Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders took to a Milwaukee stage Thursday night for one of the more highly-anticipated Democratic debates, following a win by Clinton in the Iowa caucus and a win by Sanders in the New Hampshire primary.
During the course of the debate, both candidates spewed out facts while defending their campaign views -- but was there truth to their statements? Politifact has rated some of the candidates' claims below.
- Clinton started the Democratic debate off Thursday on a mostly truthful note, stating, “I know a lot of Americans are angry about the economy, and for good cause. Americans haven't had a raise in 15 years.”
Clinton is actually right in regards to a median household income, which has seen a decline of 7 percent over the past 15 years – however, earnings of wage and salary of workers have actually risen over that period by 2 percent, according to Politifact.
That statistic knocks Clinton's claim down ever so slightly.
Despite that hiccup, Politifact rates Clinton’s statement as mostly true.
- At another point in the debate, Clinton boldly claimed that Sanders has called "weak.” She continued, “He's called him a disappointment."
While Sanders has critiqued Obama and used those words to describe the feelings of Americans, or to describe Obama’s policies, he did not specifically call Obama “weak” and “a disappointment.”
Politifact quotes Sanders saying in a 2011 interview, "I think there are millions of Americans who are deeply disappointed in the president, who believe that with regard to Social Security and a number of other issues, he said one thing as a candidate and is doing something very much else as a president, who cannot believe how weak he has been — for whatever reason — in negotiating with Republicans. And there’s deep disappointment."
However, Sanders didn’t claim that he felt that way himself.
Politifact subsequently rated Clinton’s claim as half true. Read the full finding here.
- Sanders noted during the debate that in America, we pay by far the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs.
So was he right?
Politifact reports, "When it comes to brand-name drugs, which yield the highest profit for the pharmaceutical industry, studies support Sanders' claim – while although not always on a drug-by-drug basis."
For example, Nexium -- the medicine widely used to treat acid reflux -- would cost $60 or less in other countries costs. On average, it costs about $215 in the United States.
Note that $215 is only the average, with prices varying widely. In 5 percent of the cases, the cost was $395.
Because the U.S. health care system is so splintered, and because Medicare is prohibited by law from using its market share to bargain for lower prices, the differences in price can be dramatic.
Politifact found one study comparing the United States and Canada, which revealed exceptions for generic drugs. In those cases, the profit margin was much lower and made up a much smaller share of prescription drug spending.
But on balance, Politifact rate Sanders’ statement as mostly true.
- Later, Sanders noted, “The African-American community lost half of their wealth as a result of the Wall Street collapse.”
Politifact reports that estimates for how much wealth blacks lost from 2005 to 2009 — as a result of the housing bubble — range from 53 percent to 61 percent.
“African-American net worth plummeted 43 percent from 2007 to 2013 — as a result of the financial crisis. Those figures are certainly in the ballpark of what Sanders said," Politifact explains.
His statement was rated as true.
- According to Sanders, the United States has "the highest rate of childhood poverty of almost any major country on Earth.”
Reports suggest that childhood poverty is surprisingly high for a country so rich – however, comparing U.S. rates to the childhood poverty rates of other countries is perilous.
That’s because standards of living vary widely from country to country. Additionally, the income inequality in the United States may be exaggerating its position, Politifact notes.
Politifact rated the statement as half true. The full finding is available here.