Live fact check of the fifth Democratic debate


(CNN)Welcome to CNN’s fact check coverage of the fifth Democratic presidential primary debate. We will be posting our fact checks of the candidates’ claims as we complete them.

Here’s a look at the facts around key moments from tonight’s debate.

Sanders on US health care spending

    Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said the US has a health care system “in which we spend twice as much as do the people of any other country.”
    Facts First: This is not true. The US spent twice as much per capita on health care last year than the average for Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) countries, but not twice as much as every single one of the organization’s 35 other members.
    At $10,586 per capita in 2018, US spending was well over twice the OECD average ($3,992) and well over twice the figures for some other major countries, including Canada ($4,974). But Switzerland ($7,317), Norway ($6,187) and Germany ($5,986) were all substantially above half the US level. Sweden ($5,447), Austria ($5,395) and Denmark ($5,299) were also above half, though more slightly.
    Sanders has been repeating this exaggeration since at least 2009, when fact-checkers at PolitiFact first noted that it wasn’t true. CNN fact-checked him during the Democratic debate in September.
    – Daniel Dale

    Harris on Gabbard’s Fox News appearances

    In a heated exchange, California Sen. Kamala Harris said Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard “during the Obama administration spent four years full time on Fox News” criticizing President Barack Obama.
    Facts First: Harris’ characterization is misleading. Gabbard did appear on Fox News during the Obama administration, and often criticized the administration’s Middle East policy. But she has appeared much more frequently on Fox News since Donald Trump took office.
    Gabbard appeared on Fox News at least 15 times between January 2013, when she first took office, and January 2017 when President Obama left office. She often criticized the Obama administration but primarily in the context of Middle East policy.
    By comparison, Gabbard has appeared on Fox News far more frequently during the Trump administration, and since she announced her presidential campaign — appearing at least 15 times in 2019 alone.
    – Andrew Kaczynski

    Yang on paid family leave

    In response to a question about child care costs, Andrew Yang said, “There are only two countries in the world that don’t have paid family leave for new moms: the United States of America and Papua New Guinea.”
    Facts First: It’s true that America ranks behind all other major developed nations when it comes to statutory paid family leave. But Yang’s claim that only the United States and Papua New Guinea offer no paid family leave appears to be based on a report that is more than five years old.
    The United States is the only member of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development that doesn’t offer statutory paid family leave, according to a report from August 2019.
    A May 2014 report by the International Labor Organization showed that out of 185 countries and territories that share information on parental leave, only Papua New Guinea and the United States “have no general legal provision for cash benefits.”
    The Yang campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment on its sources.
    – Anneken Tappe, with Dan Merica

    Harris on childcare and aging first-time parents

    During an exchange about paid family leave, Harris said “it is no longer the case in America that people are having children in their 20s. People are having children in their 30s, often in their 40s, which means these families and parents are often raising young children and taking care of their parents.”
    Facts First: While Americans are having children later, on average first-time parents are in their late 20s.
    The average age of first-time mothers is 26.8 years old, according to 2017 data from the Centers for Disease Control. A New York Times study last year that uses 2016 data from the National Center for Health Statistics puts the age closer at 26.3 years old. This is up from 24.9 years old in 2000 and 21.4 years old in 1970, according to data from the CDC.
    For fathers, the average age at the time of a child’s birth has risen from 27.4 years old in 1972 to 30.9 years old in 2015, according to a Stanford University School of Medicine study using National Vital Statistics System data.
    However, the ages of mothers when they have their first children vary starkly based on geographic location, the Times study found — the average age of first time mothers was about 32 years old in San Francisco County, California, compared to about 20 years old in Todd County, South Dakota.
    – Caroline Kelly

    Buttigieg on aid packages for soybean farmers

    The Trump administration has promised $28 billion in aid packages to help farmers hurt by President Donald Trump’s trade war with China. During an exchange about whether to continue those subsidies, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg claimed that those payments aren’t entirely making up for farmers’ losses.
    “By the way, this isn’t even making farmers whole,” Buttigieg said. “If you’re in soybeans, for example, you’re getting killed.”
    Facts First: Buttigieg is correct — though, while the President has asserted the payments are a symbol of his support for farmers, the Trump administration has said the program is not meant to make up for the entire loss a farmer is suffering because of the trade war.
    Soybean farmers, in particular, have been hit hard by Beijing’s retaliatory tariffs. China was once the biggest export market for American soybean growers, but orders came to a halt when the tariffs went into effect in July 2018. The price for soybeans dropped, and a record number was left in storage at the end of last year.
    The administration released a first round of aid in 2018, and then announced a second round this past summer as the trade war continued.
    “I don’t think either the programs last year or this were ever designed or promised to make farmers whole regarding the trade damages,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on a phone call with reporters in July, when the second round of aid was announced.
    “This is really an attempt to recognize farmers have borne a disproportionate share of the trade disruption and these funds are there to support them and enable them to continue farming, Perdue added.
    – Katie Lobosco

    Harris on gun violence

    Harris claimed “sons of black women will die because of gun violence more than any other cause of death.”
    Facts First: Harris’s statement doesn’t single out a particular age group. She’s right when it comes to black children — but not for black men.
    The most common cause of death among black children of both genders is firearm-related, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
    But for black men, it is not the leading cause of death. According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death for non-Hispanic black men of all ages.
    – Tara Subramaniam

