Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Politics

PolitiFact: Fact-checking the Iowa Democratic presidential debate

The deadly attacks in Paris shifted the focus of Saturday's Democratic presidential debate to foreign policy and the United States' responsibility to help destroy ISIS.

PolitiFact examined several claims from the Des Moines, Iowa, debate.

Talking about what the United States should do to stop terrorism, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said, "We're spending over $600 billion a year on the military. And yet, significantly less than 10 percent of that money is used to fight international terrorism."

That rates Mostly False.

The Sanders campaign told us that he was talking specifically about the budget to fight the ISIS, which is about $5.3 billion.

But the fight against international terrorism is broader than that. The Defense Department includes its operations in Afghanistan in the fight against terrorism. And in 2015, the Pentagon said it will spent about $60 billion combating terrorism.

That's nearly 11 percent of the entire military budget and does not include billions of dollars more being spent by the FBI and CIA.

Net migrations

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley begged to be fact-checked when discussion turned to immigration.

"Let's say it in our debate because you'll never hear this from that immigrant-bashing carnival barker Donald Trump: The truth of the matter is net immigration from Mexico last year was zero. Fact-check me. Go ahead, check it out," O'Malley said.

We were up for the challenge and found O'Malley's claim to be Mostly True.

There is no perfect way to measure "net migration," but experts typically rely on data from the U.S. Census Bureau tracking the number of people living in the United States who were born in Mexico.

That data show that the number of Mexican-born Americans dropped each year from 2010 to 2013. And while it did increase in 2014, it remains well below the peak in 2007.

"O'Malley was mostly correct," said Alex Nowrasteh, an immigration policy analyst at the libertarian Cato Institute. "The population increased, but it was small. Mexican immigration certainly isn't surging anymore."

The margin of error is large enough that the actual number of Mexican-born people living in America in 2014 could be lower than it was in 2013.

Why is migration from Mexico to the United States slowing down?

Demographics is possibly the biggest driver. The birth rate in Mexico has fallen steadily since at least 1990 and now stands at 2.2 children per woman. Marc Rosenblum at the Migration Policy Institute said that translates into fewer people coming into the workforce.

Rosenblum told us that apprehensions at the border strongly suggest that fewer people are trying to sneak into the country. Data from the U.S. Border Patrol show a drop of more than 50 percent since 2009. It used to be border agents stopped over half a million people coming in from Mexico. Last year, it was about 230,000.

Clinton on wages

At one point, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was asked about how she would pay for such proposals as paid family leave. Clinton said she would not raise taxes on the middle class.

"I have made very clear that hard-working, middle-class families need a raise, not a tax increase," she said, adding that "wages adjusted for inflation haven't risen since the turn of the last century."

That's Half True.

To check her assertion about stagnant wages, we turned to figures collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

We looked at figures for the third quarter of 2015. And to design the fairest comparison, we looked at third-quarter data for two different years — 1999 and 2000 — that could be used to describe the baseline "since the turn of the last century."

The data show that wages did rise between 1999-2000 and 2015, though not very much. Median weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers increased between 6 and 8 percent, depending on your starting point.

That's a rise, albeit not a huge one, as Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill pointed out when PolitiFact contacted the campaign.

Sanders on taxes

Sanders told debate moderators that he planned to raise income taxes on the rich. How much? He wouldn't say, but he guaranteed it wouldn't be as much as it has been in the past.

"We haven't come up with an exact number yet, but it will not be as high as the number under Dwight D. Eisenhower, which was 90 percent," Sanders said.

Sanders is talking about the tax rate that's applied to the last dollar earned. The U.S. tax system is based on brackets. The top marginal tax rate applies to the highest bracket. Income is taxed at higher rates as more is earned.

During the eight years of the Eisenhower presidency, from 1953 to 1961, the top marginal rate was 91 percent. (It was 92 percent the year he came into office.)

Sanders' claim rates True.

Louis Jacobson and Joshua Gillin contributed to this report. Read the full fact-checks at PolitiFact.com.

Comments
All those city services that fuel Lightning fever? Team, not taxpayers, foot the bill

All those city services that fuel Lightning fever? Team, not taxpayers, foot the bill

TAMPA — All those public watch parties during the Tampa Bay Lightning’s postseason run? And how about the rally at Joe Chillura Courthouse Square Park with the big white Lightning logo spray-painted on the grass? You need police to prote...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Romano: A pathetic legacy for Florida’s all-or-nothing Democrats

Romano: A pathetic legacy for Florida’s all-or-nothing Democrats

Explain this to me: In the world of partisan politics, how is being an independent thinker a bad thing? When it comes to general elections, we seem to like rogues and mavericks. We want outsiders and swamp scrubbers. Folks appreciate a good finger-...
Published: 05/22/18
‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump lashed out Sunday at "the World’s most expensive Witch Hunt," trashing a new report in the New York Times that said an emissary representing the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates offered help...
Published: 05/20/18
Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan pushed a radical idea on Twitter: Parents should pull their children out of school until elected officials pass stricter gun control laws.His tweet came hours after a shooting rampage at a Houston-area high scho...
Published: 05/20/18
China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

WASHINGTON - China offered to boost its annual purchases of U.S. products by "at least $200 billion" Friday as two days of talks aimed at averting an open breach between the two countries ended in Washington, a top White House adviser said.Larry Kudl...
Published: 05/19/18
Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

TAMPA — A concert organizer is accusing Hillsborough County Commission candidate Elvis Piggott of falsifying a contract and prompting the headline act to pull out of a gospel show.In a lawsuit filed in Hillsborough Circuit Court, Corey Curry claims h...
Published: 05/18/18
Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief despite scrutiny of her role in interrogation program

Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief despite scrutiny of her role in interrogation program

WASHINGTON - The Senate voted Thursday to confirm Gina Haspel as the next CIA director after several Democrats were persuaded to support her despite lingering concerns about her role in the brutal interrogation of suspected terrorists captured after ...
Published: 05/17/18
GOP pushes for speedy confirmation vote for CIA nominee

GOP pushes for speedy confirmation vote for CIA nominee

WASHINGTON — Republicans are pushing for a speedy confirmation vote as early as Thursday after the Senate intelligence committee endorsed President Donald Trump’s CIA nominee Gina Haspel to lead the spy agency. But opponents concerned about Haspel’s ...
Published: 05/16/18
Gina Haspel, Trump’s pick to lead CIA, wins support of Senate Intelligence Committee

Gina Haspel, Trump’s pick to lead CIA, wins support of Senate Intelligence Committee

WASHINGTON - The Senate Intelligence Committee moved Wednesday to recommend Gina Haspel for CIA director, setting up a floor vote that her opponents say will signal to the world whether the United States condemns or condones torture.The committee vot...
Published: 05/16/18
Carlton: Time for Hillsborough’s Uncle Tom Road to go — but artfully.

Carlton: Time for Hillsborough’s Uncle Tom Road to go — but artfully.

In Hillsborough County — where one of the world’s largest Confederate flags still flies near a busy interstate — you may not be surprised to learn there’s an Uncle Tom Road.The name is a flash point and a slur, shorthand for a black person who will d...
Published: 05/16/18