FactCheck.org http://www.factcheck.org A Project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center Mon, 08 Feb 2016 21:06:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.1 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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Conservative Solutions PAC/Conservative Solutions Project http://www.factcheck.org/2016/02/conservative-solutions-pacconservative-solutions-project/ http://www.factcheck.org/2016/02/conservative-solutions-pacconservative-solutions-project/#comments Thu, 04 Feb 2016 19:14:21 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=101527 pg16insertPolitical leanings: Conservative/Pro-Rubio Super PAC

Spending target: Unknown

Conservative Solutions, a super PAC, was formed and registered with the Federal Election Commission in February 2013 by supporters of Sen. Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential run.

According to the PAC’s website, J. Warren Tompkins, who was the senior adviser for George W. Bush’s 2000 campaign, is in charge of this organization. Jeff Sadosky, who managed communications for George W. Bush’s 2004 campaign and John McCain’s presidential campaign, is a communications strategist for the PAC. Adam Stoll, former campaign manager for George Pataki’s reelection campaign as governor of New York, oversees media placement and digital strategies.

As a super PAC, Conservative Solutions is required by law to disclose its donors. However, a sister organization, Conservative Solutions Project, is a 501(c)(4), meaning it does not have to share its donors publicly. It was formed in 2014, and its president is Pat Shortridge, former chair of the Minnesota Republican Party.

A 501(c)(4) “social welfare” group must “further the common good and general welfare of the people of the community,” not an individual political candidate, according to IRS tax rules. Conservative Solutions Project claims that it promotes a general conservative agenda, especially with regard to education, but its advertising has featured Rubio and has aired in states important to the presidential nomination.

Conservative Solutions PAC and Conservative Solutions Project share the same leadership team and public spokesman. “Absolutely, the two groups are related,” spokesman Jeff Sadosky told National Journal. “But they are separate and distinct entities. One is focused on supporting Marco Rubio’s potential presidential campaign, and one is focused on issue education.”

The Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21, two organizations promoting an overhaul of campaign finance rules, asked the Justice Department to open an investigation into the “social welfare” group on Nov. 5, 2015. In their letter, they pointed to Conservative Solutions Project’s ads for Rubio, despite the organization’s status as a 501(c)(4).

According to the Federal Election Commission, Conservative Solutions PAC raised nearly $30.5 million in 2015. The Center for Responsive Politics reports that as of Feb. 4, 2016, Conservative Solutions PAC had spent nearly $19 million in support of Rubio and $9 million against his opponents. In particular, the PAC spent $4.9 million against New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, $4 million against Sen. Ted Cruz and $73,601 against Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Several contributors have donated large amounts to this PAC as of its 2015 year-end report. Billionaire auto dealer and longtime Rubio supporter Norman Braman made four separate donations totaling $6 million; a former CEO of Oracle, Lawrence J. Ellison, contributed $3 million through two donations; Kenneth Griffin, founder of the hedge fund firm Citadel LLC, made two contributions totaling $2.6 million; Paul Singer, founder of Elliott Management (and single greatest contributor of money to Republican candidates and causes in 2014, according to the New York Times), made a single donation of $2.5 million; and Laura Perlmutter (of the Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Foundation) contributed $2 million through a single donation.

As for corporate donations, Besilu Stables, owned by businessman Benjamin Leon, contributed $2.5 million, which is the largest single donation from a corporation. Several other organizations have donated more than $200,000 each: IGX donated $500,000; Florida Crystals Corp. gave $350,000; Southern Wine & Spirits of America donated $250,000; and Access Industries contributed $250,000.

Several state-level PACs have also contributed to Conservative Solutions PAC. These include three PACs based in Florida: American Dialogue (donation of $30,000), Citizens First (donation of $40,000) and Free Speech PAC (donation of $30,000). Two Virginia-based PACs have also contributed: Community Leadership PAC (donation of $200,000) and Conservatives for Effective Government (donation of $100,000).

While Conservative Solutions Project is not required to report its donors, the New York Times reported that the organization claimed it had raised $15.8 million from donors between its establishment in 2014 to July 2015. A November 2015 NBC News article said that Conservative Solutions Project had spent nearly $8.5 million on TV ads up to that point, making it “the second-biggest advertiser in the 2016 Republican race so far.”