    Booker on African-Americans under criminal supervision

    New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker criticized former Vice President Joe Biden for opposing the legalization of marijuana, arguing that the war on drugs has been particularly damaging to minorities.
    “The war on drugs has been a war on black and brown people, so let me just say this: With more African Americans under criminal supervision in America than all the slaves since 1850, do not roll-up into communities and not talk directly to issues that are going to relate to the liberation of children,” he said.
    Facts First: As he did during the September debate, Booker got his numbers wrong, though his larger point about the racial disparity in the criminal justice system is correct.
    There were roughly 3.2 million African Americans in slavery according to the 1850 United States Census, while in 2016 there were an estimated 2.1 million African Americans in jail, state or federal prison or on parole or probation, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
    African Americans are incarcerated at a significantly higher rate than their share of the population. Citing data from a 2016 BJS report, The Sentencing Project, a nonprofit group that advocates for criminal justice reform, reported African American adults are 5.9 times more likely to be incarcerated than white adults.
    Additionally, African Americans are only 13% of the US population, but they make up 30% of people on parole or probation, according to The Pew Charitable Trusts, an independent nonprofit.
    – Nate McDermott and Curt Devine

    Biden on Steyer’s record on coal

    Biden criticized Tom Steyer’s record of investing in fossil fuels and said Steyer funded “more coal mines and produced more coal around the world, according to the press, than all of Great Britain produces.”
    Facts First: Steyer previously ran a hedge fund that invested in coal, though Biden seems to have mischaracterized the findings of the 2014 report that examined those investments.
    Steyer founded and for more than 20 years managed the fund Farallon Capital Management, which invested in a variety of projects, including coal companies in Asia and Australia.
    Biden appears to be referencing a 2014 report by the New York Times. That examination found coal mines that received funding from Farallon during Steyer’s tenure increased annual production by a total of about 70 million tons, which, the paper noted, is more than the amount of coal consumed annually by Britain.
    The New York Times’ report cited British consumption, whereas Biden referred to production.
    Steyer left Farallon in 2012 and told the Los Angeles Times that his decision was based in part on its fossil fuel investments. “I wish I’d made the move away from fossil fuels sooner,” he said.
    Curt Devine

    Gabbard on Buttigieg sending troops to Mexico

    In a heated moment between Gabbard and Buttigieg, Gabbard attacked Buttigieg for a “careless statement” he made at an event Sunday “about how (he) as president would be willing to send our troops to Mexico to fight the cartels.”
    Buttigieg said Gabbard was taking his “remarks out of context,” calling it “outlandish even by the standards of today’s politics.”
    “You were asked directly whether you would send our troops to Mexico to fight cartels,” Gabbard shot back, “and your answer was yes. The fact checkers can check this out.”
    Facts First:During a forum in Los Angeles Sunday on Latino issues, Buttigieg did outline possible scenarios where he would be open to sending troops to Mexico, but it is not clear whether Buttigieg was directly referring to an effort to address cartels or some other hypothetical scenario.
    Buttigieg was asked during the event, one question that directly referred to cartels and one that did not. First, Buttigieg was asked, in the context of President Donald Trump suggesting he would send US troops to help Mexico handle the cartels: “With your military experience, is there a way to deal with the cartels that doesn’t violate Mexico’s sovereignty?”
    In his answer, Buttigieg discussed rebuilding partnerships with countries he believes Trump has “destroyed” and said “if it is in the context of a security partnership then I would welcome ways to make sure that America is doing what we can to ensure that our neighbor to the south is secure. But doing it in a way that calls into question Mexican sovereignty completely misses how we got here.” He continued by talking about reducing drug demand in the US by ending the war on drugs.
    Buttigieg was then asked, “Specifically, do you see a time where troops could go into Mexico, if Mexico welcomed it for instance?”
    “There is a scenario where we could have security cooperation as we do with countries around the world,” Buttigieg said. “Now, I would only order American troops into conflict if there were no other choice, if American lives were on the line, and if this were necessary in order for us to uphold our treaty obligations. But we could absolutely be in some kind of partnership role if and only if it is welcomed by our partner south of the border.”
    – Holmes Lybrand

    Klobuchar on Planned Parenthood support

    Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar asserted that “over 70% of the people support Roe v. Wade. Over 90% of the people support funding for Planned Parenthood and making sure that women can get the health care they need.”
    Facts First: Recent polling has shown that Roe v. Wade — the landmark 1973 Supreme Court case that legalized abortion nationwide — enjoys support among 70% of Americans, but there is no evidence that public support for Planned Parenthood is close to 90%.
    A Pew poll from August shows that 70% of Americans do not want the Supreme Court to completely overturn Roe.
    While recent polling on Planned Parenthood favorability has varied, it has never been within rounding distance of 90% favorability. According to a May poll conducted by the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation, 69% of respondents said that they would like their state to continue making payments to Planned Parenthood. A 2017 poll from Kaiser showed that 75% of people supported continuing current federal Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood to pay for non-abortion services received by people on Medicaid.
    More generally, a June 2018 Gallup survey showed that 62% of respondents viewed Planned Parenthood favorably, and a March 2018 NBC/WSJ poll showed that the group had the highest positive rating with 52% of those surveyed rating it favorably. And in a 2017 Planned Parenthood press release, none of the favorable polls from recent years highlighted by the group surpassed 80% support.
    In a tweet from Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the group’s political arm, featuring a photo of Klobuchar accompanied by her remarks, the group’s tweet omitted the 90% figure.
      The Klobuchar campaign pointed to a story from The Hill about an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll indicating 77% support for upholding Roe in some form. It also provided a poll by nonpartisan public opinion research firm PerryUndem showing that 90% of respondents said that “access to birth control is an important part of women’s ability to control their bodies, lives and futures” but did not mention Planned Parenthood.
      – Caroline Kelly

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