Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech was the highlight of the Democratic National Convention, but it was relatively sparse in terms of facts and figures that could be checked. (We don’t fact-check opinions.) Here’s a roundup of some of the most noteworthy claims that were made. As is our practice, we do not award Pinocchios for a roundup of claims made in convention events.
“More than 90 percent of the gains have gone to the top 1 percent, that’s where the money is.”
— Hillary Clinton
Clinton repeats an old Bernie Sanders line, but the numbers are out of date. Clinton is claiming that the top 1 percent of Americans gets 90 percent of the gains in income, but there is increasing evidence that income imbalance has improved in recent years as the economy has recovered from the Great Recession.
The 90 percent figure stems from research by Emmanuel Saez of the University of California at Berkeley, based on data between 2009 and 2012. Saez in June 2015 updated that study with figures dating to 2014. The new numbers showed that the top 1 percent captured 58 percent of total real income growth between 2009 and 2014.
In June 2016, Saez updated his figures again to include data for 2015, and it showed that share going to the top 1 percent had again dropped; it is now 52 percent for the period between 2009 and 2015.
Saez’s calculations now show that the share earned by the top 1 percent has fallen with each year since the Great Recession. “The recovery now looks somewhat more even,” Saez said.
“Our economy is so much stronger than when they [Obama and Biden] took office. Nearly 15 million new private-sector jobs.”
— Clinton, speaking about the economy under President Obama
The economy has added 14.8 million private-sector jobs since February 2010, the low point after the Great Recession, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But the gain is 10.5 million private-sector jobs from the start of President Obama’s presidency. So Clinton cherry-picked the date to produce the best possible number.
In fact, the gain in total jobs from Obama’s presidency is 10.1 million jobs, mainly because of drop in government employment.
“Trump suits in Mexico, not Michigan. Trump furniture in Turkey, not Ohio. Trump picture frames in India, not Wisconsin.”
Donald Trump has acknowledged that he has outsourced Trump products. There are Trump suits made in Mexico (the Clinton campaign has pointed out this photo of a “Made in Mexico” label on a Trump suit) and other countries, but there also are suits made in the United States.
Trump expanded the Trump Home brand internationally, including in Turkey. A Trump Organization news release shows it partnered with a global luxury furniture brand, Dorya International, to expand the Trump Home brand to a production facility in Turkey.
Are there really Trump picture frames? Yep. The Clinton campaign pointed to this trademark registration of the Trump Home brand — which makes picture frames and an array of other home products — out of Mumbai, India.
“Children like Ryan kept me going when our plan for universal health care failed . . . and kept me working with leaders of both parties to help create the Children’s Health Insurance Program that covers 8 million kids every year.”
The Clinton campaign clearly wants to claim that Hillary Clinton, as first lady, worked with both parties to enact the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) during Bill Clinton’s presidency. But this sort of phrasing has previously earned Two Pinocchios.
CHIP was signed into law in 1997. By all accounts, the prime mover behind CHIP was the late senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.). He was inspired by a similar Massachusetts program and enlisted Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) as his partner in the effort.
Kennedy had to overcome opposition at the Clinton White House to get the measure passed. With urging from the president, a Senate vote in May seemed to doom the plan, but Kennedy would not give up and within weeks was trying to pass a revised version of CHIP. Ultimately, it was folded into a budget plan.
Hillary Clinton is credited with a behind-the-scenes role, urging the White House to act, though her actual impact remains fuzzy. In reviewing the contemporaneous news reporting and later fact checks, we could find no evidence that she worked “with leaders of both parties” to create the law. Instead, she worked internally with White House staff and with Kennedy’s office; by Hatch’s account, she had no dealings with him, even though he was the key Republican moving the bill.
Enrollment in the program reached 8 million largely because of passage of the Affordable Care Act under President Obama.
“Bernie Sanders and I will work together to make college tuition-free for the middle class and debt-free for all.”
Clinton embraced elements of Sanders’s college funding plan, including free tuition at all community colleges. “Middle class” covers a range from about $42,000 to $125,000, and the plan proposes free tuition in phases for families within that range, for students attending in-state four-year schools. But some families will have to wait longer than others.
She proposes immediate free tuition at in-state, four-year schools for students from families making $85,000 or less. Free tuition at such schools will not be available for families making between $85,000 and $125,000 until 2021.
Her plan also demands state financial participation. But experts raised concerns that some states would decline to participate and questioned what that would mean for tuition relief, the New York Times reported.
