GOP 2016-Debate-Fact Check

Republican presidential candidates, from left, John Kasich, Mike Huckabee, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, and Rand Paul take the stage during the CNBC Republican presidential debate at the University of Colorado during the 2nd GOP debate. AP Photo

WASHINGTON (AP) – Ben Carson told debate-watchers it’s “total propaganda” to say he was involved with a nutritional supplement company, even though he praised its disputed health benefits in company videos. Ted Cruz and Carly Fiorina misstated how working women have fared in the Obama years.

Donald Trump’s statement that he is fully paying for his own campaign was 97 percent wrong, based on latest fundraising numbers.

A look at some of the claims in the third Republican presidential debate and how they compare with the facts:

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CARSON: “I didn’t have an involvement with them. That is total propaganda, and this is what happens in our society. Total propaganda. I did a couple of speeches for them, I do speeches for other people. They were paid speeches. It is absolutely absurd to say that I had any kind of a relationship with them.”

THE FACTS: The renowned brain surgeon essentially fact-checked himself in the debate Wednesday night by acknowledging paid speeches to Mannatech, a company sued for wrongful claims by the Texas attorney general – now Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. But his relationship with the company went deeper than that.

Carson was featured in company videos, including one from last year in which he credits Mannatech’s glyconutritional supplements with helping people restore a healthy diet. “The wonderful thing about a company like Mannatech is that they recognize that when God made us, he gave us the right fuel, and that fuel was the right kind of healthy food,” he said. “That’s why I was drawn to Mannatech.” He said: “I can’t say that that’s the reason I feel so healthy but I can say that it made me feel different and that’s why I continue to use it more than 10 years later.”

When Carson was asked in the debate why he’d appeared on the company’s home page with the logo over his shoulder, he said that was not done with his permission.

The company and its founder paid $7 million in a 2009 settlement in the Texas case.

It also has given at least $10,500 to Carson’s charity, the Carson Scholars Fund.

The Wall Street Journal reported this month that Carson told the company’s sales associates in 2004 that its products helped him overcome prostate cancer and that he’s given four paid speeches at Mannatech gatherings, most recently in 2013 when he was paid $42,000. The company denied Carson was a “paid endorser” and said the money went to charity.

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CRUZ: “Under Barack Obama and the big government economy, the median wage for women has dropped $733.”

FIORINA: “Ninety-two percent of the jobs lost during Barack Obama’s first term belonged to women.”

THE FACTS: Sluggish wage growth remains a major problem for everyone, but the picture isn’t nearly as dire for women as portrayed by Cruz. Their earnings have actually improved. Working women earned a median income of $28,394 last year, about $190 more after adjusting for inflation than they did in 2008, according to the Census Bureau. But they still are $1,154 shy of their peak incomes in 2007- a sign of the slow recovery from the Great Recession.

Fiorina is relying on outdated data. The economy actually added 416,000 jobs for women during the course of Obama’s first term. But the job growth during that period disproportionately favored men, who received 900,000 new jobs.

The gap largely reflects the fortunes of different industries. Local governments shed hundreds of thousands of jobs during Obama’s first term, including teaching jobs, which were held disproportionately by women. Meanwhile, men began to regain some of the huge job losses they suffered during the recession in fields such as manufacturing, construction and finance.

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CARSON: He said his proposed flat-rate tax, which would have everyone pay an income tax rate of about 15 percent, “works out very well” in budget terms because it would spark enough economic growth to offset the lower rate.

THE FACTS: Carson says his proposed tax would not increase the budget deficit because he would tax the entire economic output of the U.S. – the gross domestic product – plus corporate income and capital gains.

Carson has not laid out a detailed plan, so it is difficult to measure how it would affect revenues or the economy. But based on what he said, he’s double-counting because corporate revenues are part of the GDP.

A tax rate of 15 percent would be a huge tax cut for the wealthy. The top income tax rate for individuals is now 39.6 percent. The corporate tax rate for corporations is 35 percent.

To help offset the rate cuts, Carson said he would “get rid of all the deductions and all the loopholes.” That’s a bold proposal, considering how popular many tax breaks are, including deductions for interest on home mortgages and charitable contributions, as well as exemptions for health insurance and retirement savings.

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CHRISTIE: FBI Director James Comey said police officers are holding back “because of a lack of support from politicians like the president of the United States.”

THE FACTS: That’s not what Comey said.

In a speech last week about an alarming rise in crime, Comey said some officers feel under siege because of the spread of viral videos taken by young people with cell phones. Comey said he’d heard about one police official who told his force “their political leadership has no tolerance for a viral video.”

