Thursday, February 22, 2018
Politics

PunditFact: Trump is mistaken on $150B for Iran if nuclear deal is rejected

After weeks of news about his blunt statements, billionaire Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump offered more specifics Sunday about what policies voters could expect from a Trump White House.

NBC's Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd questioned Trump in a lengthy sit-down interview about his ideas for immigration reform, legal exceptions for abortion and whether he will, like some of his opponents, "rip up" the Iran deal that would lift economic sanctions in exchange for the country not developing a nuclear weapon.

"The problem is by the time I got in there, they will have already received the $150 billion," Trump said. "Do you know if the deal gets rejected, they still get the money? Which is something I found out a week ago. I couldn't believe it."

His claim that Iran will get $150 billion "even if the deal gets rejected" rates Half True.

The $150 billion figure is on the high side of how much analysts expect Iran to receive in unlocked assets. The more common estimate is $100 billion, though the figure could run as low as $25 billion if the country's other financial obligations are taken into account, such as money Iran owes to China for infrastructure projects. The Obama administration has said that after Iran pays its outstanding financial obligations, it will have about $56 billion at its disposal.

However, experts said Trump does have a point about what could happen if Congress rejects the deal and U.S. sanctions remain in place (surviving a presidential veto). Other countries in the United Nations and European Union could stop enforcing their own sanctions, anyway, allowing Iran to access at least some of its assets that have been frozen under international sanctions.

"There would be some crumbling of the sanctions wall, but that does not on its own free up the entire $100 billion," said Michael Malloy, a law professor at University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law. He added that the United States controls much of the petroleum market, which is important to Iran's economy.

Also worth remembering is that the unfrozen assets would not come to Iran all at once, like a "signing bonus," Malloy said.

Later in the program, Todd questioned Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders of Vermont about his call for "Medicare for all" and if it would mean the end of Obamacare. Without saying yes, Sanders cited high costs for health care in the United States compared with its global competitors as reason for a single-payer system.

"We spend almost twice as much per capita on health care as do the people of any other country," Sanders said.

His claim rates False.

Data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development shows U.S. spending per capita grew to $8,713. This is the largest in the world by at least a couple of thousand dollars, but Sanders put the difference too strongly by saying it was "almost twice" that of any other country.

Switzerland spent the second-highest amount on health care per capita at $6,325, and Norway came in third at $5,862.

Fellow outsider and Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson seemed to acknowledge the populist following of Sanders in response to a question from Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace about his proposed flat tax rate of 10 percent, akin to the biblical practice of tithing.

"You make $10 billion, you pay $1 billion. Now, I know a lot of people say that's a problem because that guy's still got $9 billion left, we need to take his money. But you see, Chris, that's called socialism," Carson said. "And I recognize a lot of people here who believe in socialism. That number is increasing."

His claim rates Half True.

Polling experts said there's no data that consistently measures Americans' "belief" in socialism over time, as "we haven't had a serious socialist movement or competitive party in the country," said Charles Franklin, a professor of public policy and law at Marquette University.

Franklin's search of the University of Connecticut's Roper Center archive on public opinion got 70 hits for "socialism" out of more than 500,000 questions dating back to the 1930s.

Still, two polls in recent years from Pew and Rasmussen Reports showed modest gains (within the margin of error, so the growth may not be statistically significant) for socialist views. The attitude is more favorable for young people, said Joseph Schwartz, a political theorist at Temple University.

"Folks under 45 did not come of political age during the Cold War," Schwartz explained. "Millennials, I think, vaguely associate socialism more with Nordic social democracy than with authoritarian communism, so they see these countries as less unequal than more 'neoliberal' U.S.-style capitalism."

PolitiFact staff writer Katie Sanders contributed to this report. Read the full fact-checks at PolitiFact.com.

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