Thursday, December 18th, 2014

Truth-O-Meter looks back at some claims for candidates seeking U.S. House seats

Democrat Shelley Adler goes after Rep. Jon Runyan in this mock sports broadcast about his stance on Medicare reform.

Much of New Jersey’s political attention has been focused on the presidential and U.S. Senate races in recent weeks.

But those aren’t the only races to be determined Tuesday at the polls. There are House races as well, between Rep. Jon Runyan (R-3rd Dist.) and Shelley Adler, a Democrat; Rep. Leonard Lance (R-7th Dist.) and Upendra Chivukula, a Democratic assemblyman; Rep. Frank Pallone (D-6th Dist.) and Anna Little, a Republican; and Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-9th Dist.) and Shmuley Boteach, a Republican.

The Truth-O-Meter has checked a number of campaign-related claims by Runyan, Adler, Lance and Chivukula during the past year, some of which are recapped here:

Runyan claims

Runyan received a False rating on a Medicare claim he made in September in an interview posted online on Sept. 17 with Townsquare Media New Jersey.

In that claim, Runyan said some of Medicare’s accounts would disappear in a decade if nothing was done to stop the siphoning of more than $700 billion in cuts from the program.

We found multiple problems with this claim. Among them: the new health care reform reduces growth in future Medicare spending by $716 billion over 10 years – it doesn’t cut that much from the current Medicare budget. Also, the health care reform puts the Medicare program on stronger financial footing.

Runyan earned another False after claiming in a May 4 interview with Michael Aron on NJTV’s "On the Record," that the nearly 50-year-old Medicare program would vanish in eight years if nothing is done to save it.

PolitiFact New Jersey checked on solvency concerns for the two trust funds supporting Medicare. One fund is set to run out of assets in 2024, but incoming tax revenues would still cover more than 60 percent of projected costs for decades to follow. The second trust fund is expected to remain on solid financial ground indefinitely, according to estimates released in April by the trustees overseeing the funds.

Adler claims

Adler’s claims against Runyan haven’t done well on the Truth-O-Meter.

At an October campaign event, Adler claimed that Runyan voted to redefine rape and couldn’t be trusted to stand up for women.

Her claim stemmed from legislation sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-4th Dist.) called the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act." The bill, as introduced, would have permanently restricted federal funding for abortions except in cases of "forcible rape," incest, if the victim was a minor, or to save the life of the mother. Runyan never signed on as a co-sponsor of that legislation and when the bill reached the House floor for a full vote, the word "forcible" had been removed. Runyan voted for the bill and Adler’s claim earned a False.

In September, Adler claimed in a Sept. 12 YouTube ad that Runyan supported a proposal by Wisconsin senator and vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan to spike seniors’ Medicare costs by $6,400 annually. She received a Mostly False ruling on that claim because the ad was misleading on at least two fronts: the $6,400 figure is based on an old version of Ryan’s Medicare reform plan and does not consider changes made in his latest proposal. Also, the ad doesn’t mention that only future Medicare beneficiaries would be affected – not current ones.

Adler went on the attack again in May, when she claimed during an interview on NJTV’s "On the Record" that Runyan voted to end programs for homeless veterans. The vouchers, which help homeless veterans by subsidizing a portion of their rent, are part of a program run by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

PolitiFact New Jersey determined that Runyan voted for a bill in February that did not include funding for 10,000 new housing vouchers for homeless veterans, but the bill wouldn’t have impacted existing vouchers for veterans. Further, Runyan ultimately voted for another bill, which became law, that included funding for new vouchers.

Adler’s claim was rated False.

Lance claim

During an Oct. 21 debate with Chivukula, Lance noted that President Barack Obama hasn’t fulfilled a promise to halve the national deficit by the end of his first term in office. Lance said Obama made the pledge while he was running for the presidency, but the pledge was actually made shortly after Obama took office. His overall point was accurate, however, and Lance earned a True on the Truth-O-Meter.

Chivukula claim

Chivukula claimed Lance sharply changed his stance on guns after taking office in 2008, according to Aug. 5 interview he did with the liberal blog "Blue Jersey." Chivukula’s claim had an element of truth to it: Lance in May 2009 voted to repeal the ban on visitors carrying firearms on federal public land, as long as gun owners comply with the laws of the state where the park is located. But Chivukula was wrong to suggest that Lance essentially "flip-flopped" his stance on guns. In 2007, as Lance was vying for another term in the New Jersey Senate, he filled out a survey indicating that he supports enforcing New Jersey’s current gun laws. Chivukula’s claim was rated Mostly False.

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