Tim Kaine vs Mike Pence: The Vice Presidential Debate’s Fact-Check

Not all the claims in the Vice Presidential debate stand up to scrutiny and here is how they compare to the facts.

4 min read
Not all the claims in the Vice Presidential debate stand up to scrutiny, and here is how they compare to the facts. (Photo: AP)

On Tuesday night in US, the Vice Presidential debate between Democrat and Republican running mates – Tim Kaine and Mike Pence. It had nine segments and several fact-checks were run on the statements made by both of them.

Not all the claims in the Vice Presidential debate stand up to scrutiny, and here is how they compare to the facts.

Balanced Budget

What Pence said: "The state of Indiana has balanced budgets."

The fact: True, but that's not exactly to his credit. A balanced budget is required by law, as it is in every state except Vermont.

National Debt

What Pence said: "The fact that under this past administration, we've almost doubled the national debt is atrocious... Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine want more of the same."

The fact: As a share of the total US economy, the national debt has gone up 35 percent, not a doubling.

Still, the debt has ballooned to $19.6 trillion. This largely reflected efforts by the Obama administration to stop the Great Recession.

Would Clinton Similarly Increase the Debt?

Not according to an analysis by the independent Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

The Clinton plan with its tax increases would increase the gross debt – both privately and publicly held – by $450 billion over 10 years. Mind you, that is on top of an $8.8 trillion increase already projected by the government under current law.

As for Trump, the committee says his tax-cut-heavy plan would increase the gross debt by $4.3 trillion – nearly 10 times more than Clinton’s plan would do.

Fighting the ISIS

What Kaine said: "Donald Trump doesn't have a plan."

The facts: Hillary Clinton also doesn't have a plan that is materially different than what President Barack Obama is already doing.

She's described a three-part strategy that involves crushing ISIS "on its home turf" in the Middle East, disrupting its infrastructure on the ground and online, and protecting America and its allies.

All are current elements of the Obama administration’s strategy, so it’s not clear what would change or if she would accelerate any portions of it.

It's also the case that Trump has not laid out a clear plan.

On Immigration

What Kaine said: "Our plan is like Ronald Reagan in 1986."

The facts: Hillary Clinton's immigration plan is certainly similar to a bill signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986.

But Clinton’s proposal would offer a path to citizenship for immigrants living in the country illegally and would have far broader impact.

The estimated population of immigrants living in the United States illegally is now roughly 11 million. In 1986, the so-called Reagan amnesty bill legalised the immigration status of about 3 million people.

Differences Between Clinton and Reagan

The Reagan bill included a provision that made it illegal for businesses to hire workers, who don't have the legal right to work in the United States. Enforcement of that provision has never fully materialised.

While Clinton's proposal does aim to deport criminal immigrants, it also includes a plan to roll back a law that bars most immigrants, who had lived here illegally from returning after either deportation or voluntarily leaving for three or 10 years, depending on how long the person had been living here.

Clinton’s Foreign Policy

What Pence said: She was the "architect of the Obama administration's foreign policy." He said the Middle East is "spinning out of control" and suggested that the ongoing crisis in Syria was the result of a "failed and weak foreign policy that Hillary Clinton ‘helped lead’ in the Obama administration."

Moreover, he said that that President Barack Obama and Clinton gave Russia room to launch its aggressive moves in Ukraine.

The facts: Clinton pushed for increased US intervention after Syrian President Bashar Assad used chemical weapons against rebels. But Obama is the commander-in-chief and nothing has swayed him thus far.

On Russia, Clinton as Secretary of State helped seal a nuclear arms-control treaty and secure Russia’s acquiescence to a NATO-led military intervention in Libya. By comparison, Republican Donald Trump has rung alarm bells in Washington and Europe with his overtures to Russia’s authoritarian leader.

Clinton and her supporters say she would be far tougher on Moscow than Trump, whose unusual foreign policy statements include musings about NATO's relevance and suggestions that he could accept Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region.

"You guys love Russia," Kaine said, reminding Pence that he and Trump have praised Russian President Vladimir Putin as a great leader.

Putin and Russia

What they said:

Kaine:"Governor Pence said, inarguably Vladimir Putin is a better leader than President Obama."

Pence: "That is absolutely inaccurate. I said he's been stronger on the world stage."

Kaine: "No, you said leader."

The facts: Pence didn't limit the remark in question to Putin's position on the world stage, as he claimed in the debate.

In an interview on CNN in September, Pence said, “I think it’s inarguable that Vladimir Putin has been a stronger leader in his country than Barack Obama has been in this country.”

Trump also has praised Putin, marvelling that the Russian leader has an "82 percent approval rating" and insisting that he's "a leader far more than our president has been."

Iran and the War

What Kaine said: "We stopped the Iranian nuclear weapons programme."

The facts: Kaine is right – at least for now.

On 14 July 2015, the US, six other world powers and Iran finalised almost two years of negotiations on a pact outlining what Tehran had to do to pull back its nuclear program from the brink of weapons-making capacity. And it spelled out the West's obligations to end many financial, trade and oil sanctions that had battered Iran's economy.

So far, Iran has lived up to its end of the deal.

It shut down thousands of centrifuges for enriching uranium and exported almost its entire stockpile of the bomb-making material. It disabled a heavy water plant that would have produced plutonium usable in a weapon. It opened up its supply chain to far greater scrutiny. An underground enrichment facility near Fordo operates under strict limits.

But the deal could let Iran start ramping up nuclear activity again after the pact ends in eight years.

(With inputs from AP)

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