FACT CHECK: 4 Claims From The Final 2020 Presidential Debate
President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden met on Thursday night for the second and final presidential debate before the Nov. 3 election. NBC News held the debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.
Here are four checks on the candidates’ claims.
Claim 1: “[Biden] called [black people] super predators. And he said that, he said it – super predators. And they can never live that down. 1994, your crime bill, the super predators,” said Trump.
Trump has previously claimed that Biden called black people “super predators” in reference to the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. There is, however, no record of Biden calling black Americans that term.
Then-First Lady Hillary Clinton used the phrase “super predators” in a 1996 speech at Keene State College in support of the 1994 crime law, a video from C-SPAN shows. Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, signed the 1994 crime bill into law. She later apologized for the comment.
“We need to take these people on, they are often connected to big drug cartels, they are not just gangs of kids anymore,” she said in the speech. “They are often the kinds of kids that are called super predators. No conscience. No empathy. We can talk about why they ended up that way, but first we have to bring them to heel.”
While Biden does not appear to have ever called black people “super predators,” he did once warn of “predators on our streets” who were “beyond the pale” in a 1993 speech, per CNN.
Claim 2: “Not a single person with private insurance” lost their insurance under Obamacare “unless they chose they wanted to go to something else,” said Biden.
President Barack Obama promised in 2013 that “if you like your health care plan, you can keep it” in regards to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to the Washington Post.
However, over 4 million Americans received notices in 2013 that their health insurance policies would be cancelled in 2014 because they did not meet the minimum standards established in the ACA, The Associated Press reported. Backlash over the impending cancellations prompted Obama in November 2013 to announce that insurance companies would be allowed to extend the older plans another year, leaving it up to individual insurers and states, according to CNN Business.
Obama’s earlier promise was deemed the 2013 “Lie of the Year” by PolitiFact.
Claim 3: “So, as you know, 2.2 million people, modeled out, were expected to die [from COVID-19],” said Trump.
Trump appears to be referencing a March report from the Imperial College London that projected approximately 2.2 million people in the U.S. would die from COVID-19 “in the (unlikely) absence of any control measures or spontaneous changes in individual behavior.” The report also noted that it is “highly likely that there would be significant spontaneous changes in population behavior even in the absence of government-mandated interventions.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, projected in late March that the coronavirus could kill between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans, despite mitigation efforts such as social distancing and banning large gatherings, according to The New York Times. The U.S. surpassed 200,000 COVID-19 deaths in September, per CBS News.
Claim 4: “We’re in the situation here where the federal prison system was reduced by 38,000 people under our administration,” said Biden.
While the federal prison population did decrease under the Obama administration, it was not by 38,000 people as Biden claims. Data from the Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBOP) website shows that the number of federal prisoners went from 201,668 in fiscal year 2008 to 192,170 in fiscal year 2016. That equates to a decrease of 9,498 prisoners, according to the FBOP data.
Biden’s 38,000-figure appears to have come from an April 2020 Bureau of Justice Statistics report that found the number of federal prisoners decreased by 37,917 from 217,815 at the end of 2012 to 179,898 at the end of 2018, a time frame that includes Obama’s second term and some of Trump’s term. The same report shows that from the end of 2008 to the end of 2016, the federal prison population decreased by 12,088.
Obama was the first president since Jimmy Carter to leave office with a smaller federal prison population, according to Pew Research Center. The federal prison population had continued to decrease under the Trump administration, the FBOP data shows.
Elias Atienza, Trevor Schakohl and Brad Sylvester contributed to this report.
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