On Jan. 17, NBC News hosted a Democratic presidential debate for the top-tier candidates: Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley. The presidential candidates made the following statements during the debate, The Current staff decided the verdicts after heavy research of reputable sources. Full transcripts of the debate can be found online at cbsnews.com, washingtonpost.com and nbcnews.com.

  • “As we look out at our country today, what the American people understand is we have an economy that’s rigged, that ordinary Americans are working longer hours for lower wages, 47 million people living in poverty, and almost all of the new income and wealth going to the top one percent.”—Bernie Sanders, in his opening statement
    • According to the National Center for Law and Economic Justice, 46.5 million people were living in poverty in the U.S. in 2012, and 20.4 million people were living in deep poverty, whereas their income was at least 50 percent below the poverty line.
    • The Economist reported that the richest people in the top one percent receive approximately half of their income from wages and salaries. The rest of their salaries are made from self-employment and business income, interest, dividends, capital gains and rent.
    • VERDICT: True.
  • “He [Bernie Sanders] voted against the Brady Bill five times. He voted for, what we call, the Charleston Loophole. He voted for immunity from gun-makers and sellers which the NRA said, ‘was the most important piece of gun legislation in 20 years.’”—Hillary Clinton, on gun control
    • The Brady Bill, or the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, was passed in 1994 and made it mandatory for consumers to pass background checks when purchasing guns from licensed dealers. Politico reported that Sanders did, in fact, vote against the bill.
    • The Washington Post reported that when Sanders was a member of the House of Representatives, he voted against the Bill in May 1991, June 1991 and Nov. 1993. However, Sanders voted in favor of the May 1991 Staggers instant background check amendment, which would allow people to request a response explaining their ineligibility to purchase guns if they didn’t pass background checks, and an amendment to replace the five-day wait period.
    • VERDICT: True.
  • “One out of three African American men may well end up going to prison. That’s the statistic.”—Hillary Clinton, when asked if the perception that African American men’s lives are cheap is perception or reality
    • The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People reported on their website that one in six black men were incarcerated since 2001, and that, assuming the trend continues, one in three black men can expect to be imprisoned during their lives.
    • VERDICT: True.
  • “Who in America is satisfied that we have more people in jail than any other country on Earth, including China? Disproportionately, African American and Latino. Who is satisfied that 51 percent of African American young people are either unemployed or underemployed?”— Bernie Sanders, in response to Clinton’s answer on African American perception
    • The New York Times reported in 2008 that the U.S. has roughly 2.3 million people imprisoned, leading the world in imprisonment rates. China is second in the world with the number of people imprisoned with 1.6 million people.
    • The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that as of Dec. 2015, the unemployment rate for male and female black people between the ages of 16 and 19 was 23.7 percent.
    • VERDICT: Sanders remarks about the incarceration rate in the U.S. were true; however, his statistics about the unemployment rates for African Americans was misleading. While that specific demographic is leading in unemployment rates in the U.S., it is not as high as he stated.
  • “I drove our incarceration rate down to 20-year lows and drove violent crime down to 30-year lows, and became the first governor south of the Mason-Dixon Line to repeal the death penalty.”—Martin O’Malley, on his time as mayor of Baltimore and governor of Maryland
    • FBI crime data from 1999-2009 shows that Part 1 crimes, including criminal homicide, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, arson and motor vehicle theft, did decline during his term as Baltimore Mayor from 1999 to 2006. During that time, the crime rate fell by 48 percent.
    • In 2011, five years after O’Malley left his position as Mayor, Baltimore’s homicide rate obtained the 30-year low O’Malley is referring to. During this time, the homicide rate was 197, and, according to the Baltimore Sun, the Baltimore Police Department had a different strategy than he had when in office.
    • As for the death penalty, U.S. News reported that on May 2, 2013, Maryland did, in fact, become the first state south of the Mason-Dixon Line to repeal the death penalty.
    • VERDICT: O’Malley’s statements about the incarceration rate and death penalty are true; however, his statement about the 30-year low is misleading.
  • “I voted for it [the Affordable Care Act], but right now, what we have to deal with is the fact that 29 million people still have no health insurance. We are paying the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, getting ripped off. And here’s the important point, we are spending far more per person on healthcare than the people of any other country.”—Bernie Sanders, on healthcare
    • The Centers for Disease Control reported, as of Aug. 2015, that the number of uninsured people, under the age of 65, was 35.7 million. CNN also reported that, when compared to other countries, Americans tend to pay between two and six times more for brand name prescription drugs. As for healthcare spending in total, the California Healthcare Foundation found that, as of 2013, US health spending was approximately $2.9 trillion, which exceeds other developing countries.
    • VERDICT: True.
  • “I will go anywhere, to meet with anyone, at any time to find common ground. That’s what I did as a first lady, when I worked with both Democrats and Republicans to get the Children’s Health Insurance Program…”—Hillary Clinton, on how she’ll bring the country together
    • Some sources say that Clinton’s role was exaggerated. On Oct. 6, 2007, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, a cosponsor of the CHIP legislation, said, “The children’s health program wouldn’t be in existence today if we didn’t have Hillary pushing for it from the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.” Numerous other advisers and senators also supported the claim that Clinton was a driving force of motivation behind the legislation.
    • VERDICT: True.
  • “We have not fully discussed detention camps that our nation’s now maintaining. We haven’t discussed the shameful treatment that the people of Puerto Rico, our fellow Americans, are getting treated with by these hedge funds that are working them over.”—Martin O’Malley, in his final statement
    • According to a report from CNN, the U.S. currently has approximately 250 prisons and jails throughout the country to house immigrant detainees. The report also said that the U.S. has the largest immigration detention system in the world and costs approximately $1.84 billion a year.
    • Hedge funds are limited partnerships of investors that are typically high-risk. As of Sept. 2015, Puerto Rico was $73 billion in debt, approximately $3 billion of which was borrowed in the form of hedge funds from U.S. investors. Because the debt it so high, the government has resorted to shutting down schools, rewriting labor laws and cutting back on welfare benefits for Puerto Rican citizens.
    • VERDICT: True.

NO COMMENTS