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Double Check: Fact Checking The Second Presidential Debate

Double Check: Fact Checking President Trump's NBC Town Hall

The second and final presidential debate between President Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden took place last night, here are some of our collected fact checks from the evening.

Bills Joe Biden supported in the eighties and nineties led to mass incarceration of tens of thousands of young black men who had small amounts of drugs in their possession.

PARTLY TRUE

Biden sponsored and partly wrote the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, which ratcheted up penalties for drug crimes, disproportionately affecting Black Americans. The bill created a big sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine; even though the drugs are pharmacologically similar, the law made it so someone would need to possess 100 times the amount of powder cocaine to be eligible for the same mandatory minimum sentence for crack. Since crack is more commonly used by Black Americans, this sentencing disparity helped fuel big racial disparities in incarceration, according to Vox.

Read the full fact check here.

 

Biden: Not one single person with private insurance would lose their insurance under my plan, nor did they under Obamacare unless they chose to do something else.

FALSE

Many people lost their insurance when companies sent them notices canceling their insurance because it did not meet the higher standards of the ACA. The actual number of people who received the notice remains unclear, but the cancelations were a direct result of Obamacare as the health-care law required insurance companies to change their plans, leading many companies to send notices of cancelation to customers.

Read the full fact check here.

 

Trump: They went through everything I had, including my tax returns, and they found absolutely no collusion and nothing wrong.

MISLEADING

Former FBI chief Robert Mueller's inquiry found no evidence of a criminal conspiracy but a GOP report revealed ties between Trump's aides and Russia. Mueller’s report focused on the alleged collusion between Trump's 2016 presidential campaign team and Moscow, it found no evidence of a conspiracy, but it did lay out 10 instances where the president possibly obstructed justice. The report said, "Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him." Further to this, a Senate Intelligence Committee report published in Aug 2020 found instances that indicated Trump’s aides colluded with Russia and that the extent of the cooperation in 2016 was larger than what was previously thought.

Read the full fact check here.

 

Kamala Harris is more liberal than Bernie Sanders

MISLEADING

In 2019, GovTrack, a non-partisan organization that tracks bills in Congress, ranked Harris as the most liberal compared to all senators. One measure the organization uses is comparing how many bipartisan bills each senator co-sponsors to how many bills they co-sponsored in total. Harris had the lowest at 15% in 2019. However, GovTrack falls short of providing a holistic picture. GovTrack's founder told the Washington Post that the organization always says that one number can never represent the complete picture of a politician. Furthermore, GovTrack's analysis of Kamala Harris was only from 2019, and labeling a politician as too liberal based on one year does not give a complete picture. If one looks at GovTrack's five years — although Harris only came to the Senate in 2016 — she's still among the most liberal senators by this marker. However Bernie Sanders and a few others have been more liberal at some point. 

Read the full fact check here.

 

Biden: The expectation is we will have another 200,000 Americans dead between now and the end of the year.

TRUE

Biden was quoting a study from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, which forecast that a fall wave of infections could drive fatalities in the United States to 410,000. According to the forecast, the best-case scenario of America's COVID-19 death toll could be 288,381, with the worst-case scenario being 620,029. So far, the U.S. has crossed over 8.45 million cases.

Read the full fact check here.

 

Trump: Our NATO partners were far behind in their defense payments. But at my strong urging, they agreed to pay $130 billion more a year.

MISLEADING 

Defense spending across European Allies and Canada has been increasing for 5 years. Since 2006, every NATO member has had guidelines to spend at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense and NATO members pledged to meet that guideline by 2024 in 2014 — three years before Trump took office. The $130 billion that Trump took credit for is the cumulative defense spending from 2020; it is not money that goes toward collective use by NATO, but what is used by each country for its own defense.

Read the full fact check here.

 

Biden: If we just wore these masks, the president's own advisers told him we could save a hundred thousand lives.

MISLEADING

A modeling study by the University of Washington estimated that if most Americans wore masks, it could save 100,000 lives by the end of the year. The estimate was repeated by Tom Frieden, who led the CDC under President Barack Obama, but not by Trump’s advisers.

Read the full fact check here.

 

Trump: I took us out of the Paris Climate Agreement because we were going to have to spend trillions of dollars and we were treated very unfairly when they put us in there.

FALSE

The Paris Climate Agreement is based on voluntary emission reductions by member nations. There is no obligation on any member country. Trump has frequently lambasted the Paris Agreement, claiming that the agreement did little for the benefit of the US with developing countries not making due contributions. His assertion that the U.S. could save trillions of dollars by pulling out of the PA is incorrect. In fact, Trump’s decision to pull out of the deal could actually end up costing the U.S. economy trillions of dollars in the long run. A group of researchers at Stanford University used 50 years of historical data to calculate the relationship between heat and productivity and found that meeting the Paris Agreement’s most ambitious target of 1.5 degrees warming could save the economy trillions of dollars in lost productivity.  The cost of failing to meet the most ambitious Paris target of 1.5 degrees, and warming by 2 degrees, could be around $6 trillion.

Read the full fact check here.

 

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