Friday, October 24th, 2014

On the campaign trail: PolitiFact New Jersey digs into Pascrell-Rothman battle

Democratic Congressmen Bill Pascrell, left, and Steve Rothman are set to face off in a June primary
Democratic Congressmen Bill Pascrell, left, and Steve Rothman are set to face off in a June primary

U.S. Reps. Bill Pascrell and Steve Rothman are hoping to topple each other in a bitter Democratic primary battle on June 5 to represent a newly redrawn congressional district in northern New Jersey.

But they must first come before the Truth-O-Meter.

With the campaign heating up during the past month, PolitiFact New Jersey has analyzed two claims each from Pascrell and Rothman. The two congressmen are competing for their party’s nomination to represent the 9th Congressional District.

Fact-checking both representatives has pulled the Truth-O-Meter in opposite directions.

Pascrell claims

In our latest ruling, we looked at a claim made by the Pascrell campaign that Rothman "voted AGAINST funding for President Obama's auto industry rescue package" and "would have ‘Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.’"

It’s true that Rothman voted against a program that ultimately funded the auto bailout. But at the time of that vote, the program was intended to assist financial institutions, not the auto companies. Also, Rothman has supported other legislation to help the automakers.

Pascrell received a Half True.

The congressman didn’t fare as well last week, when we checked his claim that "Ninety percent of the people who work in this country work for companies under 100 people, maybe even less than that."

Based on business statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, Pascrell is way off. Companies with fewer than 100 workers employed about 35 percent of the U.S. workforce in 2009, according to the census data.

For that statement, Pascrell earned a False.

Rothman claims

Calling himself the more progressive Democrat, Rothman went on the attack recently by pointing out various differences between him and Pascrell.

Among those differences, Rothman claimed that "Bill voted to remove the public option from the Affordable Health Care Act," referring to the national health care reform law enacted in 2010.

But records show that Pascrell voted in November 2009 for a House bill that included setting up a government-run health insurance plan. A U.S. Senate health care overhaul bill would not include a public option, and that version became the final law.

We gave Rothman a False.

Rothman received a Mostly True earlier this month for a claim about how the wealthiest Americans are paying a smaller federal income tax rate "than they have in the last 80 years."

The top statutory rate currently stands at 35 percent, representing a lower rate than during most of the last 80 years. The only exceptions were the tax years 1988 to 1992, when the top rates were lower than they are today.

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