator saying, “From postal workers to nurses, he has been endorsed for real change, Bernie Sanders.” The ad shows quotations and/or logos from five organizations that have endorsed Sanders, and then adds at the end favorable quotes from the two newspapers.

Roger Carroll, executive editor of the Nashua Telegraph tweeted, “For the record, despite @BernieSanders deceptive ad to the contrary, @NashuaTelegraph has not endorsed any Dem prez candidate.”

Wall Street Contributions

Clinton said “the Wall Street guys are trying so hard to stop me.” But Clinton and PACs that support her have raised millions from Wall Street interests.

According to Opensecrets.org, Clinton’s campaign collected nearly $3 million from people working in the “securities and investment” industry and about $600,000 from those working for “commercial banks.” The “securities and investment” industry ranks fourth among her top donors.

The nonpartisan watchdog group, which codes and tallies individual donations based on employers, defines Wall Street as “the securities and investment and commercial banking industries” — which means that Clinton has raised about $3.6 million from Wall Street employees.

That’s only contributions directly to her campaign. If that total is combined with donations to super PACs that support her, Clinton has the financial support of more than $17 million from Wall Street workers.

A Washington Post analysis of campaign finance reports filed by Clinton and pro-Clinton super PACs found that “donors at hedge funds, banks, insurance companies and other financial services firms had given at least $21.4 million to support Clinton’s 2016 presidential run — more than 10 percent of the $157.8 million contributed to back her bid.”

Sanders, by contrast, received $55,000 from the “securities and investment” industry, and the commercial banks industry was not among his top 20 donors, Opensecrets.org data show. There is no single-candidate super PAC supporting Sanders.

Among all candidates in both parties, Clinton ranks No. 1 in contributions from workers in the securities and investment and the hedge funds and private equity industries.

Voter Turnout and a Democratic Victory

Sanders made the case that large voter turnout is the key to a Democrat winning the White House in November, and argued that his campaign is better equipped to create the public enthusiasm necessary to drive a large turnout.

But the statistics on voter turnout in presidential elections don’t draw as clear a partisan trend as Sanders suggested.

Sanders: Democrats win when there is a large voter turnout; when people are excited; when working people, middle class people and young people are prepared to engage in the political process. Republicans win when people are demoralized and you have a small voter turnout, which by the way is why they love voter suppression. 

So is it true that Democrats win the White House when voter turnout is high? The trend is not as linear as Sanders claimed.

We looked at data from the American Presidency Project at the University of California, Santa Barbara, on the percentage of turnout among the voting age population during presidential elections.

Voter turnout has been on a general decline for decades. So it is difficult to compare turnouts in races in, say, the 1800s to the 2000s, because almost all of the turnout percentages were higher in the 1800s. Just looking at the last 14 presidential elections going back to 1960 — seven won by Democrats and seven won by Republicans — there are examples of Republicans winning with both high and low voter turnout, and of Democrats winning with high and low voter turnout.

Over that stretch, the highest turnout rates were in 1960 (62.77 percent) and 1964 (61.92 percent), elections won by Democrats John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. But the third highest percentage in that period was 60.84 in 1968, won by Republican Richard Nixon. Obama won with a relatively high voter turnout percentage of 58.23 in 2008. But he also won reelection with a below average voter turnout (54.87 percent) in 2012.

Democrat Bill Clinton won with a turnout of 55.24 percent in 1992, but that was a lower turnout than in 2004 (56.7 percent) when Republican George W. Bush won. And Clinton’s reelection in 1996 saw the lowest voter turnout percentage (49 percent) since 1924.

The Sanders campaign pointed to research from the Pew Research Center that shows nonvoters tend to be more liberal than voters, and that while nonvoters tend to have weak partisan ties, a higher percentage of them identify as Democrats than Republicans. That may be, but as we can see from past presidential election turnouts, it’s not simply a matter of turnout, but who you get to turn out.

