False! Fact Checking The Fourth Democrat Debate


In a debate fairly devoid of substance, factual statements were a bit scarce. Still, we can look at a few of the definitive or implied statements made by the leading Democrats running for President from the October debate.

Warren, on a wealth tax on billionaires: “The really, really billionaires are making their money off their accumulated wealth, and it just keeps growing. We need a wealth tax in order to make investments in the next generation.”

Billionaires are making their money by investing in companies, directly or through stocks, mutual funds, or other methods. Whether or not Warren agrees with where the money goes, it is not just collecting other money like dust. It is being invested, and what she is suggesting is simply a redistribution of that investment from the private sector to the public sector. This chart from CNBC shows billionaires are keeping their assets in business interests and other interests. So, are billionaires making money off of existing wealth? Yes, but it is by investing. Rating: Half-truth

Sanders, on Turkey’s attacks on the Kurds in Syria: “Turkey is not a U.S. ally when they invade another country and engage in mass slaughter.”

Turkey is a U.S. ally so long both Turkey and the U.S. are both in NATO. If the U.S. is to no longer be an ally with Turkey, one of those nations must leave NATO. There is no suspension provision within the foundational documents, but there is some legal path to removing the state. Read more from Just Security here. Rating: False

Klobuchar: “This [Russian interference in the 2016 election] was more serious than that. This was actually invading our election, so what we need to protect ourselves in 2020, one, backup paper ballots in every state… and we need to stop the social media companies from running paid political ads… without saying where those ads came from and who paid for em.”

There is no evidence that Russia physically changed votes, as stated by a 2018 Senate report relayed by USA Today. They did try, though. So, whether back-up paper ballots are necessary is to be seen. As for social media, Facebook has already taken steps in that direction thanks to public pressure. They now require extensive identification to run political advertisements. Rating: Misleading

Castro, on door-to-door gun confiscation: “Police violence is also gun violence, and we need to address that.”

Generally when annual gun deaths are mentioned, they do include shootings by law enforcement. The Giffords Law Center cites 36,383 gun deaths per year, including 496 (1.4%) by law enforcement. But, Castro did have a point when he said policies that include door-to-door confiscation would give a reason for police to go into minority-populated neighborhoods at high alert. Red flag laws have already led to the deaths of some, including a case in Maryland early in the days of the law. Castro points to the death of Atatiana Jefferson, who was killed by an office executing a welfare check in Fort Worth, Texas. So, statistically, we do factor in violence by police. But, there is a risk in involving police more in these situations. Rating: Mixed

Tuesday’s debate was full of ideological statements, a lot of opinions, and a lot of speculation. Concrete statements were sparse, and instead we saw a lot of political tip-toeing (such as Elizabeth Warren refusing to answer whether her Medicare-for-all plan would involve a tax increase on the middle class). Hopefully we answered a few questions here, and in our fact check on the previous debate.

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Andrew Bartholomew

Andrew Bartholomew is a politics and election news writer from Iowa City, Iowa. He has previously worked for Young Americans for Liberty and was most recently the political director for a Republican congressional bid.