Thursday, 3 Dec 2020

AP FACT CHECK: Examining claims from last Trump-Biden presidential debate

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden sparred Thursday in their final presidential debate, hoping to sway undecided voters in the Nov. 3 election.

A look at how their statements from Nashville, Tennessee, stack up with the facts:

BIDEN: “Not one single person with private insurance would lose their insurance under my plan, nor did they under ‘Obamacare,’ they did not lose their insurance, unless they chose they wanted to go to something else.”

THE FACTS: He’s wrong about “Obamacare.”

Then-President Barack Obama promised if you liked your health insurance, you could keep it under his Affordable Care Act, but that’s not what happened for some.

When “Obamacare” took effect in 2014, several million people lost individual health insurance plans that no longer met minimum standards established by the law. A backlash forced the White House to offer a work-around, but the political damage was done.

Health insurance is such a complicated area that almost any action has the potential for unintended consequences.

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TRUMP on his taxes: “They keep talking about $750, which I think is a filing fee. … Tens of millions of dollars (in income taxes) I prepaid.” On his China bank account: “I was a businessman in 2013 and I closed the account in 2015.”

THE FACTS: Trump is not being honest about his taxes.

Reporting by The New York Times, which obtained his tax records, contradicts his claims.

The IRS does not charge taxpayers a filing fee, though tax preparation services do. The $750 that Trump paid in 2016 and 2017 in the income taxes was to the federal government, not a tax preparation service.

It’s not clear what Trump is talking about with regard to prepaying his taxes, but what matters is what he ultimately owed the government. Americans often have their income tax payments deducted from their paychecks. The Times reported that Trump, starting in 2010, claimed and received an income tax refund that totaled $72.9 million, which was at the core of an ongoing audit by the IRS. The Times said a ruling against Trump could cost him $100 million or more.

Nor did Trump close his Chinese bank account, according to Alan Garten, a lawyer for Trump’s company. He told the Times that the account remains open, though the company’s office in China has been inactive since 2015.

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TRUMP: “Joe got $3.5 (million) from Russia. And it came through Putin because he was very friendly with the former mayor of Moscow, and it was the the mayor of Moscow’s wife. And you got $3.5. Your family got $3.5 million. Someday you’re going to have to explain why.”

THE FACTS: There is no evidence of this. Trump is falsely characterizing a recent report by Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, who investigated Biden’s son, Hunter, and his business dealings in Ukraine.

The report did not allege that Joe Biden himself got $3.5 million or that Russia President Vladimir Putin had anything to do with such a payment. Nor does the report allege that Hunter Biden pocketed the money himself. The report said the sum went instead to an investment firm he co-founded. Hunter Biden’s lawyer has said in a statement to reporters that his client had no interest in and was not a founder of the firm.

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