In the fourth main GOP debate, eight presidential hopefuls often made bold statements, self-assured in claims that fact-checkers soon debunked.
The New York Times and The Washington Post, two leading U.S. newspapers, both noted that Florida Senator Marco Rubio, in calling for more working-class jobs, claimed erroneously that “welders make more money than philosophers.” In fact, the mid-career average salary for philosophers in the country is $85,000, while the top 10 percent of welders make about $59,000.
Former neurosurgeon Ben Carson was way off the mark, fact-checkers at the Post and Politico noted, in his claim that only 19.8 percent of black American teenagers are employed. The actual number is almost 75 percent, nearly four times what he said. Carson was closer to the mark if he meant to cite his figure as the unemployment rate for black teens, which is 25.6 percent.
In opposing an increase in the mandated federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, about $15,000 a year, Carson claimed that “every time” the minimum is boosted the number of jobless people increases because employers lay off workers to avoid having to pay them higher wages. Fact-checkers said the evidence is mixed, with job growth and job loss about equal in the year after the 11 times the government raised the minimum wage from 1978 to 2009.
The fact-checkers said a statistic cited by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, that more small businesses in the United States fail than new ones are being created, was outdated. It turns out there were more failures from 2008 to 2011, with part of that period during the worst of the country’s steepest recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s. But since 2012, more small businesses have been created in the United States than have failed.
How familiar with Putin?
Fact-checkers also looked askance at claims by the Republican presidential front-runner, billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump, and retired technology chief executive Carly Fiorina, about how well they know Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Trump said he got to know the Russian leader “very well because we were both on [CBS’ News] ‘60 Minutes’ the other night.” It is true that Trump and Putin were both on the season premier of the news program, but it turns out Trump was interviewed in New York and Putin in Moscow, so they were more than 7,500 kilometers apart when Trump got to know him “very well.”
Fiorina said she had met Putin “as well, not in a green room for a show but in a private meeting.” But just two months ago, Fiorina said she had been with Putin in Beijing, “in sort of a green-room setting actually,” where each of them was speaking at an economic conference.