The facts behind the first presidential debate

The facts behind the first presidential debate

The facts behind the first presidential debate


On Sept. 26, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton went head to head with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in the first presidential debate. Both candidates, throughout the night, made claims that carried varying degrees of dishonesty or misinformation. Here are the facts behind some of the biggest claims made that night:


On jobs leaving Michigan and Ohio:

Trump: “When you look at what’s happening in Mexico, a friend of mine who builds plants, said it’s the eighth wonder of the world. They’re building some of the biggest plants anywhere in the world, some of the most sophisticated, some of the best plants. With the United States, as he said, not so much. So Ford is leaving, you see that their small car division, leaving. Thousands of jobs leaving Michigan, leaving Ohio, they’re all leaving.”

Between July and August, Ohio’s unemployment fell by 6,600. Since Jan. 1, though, Ohio businesses have created 61,100 new jobs. Michigan’s unemployment rose by 240 in the same time period, while Michigan businesses have created an additional 74,200 jobs since the beginning of the year. The unemployment rate in Ohio is 4.7 percent and Michigan’s is 4.5 percent — both higher than the national unemployment rate of 4.9 percent.

Additionally, Ford CEO Mark Field said in an interview with the Detroit Free Press that no jobs would be lost in the partial move from Michigan to Mexico. Instead, Ford will be manufacturing two new vehicles in the current Michigan plant, thus retaining all current jobs.


On manufacturing jobs:

Clinton: “Manufacturing jobs went up also in the 1990s, if we’re actually going to look at the facts.”


President Bill Clinton was inaugurated on Jan. 20, 1993. That year, manufacturing jobs were down slightly from the 1989 peak, but overall the industry continued to expand until the end of 1998. The manufacturing industry then stagnated until 2001 when the number of industry jobs began dropping by the thousands. The industry reached a 60-year low in 2010 before beginning its rebound in 2011.


On debt:
Trump: “What’s happened to our jobs and our country and our economy generally is, look, we owe $20 trillion.”


Currently, the federal debt is sitting at approximately $19.5 trillion according to the U.S. Treasury’s August statement.


On Trump’s tax returns:

Trump: “I don’t mind releasing [my tax returns]. I’m under a routine audit. And it will be released. And as soon as the audit’s finished, it will be released. But you will learn more about Donald Trump by going down to the federal elections where I filed a 104-page, essentially financial statement of sorts, the forms that they have. It shows income, in fact the income — I just looked today — the income is filed at $694 million for this past year.”


While it’s true that Trump’s financial disclosure forms are public record, his tax returns would still provide additional insights that could either help or hurt his campaign. Most importantly, the official tax returns would show his yearly income, exactly how much he pays in taxes, and a record of his charitable donations.

According to his 2015 financial disclosure, Trump earned at least $615 million from a variety of ventures, but it’s still uncertain how much of that was paid in income tax.

Earlier this year, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said that the IRS has no issue with Trump releasing his tax returns during an audit. He also said it’s extremely rare that an individual would see annual audits, though Trump said he’s been audited for the past 12 years.


On Trump’s family tax benefits:

Clinton: You’ve proposed an approach that has a $4 billion tax benefit for your family. And when you look at what you are proposing…

Trump: How much? How much for my family?

Trump: Lester, how much?


According to his financial disclosure report, Trump earned, at minimum, $615 million in 2015. Under the current tax system, Trump finds himself in the top bracket and is expected to pay a 39.6 percent income tax. Assuming he pays this in full — ignoring potential tax breaks and deductions available to him — Trump should have paid $243.54 million in federal income taxes.

Under his proposed tax plan, though, Trump would instead pay 33 percent in taxes — or $202.95 million — a $40.59 million difference. Trump’s family would need to consist of at least 98 people, all earning $615 million per year and all paying a full 39.6 percent in income taxes, to equal a $4 billion benefit to the Trump family.


