The top ten Republican presidential candidates will take to one stage Thursday night for a debate broadcast on Fox News, an event that’s sure to feature some high-flown one-liners and potentially some real policy discussion as well.
While Thursday will mark the first of nine official debates, the candidates have had no shortage of opportunities to make their positions heard, from dozens of conservative conferences to TV appearances and interviews. While they may surprise America with some never-before-heard attacks, new misinformed arguments or gross generalizations, it’s not hard to predict most of their likely talking points based on what they’ve said during their campaigns so far. A not-insignificant number of them have already been debunked, but that won’t stop them from being repeated. (If they repeat them often enough, maybe they’ll start to believe them.)
Here are 11 lies you’ll likely hear the candidates say at some point during the debate:
“[Obamacare] has failed to accomplish its prime objective: Containing health care costs.”
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision this June leaving the Affordable Care Act intact, every Republican candidate issued a response denouncing the decision and criticizing Obama’s signature health care law. Jindal’s response cut right to the most prevalent misconception about the legislation — that it has caused healthcare costs to skyrocket. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush similarly declared that the flawed law “imposes job-killing mandates, causes spending in Washington to skyrocket by $1.7 trillion, raises taxes by $1 trillion and drives up health care costs.”
In reality, Obamacare is spurring job-creating start-ups, dropping the uninsurance rate to historic lows, and states that accepted the law’s Medicaid expansion are creating even more jobs. The Congressional Budget Office recently found that the law will cost the federal government $1.2 trillion over the next decade, 11 percent less than the agency estimated earlier in the year. Most of the tax increases have affected those making more than $200,000. And costs have increased modestly this year, but well below the double-digit hikes that many feared. The candidates likely won’t admit it on Thursday but Obamacare has proven to be a success.
“We need a president who will finally act to secure the border after decades of failed leadership in Washington, D.C.”
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry said this during an attack on Donald Trump last month, but most of the Republicans have said they would prioritize securing the border when they reach the White House. Trump has said that “there’s a huge problem with illegals coming through” the U.S.-Mexico border and Bush’s immigration plan, like those of his competitors, emphasizes border security. Many candidates have also warned of terrorists getting in the U.S. through the “porous” borders.
It’s easy for the candidates to point the finger at Obama for letting millions of undocumented immigrants into the country, but the U.S. has more resources deployed than ever before on the border and illegal crossings have dropped dramatically. Border crossings are at a 40-year low with undocumented migration at or below zero. In 2013, there were more “boots on the ground” at the border than there have ever been in history.
“Planned Parenthood is possibly selling the body parts of the babies it has aborted.”
An organization that works to discredit Planned Parenthood recently released heavily edited videos claiming the women’s health group is “selling aborted baby parts.” In the days following the first video’s release, many of the anti-choice Republican candidates denounced Planned Parenthood’s actions and both Texas Sen. Ted Cruz — who said the above remark in a statement — and Jindal called for investigations.
But the findings from the sting operation video don’t hold up. Planned Parenthood is open about its involvement in tissue donation, but emphasizes it is not actually selling anything or benefiting financially. In the unedited video footage, the Planned Parenthood representative says directly, “Nobody should be ‘selling’ tissue. That’s just not the goal here.”
“The satellite data demonstrate that there has been no significant warming whatsoever for 17 years.”
The GOP candidates range from those who call climate change a hoax to those who will acknowledge a small degree of human involvement in the warming of the plant. Cruz, who has said a variation of this statement multiple times including at the Koch brothers’ summit this weekend, is the worst in terms of climate change denial. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Trump, and Walker follow closely behind.
Needless to say, the data show that the planet is warming and will continue to do so, especially if the next president doesn’t expand on Obama’s climate agenda. Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities.
“Our biggest threat [in this country] is radical Islamic terrorism.”
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said this tough-on-terrorism line to a group of GOP activists in New Hampshire earlier this year, but the remark could just as likely come out of many of the contenders’ mouths. The GOP candidates have been quick to criticize President Obama’s decision not to call ISIS “Islamic extremists.” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal appeared on Fox News last month to reiterate the same point. “This President seems to bend over backwards to want to avoid saying that, he won’t even say the words ‘radical Islamic terrorism,’” Jindal said.
The Republican candidates are quick to denounce Islamic terrorism after mass shootings like the recent shooting in Chattanooga, Tennessee that killed five Marines. But they will not speak out about radical, right-wing Americans who actually pose a greater terrorist threat to the country. Recent studies have shown that domestic attacks by right-wing radicals are a graver concern to law enforcement and have led to more deaths than the threat of “homegrown jihadists.”
“Obama’s plan should be called the Costly Power Plan because it will cost hard-working Americans jobs and raise their energy rates.”
