On March 3, 2016, Republican Presidential candidates met at the Fox Theatre located in Detroit (MI) for a debate. As usual, the candidates made certain claims not borne by the facts. Here are a few:
Mr. Donald Trump , né Drumpf, claimed that the family of 9/11 hijackers were allowed to leave the US “two days” before the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Interestingly, if true, this would have happened under Republican President Bush. Nevertheless, no relatives of the hijackers were, as far as we know, in the US before 9/11 – or after, for that matter.
Perhaps Mr. Trump meant to refer to relatives of Osama bin Laden (some 20 people, mostly nieces and nephews) who were, in fact, in the US at the time. However, even so, these individuals left the US nine days after the attack, not two days before. Their departure was arranged by the Saudi Arabian embassy with the full knowledge and acquiescence of the Bush administration.
Senator Eduardo “Ted” Cruz stated that he would abolish the Internal Revenue Service (i.e., IRS) and people would simply forward their tax payments via postcards addressed to the Treasury Department. Left unanswered is how tax compliance would be enforced since, regardless of how simple a tax system Senator Cruz might be able to enact, a workforce to verify that everyone filed and the accuracy thereof would be required. It should be noted that Senator Cruz’s flat tax proposal would consolidate the present system which has 7 tax brackets into one at a flat 10%. Most economists agree that this would give huge tax breaks to the wealthy and cause budget deficits to increase significantly.
Mr. Trump claims that pharmaceutical companies waste “hundreds of billions of dollars” because they do not have to bid for Medicare business. Mr. Trump has previously promised that his program would save $300 billions by allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, something it is banned by law from doing at present.
However, unless Medicare and every other dispenser of pharmaceuticals, including private insurance, were to obtain drugs for free, this is an empty promise. That’s because in 2014 all of these entities and individuals “only” spent $297.7 billions. Allowing for an increase in drug usage and prices, Mr. Trump’s promised savings would equal the price of all drugs dispensed in the US. In fact, a study by the non-profit Public Citizen, estimated that the Medicare program could save at most $16 billions (or some 5% of Mr. Trump’s promised savings) if it obtained prescriptions drugs at the same discounted rate offered Medicare and the Veterans Health Administration (i.e., VA).
Mr. Trump claimed that the US-China deficit stood at $505 billion. However, the US trade deficit with China amounted to $465.7 billions in 2015, the largest of any US trade partner. Moreover, Mr. Trump estimated that the US trade deficit with Japan would be some $109 billions. However, the actual deficit in 2015 was $68.6 billions. Mr. Trump did correctly state that the US trade deficit with Mexico was currently $58 billions. Of course, it should be noted that Mr. Trump’s line of ties are made in China, as are his campaign hats which can be purchased online.
Senator Eduardo “Ted” Cruz claimed, once again, that the Affordable Care Act (i.e., ACA, also known as Obamacare) is “the biggest job killer in America.” However, since March 2010 when the ACA was signed into law, the unemployment rate has decreased from a high of 9.9% to 4.9%, the US economy having added some 13.4 million jobs in that period.
Mr. Trump reiterated his “support” for waterboarding and harsher interrogation “techniques.” It was noted that these are against US law (also international law). When asked what he would do if the US military refused to obey that order, Mr. Trump stated that: “They don’t refuse. They’re not going to refuse me. Believe me.” Perhaps unbeknownst to Mr. Trump is the fact that the US military are obligated to refuse an order that is illegal under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (see, UCMJ, Section 16c(1)(c)). It should be noted that waterboarding was a common torture during the Inquisition.
Mr. Trump further claimed that a variety of polls, including The Pew Research Center, Fox News and USA Today, had him winning over Mrs. Hillary Clinton. However, in almost all polls, Mrs. Clinton is found to best Mr. Trump.
Finally, I will refrain from commenting about the size of Mr. Trump’s (“Drumpf”) hands or other appendages.
Politically unbiased yours,