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He said, she said: A fact-check on last round of Trump vs Clinton debate

Donald Trump painted an inaccurately dark portrait of manufacturing in America while Hillary Clinton stretched credulity in boasting that her spending plans won’t add to the country’s debt. As well, both struggled in the presidential final debate to explain comments from their past.

us presidential election Updated: Oct 20, 2016 16:19 IST
Donald Trump,Hillary Clinton,Trump vs Clinton
People watch the third US presidential debate between Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump at Murphy's Tap House in uptown Charlotte, North Carolina.(AFP Photo)

Donald Trump painted an inaccurately dark portrait of manufacturing in America while Hillary Clinton stretched credulity in boasting that her spending plans won’t add to the country’s debt. As well, both struggled in the presidential final debate to explain comments from their past.

A look at some of the claims in the debate and how they compare with the facts:

Rigged polls

What was said: Trump has launched a tirade over rigging of polls before the US presidential election. The Republican said: “If you look at your voter rolls you will see millions of people that are registered to vote, millions — this isn’t coming from me, this is coming from Pew report and other places — millions of people that are registered to vote that shouldn’t be registered to vote.”

The facts: Trump correctly cited the Pew report, although the finding does not prove his point that the presidential election is “rigged”.

A 2012 report from the Pew Charitable Trusts found that 24 million voter registrations on the books were either no longer valid or inaccurate in some way. Some were failures to remove names of people who had died or moved, blamed on “antiquated” state registration systems. But the report didn’t find or even discuss any evidence of voting fraud.

Immigration/border security

1)What was said: Clinton on whether she called for open borders in a 2013 speech to a Brazilian bank: “I was talking about energy.”

The facts: She was actually talking about more than energy, but apparently less than an open border that immigrants can spill across at will, according to the partial transcript released by WikiLeaks.

Clinton said in the speech that “my dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders, sometime in the future with energy that is as green as sustainable as we can get it, powering growth and opportunity for every person in the hemisphere”. The remarks suggest a broad interest in open trade but were not necessarily evidence that she would support the unfettered movement of people, as Trump suggested.

2)What was said: “Hillary Clinton wanted the (border) wall. Hillary Clinton fought for the wall in 2006 or thereabouts. Now, she never gets anything done, so naturally it wasn’t built,” Trump said on Wednesday.

Read | Putin’s puppet to sleazy campaign: Trump, Clinton trade barbs in last debate

The facts: He’s partly right. As a senator from New York, Clinton did support the 2006 Secure Fence Act, which authorised the construction of hundreds of miles of fencing along the US-Mexico border.

But it was built, contrary to Trump’s assertion. Nearly 700 miles of fencing was put in place during President George W Bush’s second term and the beginning of President Barack Obama’s first term.

The fencing is placed largely in urban areas along the nearly 2,000-mile frontier. It is not the type of solid wall that Trump has pledged to construct at Mexico’s expense. The fence has miles-long gaps and gates built in to allow landowners access to their property on the south side of the fencing. Immigrants have been known to go over and around the fence.

Sexual harassment claims

What was said: Clinton claimed: “He held a number of big rallies where he said that he could not possibly have done those things to those women because they were not attractive enough.”

Trump rejected Clinton’s claim, saying: “I did not say that. I did not say that.”

The facts: He did say that. At an October 13 rally, Trump criticized the physical attractiveness of People magazine reporter Natasha Stoynoff, who has said that Trump forced himself on her at Mar-a-Lago while she was interviewing him for a story. Trump said: “Take a look. You take a look. Look at her, look at her words, you tell me what you think. I don’t think so.”

National debt

What was said: On her policies, Clinton said, “I don’t add a penny to the national debt.”

The facts: Not true, according to the non-partisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. It estimates her increased spending in areas such as infrastructure, more financial aid for college and early childhood education, would increase the national debt by $200 billion over 10 years. That is far less than their estimate for Trump, who they predict would add $5.3 trillion over 10 years. But it’s plenty more than a penny.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during the third and final debate with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. (AFP Photo)

Tax policies

What was said: Trump accused Clinton’s tax policies and said, “Her plan is going to raise taxes and even double your taxes.”

The facts: Clinton’s plan wouldn’t raise taxes at all for 95% of Americans, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. The very wealthiest would take the greatest hit, though a doubling is highly questionable.