On releasing tax returns:

Clinton: “For 40 years, everyone running for president has released their tax returns.”


Since 1968, each Democratic and Republican presidential candidate has released their full tax returns with the exception of Republicans Richard Nixon and Gerald R. Ford, and Democrats Hubert Humphrey and George McGovern.


On Trump’s previously-released tax returns:

Clinton: “He’s paid nothing in federal taxes, because the only years that anybody’s ever seen were a couple of years — when he had to turn them over to state authorities when he was trying to get a casino license — and they showed he didn’t pay any federal income tax.”

Trump: “That makes me smart”


Trump, in 1981, did release five years of his tax returns — from 1975-1979. Between 1975 and 1977, Trump paid $71,932 in income tax. In 1978, however, when his earnings surpassed $400,000, Trump paid no income tax. He also failed to pay income tax the following year when his income was more than $3 million greater than in 1978. Those are the only records he’s made available as of yet.


On the candidates’ tax policies:

Clinton: “Independent experts have looked at what I’ve proposed and looked at what Donald has proposed. And basically they have said this — that if his tax plan, which would blow up the debt by over $5 trillion, and would, in some instances, disadvantage middle-class families compared to the wealthy, were to go into effect, we would lose 3.5 million jobs.”


The Tax Foundation expects Trump’s tax plan to reduce the federal income by between $2.6 trillion and $5.9 trillion. NYU law professor Lily Batchelder, however, suspects Trump’s tax plan would raise the debt significantly higher than $5.9 trillion based on her evaluation of the Tax Foundation’s findings. Additionally, Batchelder’s research suggests that families and single parents would likely see tax increases rather than decreases.

Trump has said his tax plan would reduce both income and corporate taxes. This, the Tax Foundation reports, carries the potential to add 1.8- 2.2 million full-time jobs to the economy. The foundation also concluded that his plan would also increase most taxpayers’ after-tax income by 0.8 percent, while the top 1 percent of taxpayers would see the most drastic increases, amounting to 10.2- 16 percent of their after-tax income.

Clinton’s tax plan, on the other hand, includes a substantial tax increase for some but could decrease the federal debt by more than $1.2 trillion over the next decade, according to a study also done by the Tax Foundation. Without changes in federal spending or interest rates, the research indicates that Clinton’s proposal would decrease the national debt by $4.3 trillion, or 10 percent of the GDP by 2036.

The majority of this money would come from the top 1 percent of taxpayers — and businesses — while the bottom 95 percent of taxpayers would see almost no changes in their taxes.



Trump: “Your husband signed NAFTA, one of the worst things that ever happened in the manufacturing industry.”

Clinton: “That is your opinion.”

Trump: “You go to New England — you go to Ohio, Pennsylvania, you go anywhere you want, Secretary Clinton, and you will see devastation where manufacturing is down 30, 40, sometimes 50 percent. NAFTA is the worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere but certainly ever signed in this country.”


While Canadian imports and exports both increased by more than 200 percent during the 11 years of NAFTA, the US found itself in a $33.9 billion deficit with Canada in 2014. Exports to Mexico increased even more significantly — by 478 percent — in the same time period, and imports increased by 637 percent. Despite this, the US still ran a trade deficit of $53.8 billion with Mexico in 2014. It’s worth noting, however, that these deficits are thought to have significant economic factors outside of NAFTA.

In addition to promising a continued trade surplus with Mexico and a more balanced trade system with Canada, NAFTA was also expected to create 170,000 jobs within its first two years. Instead, more than 845,000 US workers have since been granted Trade Adjustment Assistance after losing their jobs because of Mexican or Canadian imports or factory-job relocations. NAFTA is also credited with the decreased wages for US workers — some factory workers saw a post-NAFTA wage decrease of more than 20 percent. Some of the hardest hit states include: Pennsylvania, North Carolina, New York, New Hampshire, Washington D.C., and Michigan.