Republicans on Climate Change

While discussing the influence of political donations, Sanders said: “Not one Republican has the guts to recognize that climate change is real.” That’s false.

It’s true that several of the remaining Republican presidential candidates have said that they do not believe human activity contributes to climate change. But some believe it does.

Those who have said they don’t believe in climate change, or doubt the science behind it, include Ben Carson, Sen. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. Those who have said that climate change is real include former Gov. Jeb Bush and Gov. Chris Christie.

For example, during an interview with Bloomberg BNA on July 30, 2015, Bush said: “The climate is changing; I don’t think anybody can argue it’s not. Human activity has contributed to it. I think we have a responsibility to adapt to what the possibilities are without destroying our economy, without hollowing out our industrial core.”

Likewise, on Dec. 1, 2015, on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Christie said: “We cannot say that our activity doesn’t contribute to changing the climate.”

“Listen, there are a lot of scientists that agree with me that climate change is real, occurs, and that men and women contribute to it,” Christie said. However, he added that the changing climate is “not a crisis.”

We contacted Sanders’ campaign to ask if “Republicans” was a reference to the 2016 presidential candidates or Republicans in general, but the campaign did not clarify the senator’s statement.

There are other Republicans in Congress who have said that human activity contributes to climate change.

In fact, Sen. John McCain, the party’s 2008 presidential nominee, ran TV ads during that campaign touting his willingness to buck his party and sponsor legislation to address climate change, as we wrote at the time.

McCain, for example, sponsored a cap-and-trade bill with Sen. Joe Lieberman. “McCain and Lieberman first introduced their climate change bill in 2003, and it didn’t go over well with McCain’s fellow Republicans,” we wrote.

More recently, on Jan. 21, 2015, McCain voted for an amendment to legislation approving the Keystone XL pipeline that definitively stated that “[c]limate change is real; and human activity contributes to climate change.”

In addition to McCain, 14 other Republicans voted for that amendment, which failed to obtain the 60 votes it needed to pass.

Vietnam’s Minimum Wage

Sanders used a misleading figure about wages in Vietnam, one of the countries covered by the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, which he opposes.

Sanders: [T]he TPP is, it’s to say to American workers, hey, you are now competing against people in Vietnam who make 56 cents an hour minimum wage.

It’s true that the minimum wage in Vietnam is a fraction of the $7.25 hourly federal minimum wage in the U.S., but for most Vietnamese workers it’s higher than Sanders claimed.

According to the Wageindicator Foundation of the University of Amsterdam, Vietnam increased its minimum wage this year by 13 percent — from a low of $107 per month (stated in U.S. dollars) to a high of $156, depending on which of four regions of the country a worker is employed.

Vietnam does not set an hourly wage, but the law there does permit a 48-hour normal work week. So on that basis, the minimum wage could indeed be as low as 56 cents per hour — in Region IV. But that is the least developed portion of the country. In Region I, which includes Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hai Phong and several of the country’s other most populous cities, the minimum wage figures out to 81 cents an hour based on a 48-hour work week.

Furthermore, Sanders failed to mention that U.S. workers already compete with Vietnamese workers — and will continue to do so with or without the TPP. The U.S. imported $3.2 billion in goods from Vietnam in November, and nearly $35 billion in the first 11 months of last year, according to most recent figures from the U.S. Census Bureau. That made Vietnam this country’s 13th largest trading partner in terms of imports for 2015.

Correction, Feb. 8: In our original article, we said the minimum wage in Vietnam was higher than 56 cents an hour in all regions. We based that on a 40-hour work week, failing to note that Vietnam allows a normal 48-hour work week. We regret the error, and thank the alert reader who brought it to our attention.

Childhood Poverty

Sanders repeated the claim that the United States has “the highest rate of childhood poverty of almost any major country on earth.” As we have written, the childhood poverty rate is higher in several industrialized economies.

