Friday, October 24th, 2014

Fact-checking 'PoliticsNation'

On Tuesday's "PoliticsNation," host Al Sharpton and guest Goldie Taylor confused debt with deficit.
On Tuesday's "PoliticsNation," host Al Sharpton and guest Goldie Taylor confused debt with deficit.

In one segment of MSNBC's PoliticsNation with the Rev. Al Sharpton this week, PolitiFact and PunditFact found three False statements.

Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., got things started when he said that at its current level, the minimum wage is inadequate for making an acceptable living.

"The minimum wage at the federal level has been frozen for four years at $7.75," he said on Nov. 12, 2013. "In the state of Washington, we’ve raised it to $9.15 and people there took it in their own hands and said, let’s go to $15 because people have gotten fed up with Washington, D.C. They don’t expect a thing to come out of Congress. … On $7.75 you can’t even make half the poverty level. You’ve got to have two jobs. You have to work 80 hours a week."

He’s wrong about what the federal minimum wage is -- it’s $7.25. And for about 98 percent of households, he’s wrong that a year of working at that wage rate wouldn’t even get you to half of the poverty level. We rated his statement False.

Next, MSNBC contributor Goldie Taylor and Sharpton talked about former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin comparing the national debt to slavery.

But in making their points, Taylor and Sharpton also confused deficits for debt.

Sharpton said that the national debt "has been reduced every year for the last five years under this president."

Moments later, Taylor added: "You know, our national debt is as low as it has been since World War II. And so the notion that our national debt is growing at some astronomical rate really is a misnomer."

We rated Sharpton’s comment False. Sharpton mixed up the deficit with the debt. The budget words sort of sound alike, but they’re not interchangeable.

The deficit is a yearly measure of revenues against spending, and the debt is the sum of all past deficits minus any annual surpluses.

Taylor made a similar mix-up as she misconstrued a larger talking point we’ve heard from the Obama administration this year.

We rated her claim False.