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FACT CHECK: Who told the truth and who didn't at Tuesday night's VP debate?

Posted: 7:24 AM, Oct 05, 2016
Updated: 2016-10-05 11:24:44Z
FACT CHECK: Who told the truth at VP debate?

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who have received little attention in a race focused on Trump and Hillary Clinton, faced off for 90 minutes Tuesday in the only vice presidential debate of the campaign.

We teamed up with PolitiFact to fact check everything the candidates said. First, let's look at how Pence's comments scored on our "Truth-o-Meter."  

Mike Pence half right that Obama has been "raising taxes"

Pence said that the Obama administration has been "raising taxes."

Obama certainly raised some levies, including income taxes on people earning more than $400,000 a year. Although most folks don’t fall into that category, Obama’s health care reforms come with a series of new taxes that do affect lower earners.

But Pence’s statement leaves a lot out of the story. Obama also has extended permanently tax cuts that were set to expire. He also enacted a series of temporary tax cuts aimed at jump-starting the economy.

Figures from the CBO and the Tax Policy Center show that average tax rates have risen under Obama, but part of the reason is that Obama also allowed some special tax cuts enacted during the recession to expire. If you go back to CBO figures before the recession and compare them with figures after it ended, the average household tax rate was about the same in 2006 as it was in 2013.

Pence's claim is Half True.

Pence has supported privatization, but Trump has repeatedly said he has no plans to modify Social Security

Pence may have a record of supporting Republican proposals to change Social Security to allow for more investment into private funds, but Trump has clearly and repeatedly said this campaign cycle he has no plans to modify Social Security or introduce elements similar to the Bush’s failed 2005 attempt to restructure the entitlement program.

Pence's claim is Mostly False.

Claim that Clinton is in support of open borders is false

Clinton supported a 2013 bill that would have invested billions in border security in addition to a path to citizenship. As a presidential candidate she has called for securing the border and targeting deportation to criminals and those who pose security threats. While her plan would make it easier for many undocumented immigrants to avoid deportation, that’s not the same as allowing a free-for-all at the border and ending enforcement.
We rate this claim False.

Mostly true that Clinton/Kaine are for sanctuary cities

During her first race for president, Clinton expressed support for sanctuary cities and said she wouldn’t crack down on them. She argued that without such policies, people will hide from police and not report crimes.

In 2015, Clinton criticized the city of San Francisco for releasing a man from jail who later was charged with murdering a woman and had previously been deported many times. However, her campaign reiterated Clinton’s view that she believes sanctuary cities can help further public safety.

We rate this claim Mostly True.

It's true that Clinton wants to increase the number of refugees from Syria

Pence pointed to a real policy distinction between the Republican and Democratic presidential nominees when he said that Clinton "wants to increase Syrian refugees to this country by 550 percent." Trump is opposed to refugee settlement, while Clinton supports it, and at a greater number than Obama’s current policy. Clinton supported allowing in 65,000 refugees when Obama supported a 10,000 figure. (The refugees would be screened.) That’s a 550 percent increase. The UN has determined that about 478,000 Syrian refugees are in need of resettlement.

The statement is accurate and we rate it True.

Pence claim that Obama pulled back on missile defense shield in deference to Russia is Half True

Pence's impression about Obama’s decision to end the program is certainly shared by GOP politicians and pundits, and Obama took office with a vow to reset relations with Russia. Russia found Bush’s missile defense program in neighboring countries offensive and was pleased to see it go (though Gates asserts they dislike the new policy more).

Gates, the Bush official who recommended the plan in 2006, acknowledged he drove the change in policy because of improved American intelligence of what the Iranians were working on -- not solely to be nice to the Russians.

Plus, new defense systems are still planned.

We rate the claim Half True.

Pence claim that only 10 percent of Clinton Foundation money goes to aid is wrong

Only a small amount of the donations collected by the Clinton Foundation are awarded as grants to other nonprofit groups. But that doesn’t mean that every other dollar is "overhead."

The Clinton Foundation spends between 80-90 percent on program services, which experts say is the standard in the industry to define charitable works. It spends the majority of its money directly on projects rather than through third-party grants.

Conversely, only between 10-20 percent is spent on management of the foundation and fundraising activities, which is tagged as "overhead."

Pence’s claim rates False.

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Now, let's see how Kaine's comments scored on our "Truth-o-Meter."

Clinton helped win health care for millions of children.

Mostly True: This is accurate. Clinton was key to creating the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides coverage for 8 million children.
 
African Americans sentenced at higher rates
True: African Americans are more likely to be arrested and get longer sentences than whites for the same actions, PolitiFact found.
 
