Fact-Checking the Final Presidential Debate | #predators | #childpredators | #kids


— Mr. Trump

Birds that fly into the spinning blades of wind turbines do die in large numbers, with some estimates putting the toll at roughly 570,000 each year. But turbines do not number among the greatest threats to the feathered: Birds die far more frequently from collisions with buildings and cars, which each account for hundreds of millions of annual avian deaths. Cats are thought to fell some 2.4 billion birds a year. (Notably, all the birds are, in fact, not dead; despite recent declines in avian populations, billions of these creatures are thought to soar the skies and speckle the landscape.)

Wind turbine technology is not without its problems. Critics have cited concerns about appropriate land use, as well as noise pollution, among other issues. Mr. Trump has previously complained about turbines’ carbon footprint — which is actually quite low — and fixated on their manufacture in China and Germany, even though the growth of wind energy is also creating jobs in the United States.

— Mr. Trump.

This claim by Mr. Trump came as he was pressed over his administration’s efforts to reunite families who were separated as a result of his “zero tolerance” family separations policy. Court documents filed this week made clear that 545 of the migrant children still have not been reunited with their parents. The Trump administration fought for months against providing data on families who were separated, arguing that it was not necessary because the children had already been released from federally overseen shelters and foster homes into the care of sponsors, who are typically relatives or family friends.

Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union challenging the family separations policy have said the administration’s delays in providing information on the families resulted in the loss of essential time to track the families down. Mr. Trump also claimed the children detained at the border are well taken care of. The administration last year came under harsh criticism when it was discovered that children were subjected to sickness and disease in unsanitary cells for weeks longer than legally allowed without adequate soap and toothpaste.

— Mr. Trump

This is one of the more unusual attacks that Mr. Trump has made about his opponent’s climate change plan, and few energy experts seem to know what to make of it. Mr. Trump made a similar accusation to Fox News host Sean Hannity earlier this month saying, “I mean, they literally want to take buildings down and rebuild them with tiny little windows, O. K.? Little windows so you can’t see out, you can’t see the light.”

The Green New Deal, a framework for eliminating emissions that is different from Mr. Biden’s climate change plan, does include a goal to “upgrade all existing buildings in the United States … to achieve maximum energy efficiency” within ten years. However, low-energy buildings can have windows of any size.

— Mr. Trump

It is true that the economy has added back a lot of jobs since the depths of the pandemic recession, regaining about 11.4 million of the 22 million jobs it lost between February and April. And it’s true that those gains have been historically faster than prior economic rebounds.

But there is an obvious reason for that. People came back into work quickly because they had been temporarily furloughed as states and cities shut down, and businesses brought them back into their jobs as they reopened. The concern now is that job losses are increasingly turning permanent, which could lead to a slower recovery going forward.

— Mr. Trump

Air pollution in China and India is indeed a serious issue — India is one of the most polluted countries in the world. But Mr. Trump is essentially talking about the countries’ contributions to climate change, and on that score, his comments fail to capture the full picture.

China overtook the United States as the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide in 2005. Historically, though, the United States is responsible for more cumulative planet-warming emissions being released into the atmosphere.

According to the Global Carbon project, the United States released 399 billion tons of carbon dioxide between 1751 and 2017, more than any other nation on Earth. China is second, with 200 billion tons.

Looked at from a per-capita basis, the average American emits 16.56 tons of carbon dioxide a year, over twice as much as the average Chinese person or European, according to the International Energy Agency.

— Mr. Trump

Criminal justice experts and critics say Mr. Biden’s work on crime legislation helped lay the groundwork for mass incarceration that has devastated America’s Black communities. In 1993, Mr. Biden boasted on the Senate floor, “The truth is every major crime bill since 1976 that’s come out of this Congress, every minor crime bill, has had the name of the Democratic Senator from the state of Delaware, Joe Biden.” Mr. Biden’s actions took place at a time when violent crime was surging in many cities. His work culminated in 1994, when as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he helped pass a vast catchall crime bill known as the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. The law included strong punitive measures desired by law enforcement, created 60 new death penalty offenses, gave states incentives to build prisons, set aside money for 100,000 new police and codified a “three strikes” rule.

While some studies show that the bill lowered the crime rate, which had exploded in the United States during the 1980s and 1990s, there is evidence that it contributed to the explosion of the prison population. Mr. Biden has apologized for portions of his anti-crime legislation. The New York Times examined Mr. Biden’s record on criminal justice in 2019.

