Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Fact-checking convention claims on Medicare, Keystone XL, Zika, Common Core and more

The Republican National Convention has completed its second day, and we take a look at what fact checkers are saying about Tuesday's speeches. The Rural Blog will be providing excerpts from both conventions. If you want to re-publish them, we encourage you to look at The Washington Post's Fact Checker, or Politifact for full context and things you may want to add. The fact-checkers looked at a lot more assertions yesterday than we have room to publish here.

On Tuesday Donald Trump Jr. (left) said Hillary Clinton would destroy Medicare for seniors. Glenn Kessler and Michelle Ye Hee Lee write for the Post, "This is a mysterious claim by Trump’s son that appears to have no factual basis. There is no specific proposal by Clinton that could be said to 'destroy' Medicare, the health-care program for the elderly."

"The most substantive change that Clinton would make is to allow people older than 55 to join Medicare; currently it is limited to those age 65 or older," the writers report. "But the effect on the program, while uncertain, does appear to be limited, especially if premiums are set correctly, according to a 2008 Congressional Budget Office study of options for Medicare. (The CBO looked at a general buy-in program as well as one for people as young as 62.) Such a plan may lead people to retire early, thus reducing the size of the workforce, but that’s entirely different from 'destroying' Medicare."

Lori Robertson of writes, "Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wrongly said that Clinton was for the Keystone XL pipeline before she was against it. She did not take a position until she opposed the pipeline in 2015." Also, concerning the threat from Zika, McConnell said “Clinton Democrats in the Senate blocked a bill aimed at eliminating that virus before it can spread.” The whole story is that Democrats objected to “poison pills” Republicans added to the bill, primarily denying of the funding to Planned Parenthood. McConnell also claimed that the Senate “ended Common Core.” It may have eliminated any connection to federal funding, but the Common Core State Standards are a creation of the states, not the federal government. But the Post found McConnell was correct in saying Clinton made up a story about landing under sniper fire in Bosnia.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Clinton "had expressed support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, despite documented human rights abuses in the country," claiming she called the leader, who Christie said is responsible for 400,000 deaths, a reformer, Allison Graves and Neelesh Moorthy report for Politifact. What Clinton actually told CBS's Bob Schieffer in a 2011 interview was, "Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he's a reformer."

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