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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Groundhog Friday

This week’s edition of Groundhog Friday, our wrap-up of repeated claims we’ve debunked before, includes claims on guns, health insurance premiums, wages and income inequality.

Groundhog2Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s gun proposals, Aug. 9 rally in Wilmington, North Carolina: “Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish the Second Amendment. … You’re not going to be able to protect yourselves. … The bad guys aren’t going to be giving up their weapons, but the good people will say, oh but that’s the law.”
National Rifle Association’s Political Victory Fund, TV ad launched Aug. 10: “[Clinton] doesn’t believe in your right to keep a gun at home for self-defense.”

Trump, and the NRA, have continued to distort Clinton’s position on guns. She hasn’t called for banning all guns, or doing away with the Second Amendment. Instead, Clinton’s gun violence prevention proposal calls for expanded background checks and a ban on semi-automatic “assault weapons.”

Clinton has, in fact, talked about the constitutional rights of gun owners. In February, for instance, she said: “If we can’t figure out how to respect the constitutional rights of responsible gun owners, but keep guns out of people who have felony records, who are fugitives, stalkers, have domestic violence restraining orders against them, are dangerously mentally ill, shame on us.”

The NRA Political Victory Fund’s press release on its ad points to a comment Clinton made last year saying that “the Supreme Court is wrong on the Second Amendment,” a reference, her campaign confirmed, to the 2008 high court decision that found Washington, D.C.’s handgun ban was unconstitutional. Clinton “believes Heller was wrongly decided in that cities and states should have the power to craft common sense laws to keep their residents safe,” spokesman Josh Schwerin told us.

“Trump Distorts Clinton’s Gun Stance,” May 10



Trump on health insurance premium increases, Aug. 10 rally in Abingdon, Virginia: “Premiums are going up at a rate that nobody has ever seen before. You know, in Texas, through Blue Cross Blue Shield, they just had almost a 50 percent increase.”

Blue Cross Blue Shield in Texas has requested rate increases for Affordable Care Act marketplace plans of 57 percent and 59 percent. But that’s a proposed increase for 2017 that has yet to be approved. Any increase above 10 percent has to be submitted and approved by government regulators for plans purchased by those buying their own insurance.

A 50 percent or 60 percent jump could well be an outlier. The nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation analyzed preliminary rates and estimated a 10 percent rise on average for the second-lowest-cost silver plan on the ACA insurance marketplaces in 14 major metropolitan areas. We’d note that increases on the individual market before the ACA was passed topped 10 percent on average.

“Trump’s Press Conference,” July 27



Trump on Sen. Tim Kaine’s record as governor, Aug. 10 rally in Abingdon, Virginia: “During Tim Kaine’s tenure as governor of Virginia, from 2006 … to 2010, the unemployment rate of Virginia more than doubled. … Now compare that with Mike Pence of Indiana. He did incredible. … He’s doing great and the state’s doing great.”

Trump is making a misleading comparison between Kaine, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, and Pence, Trump’s own running mate. Virginia’s unemployment rate more than doubled under Kaine, and Indiana’s rate has gone down under Pence, who has been governor since January 2013. But Kaine served during the Great Recession when every state saw unemployment rates rise significantly, and Pence has served during the economic expansion following that recession, when every state but one has seen job gains.

Under Kaine, the unemployment rate in Virginia was 1.5 percentage points better than the national average when Kaine took office in January 2006 and 2.4 percentage points better than the national average when he left office in January 2010. As for Pence, the unemployment rate in Indiana was a little worse than the national average when he took office and was slightly better than the national average in June. We have cautioned readers to be wary of claims about governors’ performance on jobs, because economists point out that job gains and losses, and unemployment rates, tend to track regional and national trends.

“Kaine vs. Pence on Unemployment,” Aug. 5



Clinton on income inequality, Aug. 8 rally in Florida: “You know that old movie, ‘Follow the Money’ – well, one-tenth of 1 percent has gotten 90 percent of the income gains.”

Clinton usually says that 90 percent of the income gains have gone to the top 1 percent. This time, she narrows that to the top .10 percent. Either way, it’s an outdated figure, as we just wrote in last week’s “Groundhog Friday.”

The most recent figures from economist Emmanuel Saez of the University of California, Berkeley show that the top 1 percent of families captured 52 percent of the income growth from 2009 to 2015. That’s also the case for 1993-2015.

“FactChecking Clinton’s Big Speech,” July 29



Clinton on Trump saying he “alone” can fix it, Aug. 10 rally in Des Moines, Iowa. “I also think Trump’s belief that he alone can fix America’s problems is so contrary to who we are as a nation. Our founders set up our country so that we had three branches of government that had to work together. We had the federal government, state and local governments that had to work together. And that’s what we’ve done so successfully. And along comes Trump and basically says, I can do this alone.”

Clinton is still misrepresenting remarks Trump made during his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention. Trump never said he’d be the only one to fix absolutely everything. He said that as a political outsider only he can fix a “rigged” system.

Trump, July 21: I have joined the political arena so that the powerful can no longer beat up on people that cannot defend themselves. Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it. I have seen firsthand how the system is rigged against our citizens, just like it was rigged against Bernie Sanders – he never had a chance.

In that same speech, Trump went on to say “we are going to fix the system,” in talking about others joining his cause. And he talked about working with his running mate, saying, “We will bring the same economic success to America that Mike [Pence] brought to Indiana.”

“FactChecking Clinton’s Big Speech,” July 29



Rep. Xavier Becerra of California on Trump and wages, Aug. 7 interview on “Fox News Sunday”: “This is a guy [Trump] who thinks — and his quote was, ‘wages are too high.'”

This Democratic talking point was a favorite of speakers at the convention in July, but it takes Trump’s words out of context. At a Nov. 10, 2015, GOP debate, Trump was asked about raising the federal minimum wage to $15, and he said he was opposed to that. “[T]axes too high, wages too high, we’re not going to be able to compete against the world. I hate to say it, but we have to leave it the way it is,” he said. When he was asked about that comment two days later, he told Fox News, “And they said should we increase the minimum wage? And I’m saying that if we’re going to compete with other countries, we can’t do that because the wages would be too high. … The question was about the minimum wage. I’m not talking about wages being too high, I’m talking about minimum wage.”

The context, and his subsequent explanation, make it clear he was talking about a $15 minimum wage being “too high,” not wages overall. (Last month, Trump supported raising the minimum wage to $10, but added that “states should really call the shots.”)

“Democratic Convention Day 1,” July 26