Feedback
Politics

Fact Check: Truths and Tall Tales From the Fourth GOP Debate

Watch the Best Moments from the Republican Debate 4:17

Eight Republicans presidential candidates - Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Rand Paul - took the stage in Milwaukee last night for a debate hosted by Fox Business Network and the Wall Street Journal. Many of them threw around facts and statistics as they answered questions. Who was right? Who flubbed the facts? Who flip-flopped? Here's what we found:

Carson flips on the minimum wage

During his first answer of the debate, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson said that he "would not raise" the minimum wage. This differs from something he said earlier this year. In an interview with CNBC's John Harwood back in May, Carson said the minimum wage should "probably" be higher.

Jeb Bush hits Obama and Hillary Clinton on the economy

While answering a question about economic regulations, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush took the opportunity to hit Democrats on their economic policies. "Hillary Clinton has said that Barack Obama's policies get an 'A,'" he said. "One in seven people are living in poverty. That's not an 'A.' One in five children are on food stamps. That is not an 'A.' It may be the best that Hillary Clinton can do, but it's not the best America can do."

The statistics Bush cites are backed up by the U.S. Census Bureau. In 2014, 14.8% of Americans (about one in seven) were living in poverty, and about 16 million children (approximately one in five) received food stamp assistance.

Kasich on his state's unemployment rate

During his back-and-forth with Donald Trump on fracking, Ohio Gov. John Kasich said his state's unemployment "is half of what it was." According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Kasich is correct. When he took office in January 2011, Ohio's unemployment rate was 9.2 percent. In September of this year (the latest available data), that rate was 4.5 percent.

A couple of items on the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Remember TPP? In case you don't remember, it's the huge trade deal between the United States, Canada and 10 other major countries in the Pacific. NBC News wrote a few explainers about the deal through this year.

Donald Trump slammed the deal when asked about it during the debate. He mentioned China several times during the course of his answer, including this: "It is a deal that is designed for China to come in - as they always do through the back door - and totally take advantage of everyone."

Sen. Rand Paul pointed out shortly after Trump's answer the true fact that "China is not part of this deal."

Trump also mentioned that TPP does not mention Chinese currency manipulation. That's also true. Even though the issue was addressed in a side deal associated with TPP, the subject is not in the actual agreement. In a September letter to Ambassador Michael Froman and Secretary Jack Lew, seven senators asked for TPP to include the currency manipulation issue. "We fear these recent currency interventions could lead to a pattern of competitive devaluation within the Asia-Pacific that could hurt U.S. workers and exports for years to come. Therefore, it is extremely important that TPP addresses currency issues in meaningful and concrete ways," the senators said.

Ted Cruz vs. the GOP field on tax plans

Ted Cruz cited numbers from the Tax Foundation on his tax plan: "… the static cost of the plan is $3.6 trillion over 10 years. But the dynamic cost of the plan, which is the cost that factors in growth, is about $768 billion, it is less than a trillion …" Want to see and compare the rest of the candidates' tax plans? The Tax Foundation takes a look at all of the plans here.

When Trump and Fiorina met Putin

Both Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared on separate segments during a September episode of "60 Minutes." Trump, answering a foreign policy question, had this to say about Putin: "I got to know him very well because we were both on '60 Minutes.' We were stable mates and we did very well that night."

A look at the show's transcript from that episode shows the men were in two separate places during their interviews:

  • "Just before his trip to the U.S., Putin invited us to meet him at his state residence outside Moscow."
  • "… when we met Trump, on top, in his Fifth Avenue penthouse in Manhattan."

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina also brought up the fact that she met Putin "not in a green room for a show, but in a private meeting." A Fiorina aide told NBC News, "Carly met Putin for 45 minutes before an APEC conference in 2001. This was a scheduled meeting in a green room, not bumping into someone before a show."

Jeb and Rubio on Dodd-Frank reform

Both Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio criticized Dodd-Frank, the financial regulation reform act signed into law by President Obama in 2010. "Imagine America without its community banks. Well, that's what's happening because of Dodd-Frank," Bush said. Rubio later echoed Bush's words, saying, "In Dodd-Frank, you have actually codified 'too big to fail.' … We need to repeal Dodd-Frank as soon as possible."

The Wall Street Journal reported last month that when it comes to the effect of Dodd-Frank on small banks, "the reality is more complicated, and small banks are proving surprisingly resilient by some measures. Meanwhile, the bigger challenge than weathering compliance costs, say banking consultants and analysts, is generating profits during a period of unusually low interest rates."

"There's no doubt Dodd-Frank has disproportionately raised compliance costs for small banks, which don't have the size and scale to absorb new costs as easily as larger firms, though exact tabulations are hard to come by. But in some ways, community banks are the picture of health," writes Kate Davidson. "Community banks have expanded their lending faster than large financial firms, according to data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp."

Rubio: More businesses dying than starting

During an answer on why he would be best suited to lead the country, Rubio said, "For the first time in 35 years, we have more businesses dying than starting." Rubio's statement is consistent with an analysis conducted earlier this year by Gallup.

However, PolitiFact notes that the trend may be reversing. "As recently as 2014, researchers came to that conclusion looking at Census Bureau data from 2009-11. That's the information Rubio likely relied on in making his claim," writes PolitiFact's Jon Greenberg. "But more up-to-date Census information says the trend has reversed and that in 2012 and 2013, more businesses started then closed. The balance is very tight in 2013 and we don't have the numbers for 2014 or 2015."