Debate reality check quick takes: Pence, Kaine spar on taxes, Social Security

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FARMVILLE, Va. — Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine took the biggest stage of their careers Tuesday night, but their well-established records were a clear a back seat to those of their running mates: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

At various times Pence struggled to defend himself and Trump, saying he never said Vladimir Putin was a better leader than President Barack Obama (he did). And that Trump never said women who get abortions should face punishment (Trump did say that).

Kaine stepped over the the line a few times, overstating Trump and Pence’s comments on issues like the minimum wage and others.

Kaine: Pence said that Putin is a better leader than Obama

Verdict: True

Kaine said Pence called Putin stronger than Obama and Pence denied that claim. But said last month that it was “inarguable” that Putin is a stronger leader.

“I think it’s inarguable that Vladimir Putin has been a stronger leader in his country than Barack Obama has been in this country,” Pence said.

Kaine said Trump said women who get abortions should face punishment

Verdict: True

Kaine said Trump said that women who get abortions should face punishment. Trump said in March that those women should “face some sort of punishment.” But Trump later reversed himself and apologized.

Pence claims “We are in the slowest economic recovery since the Great Depression”

Verdict: True, but misleading

If “worst” means “slowest,” then it’s true: The economy’s recovery from the Great Recession that began in December 2007 is the slowest comeback since World War II.

So Pence’s claim is correct, but it comes with a big asterisk. The current recovery has been longer than most. Since World War II, the economy has gone in cycles, typically growing for about five years and then contracted. This recovery is already 7 years old.

In addition, job growth during this recovery has already outpaced the gains in many other expansions. More than 14 million jobs have been added since the low point after the Great Recession.

Pence says Kaine boycotted Netanyahu’s speech

Verdict: True

In March 2015, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a controversial speech to a joint session of Congress on the Iran nuclear negotiations.

The speech was criticized by several Democrats and the Obama administration for its violation of protocol, and Kaine was among the more than 50 members of Congress who refused to attend the speech.

Pence on Clinton Foundation receiving donations from foreign governments

Verdict: True

Pence charged the Clinton Foundation accepted donations from foreign governments while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013.

The Clinton Foundation did indeed accept millions of dollars from seven foreign governments during Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state according to foundation officials.

This included a $500,000 donation from the Algerian government.

Kaine says Clinton admitted she should not have said “deplorables”

Verdict: False

Kaine defended Clinton on her “basket of deplorables” blast by saying she quickly admitted she shouldn’t have said that.

But Clinton, who has made an issue out of Trump’s “alt-right” support only apologized for saying that half of his supporters were “deplorables.”

Pence says Clinton failed to negotiate plan to leave troops in Iraq

Verdict: True but misleading

Pence accused Clinton of failing to negotiate an agreement with the Iraqi government allowing US forces to remain in the country past 2011.

When Obama entered office in 2009, he inherited a “Status of Forces” agreement signed in 2008 by his predecessor, President George W. Bush. That agreement stipulated American troops would leave Iraq by 2011.

Pence’s claim that Clinton failed to renegotiate a plan to leave U.S. troops in Iraq is accurate, but he failed to provide the context that the original plan to remove all troops from the country was signed by Obama’s Republican predecessor.

He also didn’t note that the agreement failed because of the Iraqi parliament’s unwillingness to provide immunity to US troops.

Kaine says federal appeals court struck down Pence ban on Syrian refugees because it was discriminatory

Verdict: True

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided that Pence’s ban on Syrian refugees was discriminatory.

Judge Richard Posner wrote in his opinion, “(Pence) argues that his policy of excluding Syrian refugees is based not on nationality and thus is not discriminatory, but is based solely on the threat he thinks they pose to the safety of residents of Indiana. … But that’s the equivalent of his saying (not that he does say) that he wants to forbid black people to settle in Indiana not because they’re black but because he’s afraid of them, and since race is therefore not his motive he isn’t discriminating. But that of course would be racial discrimination, just as his targeting Syrian refugees is discrimination on the basis of nationality.”

Kaine says Trump wants to undercut minimum wage workers

Verdict: True but misleading

Kaine said Trump and Pence want to eliminate the minimum wage. Trump said in a Republican debate last year that the minimum wage is too high, but he reversed himself in May, saying that the federal minimum wage “needs to go up.”

Kaine said Mike Pence wanted to privatize Social Security

Verdict: True but misleading

As a congressman, Pence pushed conservative efforts to make Social Security and federal entitlement programs voucher-based programs — curbing spending and also, effectively, cutting future benefits.

Critics have argued that would lead to the privatization of Social Security. But Pence never explicitly called for privatizing Social Security and Medicare — instead he supported giving individuals vouchers to purchase their own benefits.

Pence says Kaine proposed raising taxes $4 billion while in office

Verdict: True

Kaine did propose raising $4 billion in new revenue in his first budget, as part of a four-year plan to pay for road improvements. But the plan included some spending cuts and, more importantly, was never approved.

Pence says “we cut unemployment in half”

Verdict: True

Indiana’s unemployment dropped from a high point of 10.9 percent in February 2010, before Pence took office, to 5.4 percent this summer.

But most economists state that politicians and policies have very little effect on the economy and jobless rates. It would be hard to assign credit or blame to any politician on the unemployment rate.

Pence calls Longwood University “Norwood University”

Verdict: False

It’s Longwood University in Farmville, Va., Not “Norwood.”

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