Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

Were the Clintons 'dead broke' when they left the White House? PolitiFact Oregon Roundup

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton answers a question from the crowd during a stop on her book tour in Chicago, on June 11, 2014.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton answers a question from the crowd during a stop on her book tour in Chicago, on June 11, 2014.

As candidates begin jockeying for the 2016 presidential election, no one is getting more scrutiny than the former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Her fascinating game of "Will She or Won’t She Run," in fact, is one of the most popular in the country right now.

When it comes to hot-button political topics, however, Clinton’s presidential plans have some company. Today’s PolitiFact Oregon Roundup includes a couple of those – income inequality and the Veterans Administration mess. Toss in a claim about whether Americans invented the car and you’re looking at one heaping plate of fact-checking.

1. When having $1 million means you're broke

Hillary Clinton told an interviewer recently that when she and husband Bill were "dead broke" when they left the White House. Not only that, she said, but the couple owed substantial sums to creditors.

PolitiFact National’s check included information from financial experts who said the Clinton’s were in a perfect position to capitalize on their fame when they left the White House. So much so, in fact, that they were able to muster a cash down payment of $855,000 and secure a $1.995 million mortgage a few weeks before they vacated the Oval Office. Clinton’s claim was rated Mostly False.

2. Reince Priebus goes cherry-picking with his numbers

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus is hardly alone in thinking Clinton may run for president. She may have a tough time, he asserted in a recent interview, given sinking poll numbers. "She went from a 70-percent approval rating down to…52 in 18 months," Priebus said recently.

The check showed that Clinton’s numbers dropped 18 points in one poll. But it also knocked Priebus for "cherry-picking his findings to exaggerate her fall. On balance, we rate his statement Half True."

3. Trying, but failing, to get ahead on minimum wage

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., is among those arguing in favor of raising the federal minimum wage. In a recent floor speech, he said, "People who work hard for a living shouldn’t have to live in poverty, and that was not the case in the ‘50s and ‘60s when the minimum wage was such that it would lift you out of poverty. And I think that’s what we have to do today."

PolitiFact Rhode Island’s story found that the minimum wage for the years Reed referenced always generated enough income to keep an individual out of poverty. That wasn’t always the case for couples or families. The claim was rated Mostly True.

4. Bill Cassidy -- a veteran of misstating the case about vets

News of long waiting times at Veterans Administration clinics around the country has drawn scorn from members of both political parties. Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La., weighed in with a statement: "Only after news broke out our veterans are dying because of inadequate health care did Harry Reid and Senate Democrats take action."

The check found Cassidy’s statement to be inaccurate. Democrats tried to pass an expansion veterans’ bill that included funding for the same 27 new clinics that Cassidy and the House passed last December. "The bill was blocked by Senate Republicans, who were concerned about its funding and its scope," the piece concluded. "They also wanted to include sanctions against Iran." The claim was rated False.

5. A claim about cars that internally combusts

Conservative radio talk-show host Laura Ingraham, talking recently about American ingenuity, said this country has "developed some of the most groundbreaking pieces of technology that the world has ever seen. We invented the automobile. We invented the airplane."

PunditFact, looking at internal combustion-powered vehicles, found that all of the first examples came form Europe. The first commercial auto enterprise emerged in Germany. So while the U.S. did play a major role in automobile production, Ingraham’s claim about cars being "invented" here was judged False.

Expect more "Hillary checks" in days ahead, since national fact-checkers are taking a close look at many of her past statements. From the looks of things, claims about the VA and the minimum wage won’t be far behind.

Thoughts about the roundup? Something we missed? Leave your comments here and let’s get the conversation started.