The top eleven Republican presidential candidates will meet in at the Ronald Reagan library in Simi Valley, California Wednesday for the second GOP debate. While the primetime event will bring a new face — Carly Fiorina — and potentially new insults and attacks, the candidates will likely rely on the same tired, often incorrect policy arguments to argue that they should win the party’s nomination.
Last debate, ThinkProgress outlined 11 lies you would likely hear the candidates say during the debate. And for those keeping track, the candidates did not disappoint. Donald Trump called the Iran deal “a disgrace” and Jeb Bush bragged about defunding Planned Parenthood during his time as governor of Florida, among other predictable arguments.
But that debate was more than a month ago, which in the news cycle of the Republican primary, might as well be years. Since then, the immigration debate has heated up, candidates have introduced more detailed tax plans and other plans for economic disasters like eliminating public sector unions, and a middle-aged woman from Kentucky has become a national celebrity and relaunched the conversation about “religious liberty.”
Here are four new lies you’ll probably hear the candidates say during Wednesday’s CNN debate:
“Kim Davis’ right to religious liberty has been grossly violated.”
This was the headline to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s op-ed published on Fox News’ website in which he argued that the U.S. Supreme Court did not have the power to legalize same-sex marriage across the country and that Davis, a county clerk in Kentucky, should be permitted to deny marriages licenses to same-sex couples. Davis’ jailing prompted a national conversation about religious liberty, giving Republican presidential candidates like Huckabee another chance to argue that the Constitution protects people’s and businesses’ right to discriminate. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz similarly argued that “the government arrested a Christian woman for living according to her faith. This is wrong. This is not America.”
But Davis and her supporters are mistaken: she does not have a constitutional right to deny people their rights guaranteed under the law. Since the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision, gay and lesbian Kentucky citizens are guaranteed the right to marry. And citing “religious liberty” is not a “get out of jail free card” and cannot be extended to protect people and businesses’ discriminatory acts. Not only is the argument false, but the American public doesn’t think it should be made. According to a recent poll, even religious Americans don’t think “religious liberty” should be used as an excuse to discriminate against LGBT people, with most people of faith preferring legal protection for LGBT rights.
“[Birthright citizenship] needs to be reexamined in light of the current circumstances.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie discussed eliminating birthright citizenship during a radio interview last month, saying that it “may have made sense at some point in our history, but right now, we need to re-look at all that.” The policy proposal originated from Trump, who included it in his extreme and entirely impractical immigration plan. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, trying to get ahead of the conversation, claimed that Trump essentially stole his idea and that he would “absolutely” consider ending this practice. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal then jumped on board. Bush called the idea impractical, but didn’t go out of his way to denounce the concept. He said changing the Constitution would take a long time, so in the meantime, “there needs to be real efforts to deal with the abuse of these factories where people come in and have children to gain the citizenship for the children.”
Under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, all people born or naturalized in the United States are citizens of the United States. But as part of their unrealistic immigration platforms, a number of candidates are ready to rewrite the Constitution and the protection the Republican Party once took pride in establishing. Such a change would require the consent of 38 state legislatures, making it very unlikely to happen unless the U.S. Supreme Court takes up the issue. And the states aren’t likely to approve the change because birthright citizenship benefits the country’s health and economic outcomes, has been the law of the land for so long, and has even helped many of the Republican candidates themselves.
“[My tax plan] will unleash increased investment, higher wages and sustained 4 percent economic growth.”
This line will come from Bush, who released his tax plan last week. In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, he argued that his tax overhaul — which includes lowering taxes on the wealthy in additional to giving tax breaks to the richest Americans — would “unleash four percent growth” and reduce the deficit. “I know that enacting these policies works because I’ve done it before, Bush wrote. “As governor of Florida, I cut taxes every single year…The state’s economy took off, growing at an average rate of 4.4 percent.”
But what Bush won’t mention is how his plan is mostly a giveaway to the rich. His proposal to lower the corporate tax rate isn’t likely to improve the economy — the corporations that pay the highest effective tax rates actually create more jobs than those that duck taxes. Lowering taxes on the wealthy also won’t spur the economy. Post-war American growth has generally been higher during periods when the top marginal tax rate was also higher and lower when tax rates were substantially lower. And his other plans to give breaks to the wealthiest, like eliminating the estate tax, would mean the government would lose a large source of its revenue, so other taxpayers would have to foot the bill.
“Many of the nation’s federal labor laws and regulations have stood as a roadblock to fairness and opportunity, and instead have created rigid, top-down workplaces that don’t really work for Americans.”
Walker made this statement in a policy paper outlining his plan to “give power to the people, not union bosses.” During a speech in Las Vegas in which he announced his anti-union policy propals, he said that growing the economy required reforming labor unions — which to Walker, means eliminating them. His plan includes eliminating the National Labor Relations Board, getting rid of unions at the federal level, and pushing for all states to become “right-to-work” states, which means that no union could require dues to be paid by members.
But Walker is mistaken that unions “don’t really work for Americans.” Evidence shows that labor unions shrink income inequality, increase social mobility, narrow the gender pay gap, and raise wages for everyone, particularly workers of color. Walker is also mistaken about current labor law. He says in the text of his plan that “workers deserve to have the freedom to choose whether they want to be in a labor union or not,” but such freedom is already in place.
And, because we all know that history repeats itself — especially when it comes to political rhetoric — here are nine of the lies we included last time that will likely be repeated again:
“[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 Wednesday 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 — who is now out of the race — said this during an attack on Donald Trump in July, 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 in July 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.”
“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 in July 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.