Because Mexico and Canada accounted for less than 5 percent of the U.S. GDP when NAFTA was enacted, the trade deal presented only a modest impact on the nation’s economy, though positive.


On the Trans-Pacific Partnership:

Trump: “Now you want to approve Trans-Pacific Partnership. You were totally in favor of it, then you heard what I was saying — how bad it is — and you said, I can’t win that debate. But you know that if you did win, you would approve that, and that will be almost as bad as NAFTA. Nothing will ever top NAFTA.”

Clinton: “That is just not accurate. I was against it once it was finally negotiated and the terms were laid out. I wrote about in…”

Trump: “You called it the gold standard. You call it the gold standard of trade deals. You said it’s the finest deal you’ve ever seen.”

Clinton: “No.”

Trump: “And then you heard what I said about it and all of a sudden you were against it.”

Clinton: “Well, Donald, I know you live in your own reality, but that is not the facts. The facts are, I did say, I hoped it would be a good deal. But when it was negotiated, which I was not responsible for, I concluded it wasn’t.”


In her 2014 book Hard Choices, Clinton did, in fact, call the TPP the “gold standard of trade deals to open free, transparent, fair trade, the kind of environment that has the rule of law and a level playing field.”

In April 2015, however, Clinton became increasingly wary of the trade deal. She said any trade deal the US enters should allow for better protection of domestic employees, creation of new jobs, increased wages, and should help to strengthen national security. Clinton ultimately announced her opposition to the trade deal on Oct. 7, 2015 — two days after the final negotiations concluded.

Trump’s implication that he influenced her final decision is unlikely. Both Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders, former Democratic candidates, were opposed to the deal, and Sanders’ campaign had gained significant traction by October 2015. It’s more logical to assume that if any other candidate impacted her decision, it was either Sanders or O’Malley.


On stop and frisk:

Trump: “In New York City we had 2,200 murders, and stop-and-frisk brought it down to 500 murders. Five hundred murders is a lot of murders. It’s hard to believe, 500 is, like, supposed to be good? But we went from 2,200 to 500. And it was continued on by Mayor Bloomberg. And it was terminated by current mayor. But stop-and- frisk had a tremendous impact on the safety of New York City. Tremendous beyond belief. So when you say it has no impact, it really did. It had a very, very big impact.”

Clinton: “Well, it’s also fair to say, if we’re going to talk about mayors, that under the current mayor, crime has continued to drop, including murders. So there is…”

Trump: “No, you’re wrong. You’re wrong.”

Clinton: “No, I’m not.”

Trump: “Murders are up. All right. You check it.”


In 1990, New York City saw 2,262 homicides. Though the homicide rate fluctuated over the next 25 years, homicides in New York City drastically fell between 2011 and 2013 while the number of stops dropped even more quickly. The number of homicides stagnated between 2013 and 2014 then rose slightly in 2015 to reach 352. This year, homicides in the city are already down 4.3 percent from this time last year.

Though stop and frisk was deemed effective in the 1990s, it ultimately resulted in few arrests and few illegal gun seizures. Additionally, blacks represented 51 percent and Hispanics 33 percent of the stops despite representing only 26 and 24 percent, respectively, of the New York City population. The controversial measures were, thus, found to be in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments in 2013.


On gun violence:

Trump: “When you have 3,000 shootings in Chicago from Jan. 1, when you have 4,000 people killed in Chicago by guns from the beginning of the presidency of Barack Obama — his hometown — you have to have stop and frisk.”


Since Jan. 1, Chicago has seen an estimated 3,245 shootings and 487 homicides committed by gun. Last year, there were 2,988 total shootings in Chicago.

Since 2008, the year President Obama was elected, there have been 3,632 gun-related homicides in Chicago.
Chicago is hardly the only major city to see a spike in gun homicides in recent years, though. Nationally, there were 878 more gun-related homicides in 2014 than 2015. And 2016 is on track to see an increase of approximately 1,000 gun homicides from last year.

