Trump faced off with Democratic nominee Joe Biden, warning of election fraud, accusing his opponent of pushing for “socialized medicine,” and defending his handling of COVID-19. Here are the facts.
President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden faced off in the first presidential debate of 2020, held Tuesday night in Cleveland. During the fiery exchange, rife with interruptions by Trump, the president made several claims on election fraud, health care, the economy, and his response to COVID-19 that raised some questions.
Despite Trump’s Claims, There Is No Evidence of Election Fraud
During the debate, Trump said the Nov. 3 election “is going to be a fraud like we’ve never seen,” claiming that mail-in ballots could be forged by anyone, including a foreign country. But local election officials say that would not be possible, given the existing safeguards, like barcodes on the envelopes.
Trump Does Not Protect Pre-Existing Conditions
Trump claimed GOP health plans “guarantee pre-existing conditions.” In fact, the Affordable Care Act, which Biden helped pass under Obama, prohibits health insurance companies from refusing to cover people with pre-existing medical conditions. But despite his promises, Trump’s administration is allied with conservative states on a lawsuit to kill it. The case is now before the Supreme Court, which will hear arguments after the election.
Drug Prices Keep Rising
The president also claimed that he is cutting drug prices 80% or 90%. In reality, Trump has not yet produced a plan that would lower drug prices by those percentages for the majority of Americans. In fact, an analysis by GoodRx found just the opposite: Drug prices are rising faster than any other medical service or good.
Biden’s Not for Socialized Medicine
Trump also suggested that Biden is pushing for “socialized medicine.” In fact, Biden has repeatedly said he does not support socialized medicine. Instead, his plan calls for building on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which does not eliminate private insurance.
Trump’s Handling of the COVID-19 Pandemic Has Not Been “Great”
During the debate, Trump claimed his administration has done a “great job” handling the COVID-19 pandemic. But the numbers tell a different story: the US has more cases than any other nation, with more than 7 million contracting the illness, and over 200,000 deaths, which is more than any country.
Since the beginning of the pandemic Trump downplayed its importance, claiming that it would just “go away,” and refusing to wear a mask. Yet in early February, long before the public was made aware of the looming catastrophe, Trump told Bob Woodward, “the coronavirus is five times more deadly than the flu” and “this is deadly stuff.” But it was a month later, in March, when Trump ordered the US border closed to foreigners coming to the US from 26 European states, although not all of Europe.
Trump Didn’t Pay “Millions” in Taxes
The president also stated that he paid millions of dollars in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017. However, based on leaked copies of Trump’s returns, Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes for the year he was elected as well as for his first year in office. For 10 of the previous 15 years, Trump avoided paying taxes by reporting huge losses.
Once More, Trump Failed to Denounce White Supremacists
Trump claimed violence “is a left-wing problem.” When debate moderator Chris Wallace asked the president to condemn white supremacists and right-wing militias such as the Proud Boys, a violent neofascist group, Trump replied: “Proud Boys? Stand back and stand by.” “Standing down and standing by sir,” the group wrote on Telegram, an encrypted messaging platform.
Not the “Greatest US Economy”
The president also took credit for what he calls the United States’ “greatest economy”, saying that the corporate tax cuts that were passed in late 2017 created a huge job growth. But while 2.3 million jobs were created in the year following the tax cuts, this number is roughly the same as during the last year of Barack Obama’s presidency. In the second year after the tax cuts passed by Republicans, job growth dropped by 180,000. Furthermore, the economy has been hit hard by the closing of businesses and layoffs due to the administration’s inability to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.