The candidates will likely bash Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which the administration released this week. Walker was the only candidate to say the plan should be called the “Costly Power Plan,” but Cruz called it “lawless and radical” and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio warned that the plan will raise the cost of electricity for millions of Americans. “So if there’s some billionaire somewhere who is a pro-environmental, cap and trade person, yeah, they can probably afford for their electric bill to go up a couple of hundred dollars,” Rubio said Sunday. ”But if you’re a single mom in Tampa, Florida, and your electric bill goes up by $30 a month, that is catastrophic.”
Scientists have said the plan is necessary to stave off climate catastrophe and research shows that it will actually lower people’s energy costs. A study found that energy bills in 2030 could be $35 per month lower under a “Clean Energy Future” scenario as compared to business-as-usual. The collateral benefits of the plan include lower electricity bills, greater GDP growth, and significant reductions in SO2, NOx, and mercury emissions.
“[Common Core is] a scheme to drive education curriculum from Washington, D.C.”
The candidates are more mixed about their feelings toward the Common Core education standards, but those who oppose them, like Jindal, are vocal about the need to return control to the states. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has called for killing the standards and restoring “common sense” while Cruz has said “we need to repeal every word of Common Core,” despite the fact that there is no federal law to repeal.
Common Core was developed by the states with input from teachers, education experts and business leaders and has been voluntarily adopted by 43 states and the District of Columbia. The standards have become deeply controversial even though they have not changed since they were first released. At the time, both Republicans and Democrats heralded the standards as one of the most promising school reforms in decades.
“This is not a good deal, but a recipe for disaster and the first fateful step toward a frenzied nuclear arms race in the Middle East.”
Former neurosurgeon Ben Carson is one of many Republican contenders to speak out against Obama’s Iran deal. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie similarly said that “the president is playing a dangerous game with our national security, and the deal as structured will lead to a nuclear Iran and, then, a nuclearized Middle East.”
The Iranian nuclear deal struck last month was greeted internationally with much acclaim, but politicians’ predictions about how the deal will play out are all speculation. The GOP candidates are repeating Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when saying the deal will lead to an arms race in the Middle East, but many international experts have said it will actually slow development of nuclear arms in the Middle East and support the deal, including former Israeli security heads.
“Instead of a safety net to cushion our occasional falls, they have built a spider web that traps people in perpetual dependence.”
Though Bush speaking in Detroit in February might be the only candidate to word it in this particular way, many 2016 candidates believe that welfare breeds a culture of dependence in the United States. Carson similarly has said that he’s “not interested in getting rid of the safety net” but he is “interested in getting rid of dependency.” He has even gone so far to say that Obama is purposefully depressing the economy to keep people on welfare.
Republicans love to discuss welfare dependency, but in reality, Americans who rely on programs like food stamps are extremely likely to go back to work and no longer need the safety net. A 2013 study found that 87 percent of households receiving money from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in a given month include an individual who worked in the prior year or will work in the following year.
“It’s sad to see the Democrats take a horrific crime and try to use it as an excuse, not to go after people with serious mental illness or people who are repeat felons or criminals, but instead try to use it as an excuse to take away Second Amendment rights of law abiding citizens.”
All of the GOP candidates are staunch Second Amendment supports and love to accuse Democrats of trying to take away their guns after episodes of violence. After the shooting in Charleston, South Carolina of nine African American church members, Cruz made this remark while campaigning in Iowa. Perry has also said that “the left’s move is always to say, ‘Well, let’s just take the guns away.’”
When Democrats push for gun control measures after mass shootings, they are fighting for background checks, closing gun show loopholes and other moderate measures that would not affect “law abiding citizens.” Our lax gun laws are the main reason why the firearm homicide rate in the U.S. in nearly 20 times as high as that of the average high-income country. And the evidence proves that simple reforms would prevent violence — when Missouri repealed its law requiring permits to purchase handguns, the murder rate in the state increased by 16 percent.
“Instead of fighting over the minimum wage, why don’t we focus on solutions that help every American earn his or her maximum wage.”
Huckabee, like many Republicans, isn’t a fan of raising the minimum wage. In many public appearances and interviews, he has said that instead, we should aim for Americans to reach their “maximum wage.” Bush and Christie have said we need to leave the minimum wage to the private sector and Walker has said his state minimum wage doesn’t “serve a purpose.”
Raising the federal minimum wage would actually help a large number of Americans and would have the greatest impact on working women. Boosting wages would also help the economy overall because it would reduce turnover and cut the costs that employers that pay low wages impose on taxpayers. And studies show that raising the minimum wage does not result in job losses, despite what many Republican candidates claim.