Fact Checking Clinton’s Big Speech
The ‘I Alone’ Refrain
Clinton misrepresented a quote from Donald Trump’s convention speech — “I alone can fix it” — suggesting he said he could fix everything by himself. In fact, Trump said that as a political outsider only he can fix a “rigged” system. He has spoken about working with others many times, including in that same speech.
Clinton: And most of all, don’t believe anyone who says: “I alone can fix it.” Those were actually Donald Trump’s words in Cleveland. And they should set off alarm bells for all of us. Really? I alone can fix it? Isn’t he forgetting? Troops on the front lines. Police officers and fire fighters who run toward danger. Doctors and nurses who care for us. Teachers who change lives. Entrepreneurs who see possibilities in every problem. Mothers who lost children to violence and are building a movement to keep other kids safe. He’s forgetting every last one of us. Americans don’t say: “I alone can fix it.” We say: “We’ll fix it together.”
Other Democrats used the talking point, too. Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm said, “Last week we heard about Trump’s hopeless vision of our country, and then he said, ‘I alone can fix it.’” Granholm went on to say that Trump’s version of the Constitution would be, “I, the person, in order to form a more perfect union.” Rep. Ted Lieu of California said, “The scariest part of Donald Trump’s acceptance speech wasn’t the apocalyptic vision of America that he believes he sees, it’s that he said, ‘I alone can fix it.’”
But Trump never said he’d be the only one to fix absolutely everything. Here’s what Trump said in accepting the GOP nomination for president on July 21:
Trump, July 21: I have joined the political arena so that the powerful can no longer beat up on people that cannot defend themselves. Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it. I have seen firsthand how the system is rigged against our citizens, just like it was rigged against Bernie Sanders – he never had a chance.
He quickly went on to say “we are going to fix the system,” in talking about others joining his cause. And a few sentences later, he talked about working with his running mate, saying, “We will bring the same economic success to America that Mike [Pence] brought to Indiana.” There are other examples of Trump talking of “we” and not “I” in that same speech. For instance, he said that “we must work with all of our allies who share our goal of destroying ISIS and stamping out Islamic terrorism.”
And, he said, “I will work with, and appoint, the best prosecutors and law enforcement officials to get the job properly done.”
A few days later, he said, “we will fix it,” in talking about his plans for the Department of Veterans Affairs. The first step of his 10-point plan, he said, was to “appoint a secretary of veterans affairs who will make it their personal mission to clean up the VA.”
So, Trump’s line may make for good rhetorical flourishes at the Democratic convention, but Trump didn’t say he “alone” can fix everything.
Clinton’s Payment Plan
Clinton listed a number of initiatives that she plans to get done as president and said that “we’re going to pay for every single one of them.” We can’t predict the future, but a nonpartisan analysis found Clinton’s spending proposals will increase the national debt.
Clinton: We’re not only going to make all of these investments, we’re going to pay for every single one of them. And here’s how: Wall Street, corporations, and the super-rich are going to start paying their fair share of taxes.
But Clinton’s proposals would increase the debt by $250 billion over 10 years,according to a June 27 report from the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
“For Clinton, this small increase in debt relative to current law is the result of spending increases that are largely but not entirely paid for by revenue increases,” the CRFB report says.
Clinton, according to the report, has proposed $1.45 trillion in new spending — mostly on infrastructure, paid leave and education proposals — but offsets that with just $1.2 trillion in new revenue from proposed tax increases for the wealthiest Americans.
The 1 Percent
Clinton said that she would raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans to pay for her spending proposals, because “90 percent of the gains have gone to the top 1 percent.” But that is an outdated figure.
Clinton: And here’s how: Wall Street, corporations, and the super-rich are going to start paying their fair share of taxes. Not because we resent success. Because when more than 90 percent of the gains have gone to the top 1 percent, that’s where the money is.
The most recent data from economist Emmanuel Saez of the University of California, Berkeley, show that the top 1 percent of families captured 52 percent of the post-recession income growth from 2009 to 2015. In fact, Saez estimated that “the top 1 percent incomes captured 52 percent of the overall economic growth of real incomes per family over the period 1993-2015.”
