Fact Check: Vice-Presidential Debate 2016

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On Oct. 4, cable television aired the first and only Vice Presidential Debate, moderated by Elaine Quijano of CBS News. On one side was Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Tim Kaine, and on the other was Republican Vice Presidential nominee Mike Pence. Each candidate attempted to protect the reputation of his running mate while attacking the other’s. As this was a debate based on the retelling of policies and statements, the key issue lied in the authenticity of facts.

Thus, the following are fact checks analyzing the veracity of eight questionable claims made by both candidates in the debate: some are completely true, and some are completely false, but most are somewhere in between.

Pence: “[Trump] has pursued the discredited and really outrageous lie that President Obama wasn’t born in the United States.”

Verdict: False. Ironically, this statement itself is a “really outrageous lie.” Trump has continually questioned the President’s birth certificate consistently with much of the conservative public. The word claimed that he was born in Kenya, and implied that President Obama would not release it because he was not an American citizen. Only very recently has Trump accepted that Obama is an American citizen, and even then he has never come close to pursuing to discredit the lie. This was a blatant attempt to cover the tracks of a racist past, in which Trump had perpetuated the torrent racism geared towards Obama for many years.

           Kaine: “Fifteen million new jobs have been created during the Obama years.”

Verdict: Mostly true. The full truth is that there was a period shortly after Obama’s inauguration during which the amount of jobs was on the decrease, and picked up from a point of approximately 130 million jobs to 145 million jobs in 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If viewed from the lowest point to the highest point of employment this statistic is true, but the gross change between the start of Obama’s term in office and the end is only about 10 million. Kaine wants to exaggerate the Democratic impact on the job market by superhuman proportions, as it is a prevalent area in which both parties are pressured to address.

Pence: “Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine want to increase the Syrian refugee program by 550 percent.”

Verdict: True. The Clinton interview conducted by CBS verifies this. For 2016, Clinton has supported an increase from accepting 10,000 Syrian refugees up to 65,000 refugees. She has yet to disclose a plan for doing so. Mathematically, it adds up. Arguments can be made on both sides regarding this very relevant global event, however the inflection of Pence’s does make it sound like a ridiculous and unfeasible goal.

Kaine: “The second component of the [Trump] plan is massive tax breaks for the very top, trillions of dollars of tax breaks for people just like Donald Trump. The problem with this, Elaine, is that’s exactly what we did 10 years ago and it put the economy into the deepest recession — the deepest recession since the 1930s.”

Verdict: False. This is factually incorrect, from any economic analyst’s standpoint. Although the Bush Administration’s tax cuts did definitely have detrimental effects on governmental debt, it did not cause the economic crisis of 2008. Although specific reasons for the recession is debatable, no links suggest that Bush’s tax cuts were anywhere near the top of the list. Here, Kaine simply wants to attack the credibility of the GOP by linking them to the cause of bad points in American history. Many Americans felt the brunt of the 2008 economic crisis, and such a label would surely discredit the GOP––if it were true.

Pence: “Less than 10 cents on the dollar in the Clinton Foundation has gone to charitable organizations.”

Verdict: Mostly false (in spirit). This statistic is technically true, but cherry-picked. This statistic only takes into account how much money went to outside charity organizations, while most of the Clinton Foundation does its charity work within the organization. Pence’s statistic makes it seem as if only 10 cents are being used for charitable purposes as a whole. Although the charity foundations of both parties seem irrelevant to their policies, both were continually attacked in this regard to undermine the credibility of the opponent, pointing out (sometimes true, sometimes false) examples of corruption in areas of philanthropies.

Kaine: “[Clinton] worked a tough negotiation with nations around the world to eliminate the Iranian nuclear weapons program without firing a shot”

Verdict: Half and Half. This claim is somewhat exaggerated. The nuclear deal involving seven nations including Iran did work in decreasing the amount of stockpiled weapons in Iran, but the pile is far from being completely eliminated, as Kaine is insinuating in his claim. The part about peaceful negotiations is true. Overall Kaine clearly wishes to talk up Clinton as a peace keeper in an area which undoubtedly makes countless Americans paranoid––nuclear weapons in the Middle East.

Pence: “Donald Trump and I would never support the legislation that punished women that made the heartbreaking choice to end a pregnancy.”

Verdict: Mostly False. Trump did at one time make an explicit statement claiming that he would punish women for the act of abortion, which he would make illegal. Hours later, however, he did clarify his statement, instead noting that he would punish the doctors who performed the abortion. Pence has tried to take a middle ground stance on abortion, a still prevalent issue in America today––especially in the face of many voters who have regarded Trump’s plans as cold and unforgiving.

Kaine: “Donald Trump during his campaign has called Mexicans rapists and criminals. He’s called women slobs, pigs, dogs, disgusting. I don’t like saying that in front of my wife and my mother. He attacked an Indiana-born federal judge and said he was unqualified to hear a federal lawsuit because his parents were Mexican. He went after John McCain, a POW, and said he wasn’t a hero because he’d been captured. He said African Americans are living in hell.”

Verdict: True. Donald Trump did, in fact, say all these things. Ironically, the name-calling accusations in this statement that makes it seem like the most fabricated one is actually the most accurate. Trump’s brash and seemingly off-hand statements have caught the attention of much of America for a long time, and here Kaine has showcased only some of it into one degrading statement.

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Jeremiah Nam

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