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Clinton’s Bipartisan Bluster http://www.factcheck.org/2016/02/clintons-bipartisan-bluster/ http://www.factcheck.org/2016/02/clintons-bipartisan-bluster/#comments Wed, 03 Feb 2016 22:21:14 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=103880 Former Sen. Hillary Clinton said she did not know of “a single Republican who didn’t cosponsor one of the bills that I worked on.” Actually, our analysis shows 14 of the 70 GOP senators who served with Clinton didn’t cosponsor any of her bills.

Clinton made her bipartisan boast on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Feb. 1, the day of the Iowa caucus. She was responding remotely to a question from a young man in Iowa, who was selected by ABC’s Jonathan Karl to ask Clinton a question.

The young man asked Clinton how she is going to work with “a very partisan Congress” if she should become president. She spoke of her time as senator from New York, singling out her work with Sen. Lindsey Graham before going on to include all Republican senators as cosponsors of her bills (at the 3:55 mark).

Clinton, Feb. 1: I don’t know that there was a single Republican who didn’t cosponsor one of the bills that I worked on.

Did every Republican senator at some point in her eight years in the Senate cosponsor at least one of her bills? No.

Clinton served as a senator from New York for eight years, from Jan. 3, 2001, to Jan. 21, 2009. During that time, Clinton sponsored 363 bills, according to GovTrack, a nonpartisan site that tracks federal legislation. Also using GovTrack, we were able to identify 56 different Republican senators who were cosponsors of Clinton’s bills.

How many GOP senators did Clinton serve with? To answer that, we went to the official congressional biographical directory and identified all Republican senators who served from Jan. 3, 2001, to Jan. 21, 2009, when Clinton was in office.

We found that Clinton served with 70 Republican senators over eight years, so that means that 14 of them did not sponsor any of her bills.

Those who did not cosponsor a single Clinton bill: Sens. John Barrasso, Jim Bunning, Tom Coburn, Bob Corker, John Cornyn, Jim DeMint, William Frist, Phil Gramm, Tim Hutchinson, Jon Kyl, James Risch, Craig Thomas, Fred Thompson and Strom Thurmond.

The 70 senators include two freshmen — Risch and Mike Johanns — in the 111th Congress who barely served with Clinton before she left to join the Obama administration as secretary of state. Johanns did cosponsor one of the two bills Clinton introduced in the 111th Congress.

If we exclude Johanns and Risch, then Clinton served with 68 GOP senators over four full congressional sessions (the 107th, 108th, 109th and 110th sessions), and 13 Republicans did not cosponsor a Clinton bill.

Either way, about 20 percent — or 1 in 5 Republicans — did not cosponsor a Clinton bill.

A deeper look at the numbers shows that 12 GOP senators each cosponsored just one Clinton bill, meaning 44 of 70 Republicans cosponsored more than one of her bills.

And three of the 12 joined on legislation that was more ceremonial than substantive: Sen. Trent Lott cosponsored her bill awarding a congressional gold medal, and Sens. John Thune and Roger Wicker cosponsored stamp bills honoring veterans who earned a Purple Heart.

So, bipartisanship only went so far when measured by cosponsors.

Clinton did have some regular Republican partners in the Senate, mostly moderates from the northeast. Her two most frequent GOP cosponsors were the Maine senators, Sen. Susan Collins (28 bills) and Olympia Snowe (22 bills). Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who switched to the Democratic Party in April 2009 after Clinton left the Senate, cosponsored 17 bills.

But those three senators were among the minority. In all, only seven of the 70 Republicans cosponsored 10 or more Clinton bills during her eight years in the Senate.

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‘New’ Taxes Aren’t New http://www.factcheck.org/2016/02/new-taxes-arent-new/ http://www.factcheck.org/2016/02/new-taxes-arent-new/#comments Wed, 03 Feb 2016 18:07:03 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=103802 It’s back! That false chain email about the “new” tax increases that aren’t new is circulating again.

