Fact Checking the Brooklyn Democratic Debate

The two Democratic candidates, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, met in the ninth debate of the 2016 presidential primary season in Brooklyn, New York on April 14, 2016. This was the final debate before the upcoming New York primary on April 19, 2016.

The April 14, 2016 Brooklyn Democratic debate in 90 seconds:

The stakes are high for both candidates ahead of the primary to be held in New York state on April 19 in which 291 delegates are at stake for the Democrats. Currently, Hillary Clinton has 1,261 delegates obtained through state primaries and caucuses; Bernie Sanders has 1,000 delegates. In order to secure the party’s nomination at the Democratic National Convention in July, a candidate needs at least 2,383 delegates. Clinton leads in the superdelegate vote count with 497 supporting her candidacy compared to 69 for Sanders.

The full Democratic debate in Brooklyn:

Fact Checking the Brooklyn Democratic Debate

Each of the candidates did some truth-stretching, used facts or statements out of context, or even verbal sleight of hand.

Fact Checking Hillary Clinton in Brooklyn Democratic Debate

Statement: I’m the only one on this stage who did not vote to deregulate swaps and derivatives, as Sen. Sanders did … and that contributed to the collapse of Lehman Brothers and started the cascade.”

This statement is both misleading and true. Senator Bernie Sanders did cast a vote in favor of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, legislation that was signed into law by then-President Bill Clinton. Hillary Clinton as first lady at the time was not in a position to vote on the legislation one way or the other.

Statement: “I stood up against the behaviors of the banks when I was a senator. I called them out on their mortgage behavior.”

This one is a talking point of long duration despite it being partially true and partially false. Clinton is referring to a speech she gave to Wall Street in December 2007. She did say during her speech then that Wall Street had a hand in worsening the economic crisis and asked for voluntary efforts on their parts on mortgage foreclosures and subprime mortgages. Clinton, in the same speech, also thanked her generous donors in the audience and praised Wall Street in general for its contribution to the economy.

Statement: “I have supported the fight for 15. I am proud to have the endorsement of most of the unions that have led the fight for 15. … I will work as hard as I can to raise the minimum wage. I always have. I supported that when I was in the Senate.”

Thus far in this presidential primary season Clinton has advocated for raising the federal minimum wage to $12.00 per hour and encouraging individual states and cities to raise their minimum wages to $15.00 per hour. Her campaign website states she supports a $12.00/hour minimum wage.

Fact Checking Bernie Sanders in Brooklyn Democratic Debate

Statement: “But, as I understand it, 43 lobbyists for the fossil fuel industry maxed out, gave the maximum amount of money to Secretary Clinton’s campaign.”

The lobbyists cited who contributed to Clinton’s campaign represent a number of clients in addition to the oil and gas industry.

Statement: “Let’s talk about super PACs and 501(c)(4)s, money which is completely undisclosed.”

The outside groups that support Clinton’s candidacy, PACs and Super PACs, are all registered with the Federal Election Commission and must disclose their donors. 501(c) (4)s do not have to disclose their donors, but there are no 501 (c) (4)s in the outside groups that are supporting Hillary Clinton.

Statement: “It turns out that both Verizon and General Electric, in a given year, pay nothing in federal income tax despite making billions in profits.”

While these business giants pay less in corporate income tax than the average taxpayer think is warranted, the two companies have paid something to the IRS in the way of corporate taxes in the last 15 years. Verizon has paid corporate income taxes in 10 of the last 15 years at a rate of 12.4 percent. General Electric has not paid any corporate income taxes in the last 10 years; in the five years previous to that they did pay the IRS at a rate of 5.2 percent.


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