But Comey never mentioned Obama or blamed politicians for failing to support police. And Comey made clear he didn’t have data to back up his gut impression.

Christie also said when Obama was asked to speak about the issue, he declined to support police. In fact, Obama gave a firm defense of police Tuesday, telling a police chiefs convention that “this country is safer because of your efforts.”

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TRUMP: “I’m putting up 100 percent of my own money.”

THE FACTS: No, he’s not.

Of $3.9 million raised for his campaign in the latest fundraising quarter, only $100,000 or about 3 percent came from his own pocket. That was one major revelation from the latest batch of presidential fundraising reports, filed Oct. 15 with the Federal Election Commission.

That’s a drastic shift from his springtime fundraising report, when he loaned his campaign nearly all of the $1.9 million it had.

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CRUZ: “If you look at a single mom buying groceries, she sees hamburger prices have gone up nearly 40 percent. She sees her cost of electricity going up. She sees her health insurance going up. And loose money is one of the major problems.”

THE FACTS: Americans may be facing many economic challenges, but rising inflation isn’t one of them. And “loose money,” a way of describing the Federal Reserve’s low interest rate policies, isn’t to blame for expensive hamburgers.

Beef prices rose 21 percent in January of this year compared with a year earlier. That reflected a Midwest drought that had caused some cattle ranchers to cull their herds. Beef prices have since settled down and were up just 1 percent in September from a year earlier.

Electricity costs have actually fallen 0.4 percent during that period. Those are national averages, so some local areas will have different figures. Overall, inflation has remained below even the Fed’s 2 percent target for the past three years. In fact, the government’s primary inflation measure, the Consumer Price Index, has actually been unchanged in the past 12 months.

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BUSH: “Marco, when you signed up for this, this was a six-year term, and you should be showing up for work.”

RUBIO: “Barack Obama missed 60 or 70 percent of his votes” when running for president while he was in the Senate.

THE FACTS: Bush correctly cited Rubio’s spotty attendance record in the Senate since running for president, but ignored the fact that this is common when someone in public office runs a White House campaign – and previous candidates were absent far more often. Bush himself is free to run for president as he pleases, because he doesn’t have a day job from which to be absent.

For his part, Rubio didn’t offer a fair comparison when comparing his Senate voting rate with Obama’s.

From Oct. 27, 2014, to Oct. 26, 2015, Rubio was absent for 26 percent of Senate votes, a worse attendance record than other senators running for president, according to an analysis by GovTrack.us, which tracks congressional voting records.

But in a comparable period in the 2008 race – from Oct. 23, 2006, to Oct. 22, 2007 – Obama was absent for 29 percent of votes, a bit more than Rubio’s absences, but not as much more as Rubio charged. Republican John McCain was absent for 51 percent of Senate votes in that period.

Both Obama and McCain went on to miss an even bigger share of Senate votes as the election progressed – an expected development bound to be seen again in 2016.

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CHRISTIE: The federal government has “stolen” the Social Security taxes paid by workers and spent it on other things. “It isn’t their money any more. … It got stolen from them. It’s not theirs anymore. The government stole it and spent it a long time ago.”

THE FACTS: The money is not stolen, it’s borrowed.

Over the past 30 years, Social Security has collected about $2.7 trillion more in payroll taxes than it has paid in benefits. By law, the Treasury Department has invested the surplus in U.S. Treasury bonds.

Over that same time period, the federal government has run budget deficits in all but a few years. To finance the deficits, the government has borrowed money, from other government agencies as well as public debt markets.

The money from Social Security has been spent, but Social Security holds Treasury bonds worth $2.7 trillion, backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government. Saying the money has been stolen assumes that the federal government will not honor the bonds.

Social Security has been paying out more in benefits than it collects in taxes since 2010. The program has been able to pay full benefits because the federal government has honored the bonds.

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TRUMP: He denied describing Rubio as Facebook CEO “Mark Zuckerburg’s personal senator” when criticizing Rubio’s support for more visas for skilled foreign workers, a step backed by many in the U.S. technology sector: “I never said that. I never said that.”

THE FACTS: He did say it, on his own website. In a policy statement, Trump says “Mark Zuckerberg’s personal Senator, Marco Rubio, has a bill to triple H-1Bs (visas) that would decimate women and minorities.”

 

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Associated Press writers Josh Lederman, Josh Boak, Jill Colvin, Eileen Sullivan and Alicia A. Caldwell contributed to this report.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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