Here is a roundup of some of the most noteworthy questionable claims made on the third night of the Democratic National Convention last night.
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“She’s still got the heart she showed as our first lady, working with Congress to help push through a Children’s Health Insurance Program that to this day protects millions of kids.”
– President Barack Obama
“Fighting to get health insurance for 8 million kids when she was first lady.”
– Vice-presidential nominee Tim Kaine
Both Obama and Kaine tout an election claim that previously drew criticism because of a Clinton campaign ad that stated she worked with both parties to enact the legislation.
The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) was signed into law in 1997 by her husband, then-President Bill Clinton. By all accounts, the prime mover behind CHIP was the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Massachusetts. He was inspired by a similar Massachusetts program and then enlisted Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, as his partner in the effort. Kennedy had to overcome opposition at the Clinton White House to get the measure passed, although Hillary Clinton was considered an ally at the White House and played a behind-the-scenes role.
Enrollment in the program reached 8 million largely because of passage of the Affordable Care Act under President Barack Obama.
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We “cut veterans’ homelessness almost in half.”
Obama is exaggerating the success of his homeless-veteran initiative here. Department of Housing and Urban Development data show overall homelessness among veterans decreased by 35 percent from 2009 to 2015.
He is probably referring to the decrease in the number of homeless veterans who are “unsheltered,” defined as “places not meant for human habitation, such as the streets, abandoned buildings, vehicles, or parks.” The unsheltered homeless-veteran population decreased by 45.9 percent from 2009 to 2015.
The unsheltered count is important. But this figure does not encompass the thousands of other homeless veterans living in temporary housing programs, emergency shelters or other havens.
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“Take it from . . . John McCain’s chief economic adviser – who estimates Trump’s promises would cost America to lose 3.5 million jobs.”
Mark Zandi, a respected economist, did issue such a report. But Kaine, just like Obama four years ago, misleadingly suggests Zandi had an important policymaking role for the 2008 Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona.
Zandi is a registered Democrat who had advised Republicans and Democrats; he was one of 32 people listed as advising the McCain campaign in 2008 – which by his account was mainly to monitor current economic and financial conditions.
According to the donor database of OpenSecrets.org, Zandi in 2015 made a $2,700 contribution – the maximum possible – to the Clinton campaign.
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“Donald Trump and Mike Pence want to gamble with your retirement benefits in the stock market.”
– Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (Nevada)
This is a tired old talking point that Democrats throw at Republicans, one that we have criticized in the past. Yet it’s particularly misplaced against Donald Trump.
As a presidential candidate, Trump has repeatedly insisted that he will not touch Social Security benefits, saying it can be held solvent without changing its structure. There’s no indication that he currently supports investing Social Security trust funds – now in Treasury bonds – in the stock market.
(As is typical of Trump, he sang a different tune in 2000, writing in a book that Social Security was a “Ponzi scheme” and that the retirement age should be raised to 70.)
Pence, as a member of Congress, was supportive of George W. Bush’s ill-fated 2005 effort to introduce investment options. It was designed as a voluntary program, in which individuals could choose to direct a relatively small portion of their payroll taxes to investment options besides Treasury securities.
But Bush could not even get a committee vote on his idea, even though Republicans controlled both houses of Congress, as Republicans were wary of embracing a concept under furious assault by Democrats.
That was 11 years ago, and no serious Republican has tried to push the concept again. Yet here it ended up in yet another Democratic attack.
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“But Donald Trump? He has actually said, ‘Wages are too high.’ Wages are too high? Really, Donald?”
– Former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley
Let’s add context to this claim, which Trump has clarified since he said it during a November 2015 Republican primary debate.
During the debate, Trump was asked whether he was “sympathetic to the protesters’ cause since a $15 wage works out to about $31,000 a year.” His answer:
“I can’t be, Neil. And the reason I can’t be is that we are a country that is being beaten on every front economically, militarily. . . . But, taxes too high, wages too high, we’re not going to be able to compete against the world. I hate to say it, but we have to leave it the way it is.”
Days later, Trump clarified he was referring to whether he would increase the minimum wage. He would not raise it, because then it would be “too high,” he said.
Trump has shifted on the federal minimum wage since then. Although Democrats like to say Trump wants to get rid of the federal minimum wage, his most recent stance as of Wednesday was in support of raising the federal minimum wage to $10.
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“About one in three American women have abortions by the age of 45.”
– Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America
Advocates of abortion rights use this statistic frequently, but it is outdated and has received criticism.
Reproductive health research organization Guttmacher Institute came up with the statistic based on 2008 abortion rates. If the 2008 abortion rate prevailed, the estimate would still be applicable today. But that rate did not prevail; the abortion rate for women ages 15 to 44 dropped by 13 percent between 2008 and 2011. The Guttmacher Institute usually adds the caveat that the figure is based on the 2008 abortion rate, and we have urged advocates and politicians do the same. Hogue did not in her speech.
The Guttmacher Institute is now coming up with a new calculation, which has not yet been released. Researchers are analyzing the 2014 Abortion Patient Survey, which is conducted every six to eight years, and will be the first update since 2008.
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Glenn Kessler, Michelle Ye Hee Lee