The Iran nuclear deal dealt with Iran "without firing a shot."
Mostly true: Since the United States has not had any military skirmishes with Iran in the past year, Kaine's statement is true. Clinton mentioned this during her acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention as she touted her experience as secretary of state.
 
"I'm proud that we put a lid on Iran's nuclear program without firing a single shot," she told the crowd in Philadelphia. "Now we have to enforce it, and keep supporting Israel's security."
 
Trump has said he would let states decide minimum wage.
Mostly true: In an interview with NBC's "Meet the Press," Trump clarified his views on whether Washington should set a minimum wage. He said:
 
"No, I'd rather have the states go out and do what they have to do. And the states compete with each other, not only other countries, but they compete with each other, Chuck. So I like the idea of let the states decide. But I think people should get more. I think they're out there. They're working. It is a very low number. You know, with what's happened to the economy, with what's happened to the cost. I mean, it's just -- I don't know how you live on $7.25 an hour. But I would say let the states decide."
 
Kaine's claim of 15 million news jobs is cherry-picked.
Half true: Clinton made the same claim during her acceptance speech at the DNC, praising President Barack Obama's efforts to steer the nation's recovery from the great recession.  
 
"Our economy is so much stronger than when they took office. Nearly 15 million new private-sector jobs," she said.
 
But to get to that number, Clinton fuzzed the time frame.
 
To do it, she picked the low point of the job market under Obama. From that point, the United States has gained nearly 15 million private-sector jobs.
 
Specifically, the number of employed Americans bottomed out in February 2010 with 107.3 million jobs and rebounded, as of June 2016, to just over 122 million jobs. That’s an increase of about 14.8 million jobs -- a reasonable approximation for Clinton’s phrasing of "nearly 15 million."
 
But note the time frame for that calculation. It doesn’t start at the point "when they" -- Obama and Biden -- "took office." February 2010 was just over a year after Obama and Biden were sworn in.
 
Essentially, Obama and Biden took office as the recession was spiraling to its low point, but it took a while to hit bottom. So after they were sworn in, the number of jobs continued to fall for a year as they worked to stop the economic freefall.
 
We should note that starting the count in February 2010 is something economists have told us is actually a reasonable decision, since the recession began under George W. Bush and Obama can’t reasonably be blamed for job losses in the earliest part of his tenure, when the die was already cast.
 
However, Clinton glossed over the difference in the time frame by starting the count at their inauguration. And how big a difference does this make? It’s not trivial.
 
Using this measurement, the number of jobs rose from about 111.5 million in January 2009 to 122.1 million in June 2016. That’s an increase of 10.6 million jobs, or only about two-thirds of the nearly 15 million total Clinton touted in her speech.
 
Trump called the military "a disaster."
Mostly true: Trump in fact made this remark during the sixth primary debate on Jan. 14.
 
In response to a question by Fox Business Network's Maria Bartiromo, who asked about South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s reference to Trump as one of "the angriest voices," Trump responded:
 
"I'm very angry because our country is being run horribly and I will gladly accept the mantle of anger. Our military is a disaster. Our healthcare is a horror show. Obamacare, we're going to repeal it and replace it. We have no borders. Our vets are being treated horribly. Illegal immigration is beyond belief. Our country is being run by incompetent people. And yes, I am angry."
 
Kaine's claim about the Clinton Foundation's impact on HIV/AIDS drugs is true.
True: In 2014, the World Health Organization reported that by the end of 2013, more than 11.7 million people were onantiretroviral therapy in low- and middle-income countries. While the kinds of drugs have changed, the WHO said "in the past decade the price of individual antiretroviral formulations has decreased considerably."
 
The treatments used in the early days have fallen from a median cost of about $600 in 2003 to about $100 a decade later. A more advanced drug combination introduced in 2005 saw a similar decline.
 
Importantly, the WHO listed the Clinton Health Access Initiative as one of a handful of organizations collaborating on ensuring a steady supply of drugs. The partners in that effort include the biggest players, including several United Nations agencies, PEPFAR (the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) and UNITAID, a project created by  Brazil, Chile, France, Norway and the United Kingdom.
 
Kaine is right that Trump discussed punishing women who choose abortion, but he later clarified his remarks.
Half true: In an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, Trump agreed there should be some sort of punishment for women who decide to have abortions, though he wouldn't elaborate.
 
His campaign later walked back those comments, saying he meant that the person who performed the abortion would face consequences -- not the woman. The campaign's statement read:
 
"If Congress were to pass legislation making abortion illegal and the federal courts upheld this legislation, or any state were permitted to ban abortion under state and federal law, the doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be held legally responsible, not the woman. The woman is a victim in this case as is the life in her womb."