When Sanders made a similar claim in the second debate, his campaign referred us to a report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which showed that nearly 21 percent of children up to the age of 17 were living in “relative poverty” in the U.S. in 2012.

“Relative poverty” is a measure of household disposable income relative to other residents of that country.

By that measure, the U.S. ranked seventh among 38 countries. Turkey, Israel, Mexico, Greece, Romania and Bulgaria all had higher rates of child poverty than the U.S., in the OECD’s ranking.

The official poverty rate for children under 18 in the United States was 21.1 percent in 2014, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. An alternative measure called the Supplemental Poverty Measure put the childhood poverty rate at 16.7 percent in 2014, the Census Bureau says.

The SPM was developed in 2011 to account for many of the government programs assisting low-income families and individuals that are not included in the current official poverty measure, the bureau explains on its website.

— by Eugene Kiely, Brooks Jackson, Lori Robertson, Robert Farley, D’Angelo Gore and Vanessa Schipani


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Sanders’ Deceptive Endorsement Ad http://www.factcheck.org/2016/02/sanders-deceptive-endorsement-ad/ http://www.factcheck.org/2016/02/sanders-deceptive-endorsement-ad/#comments Fri, 05 Feb 2016 00:44:13 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=103962 The Bernie Sanders campaign misappropriates the credibility of two New Hampshire newspapers in a new TV ad that boasts of his endorsements for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The ad, titled “Endorsed,” leaves the misleading impression that the Nashua Telegraph and the Valley News endorsed him. They did not.

The ad starts with a female narrator saying Sanders has received endorsements “from postal workers to nurses.” She then quotes the words of an environmental group (Friends of the Earth Action) and a progressive magazine (the Nation) that have also endorsed Sanders. On screen, the words “endorsed by” appear above the groups’ logos, and in the case of the Nation, above a boxed quote.

At the end, the narrator quotes the Nashua Telegraph and the Valley News, and the quotes appear on screen in the same design as the Nation‘s endorsement (boxed quotations) but without the words “endorsed by,” an omission that viewers could easily miss

“The Nashua Telegraph declares, ‘He’s not beholden to Wall Street money.’ The Valley News says, ‘Sanders has been genuinely outraged about the treatment of ordinary Americans for as long as we can remember.’ ”

These words of praise in a TV ad about endorsements leave the impression that Sanders was endorsed by both papers.

Initially, in fact, the ad debuted on YouTube and incorrectly displayed the words “endorsed by” above the quote from the Valley News, as Time magazine reported and as displayed below.

Sanders Ad

In a Feb. 4 story on the Sanders campaign revising the ad before broadcasting it on TV, the Valley News said that neither paper had made an endorsement in the Democratic primary.

We reached out to the Sanders campaign to ask about the TV ad and YouTube video, but we received no response. However, a campaign strategist told Time that the earlier video that was posted on YouTube was “a mistake on our part.”

“The earlier version of the ad was subjected to review and changed before it was broadcast,” Tad Devine told Time.

Devine also said that he did not think the ad misleads voters by including quotations from the two newspapers in a TV ad on endorsements. But Roger Carroll, the executive editor of the Nashua Telegraph, disagrees. Carroll tweeted his displeasure on the ad, which he called “deceptive.”

The new Sanders ad is virtually identical to one the campaign ran in the final days before the Iowa caucuses, except the newspapers mentioned in that ad were Iowa papers — the Des Moines Register and the Daily Nonpareil. Although the Daily Nonpareil did endorse Sanders, the Des Moines paper did not.

In fact, the Des Moines paper endorsed Clinton.

Our sister organization, FlackCheck.org, included the Iowa version of the Sanders endorsement TV ad in a new video on the “patterns of deception” used by campaigns in TV ads.

The Sanders campaign is repeating a pattern — first misappropriating the credibility of the Des Moines Register in Iowa and now the Nashua Telegraph and the Valley News in New Hampshire.

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