Two-thirds of her proposed increases would hit the top 0.1% of richest Americans, the centre estimates. The main components of her tax plan -- a minimum 30% tax on those earning at least $1 million a year, and a 4% tax surcharge for those earning more than $5 million a year. She would also cap the value of tax deductions and exclusions for wealthier taxpayers.

Obama: ‘Deporter-in-chief’

What was said: Trump claimed that “President Obama has moved millions of people out ... millions of people have been moved out of this country”.

The facts: That’s true. Obama has overseen the deportation of more than 2.5 million immigrants since taking office in January 2009.

During Obama’s first term hundreds of thousands of immigrants were deported annually, following a trend of increasing deportations started under President George W Bush. The administration set a record in 2014 when more than 409,000 people were sent home. During his second term, deportations have steadily declined as he has opted to focus immigration enforcement on deporting serious criminals and those who pose a threat to national security or public safety.

Trump also claims that “nobody knows about it, nobody talks about it” but that’s not so. Obama has been dubbed “the deporter in chief” by immigration advocates and opponents of his immigration enforcement policies.

Russian role in hacking

What was said: Trump said his rival “has no idea whether it’s Russia, China or anybody else” behind recent hacks of Democratic organisations and individuals. “Our country has no idea.”

The facts: Trump’s refusal to point the finger at Moscow is at odds with the prevailing position of the US intelligence community. “We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities,” the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said recently in a joint statement with the Department of Homeland Security.

Russia has denied accusations that it was behind the effort.

Debt-free college

What was said: In the third and final debate, Clinton said: “I want to make college debt free.”

The facts: Clinton might aspire to that lofty goal, but she has only proposed making college tuition free for in-state students who go to a public college or university. Even with expanded grant aid, room and board can lead students to borrow.

Clinton would have the government pay for in-state tuition at public colleges and universities for students from families earning less than $125,000 a year. Students would still need to foot the bill for housing and food, which makes up more than half of the average $18,943 sticker price at a four-year public university, according to the College Board.

But Trump is correct that government would shoulder higher costs with Clinton’s plan.

Her plan would cost the federal government an estimated $500 billion over 10 years, with additional costs possibly for state governments.

Trans-Pacific Partnership

What was said: Clinton on her opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal: “It didn’t meet my test.”

The facts: It met her test when she was secretary of state and she promoted it worldwide.

Hacked emails from Clinton’s campaign, released on Wednesday by WikiLeaks, showed that Jake Sullivan, her top foreign policy adviser, called her a “big champion” of the deal and worried about how to handle the issue in the face of Senator Bernie Sanders’ opposition. She later flip-flopped into opposition during the Democratic primaries against Sanders.

Clinton says she no longer backs the proposed trade deal as written because it does not provide enough protections for US workers on wages, jobs and the country’s national security. Yet the final deal also includes some of the strongest labour protections of any US trade agreement.

India, China economies

What was said: In the US presidential debate, Trump said: “So I just left some high representatives of India. They’re growing at 8%. China is growing at 7%. And that for them is a catastrophically low number. We are growing, our last report came out and it’s right around the 1% level and I think it’s going down.”

The facts: China and India are growing faster in large part because they’re playing catch-up to the United States, the world’s largest economy. Those two Asian countries are starting from a much lower baseline with a much larger population than the United States, meaning that by definition they should be growing faster. Economists would warn of a dangerous bubble if the United States grew that quickly and financial markets would fear a devastating recession to follow.

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But China and India aren’t any better off than the US, said former Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke in an analysis released on Wednesday. On a per-capita basis, China has just 10% of the United States’ income. India has about 6%.

Factoring in life expectancy, inequality and leisure, Bernanke notes that the United States comes off even better.

Missing money

What was said: Trump said that under Hillary Clinton, “$6 billion went missing” at the State Department.

The facts: Not exactly. That figure is a distortion about a legitimate record-keeping concern. In 2014, the State Department’s inspector general released an alert warning that the documentation for $6 billion in State Department contracts was incomplete. But there’s no reason to think that all occurred under Clinton. The inspector general, Steve Linnick, specifically disavowed the conclusion that the money went missing.

First Published: Oct 20, 2016 10:50 IST