— Mr. Trump

Mr. Biden wants to raise taxes on high-earning individuals and on corporations, but he has made a clear-cut pledge: He says he will not raise taxes on people earning less than $400,000. Mr. Biden has reiterated that pledge repeatedly.

— Mr. Trump

Mr. Trump was asked what he intends to do to address climate change and cited his administration’s involvement with the Trillion Tree Initiative. Begun by the World Economic Forum, the plan to preserve one trillion trees and sequester carbon is considered helpful to address climate change — but useless without also drawing down fossil fuels.

Earlier this month, Mr. Trump signed an executive order establishing an interagency council to oversee the United States’ involvement in the Trillion Tree Initiative. Mr. Trump’s order does not actually include any funding or the planting of any trees.

— Mr. Trump

The United States is a slightly less polluting country now than it was when President Trump entered office, but those reductions are largely because cheap natural gas prices enticed utilities to drop coal, and because of policies enacted under the Obama administration. Overall U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas responsible for climate change, dropped by 14 percent from 2007 through 2019. About 90 percent of that decline in carbon emissions took place between 2007 and 2012.

Many European nations have gone further than the United States, including Britain, which cut emissions 29 percent, and Denmark, which reduced emissions by 34 percent between 2000 and 2016. The United States remains the second highest overall greenhouse gas polluter and the 12th highest per capita polluter in the world. (An earlier version of this article misstated the United States’ global ranking of per capita pollution. It is the 12th highest not the 120th highest.)

— Mr. Trump

This statement came as Mr. Trump was pressed on his administration’s “zero tolerance” policy that resulted in the separation of thousands of children from their parents and the more than 500 children who have still not been matched with their parents. The Obama administration only broke up families at the border in rare circumstances — for example, in cases in which there was a doubt about the familial relationship between a child and an accompanying adult. But the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy called for criminal prosecution of everyone who entered the country illegally. After widespread condemnation from lawmakers in both parties, immigration activists and the United Nations, Mr. Trump signed an executive order that attempted to end the practice of family separation.

However, the Obama administration did hold children in the same chain-linked enclosures the Trump administration has used to detain migrants — facilities widely decried by Democrats as “cages.” A federal judge also criticized the conditions and care provided to migrant children that were held in detention facilities during the Obama administration.

— Mr. Trump, referring to his Opportunity Zone program.

There is no data yet available showing that Opportunity Zones, a creation of the tax overhaul that Mr. Trump signed into law in 2017, have boosted incomes or wealth for Black Americans. The zones confer tax advantages — in the form of reductions in, and in some cases, the elimination of, capital gains taxes — on people who invest in so-called distressed communities designated by state governors and certified by the Treasury Department.

The zones, on average, are higher in poverty and include a larger share of Black residents than a typical census tract in the United States. There are examples of individual projects run by Black developers that have received investment from opportunity funds, which invest in the zones, and of heavily Black communities seeing investment that might not have occurred without the designation. But there is little evidence available to support the contention that the zones have generated sufficient investment to materially enrich Black residents — in part because the federal government has released little data on who is investing in the zones and where their money is going. A report from the Urban Institute this summer, relying on interviews with a wide range of people investing in and attempting to garner investment through the zones, found that “many Black project sponsors have sought to engage with” the zones. “While some of these sponsors have been successful,” it concluded, “others have felt that patterns of discrimination have made it hard to connect with investors.”

Even a recent report by the White House Council of Economic Advisers, which included economic modeling claiming the zones have generated $75 billion in investment so far, did not make any specific claims of income or job gains for Black residents of the zones.

— Mr. Trump

Mr. Trump, facing criticism for his meetings with Kim Jong Un, the pariah dictator of North Korea who has taken no steps to reduce his nuclear arsenal, has repeatedly suggested that Mr. Obama sought to do the same. Neither Mr. Obama nor officials in his administration spoke of such an effort during his presidency. As Mr. Trump has made the claim, top Obama officials have disputed it, including Mr. Obama’s former national security adviser and a deputy national security adviser.

“In all the deliberations that I participated in on North Korea during the Obama administration, I can recall no instance whatever where President Obama ever indicated any interest whatsoever in meeting with Chairman Kim,” Mr. Obama’s director of national intelligence, James Clapper — who traveled to Pyongyang in 2014 — told CNN last year.