The taxes weren’t new when we wrote about them in 2014 or 2015, and they weren’t “all passed under the Affordable Care Act.” It’s also still false that “not one Republican voted to do these” tax increases. 

As a brief reminder for those who forgot or for many that didn’t know.

Here is what happened, quietly, on January 1, 2016:

Medicare tax went from 1.45% to 2.35%

Top Income tax bracket went from 35% to 39.6%

Top Income payroll tax went from 37.4% to 52.2%

Capital Gains tax went from 15% to 28%

Dividend tax went from 15% to 39.6%

Estate tax went from 0% to 55%

A 3.5% Real Estate transaction tax was added.

Remember these facts:

These taxes were all passed solely with Democrat votes.

Not a single Republican voted for these new taxes.

These taxes were all passed in the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.

Only two of the taxes in this year’s version were part of the Affordable Care Act, which passed without Republican support, as the email states. Most of the others were part of the so-called fiscal cliff package that passed with bipartisan congressional support in 2012.

The 0.9 percent Medicare tax increase was in the Affordable Care Act, but it took effect in January 2013. Plus, it applies only to those who earn more than $250,000 for married couples who file jointly, $125,000 for married couples who file separately and $200,000 for all others.

And we assume that the claim that “a 3.5% real estate transaction tax was added” this year is an inaccurate reference to the health care law’s 3.8 percent tax on the net investment income of individuals and couples with high incomes. That tax started in 2013. It’s not a simple tax on real estate transactions, though. Even the National Association of Realtors says that “[t]here is neither a real estate ‘sales tax’ nor a real estate transfer tax under any federal law.”

It’s a new year, but this recycled email is just more of the same. Read our original “False Tax Claims” article for more details.

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Cruz Distorts Rubio’s Immigration Stance http://www.factcheck.org/2016/02/cruz-distorts-rubios-immigration-stance/ http://www.factcheck.org/2016/02/cruz-distorts-rubios-immigration-stance/#comments Wed, 03 Feb 2016 17:11:36 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=103783 In an attack on Sen. Marco Rubio’s stance on immigration, Sen. Ted Cruz makes two overly broad accusations that distort Rubio’s position.

  • 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.

Cruz’s comments about Rubio’s positions on immigration came during an interview on “Fox News Sunday” the day before the Iowa caucuses, in which Cruz ended up placing first and Rubio third.

Cruz, Jan. 31: Now, I will talk about substance. So, for example, on the question of amnesty, it is a fact that right now, Marco Rubio advocates amnesty for 12 million people here illegally. He advocates legalization and citizenship for everyone here illegally. He even advocates amnesty for criminals who are here illegally.

It is also a fact that Marco has said when he went on Spanish television with Jorge Ramos that he would not revoke President Obama’s illegal executive amnesty on the first day in office. He said you can’t do that overnight. That’s going to take time. If I’m elected president, I will rescind every single one of President Obama’s illegal executive orders on day one.

It’s true that Rubio once cosponsored and supported S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, the so-called Gang of Eight Senate immigration bill that included a “path to citizenship” for those currently in the country illegally. Rubio’s later rejection of the bill has been well-documented. But we were interested in Cruz’s claim that Rubio “advocates legalization and citizenship for everyone here illegally” and “even advocates amnesty for criminals who are here illegally.”

Amnesty for Criminals?

Cruz’s claim that Rubio “advocates legalization and citizenship for everyone here illegally” is not accurate. The Gang of Eight bill would only have provided a path to legalization for those who had been living in the U.S. since Dec. 31, 2011. It also would have required those seeking permanent legal residency to demonstrate an average income of at least 125 percent of the federal poverty level while in provisional status, with some exceptions. And it would have excluded anyone who had committed a felony or three or more misdemeanors. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that as a result of the Gang of Eight bill “about 8 million unauthorized residents would initially gain legal status under the bill, but that change in status would not affect the size of the U.S. population.” That amounts to a majority of the people estimated to be living in the U.S. illegally, but not “everyone,” as Cruz said.

As backup for the claim that Rubio “advocates amnesty for criminals who are here illegally,” the Cruz campaign pointed to a story on the conservative website Breitbart.com that highlighted comments Rubio made in a Jan. 17 interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” The host, Chuck Todd, asked Rubio about the estimated 11 million currently living in the country illegally and whether he was “still for finding a way for them to legally stay in the United States.”