“For the sake of the 91 Americans who are killed by gun violence each day, we must break the grip of the gun lobby on Congress and keep guns out of the hands of criminals and suspected terrorists.”
— House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.)
In 2013, there were 33,646 deaths by firearms in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That works out to about 92 deaths a day.
But 21,175 of those deaths — almost two-thirds — were suicides, compared with 11,208 that were homicides. So it’s unclear how significantly keeping guns out the hands of criminals and suspected terrorists would change the death toll from guns.
“Our imperative is quality health care that builds on the Affordable Healthcare [Act], which now covers more than 40 million more Americans.”
Pelosi’s prepared text said “20 million Americans.” But in a case of over-exuberance, she doubled the figure.
This 20 million figure comes from a March 2016 estimate by the Department of Health and Human Services that was intended to show how many people gained insurance through the Affordable Care Act since full implementation in 2013. But it’s not necessarily precise, since it is based on survey data. Since people move in and out of insurance markets on a regular basis as they change or lose jobs, this is not an easy number to capture. But “20 million” is defensible, at least in terms of the number of Americans who gained health insurance since the ACA was signed into law in 2010.
In any case, the figure that Pelosi gave before a nationwide audience is simply wrong. Not only did she double the figure, but she suggested that 40 million people currently have insurance they would not have gained before the law. (Clinton, in her speech, got the number right.)
“If you’re on the no-fly list, then you belong on the no-buy list.”
This is a reprise of a favorite Democratic line about the “no-fly list,” but the proposal introduced in Congress limiting gun purchases by people on such lists has been more broad-reaching than this.
People included in the “no-fly” list — the database that the Transportation Security Administration uses to screen passengers — are deemed a threat to commercial aviation or national security. This list is a subset of a larger watch list, the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center’s consolidated Terrorist Watchlist. While many Democratic lawmakers refer to the push to limit gun purchases of people on the no-fly list, legislative efforts have not been directly tied to that list. Instead, they applied to people in the larger consolidated Terrorist Watchlist.
The government uses a “reasonable suspicion” standard to nominate and include someone in the Terrorist Watchlist. As such, the government generally has not used a person’s inclusion on the watch list to automatically deny certain actions.
Under current federal law, membership in a terrorist organization or being listed on one of the watch lists does not stop someone from buying a gun. If a person on a watch list tries to buy a gun, the FBI is notified. There has to be another factor that disqualifies the person from buying a gun under federal or state law, such as a felony conviction, a history of domestic violence or illegal immigration status.
The Intercept in 2014 obtained the National Counterterrorism Center’s 2013 Watchlisting Guidance, which revealed the government was allowed to designate individuals as representatives of terror organizations “without any evidence they are actually connected to such organizations; it gives a single White House official the unilateral authority to place entire ‘categories’ of people the government is tracking onto the No Fly and selectee lists.”
“Not even death provides a guarantee of getting off the list,” the Intercept reported, and the process to be removed from the watch list is “simple yet opaque.”
“Donald Trump believes ‘wages are too high.’ Those are his words. Too high?”
— Sen. Sherrod Brown (Ohio)
Democrats must really like this talking point; we can assume that it polls well. Democrats have repeated this claim at least once each day throughout the convention. For the fourth day in a row, we will note that Trump has clarified this “wages are too high” claim since he said it during a November 2015 Republican primary debate. However, Trump has shifted on the minimum wage issue many times, and it has not always been clear where he stands on the federal minimum wage.
During the November debate, Trump was asked whether he was “sympathetic to the protesters’ cause since a $15 wage works out to about $31,000 a year.” His full answer, with the part Brown is quoting in bold:
“I can’t be, Neil. And the reason I can’t be is that we are a country that is being beaten on every front economically, militarily. There is nothing that we do now to win. We don’t win anymore. Our taxes are too high. I’ve come up with a tax plan that many, many people like very much. It’s going to be a tremendous plan. I think it’ll make our country and our economy very dynamic.
But, taxes too high, wages too high, we’re not going to be able to compete against the world. I hate to say it, but we have to leave it the way it is. People have to go out, they have to work really hard and have to get into that upper stratum. But we cannot do this if we are going to compete with the rest of the world. We just can’t do it.”
Days later, Trump clarified he was referring to whether he would increase the minimum wage. He would not raise it, because then it would be “too high,” he said.
But most recently, Trump has indicated that he might support raising the federal minimum wage to $10 and said that states can raise it higher.