Friday, October 24th, 2014

PolitiFact checks run gamut

PolitiFact Georgia checked a claim by President Barack Obama on the U.S. Border Patrol
PolitiFact Georgia checked a claim by President Barack Obama on the U.S. Border Patrol

Last week, the trusty Truth-O-Meter took on everyone from President Barack Obama to a metro Atlanta Republican flirting with a presidential run to a University of Georgia student activist.

And we threw in the governor for good measure.

You can find our fearless engine of truthiness Sunday through Friday in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and online.

Want to comment on our findings? Find our Facebook page and hit the "like" button to join the discussion. You can also follow us on Twitter.

Prospective presidential candidate Herman Cain: China holds 26 percent of the U.S. debt.

Here's one thing many Republicans and Democrats agree on: concern about the amount of our debt held by China.

The issue has been raised recently by President Barack Obama and seemingly every Democratic and Republican leader. It's been a key talking point for possible GOP candidate Donald Trump.

So how much of the U.S. debt, exactly, does China hold? In a speech at a tea party event in Iowa on April 16, potential Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain said it's 26 percent.

Experts consulted by PolitiFact found Cain’s number not only inflated but misleading.

There are a couple of ways to consider debt, but using the two most common, Cain is either off by more than double or more than triple.

We rate Cain's statement False.

Gov. Nathan Deal: "Over the last 10 years, Georgia's public health has declined."

Put down that Krispy Kreme, fellow Georgian. And quit smoking. You’re ruining our state’s reputation.

Georgians eat all the wrong things. We don’t exercise enough. Our children are plump.

It’s only getting worse, Gov. Nathan Deal said in a recent speech to the Georgia Public Health Association.

"Over the last 10 years, Georgia's public health has declined," Deal said.  

All sources we consulted found that the health of Georgians improved in some important categories and declined in others.

Overall, Georgia’s health hasn’t truly "declined" in the past decade as Deal said. It’s consistently low compared with other states, and during the past 10 years, our record has been mixed.

We rate Deal’s claim Half True.

Student activist Allie McCullen: "The Georgia Lottery Corp. has only once in the past 16 years paid out the agreed upon 35 percent of proceeds to the account which funds the HOPE scholarship."

McCullen, a statewide organizer with Georgia Students for Public Higher Education, a group that has participated in public protests related to a variety of issues, made the above criticism of elected officials and the Georgia Lottery Corp. at a rally in downtown Atlanta against cuts in the HOPE scholarship program.

If McCullen had said the Georgia Lottery Corp. has not hit its target of 35 percent since 1997, the accuracy of her statement would have hinged on what "as nearly as practical" -- a phrase in the state law that established the lottery -- means and why the legislation even included the number 35 percent.

But the Georgia Lottery Corp. actually met the 35 percent goal three times in 16 years.

She earns a False.

President Barack Obama: Says "we have now more Border Patrol officers ... than we’ve had at any time in our history."

Obama offered the above defense of his administration’s immigration policies Tuesday in response to a question about the controversial bill recently passed by Georgia lawmakers to catch illegal immigrants.

He made the statement to Channel 2 Action News anchor Justin Farmer.

Federal data show the number of agents patrolling America’s borders has increased to its highest levels in the past two decades. There is historical data that show there has been at least one period in American history in which there were many more authorities patrolling the border. But those were soldiers.

We rate the president’s claim as Mostly True.