Rubio began his response by saying, “If you’re a criminal alien, no, you can’t stay.”

Todd asked him to define criminal alien.

“A felon,” Rubio responded. “I mean, a felon, someone who’s committed a crime, a non-immigration-related — and that’s what I’ve talked about in the past … I don’t think you’re gonna round up and deport 12 million people.”

So, Brian Phillips, a spokesman for the Cruz campaign told us via email, “Rubio would only deport convicted felons. That leaves a whole lot of people who commit crimes still in the country.”

But that’s not the sum of Rubio’s public record on the issue.

In his 2015 book, “American Dreams: Restoring Economic Opportunity for Everyone,” Rubio said more generally that those who have committed “serious crimes” will “have to leave” (see page 50).

Rubio, from American Dreams, 2015: First, those here illegally must come forward and be registered. If they have committed serious crimes or have not been here long enough, they will have to leave. With the new E-Verify system in place, they are going to find it difficult to find a job in any case. Second, those who qualify would be allowed to apply for a temporary nonimmigrant visa. To obtain it they will have to pay an application fee and a fine, undergo a background check and learn English. Once they receive this work permit, they would be allowed to work legally and travel. To keep it, they will have to pay taxes. They would not qualify for government programs like Obamacare, welfare or food stamps. And if they commit a crime while in this status, they would lose their permit. Third and finally, those who qualify for a nonimmigrant visa will have to remain in this status for at least a decade. After that, they would be allowed to apply for permanent residency if they so choose. Many who qualify for this status will choose to remain in it indefinitely. But those who choose to seek permanent residency would have to do it the way anyone else would, not through any special pathway.

The Gang of Eight Senate immigration bill, S. 744 — which Rubio voted for but later backed away from — would have withheld Registered Provisional Immigrant status from those convicted of felonies, three or more misdemeanors, certain foreign offenses or unlawful voting.

Rubio’s campaign noted that Rubio also supported a failed amendment to the Gang of Eight bill sponsored by Sen. John Cornyn that would have gone even further to preclude from residency anyone who had committed misdemeanor offenses including domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, assault resulting in bodily injury, the violation of a protection order, or driving while intoxicated. The amendment also would have excluded from residency anyone convicted of three or more misdemeanors other than minor traffic offenses. (See page 4427 of the Congressional Record.) Cruz also voted in favor of the amendment.

So one could argue that Rubio’s plan would allow those convicted of some misdemeanor crimes to obtain legal residency, but Cruz’s blanket claim that Rubio “advocates amnesty for criminals who are here illegally” omits the criminal exceptions that Rubio has outlined.

On Obama’s Executive Actions

Cruz went on to say that Rubio would not immediately rescind Obama’s “illegal executive amnesty.”

Cruz, Jan. 31: It is also a fact that Marco has said when he went on Spanish television with Jorge Ramos that he would not revoke President Obama’s illegal executive amnesty on the first day in office. He said you can’t do that overnight. That’s going to take time. If I’m elected president, I will rescind every single one of President Obama’s illegal executive orders on day one.

Update, Feb. 4, 2016: Cruz made a similar claim on CNN’s “State of the Union” the same day. “Marco has gone on Univision in Spanish and told Jorge Ramos he will not repeal, he will not rescind Obama’s illegal executive amnesty on day one,” Cruz told host Jake Tapper. “He says you can’t do it overnight, and he won’t do it.”

Again, Cruz has painted with too broad a brush. There are two main executive actions that Obama has taken with regard to immigration enforcement — one related to so-called Dreamers, who were young when they were brought to the U.S. by their parents who themselves entered illegally, and another issued two years later that sought to protect from deportation as many as 5 million adults in the country illegally. Rubio has a different position on each.

It’s true that Rubio said he would not immediately revoke Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, which allows immigrants who came to the U.S. when they were 15 years old or younger and have been illegally living in the country since June 15, 2007, among other stipulations, to remain in the U.S. legally for two years. That’s the position Cruz highlighted when he referred to Rubio’s October 2015 interview with Fusion’s Jorge Ramos.