Clinton’s mistake was to rely on a report that referred to outdated figures.
Her campaign pointed to an April 2015 article from PolitiFact.com, which gave Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont a “mostly true” rating for his claim that “99 percent of all new income today (is) going to the top 1 percent.”
To support the claim, the Sanders campaign cited the work of Justin Wolfers, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics and a professor of economics and public policy at the University of Michigan. Wolfers, in a January 2015 post for the New York Times’ Upshot blog, wrote that only the top 1 percent saw any income gains from 2009 to 2013.
Wolfers, Jan. 27, 2015: After adjusting for inflation, the average income for the richest 1 percent (excluding capital gains) has risen from $871,100 in 2009 to $968,000 over 2012 and 2013. By contrast, for the remaining 99 percent, average incomes fell by a few dollars from $44,000 to $43,900.
Wolfers added: “That is, so far all of the gains of the recovery have gone to the top 1 percent.”
But Wolfers had based his calculations on Saez’s preliminary numbers for 2013, and Saez has updated his estimates for income growth twice since then.
In a June 2015 update, Saez said that from 2009 to 2014, during the economic recovery, 58 percent of real income growth went to the top 1 percent. And as of his June 2016 update, the figure had fallen to 52 percent, from 2009 to 2015.
Clinton overstated the number of jobs created since President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden took office.
Clinton: Our economy is so much stronger than when they took office. Nearly 15 million new private-sector jobs.
In fact, since January 2009, when Obama took office, the private sector hasadded 10.5 million jobs. Clinton only counted jobs created since the low point of employment during the Great Recession – February 2010 – and disregarded the months during Obama’s tenure when jobs were lost. A total of 14.8 million private-sector jobs were created between February 2010 and June 2016.
Private-sector jobs give an important look at overall labor market health but do not tell the whole story. Overall employment, including government jobs, has increased by 10.1 million since January 2009 and 14.4 million since February 2010.
The Great Wall Debate
Clinton dismissed one of Trump’s signature campaign pledges, saying, “We will not build a wall.” But while Clinton opposes Trump’s ambitious plan for a massive wall along at least half of the 2,000-mile border with Mexico, Clinton has herself voted for and supported legislation to add more fencing along the southern border.
As Clinton acknowledged at a town hall event on Nov. 9, 2015, “I voted numerous times when I was a senator to spend money to build a barrier to try to prevent illegal immigrants from coming in. And I do think you have to control your borders.”
On Aug. 2, 2006, then Sen. Clinton was among a large, bipartisan majority of senators who voted in favor of $1.83 billion in funding to construct 370 miles of triple-layered fencing, and 461 miles of vehicle barriers along the southwest border.
In September of that year, Clinton was also among a majority of senators who supported the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which called for construction of 700 miles of fencing and enhanced surveillance technology, such as unmanned drones, ground-based sensors, satellites, radar coverage and cameras. It wassigned into law by President George W. Bush.
In her book “Hard Choices,” Clinton said she supported the 2013 Senate immigration bill, S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (page 459).
Clinton, “Hard Choices”: I only wish that the bipartisan bill passed in the Senate in 2013 reforming our immigration laws could have passed the House.
In addition to providing a path to citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally, the bill would have funded an enhanced border security plan, including additional border fencing.
Again, none of that comes close to Trump’s promise to build a “great wall” —35 to 40 feet high — along 1,000 miles of the roughly 2,000-mile border with Mexico (natural barriers protect the remaining 1,000 miles, he said). But Clinton has voted for and supported more border fencing in the past.
Daily Gun Deaths
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said that there are “91 Americans who are killed by gun violence each day,” and urged Congress to “keep guns out of the hands of criminals and terrorists.” However, almost 58 of those daily gun deaths are suicides — not criminal homicides.
Pelosi: For the sake of the 91 Americans who are killed by gun violence each day, we must break the grip of the gun lobby on Congress and keep guns out of the hands of criminals and terrorists.
