Feb 11, 2016 11:44 PM

AP FACT CHECK: Clinton, Sanders on health care, donors

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) In their latest debate, Hillary Clinton glossed over the big-money donors juicing her White House ambitions while Bernie Sanders offered disputed numbers behind his plan for a government-financed health system.

A look at some of the claims in the Democratic presidential debate and how they compare with the facts:

CLINTON: "I'm very proud of the fact that we have more than 750,000 donors, and the vast majority of them are giving small contributions. ... We both have a lot of small donors."

THE FACTS: Her presidential run is being supported by wealthy donors in ways that Sanders' is not.

Last year's fundraising reports show that Sanders raised fully 72 percent of his campaign money from people who gave $200 or less, while for Clinton those donors accounted for just 16 percent of her funds.

Clinton stretched when putting herself in Sanders' league when it comes to grassroots financing. She said they are both getting small donors and that "sets us apart" from Republican candidates. But her rate of small-dollar contributions isn't that much different than that of some of the GOP contenders.

She also minimized the impact of the super political action committee supporting her effort, saying the group was founded to help President Barack Obama and she has no say over its operations. But no candidate can control the super PACS that are devoted to helping their candidacies, yet they can be vital in White House efforts because they can raise unlimited money and spend heavily on advertising and other help.

Although Priorities USA may have formed to help Obama, it's now steered by her trusted advisers. In fact, Guy Cecil, a former Clinton staffer, was brought in to lead the group last year as a signal to her supporters that they could trust Priorities USA to serve her well.


BERNIE SANDERS: "Our Medicare-for-all, single-payer proposal will save the average middle-class family $5,000 a year."

HILLARY CLINTON: "The numbers don't add up."

THE FACTS: More detail and analysis are needed on Sanders' plan for cradle-to-grave government-financed health care for all. But two early assessments suggest that the accounting comes up short.

The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates that the tax increases in Sanders' plan would only cover about 75 percent of what Sanders says it will cost, creating a $3 trillion hole in the federal budget over 10 years.

Emory University economist Kenneth Thorpe says the proposal also underestimates the cost of having the government provide doctors' services, hospitalization, long-term care, and vision and dental care all without premiums, copays or deductibles.

According to Thorpe, the Sanders plan falls short by about $11 trillion over 10 years. He says the income and payroll tax increases required to pay fully for the proposal would mean 71 percent of those who now have private insurance would pay more.

Thorpe served in the administration of Bill Clinton, handling economic estimates of the former president's failed health care overhaul plan. He says he has no involvement with the Hillary Clinton campaign.


SANDERS: "A male African-American baby born today stands a one-in-four chance of ending up in jail. That is beyond unspeakable."

THE FACTS: Sanders, like Clinton in an earlier debate, exaggerated the rate of incarceration for black males.

A 2003 report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics said, "About 1 in 3 black males, 1 in 6 Hispanic males, and 1 in 17 white males are expected to go to prison during their lifetime, if current incarceration rates remain unchanged." But that was only a projection. The report went on to say that at the time, 16.6 percent of adult black males had actually ever gone to prison, or 1 in 6.

Since then, the incarceration rate for black men has actually gone down instead of up, according to the Sentencing Project.


CLINTON: "He wrote a foreword for a book that basically argued voters should have buyer's remorse when it comes to President Obama's leadership and legacy. And I just couldn't agree disagree more with those kinds of comments."

THE FACTS: Sanders didn't write a foreword to that book, "Buyer's Remorse: How Obama Let Progressives Down," by Bill Press.

Instead, he contributed a blurb that's on the back cover and says nothing about Obama: "Bill Press makes the case why, long after taking the oath of office, the next president of the United States must keep rallying the people who elected him or her on behalf of progressive causes. That is the only way real change will happen."

An out-of-context excerpt of that blurb is selectively placed at the top of the front cover: "Bill Press makes the case ... read this book," which suggests that Sanders is cheerleading the case by liberals that Obama has not been liberal enough. But that was not reflected in what Sanders wrote.


SANDERS: "There's not one Republican candidate for president who agrees that climate change is real."

THE FACTS: Not so. Some of the GOP front-runners are clearly skeptics on climate science, but not all the party's candidates can be lumped together on this topic. Jeb Bush, in an email interview with Bloomberg BNA in July, wrote that "the climate is changing," adding, "I don't think anybody can argue it's not. Human activity has contributed to it."

And at a 2012 fundraising event, Ohio Gov. John Kasich said, "This isn't popular to always say, but I believe there is a problem with climates climate change in the atmosphere."

Two of the top GOP leaders in national polls Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz have been blunt and dismissive of man-made global warming.


AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein contributed to this report.


EDITOR'S NOTE _ A look at political claims that take shortcuts with the facts or don't tell the full story


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