Thursday, October 08, 2020

Fact-checking the vice-presidential debate

Wednesday evening's vice-presidential debate likely changed few minds, but it was a calmer affair than last week's slugfest between President Trump and Joe Biden. Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris both stretched the truth at times, according to

Here's some fact-checking on issues with rural resonance:

  • Pence said that "universal mail-in voting" will create a "massive opportunity for voter fraud." But election experts say fraud is rare and difficult to accomplish beyond a small scale.
  • Harris said Trump's tax law benefited "the top 1% and the biggest corporations," but that was misleading, since most households received some tax cut.
  • Pence said Biden is going to "raise your taxes," but Biden's plan only raises taxes for those making more than $400,000 a year.
  • Harris said the Trump administration knew the disease was serious on Jan. 28 but called it a hoax, minimized its threat and discouraged people from wearing masks. As for the hoax claim, Trump didn't call the virus a hoax, but said one was being perpetrated by Democrats who found fault with his administration's response to the coronavirus. 
  • Pence said the Trump administration "saw 500,000 manufacturing jobs created" in its first three years, but that ignored the 164,000 manufacturing jobs lost in the pandemic.
  • Harris falsely said the trade war with China cost the U.S. 300,000 manufacturing jobs. The U.S. gained 146,000 factory jobs in the first 18 months after the tariffs took effect.
  • Pence said there are no more hurricanes today than there were 100 years ago. That ignores the fact that climate change makes hurricanes stronger and slower, and thus more dangerous.
  • Harris said people with pre-existing conditions would no longer have protection under the law if the Supreme Court overturns the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. But that would only affect those who get individual insurance plans; the protections would mostly remain in place for those with employer-sponsored health plans.
  • Pence said that Biden wants to abolish fossil fuels and ban fracking. But Biden has said he wants to ban only new fracking on public lands. Most fracking occurs on private land. 

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