They took on taxes, equal pay, health insurance, gun control and immigration reform.
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren said the insurance industry last year “sucked $23 billion in profits out of the health care system.”
Facts First: It’s true. Insurance companies’ profits have been booming.
It also shows that those companies’ profit margin improved to 3.3% from 2.4% in 2017.
-Donna Borak and Tami Luhby
Crime stats in NYC
In a discussion on guns and crime, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said there needs to be a “different conversation about policing that brings police and community together. We’ve done that in New York City. And we’ve driven down crime while we’ve done it.”
Facts First: While New York City’s crime statistics have fallen in recent years during de Blasio’s time as mayor, crime in New York has been falling for years, and it’s unclear to what extent de Blasio’s policies have contributed to that decline.
LGBTQ kids missing school
In arguing that the government needs to do more to support people who are LGBTQ, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker said, “We don’t talk enough about how many children, about 30% of LGBTQ kids, who do not go to school because of fear.”
Facts First: Booker is correct, according to a leading LGBTQ education nonprofit, although a government study suggests the percentage is lower.
-Clare Foran and Jeremy Herb
Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan claimed that “the top 1% control 90% of the wealth.”
Facts First: This is incorrect. Recent studies show the wealthiest 1% own around 39% of the country’s total wealth.
A market for green products
Sen. Elizabeth Warren said, “There’s a $23 trillion market coming for green products.”
Facts First: According to a World Bank estimate, that’s correct.
Violence in Cory Booker’s neighborhood
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker often notes on the campaign trail that he lives in a low-income, inner-city area. During Wednesday night’s debate, the former Newark mayor said that seven people were shot in his Newark neighborhood last week.
“I hear gunshots in my neighborhood,” Booker said. “I think I’m the only one, I hope I am the only one that had seven people shot in their neighborhood just last week.”
Facts First: It’s sad, and it’s true.
Six people were injured and one man died in two separate shootings in Newark’s Central Ward, where Booker lives, the Tuesday before last, according to Newark Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose.
Booker lives just a block away from that first shooting.
Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan claimed that “the bottom 60% haven’t seen a raise since 1980.”
Facts First: This is incorrect. The bottom 60% have seen their income rise since 1980.
Meanwhile the top 1% saw their income rise by 233%.
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker said, “If you need a license to drive a car, you should need a license to buy and own a firearm. And not everybody in this field agrees with that, but in states like Connecticut that did that, they saw 40% drops in gun violence and 15% drops in suicides.”
Facts First: There is peer-reviewed academic support for this claim.
– Lydia DePillis
Former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke brought a stark figure into the debate on Wednesday night: “Tonight in this country you have 2.3 million of our fellow Americans behind bars. It’s the largest prison population on the face of the planet.”
Facts First: Comparing prison populations between nations is difficult because not all countries keep statistics in the same way. O’Rourke is broadly correct about the number of people behind bars in the United States but because of mass detentions in China, for instance, his claim that the US has the largest prison population on the planet is questionable.
Medicare for All
Sen. Amy Klobuchar on Medicare for All: “I’m concerned about kicking half of Americans off of health insurance in four years.”
Facts First: True. Medicare for All would cut private insurance for 150 million people.
The Senate’s Medicare for All bill, sponsored by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, would essentially eliminate the private insurance industry after a four-year transition. Instead, all Americans would be enrolled in a government-run plan, which would cover virtually all medically necessary services. Private insurers could only offer other benefits, such as cosmetic surgery.
Currently, more than 150 million Americans get their health insurance through private plans offered by their employers, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Also covered by private insurance are the millions who buy policies on the individual exchange or through Medicare Advantage plans. All of these consumers would be shifted from the policies to the national plan under Medicare for All.
Sen. Cory Booker singled out companies like Amazon and Halliburton for “paying nothing in taxes.”
Facts First: Amazon and Halliburton’s tax rates are low, but not zero.
“From 2012 through 2018, Amazon reported $25.4 billion in pretax US income and current federal tax provisions totaling $1.9 billion,” the Journal reported. “That is an 8% tax rate — low, but not zero or negative. Looking back further, since 2002, Amazon has earned $27.7 billion in global pretax profits and paid $3.6 billion in global cash income taxes, a 13% tax rate.”
Amazon has been a Democratic target as a big winner of the 2017 Republican tax overhaul law.
When responding to a question about income inequality, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said: “It is not right that the CEO of McDonald’s makes 2,100 times more than the people slingin’ hash at McDonald’s.”
Facts First: While technically true, it’s worth noting that this includes the wages of part-time employees working abroad, not just US-based employees.
McDonald’s reported that CEO Stephen Easterbrook’s total 2018 compensation was $15.9 million, while its median employee earned a total compensation of $7,473. That median employee however is a part-time employee located in Hungary.
Cory Booker said: “The overhead for insurers that they charge is 15%, while Medicare’s overhead is only at 2%”
Facts First: This is roughly true, although an apples-to-apples comparison is difficult to make.
Some of Medicare’s overhead costs are paid by the Social Security system, so the actual administrative expenses are likely higher, but it is true that Medicare’s administrative costs are lower as a share of overall expenditures than they are in the private market.
Facts First: ‘Metering’ has led to longer waits, but it’s unclear if those wait times resulted in the family deciding to cross illegally
“They have been playing games with people who are coming and trying to seek asylum at our ports of entry. Oscar and Valeria went to a port of entry and then they were denied the ability to make an asylum claim so they got frustrated and they tried to cross the river and they died because of that,” Castro said.
The Trump administration’s policy, called “metering,” has led to longer wait times, though it’s difficult to ascribe motive behind a migrant’s decision to cross the border illegally.
In the case of the father and child who died trying to cross the Rio Grande river, the man’s mother told CNNE that they left the country in April in hopes of making it to Dallas to work. She said the family wanted to buy their own house and better their financial situation.
Customs and Border Protection has said it doesn’t know how many migrants have been turned away as a result of metering.
Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke said that Congress passed “a $2 trillion tax cut” that favored corporations which were sitting on record piles of cash and the very wealthiest in the country at a time of historic wealth inequality.
Facts First: Though there are a variety of estimates projecting the cost of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, according to the Congressional Budget Office, O’Rourke’s statement appears to be roughly accurate.
Nobel Prizes won by immigrants for the US
Sen. Amy Klobuchar said 25% of people who have won the Nobel Prize on behalf of the United States were born in other countries and are immigrants.
Facts First: The percentage for some categories is actually larger than Klobuchar stated.