Our fact check of Sen. Rand Paul’s statements about his undergraduate degree has quickly become one of the most widely read ever — and also among the most controversial. The column has about 2,500 comments from readers arguing about its fairness.
That’s a lot of material to wade through, so we thought we would share some of the e-mails we received directly from readers, many of whom — like the Republican senator from Kentucky — have medical degrees. As you can see, many letters said the column was on target — but at least half (or more) said it was ridiculous. Because readers did not expressly say they wanted their name printed, we are using initials instead.
“The total higher education budget, including means of total finance — is actually a little bit, just slightly, higher than when I took office.”
— Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), remarks at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast, Feb. 9, 2015
Jindal, a presidential hopeful in Washington for an education meeting, met with reporters this week and was immediately confronted with a question about alleged reductions in funding he has made to Louisiana’s higher education budget. Jindal’s budget policies have come under scrutiny since he proposed in his upcoming budget to reduce funding for Louisiana colleges by hundreds of million of dollars. The New York Times, using calculations by the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, reported Louisiana’s higher education budget “has been slashed by more than just about any other state since 2008.”
The most widely-read individual fact check of January was our examination of Sen. Rand Paul’s claims about people on disability. (Our fact check of the State of the Union speech actually attracted by far the most readers, but we do not include round-ups in this monthly list.) There was essentially a three-way tie for second place, with two of the columns examining competing claims about the Keystone XL pipeline. Finally, we had another tie for fifth place, including a column that exposed the fallacy of a widely-cited statistic concerning alcohol-related deaths of college students.
“In the last 14 years, Texas has created almost one-third of all the new jobs in America.”
— Former Texas governor Rick Perry (R), Iowa Freedom Summit, Jan. 24, 2015
“During my entire tenure as governor, almost a third of all the jobs created in America were created in the state of Texas.”
“We can take away funding for that program because … the Affordable Care Act actually guarantees that every citizen in this country has access to free preventative care, including the measles vaccine. So we no longer need to provide additional government funding to ensure that those vaccines can be administered.”
“Our vaccination rate in Texas [in 2000] was 65 percent. When I left two weeks ago, it was 95 percent.”
— Former Texas governor Rick Perry (R), in an interview with The Washington Post and the Texas Tribune, Feb. 5, 2015
This was an impressive boast made by the former governor and 2016 presidential aspirant — that during his term as governor from 2000 to 2015, he managed to boost the vaccination rate by nearly 50 percent.
“I don’t think there is any health care professional who has examined the fact, who can honestly say that Americans have not died because of the diseases brought into America by illegal aliens who are not properly healthcare screened as lawful immigrants are. It might be the enterovirus that has a heavy presence in Central and South America that has caused deaths of American children over the past 6 to 9 months. It might be this measles outbreak. There are any number of things.”
“The science right now is inconclusive, but we have to research it.”
— Then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), Pennsylvania rally, April 21, 2008
Good Fact Checker columns never really disappear; they reemerge from time to time as readers become interested in a topic once again. So it was little surprise when one of the most widely read columns this week was from 2008, written by our former colleague Michael Dobbs, who first started The Fact Checker. The article critically examined statements made by then-Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain concerning alleged — and discredited — links between autism and vaccines.
“Every day in the United States, 22 veterans succumb to suicide — losing their personal battle to invisible wounds of war.”
—Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), news release, Jan. 13, 2015
“When you have 8,000 veterans a year committing suicide, then you have a serious problem.”
“Under Obama, Average Family Premiums Have Increased $4,154”