In 2014, 33,599 people died from firearm injuries, according to the most recent mortality report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (see Table 10). That averages out to more than 92 gun-related deaths each day.
But 63.5 percent of the gun deaths in 2014, or 21,334, were suicides. Homicides totaled 10,945, and the rest were accidental discharges (586), legal intervention/war (515) and undetermined (270).
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney of New York twisted the words of a speaker at the GOP convention, claiming he called “equality” a “distraction.”
Maloney: Last week, a speaker at the Republican convention called equality a “distraction.” “Who cares?” he asked. Well, I care.
Maloney then went on to praise the Supreme Court’s decision on marriage equality. In reality, the person Maloney was criticizing cares about marriage equality, too.
Maloney, who is openly gay, was misquoting Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, the first gay person to openly declare his sexuality at a Republican convention (though not the first gay person to give a speech). It’s worth noting here that in 2014 Thiel raised money to fight Prop 8 in California, a measure that would have banned same-sex marriage. So he has demonstrated that he’s on the same side as Maloney on that issue.
What Thiel referred to specifically was the debate over bathroom access for transgender people — not marriage equality or gender equality in general. He said the bathroom debate was among “fake culture wars” detracting from the “real” issue of “economic decline” in America.
Here’s what Thiel really said:
Thiel, July 21: When I was a kid, the great debate was about how to defeat the Soviet Union. And we won. Now we are told that the great debate is about who gets to use which bathroom. This is a distraction from our real problems. Who cares?
…[F]ake culture wars only distract us from our economic decline, and nobody in this race is being honest about it except Donald Trump.
Maloney is entitled to disagree with Thiel’s opinion, but had he accurately quoted Thiel, he would have said Thiel called “bathroom access” a distraction, not “equality” in general.
Rep. Joaquin Castro said Trump “defended” World War II internment camps. Trump cited the internment camps as precedent for his proposal to ban all Muslim travel to the U.S. But he stopped just short of defending the practice.
Castro: Grandchildren of Americans who suffered in World War II internment camps — the same camps Donald Trump has defended — and grew up to be business owners, war heroes, and public servants.
We reached out to the Clinton campaign for backup, and a spokesman pointed to a Dec. 8, 2015, story in the New York Times about Trump defending his call for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”
The Times wrote, “He cast it as a temporary move in response to terrorism and invoked President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s authorization of the detention of Japanese, German and Italian immigrants during World War II as precedent.”
In an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program on Dec. 8, 2015, host Joe Scarborough asked Trump if his proposal was unconstitutional. Trump cited Roosevelt’s decision to detain thousands of noncitizen Japanese, Germans and Italians. In that same interview, Mark Halperin, a political analyst for MSNBC,repeatedly asked Trump if the Japanese internment camps went against American values. Trump praised Roosevelt but repeatedly countered that he wasn’t proposing the same thing, and refused to answer.
When asked by Time
whether he would have supported or opposed the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, Trump was noncommittal.
“I would have had to be there at the time to tell you, to give you a proper answer,” Trump said. “I certainly hate the concept of it. But I would have had to be there at the time to give you a proper answer.”
But when asked specifically on “Good Morning America
” on Dec. 8, 2015, if he agreed with the internment of Japanese Americans in World War II, Trump said he did not.
George Stephanopoulos: I’ve got to press you on that, sir. You’re praising FDR there. I take it you’re praising the setting up of internment camps for Japanese during World War II.
Trump: No, I’m not. No, I’m not. No, I’m not. Take a look at presidential proclamations 2525, 2526 and 2527. Having to do with alien Germans, alien Italians, alien Japanese and what they did. You know, they stripped them of their naturalization proceedings. They went through a whole list of things. They couldn’t go five miles from their homes. They weren’t allowed to use radios, flashlights. I mean, you know, take a look at what FDR did many years ago, and he’s one of the most highly respected presidents by — I mean respected by most people. They named highways after him.
Trump seemed to walk right up to the line of endorsing Japanese internment — noting that FDR did it and is considered “one of the most highly respected presidents.” But when asked directly if he was praising Japanese internment, Trump said he was not.