FACT CHECK: 3 Claims From The 7th Democratic Primary Debate

Trevor Schakohl, Elias Atienza | Contributor

CNN and The Des Moines Register jointly held the seventh Democratic presidential primary debate Tuesday night in Iowa, where six candidates covered topics ranging from election records to relations with North Korea to childcare worker wages. It was the last primary debate before the Iowa’s caucuses on Feb. 3.

Here are three checks on their claims.

Claim 1: “And the only person on this stage who has beaten an incumbent Republican any time in the past 30 years is me,” said Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

In 2012, Warren beat Republican incumbent Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown for his seat, according to Clerk of the House records, but she’s not the only candidate on the debate stage to defeat an incumbent Republican during her 30-year time frame.

“Well, just to set the record straight, I defeated an incumbent Republican running for Congress,” said Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, adding that his win occurred in 1990.

Indeed, Sanders did defeat an incumbent Republican in 1990, with his successful campaign to represent Vermont’s at-large congressional district concluding roughly 29 years and two months ago. During that election, he beat Peter Smith, a Republican, by more than 34,500 votes, according to Vermont state records.

Former Vice President Joe Biden also unseated a Republican incumbent, J. Caleb Boggs, for one of Delaware’s Senate seats in the state’s closely contested 1972 senatorial election, but that win falls outside Warren’s 30-year time frame by nearly 20 years.

Claim 2: “The President showed up, met with him, gave him legitimacy, weakened the sanctions we have against him,” said Biden of President Donald Trump meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

Some lawmakers, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, have criticized Trump’s approach to diplomacy with Kim as giving “international legitimacy” to North Korea. Since assuming the presidency, Trump has met with Kim three times: a June 2018 summit in Singapore, a February 2019 summit in Hanoi and a June 2019 meeting in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea.

Although Trump did once create confusion when he tweeted he ordered the removal of sanctions that had not yet been announced in March 2019, the president has actually increased sanctions from the previous levels in the Obama administration. In September 2017, Trump instituted new sanctions via executive order targeting individuals, companies and financial institutions that do business with North Korea, according to NBC News.

The Treasury Department imposed sanctions Jan. 14 on two companies, North Korea-based Namgang Trading Corporation and China-based Beijing Sukbakso, that it says are involved in sending North Koreans to work abroad in violation of United Nations sanctions.

Claim 3: “Childcare workers are making wages lower than McDonald’s workers,” said Sanders.

Federal data shows that U.S. childcare workers not only earn higher average annual salaries but also higher mean and median hourly salaries than fast food workers, though it’s possible some individual childcare workers take home less than some McDonald’s workers.

The average annual salary of a childcare worker was $24,610 in May 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That equates to a mean hourly salary of $11.83 or a median hourly salary of $11.17.

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows fast food and counter workers made average annual salaries of $22,260 in May 2018, meaning they made on average $2,350 less than childcare workers. The mean and median hourly salaries for fast food and counter workers were also lower, at $10.70 and $10.32 respectively.

McDonald’s median employee, a part-time crew member in Hungary, received a total of $7,473 in compensation for 2018, according to the company’s 2019 proxy statement. Glassdoor.com, an employment website, estimates that the average hourly rate for McDonald’s crew members is $9, while PayScale.com puts the average hourly rate for a “fast food worker” slightly lower, at $8.72.

Brad Sylvester contributed to this report.

Trevor Schakohl, Elias Atienza

Contributor

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