The Senate Debate Truth Squad: A Fact CheckPlay
A second look at some of the facts and exaggerations from the Democratic Senate candidates in Monday night's debate.
A Second Stimulus Package
City Year co-founder Alan Khazei was the only candidate who came out strongly saying the nation needs another stimulus package, and needs it soon.
Boston businessman Stephen Pagliuca said that in order to support a second round of stimulus, he would first need to see where the economy is going.
Rep. Michael Capuano was not definitive, but sounded as if he would support one.
Attorney General Martha Coakley said the jury was still out as to whether the first round of stimulus spending was effective:
"If we think that the first stimulus was effective and in fact did keep jobs, hopefully you would see the tax revenues would go up. So presumably you would have some more wiggle room there," Coakley said. "And if we thought it was going to be effective, I think rather than see it as adding to the deficit we would see it as an investment."
THE FACTS: According to the Mass Budget and Policy Center, there is very strong evidence that the stimulus is working. Even though it is having a positive effect, what is unclear is whether this will stimulate the whole economy — enough to create a robust recovery.
During the debate, this discussion turned quickly to how to create new jobs. Khazei said he would create a new jobs tax credit would create 1.3 million jobs. That number appears to be a national number and it is not clear how many jobs a tax credit like that would bring to Massachusetts. But some respected economists said that this type of tax credit does help create jobs, but not everyone agrees.
Overhauling Health Care
"There are six health care lobbyists for every member of Congress," Khazei said. "The health insurance companies are spending $384 million to get the health care they want, not the health care the American people are demanding."
THE FACTS: That number is only a slight exaggeration. There are 3,000 registered health care lobbyists, according to ProPublica, a non-profit journalism group that conducted an investigation with CBS News. That is really about five-and-a-half for every member of Congress. However, some lobbyists are very well known on the Hill and have a lot of power, such as Billy Tauzin, the former Republican representative from Louisiana who is now president of PHRMA, the drug industry’s lobbying group.
Increasing Troops In Afghanistan
On Afghanistan, Capuano said Gen. Stanley McChrystal's report last month (PDF) stated that al-Qaida is almost eliminated from Afghanistan:
"Is the mission accomplished? The answer is 'yes,' and he admits it in his report. He himself said there are less than 100 al-Qaida in Afghanistan as we speak. That’s his numbers not mine," Capuano said.
THE FACTS: We asked Michael Semple from the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government to re-read the McChrystal report again. The report does not say there are only 100 al-Qaida operatives in Afghanistan. Capuano’s campaign did not return calls for comment Monday night. Where this number is mentioned is in an interview with White House security adviser James Jones, on CNN, who said “the maximum estimate is that less than 100 al-Qaida are operating in the country." Jones said he did not think Afghanistan is in danger of falling if American troops are pulled out.
According to the McChrystal report, the mission is not accomplished. It requires more troops to complete the mission. Experts in the region agree with that.
The candidates were asked if they would support giving drivers licenses and health care coverage to undocumented immigrants.
"We’ve got over 10 million illegal immigrants here. They’ve been here for a long time. I agree with Sen. (Edward M.) Kennedy. They need to get a path for citizenship," Pagliuca said. "I don’t think that means getting them driver’s license unless we determine the comprehensive policy to get them a path for citizenship."
THE FACTS: That seems to be an underestimate. The Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, D.C., estimates there were 11.3 million unauthorized immigrants in the state in 2007. Another group, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, said there were more then 13 million in 2007. Government and academic analysts estimate that in 2006 there were 11 to 12 million.
This program aired on October 27, 2009.