Ramos, Oct. 29, 2015: Would a President Rubio revoke deferred action and the executive action by President Barack Obama that would benefit more than 4 million people, undocumented immigrants, in this country?

Rubio: Well, we have two executive actions. The first was DACA, which applies to young people that arrived in this country at a very young age before they were adults. And I don’t think we can immediately revoke that. I think it will have to end at some point. And I hope it will end because of some reform to the immigration laws. It cannot be the permanent policy of the United States. But I’m not calling for it to be revoked tomorrow, or this week, or right away.

Cruz and Rubio have a difference of opinion on that. Cruz has said he would deport so-called Dreamers.

But as Rubio went on to say in the same Fusion interview, there was another executive action announced by Obama in 2014 — Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents — that would allow immigrants who have lived in the U.S. illegally for more than five years and are parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents to lawfully remain in the U.S. temporarily without the threat of deportation. According to Obama’s action, they would have to register and pass criminal and national security background checks and start paying taxes, but they would be allowed to stay and work in the U.S. without fear of deportation for three years at a time. The policy hasn’t gone into effect, however, as it has been blocked in federal court.

In the Fusion interview, Rubio said he would immediately revoke that Obama executive action.

Rubio, Oct. 29, 2015: There is a new executive action that applies to adults, to a broader population of people. And that, I believe, is the wrong approach. I would revoke it because it’s hurting our efforts to reform our immigration laws. It’s adding credibility to the argument that we cannot do immigration reform because the federal government is not serious about enforcing immigration laws and preventing a future illegal immigration crisis.

Again, Cruz’s overly general comment about Rubio balking at the immediate revocation of Obama’s immigration actions ignores Rubio’s different stances on two separate executive actions.

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Trump vs. Clinton http://www.factcheck.org/2016/02/trump-vs-clinton/ http://www.factcheck.org/2016/02/trump-vs-clinton/#comments Tue, 02 Feb 2016 21:38:40 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=103805 Donald Trump, in conceding a second-place finish in Iowa, said he can beat Hillary Clinton in November, citing “so many” polls that show “we beat her and we beat her easily.” In fact, only four of 40 polls listed on Real Clear Politics show Trump beating Clinton — none easily.

Trump gave a short speech in West Des Moines, Iowa, after learning of his close second-place finish in the state’s Republican caucus. He predicted victory in November, citing his poll numbers against Clinton (at the 2:27 mark).

Trump, Feb. 1: I will say this. I don’t know who is going to win between Bernie and Hillary. I don’t know what’s going to happen with Hillary. She’s got other problems, maybe bigger than the problems she’s got in terms of nominations. But we’ve had so many different indications and polls that we beat her and we beat her easily, and we will go on to get the Republican nomination and we will go on to easily beat Hillary or Bernie or whoever the hell they throw up there.

Trump has what Politico described as a “polling obsession.” He “rarely lets an opportunity escape without mentioning his titanic standing” in the polls, Politico said. That’s because, for months, he has been at the top of nearly all national polls for the Republican nomination. But he’s wrong about his head-to-head polling with Clinton in the general election, at least according to Real Clear Politics’ list of national polls.

As of Feb. 2, Real Clear Politics listed 40 polls taken between May 2015 and January 2016 that matched Trump against Clinton in a head-to-head general election. Trump comes out on top in only four of the 40 polls, and his advantage is within the margin of error in all four:

Survey USA Sept. 4, 2015 45 40 3.3 percent
Fox News Oct. 13, 2015 45 40 4 percent
Fox News Nov. 23, 2015 46 41 4 percent
Fox News Jan. 9, 2016 47 44 3 percent

The Real Clear Politics’ polling average shows Clinton with a slight lead, 44-41.3, as the chart below shows.

Trump v Clinton

So polling shows a Trump-Clinton race would be close, if the election were held today. But the polling doesn’t indicate that Trump can “beat her easily.” It doesn’t even show that he is the strongest Republican candidate in a race against her. The Real Clear Politics polling average shows Clinton trailing Sens. Ted Cruz, the winner in Iowa, and Marco Rubio, the third-place finisher.

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