Mr. Trump’s comment suggested that Mr. Kim agreed to a meeting because he prefers him to Mr. Obama on a personal level. But many longtime North Korea analysts say that Mr. Kim saw an opportunity to cut a better deal with the United States than was available to him from past presidents.

— Mr. Trump

Mr. Trump has said repeatedly that Mr. Biden used the term “super predators” in reference to criminals during debate over the 1994 crime bill. Mr. Biden never used the term, however. It was used by Hillary Clinton, then first lady.

— Mr. Trump

Mr. Trump went on to say of Mr. Biden, “He lived there for a short period of time, before he even knew it, and he left.”

Mr. Biden does in fact come from Scranton, Pa. He was born there and lived there until he was 10 years old. Mr. Biden often references his roots on the campaign trail, and he has tried to frame the presidential election as a choice between Scranton and Park Avenue.

In his memoir “Promises to Keep,” Mr. Biden recalls moving from “the Scranton neighborhood I knew so well” to Delaware when he was 10. “My dad was having trouble finding a good job in Scranton, and his brother Frank kept telling him there were jobs in Wilmington,” he wrote.

— Mr. Trump

This is a reference to a claim and an email provided on Thursday by Tony Bobulinksi, a former business associate of Mr. Biden’s son, Hunter, and his brother, James Biden.

In 2017, Mr. Bobulinski was working with Hunter and James Biden on a venture with a Chinese company. In an email, one of the partners outlined a provisional agreement for distribution of equity for the venture indicating that James Biden would get 10 percent and Hunter Biden would get 20 percent for himself, plus 10 percent to hold “for the big guy,” though the explanation of the last share is punctuated with a question mark.

Mr. Bobulinski told reporters on Thursday before the debate that “the big guy” was a reference to the former vice president. But the deal does not appear to have come to fruition. And Andrew Bates, a Biden campaign spokesman, issued a statement pushing back on the suggestion that the former vice president participated in his family’s business dealings.

“Joe Biden has never even considered being involved in business with his family, nor in any overseas business whatsoever,” Mr. Bates said. “He has never held stock in any such business arrangements nor has any family member or any other person ever held stock for him.”

— Mr. Trump

A centerpiece of Mr. Trump’s assault on immigration has been an end to what he calls the policy of “catch and release.” But his description on Thursday of the immigrants being released was misleading and inaccurate.

The vast majority of migrants being caught crossing the border were families seeking asylum, not murderers or rapists. Many released into the United States did not return for their court hearings, but previous administrations have implemented programs that increased the number of migrants that showed up.

— Mr. Trump

Not according to historians. Among modern presidents, historians agreed that the most significant legislative achievements belong to President Lyndon B. Johnson, who shepherded the passage of the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act.

A 2017 study that assessed modern presidents based on the analysis of editorials published in Black newspapers ranked Mr. Johnson at the top. Mr. Trump would place in the bottom third, the study’s co-author told The Times.

— Mr. Biden

It’s not clear exactly what data point Mr. Biden is referencing here, but it’s in the ballpark of what small business surveys have suggested could happen if the coronavirus persists and prevents normal activity from resuming.

For instance, a National Federation of Independent Business survey in August found that one in five small businesses said that they would have to close their doors if economic conditions do not improve over the subsequent six months.

Economic conditions have improved along some dimensions since then, but the service sector in particular remains hard-hit amid the pandemic.

— Mr. Trump, on raising the minimum wage.

Economic research has not “proven” that when governments raise minimum wages, small businesses lay off workers.

Many recent studies have suggested the opposite: that some state-level increases in the minimum wage have had no negative effect on hiring. In a 2019 study of businesses straddling the New York-Pennsylvania border, researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York concluded that “As the minimum wage was raised to levels above $10 per hour, leisure and hospitality employment in New York counties, if anything, increased relative to businesses over the Pennsylvania state line. Concerns of diminished employment growth in New York’s leisure and hospitality industry as a result of the rising minimum wage seem not to have been borne out.”

— Mr. Trump

Mr. Biden has never called for a ban on the process for extracting oil and gas known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. He has pledged to end new permits for hydraulic fracturing on federal lands and waters, but said fracking “has to continue because we need a transition” to renewable energy. He has also assured union leaders in critical swing states like Pennsylvania that he will protect existing fracking jobs while pursuing a clean energy transition.





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