Despite the steady increase in homicides, the F.B.I. reported that rate of violent crime in 2015 continued the downward trend seen in the past 10 years across the nation.


On infrastructure:

Trump: “Our airports are like from a third-world country.”

Trump was not the first person to make this claim. On a trip to New York’s LaGuardia’s Airport in 2014, Vice President Joe Biden said “if I took [someone] blindfolded to the LaGuardia Airport in New York you must think, ‘I must be in some third-world country.’”

The term “third world,” according to the United Nations, is used to describe countries with underdeveloped, non-industrial economies.

So, is it possible that the United States, one of the largest economies in the world, has a single airport in worse shape than an airport in a country with underdeveloped economy?

According to SkyTrax’s customer rated list of the Top 100 Airports for 2016, the Denver Airport is the 28th best airport in the world, and the best airport in the US. Sitting in 24th spot is Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Malaysia, according to the United Nations’ 2014 World Economic Situation and Prospects report, is among the nations with still-developing economies. Qatar’s Doho Hamad Airport also outranks Denver’s, as does the Dubai Airport in the United Arab Emirates. Both nations are categorized as “developing” by the United Nations alongside Malaysia.



Trump: “The 28 countries of NATO many of them aren’t paying their fair share … And that bothers me, because … they should be at least be paying us what they are supposed to be paying by treaty and contract.”


Each country of NATO is expected to contribute 2 percent of their yearly GDP to defense spending. Trump isn’t wrong that many of the nations of NATO haven’t met their quota in the past three years. Only five nations have met that requirement in the past two years, and even fewer did so in 2014.


On war spending:

Trump: “We’ve spent $6 trillion in the middle east according to a report that I just saw. Whether it’s six or five, but it looks like it’s six — $6 trillion in the Middle East. We could have rebuilt our country twice, and it’s really a shame.”
Between conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, the US Homeland Security has spent $4.79 trillion. This includes not only the costs of overseas contingency operations, but also the estimated cost of veteran medical and disability care, and the proposed 2017 budget. The cost of Middle Eastern conflicts could continue to accumulate interest and could cost the country $7.9 trillion by 2053 unless drastic measures are implemented to change how the US pays for wars.

The US has also contributed an additional $5.9 billion in humanitarian aid to nations impacted by the Syrian crisis, $1.1 billion to Iraq and $11 billion to Pakistan for both humanitarian and economic aid.


On Trump’s stance of the Iraq War:

Clinton: “Donald supported the invasion of Iraq.”

Trump: “Wrong.”

Clinton: “That is absolutely proved, over and over again.”

Trump: “Wrong.”


Though politicians routinely change their stance on specific issues, Trump has adamantly denied ever being in support of invading Iraq. However, a 2002 interview with Howard Stern tells otherwise when Trump said he was in favor of the war. Trump was then dismayed with the decisions made by President Bush in 2003 but didn’t officially announce his opposition of the invasion until a 2004 interview with Esquire.


On climate change:

Clinton: “Donald thinks that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. I think it’s real.”

Trump: “I did not — I do not say that.”


Donald Trump Climate Change


On Trump’s discrimination accusations:
Clinton: “But remember, Donald started his career back in 1973 being sued by the justice department for racial discrimination, because he would not rent apartments in one of his developments to african-americans and he made sure that the people who worked for him understood that was the policy.”


In January, the Washington Post examined a case set-forth by the Department of Justice against Trump and his brother in 1973. The case was brought before the Trump brothers for violating the Fair Housing Act’s clauses against racial discrimination. The department conducted tests on Trump’s housing locations, and found that, according to testimony: “White testers were encouraged to rent at certain Trump buildings, while the black testers were discouraged, denied or steered to apartment complexes that had more racial minorities.” Trump and his brother settled before the case reached a courtroom, with the stipulation that the settlement was in no way an admission of guilt.