White Lies and Exaggerations: Fact Checking Leading US Politicians
It’s hot out there, politically speaking, with Hillary Clinton’s convention going full steam and Donald Trump refusing to stay quiet while Democrats put on their big show. Reality is sometimes getting warped in the process.
A look at some of the claims and how they compare with the facts, on a day packed with a lengthy news conference by Trump and evening convention speeches by high-powered Democrats.
THE FACTS: Obama’s health care overhaul does guarantee that people with pre-existing medical conditions can no longer be denied health insurance, but it also made coverage an obligation for everybody. People must have coverage or face fines from the IRS. That mandate remains highly unpopular.
The law provides subsidies to help low- to middle-income people purchase a private plan. But even so, some find their premiums too high. And nearly 29 million remain uninsured, according to government estimates. Healthcare as a “right for everybody” may better describe Bernie Sanders’ idea of a government-run system for all. That system also entails obligations: the higher taxes that would be collected to pay for it.
THE FACTS: He may want to have a second thought about that thought.
In April, Trump told The New York Times that he should not have retweeted an unflattering photo of Heidi Cruz, wife of GOP primary rival Ted Cruz. “Yeah, it was a mistake,” he said. “If I had to do it again, I wouldn’t have sent it.”
Then in May, he had a third thought.
He told Fox News that “I’m not walking it back” after all, and Mrs. Cruz was fair game because she was so involved in the campaign.
Then in the same interview, he had a fourth thought that was much like the second one: “I wish I didn’t do it.”
THE FACTS: It’s the biggest in generations only if you don’t count Obama’s $814 billion 2009 stimulus, a curious omission for a Democrat.
Clinton promises to spend $275 billion over five years on roads, bridges and other infrastructure. Obama’s stimulus was more of a hodge-podge and included tax cuts as well as aid to state and local governments. But all of it was intended to boost the economy and hiring.
TRUMP retaliated by saying that he never said he wanted to carpet bomb. That was Ted Cruz.
THE FACTS: Trump is right. It was his former Republican rival who said repeatedly he would carpet bomb Islamic State targets.
Carpet bombing, by its nature, risks killing large numbers of innocent civilians because it is indiscriminate.
Trump has indeed talked tough about IS, vowing to “bomb the hell” out of the group, level the oil facilities it controls and saying he would “blow up every single inch, there would be nothing left.” He didn’t say what there would be nothing left of: an IS encampment, for example, or a city? But he did not call for carpet bombing; Biden put Cruz’s words in Trump’s mouth.
THE FACTS: Clinton has been touting her plan for months. It’s hardly comprehensive.
The three-part strategy, as described in November, involves crushing ISIS “on its home turf” in West Asia, disrupting terrorist infrastructure on the ground and online, and protecting America and its allies.
All are elements already included in Obama’s anti-ISIS strategy. And none addresses the biggest gaps in the US-led response to the Islamic State over the last two years, such as the lack of effective local troops to defeat ISIS in Syria.
At what point should US ground troops step in? What levels of civilian deaths are acceptable? How exactly does she propose to end Iraq’s age-old Shiite-Sunni divisions?
She hasn’t said. She has expounded further, but mostly to reject suggestions by Trump and other Republicans.
(With agency inputs from AP.)
(The Quint is now available on Telegram. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram)