Fact-checking night two of the first Democratic presidential debate
The second night of the first 2020 Democratic presidential debate continued with 10 candidates, including three of the top polling leaders in former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sen. Kamala Harris of California.
The candidates tackled health care, immigration, race issues, taxes and the economy.
Here are the facts.
Iraq War troop withdrawal
Former Vice President Joe Biden, asked about his vote for the Iraq War and his judgment on taking the US to war, touted the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq in 2011.
“Once (President George W. Bush) abused that power, what happened was we got elected after that … I made sure … (President Barack Obama) turned to me and said: ‘Joe get our combat troops out of Iraq.’ I was responsible for getting 150,000 combat troops out of Iraq, and my son was one of them.”
Facts First: Biden is correct that he oversaw the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq in 2011. But he left out a key point — three years later, US troops returned to Iraq to fight ISIS, which rose to power in the vacuum left, in part, by the withdrawal of American forces.
Biden voted to authorize military intervention in Iraq in 2002 and later became a critic of the Bush administration’s handling of the war. His son, Beau, also deployed to Iraq for a year in 2008, serving in an administrative post with the 261st Signal Brigade.
The withdrawal of roughly 150,000 US combat troops from Iraq became a major part of Biden and President Obama’s election platform in 2008 and ultimately, the last American convoy left the country in December 2011.
In 2014, the US sent a much smaller contingent of a few thousand soldiers back to Iraq as part of the campaign against ISIS after the terror group rose to power and claimed a significant portion of territory both in Iraq and Syria.
Top 1% seeing a $21 trillion wealth increase
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders hammered home a familiar theme for him, saying that the middle class is stagnating, while the richest Americans are adding to their wealth.
“In the last 30 years, the top 1% has seen a $21 trillion increase in their wealth,” he said.
Facts First: The top 1% of households saw their wealth grow by $22.3 trillion on an inflation-adjusted basis, according to Federal Reserve data.
Matt Bruenig, the founder of the left-leaning People’s Policy Project, earlier this month also released an analysis based on Federal Reserve data, which tallies Americans’ wealth. He adjusted it for inflation, but removed the value of certain possessions, such as cars and refrigerators, and found a $21 trillion increase in wealth for the top 1% from 1989 to 2018, while the wealth of the bottom 50 percent dropped by $900 billion during the same timeframe.
Chinese investment in AI
South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg said that China is investing massively in artificial intelligence.
“China is investing so they could soon be able to run circles around us in artificial intelligence, and this president is fixated on the China relationship as if all that mattered was the export balance on dishwashers.”
Facts First: Buttigieg’s assertion that China is prioritizing artificial intelligence is true, but the Trump administration has proposed significant investments as well.
The Chinese government has outlined an aggressive plan to become a world leader in artificial intelligence by 2030, according to the New York Times. One Chinese city, Tianjin, announced last year it will establish a $16 billion fund to support the development of AI, according to Reuters. And according to CNBC, Chinese state media reported last year that the country will build a $2.1 billion development campus that will accommodate 400 businesses and produce an estimated $7 billion in annual productivity.
China accounted for 48 percent of all AI-related venture capital in 2017 — outstripping the United States for the first time, according to CB Insights, a venture funding research firm.
According to a Bloomberg Government review of the Trump administration’s fiscal 2020 budget request, federal agencies are expected to spend $850 million on AI research. Over the same timeframe, the Pentagon could spend as much as $4 billion on R<><><><><><> <><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><&D for machine learning and AI./ppem-Brian Fung/em/ppBiden on his past praise of segregationist senators/ppFormer Vice President Joe Biden and California Sen. Kamala Harris had a tense exchange over Biden's past praise of some senators who supported segregation and his opposition to busing./pp"It was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country. It was not only that, but you also worked with them to oppose busing," Harris said./ppBiden responded, "I do not praise racists. That is not true."/ppem /em/ppstrongFacts First: /strongemThis exchange needs context. Biden does have a history of praising senators who supported segregation, but in several instances he claimed they changed on the issue of civil rights. /em/ppem /em/ppBiden's campaign was riled last week when he cited two segregationist senators and as examples of colleagues he could work with during an era where "at least there was some civility" in the Senate. Biden did not praise either of the men, but he does have a history of praising several senators who supported segregation and opposed the Civil Rights Act -- though not for their positions opposing civil rights./ppem /em/ppBiden a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/28/politics/kfile-joe-biden-stennis-latest/index.html" target="_blank"praised/a then-Mississippi Sen. John Stennis, a staunch segregationist as a "hero" and "the rockbound integrity of the United States Congress" in the 1980s. Biden called Stennis "a hell of a guy" in 2008./ppem /em/ppBiden also has praised South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond, who ran for president as a segregationist in 1948 as a Dixiecrat. In 1993, Biden a href="https://www.c-span.org/video/?38599-1/strom-thurmond-90th-birthday-dinner" target="_blank"spoke at/a Thurmond's 90th birthday and praised him by comparing him to Confederate General Robert E. Lee./ppem /em/ppBiden has claimed both Stennis and Thurmond changed with the times. When Thurmond died, Biden a href="https://www.c-span.org/video/?177219-1/senate-sessiontranscriptQuery=stennis><><><><><><><><><><><>