Some politicians spoke the truth in 2014

It didn't take sodium pentothal -- a purported "truth serum" -- to get some politicians to speak accurately in 2014. Some did it of their own volition.
It didn't take sodium pentothal -- a purported "truth serum" -- to get some politicians to speak accurately in 2014. Some did it of their own volition.

This past year in politics saw lots of questionable -- if not flat out false -- claims. But don’t get too depressed: There were also more than a few comments that earned a True rating from the Truth-O-Meter, including statements by members of both parties. Here’s a sampling:

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Facebook Post: Congress has 11 percent approval ratings, yet 96.4 percent of incumbent lawmakers were re-elected in 2014.

We found small differences in the actual percentages -- Congress had roughly a 14 percent approval rate, and the incumbent re-election rate may be as low as 95 percent -- but the point of the meme was solid. It’s correct to say that voters hold Congress in low regard, but they re-elected almost everyone.

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Rand Paul: "It cost us more to shut the government down than to keep it open."

Independent economic research groups have found that the government shutdown had tangible costs in lost revenue, curtailed economic growth, stalled private-sector activity and led to expenses for closing government for two weeks. The government had to pay all of what it normally would have spent during that two-week period and then some. U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., had his facts right on this one.

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Barack Obama: During the past four years, "average wages have barely budged."

President Barack Obama made this claim during his 2014 State of the Union address. We found two federal data sets that broadly agreed with him. A Republican, Ohio Senator Rob Portman, also earned a True rating for a similar claim -- that "the average family (is) now bringing home $4,000 less than they did just five years ago."

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Paul Ryan: "Over the past three years, ‘deep poverty’ has reached its highest level on record."

In a report titled "The War on Poverty: 50 Years Later," House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., cited record levels of "deep poverty," defined as a household that "makes less than 50 percent of the poverty line." We found that the period 2010 to 2012 produced the highest percentage since the statistic was first calculated in 1975.

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Louise Slaughter: "By 4th grade, 86 percent of African-American boys and 82 percent (of) Hispanic boys are reading below proficiency levels."

Slaughter, a Democratic House member from upstate New York, has the backing of government data for this depressing statistic, though we also noted that the United States has at least seen improvements in these scores across all races since the early 1990s.

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Mitch McConnell: "More women are graduating from college now than men."

Since the early 1990s, women have earned more postsecondary degrees than men -- and in the 2011-12 academic year, women earned more degrees of all types (bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral) than men did. So the incoming Senate majority leader was right.

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Hillary Clinton: By 2009, "dozens of senior terrorists had been taken off the battlefield" by drones.

In Hillary Clinton’s memoir, Hard Choices, the former secretary of state defended the administration’s use of drone strikes in the face of knotty ethical and legal questions. While it’s difficult to find a definitive number simply using publicly available evidence, even a conservative estimate using credible accounts was enough for us to rate her claim True.

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Rand Paul: "Washington has incentivized the militarization of local police precincts."

We found that the government’s 1033 program, which gives surplus military equipment to local law enforcement agencies, has contributed to police militarization by offering free equipment. While the program (and Washington more generally) is not the sole reason for police militarization, we found strong evidence that it did incentivize it and allow that culture to continue.

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Virginia Foxx: Americans spend "6.1 billion hours a year" on tax preparation.

U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., said it takes U.S. taxpayers a total of 6.1 billion hours to file their taxes. The number comes from the Taxpayer Advocate Service’s 2013 report to Congress. The figure is an estimate -- it’s calculated by taking the number of tax forms filed in the last year and multiplying it by the IRS’s estimate of the time it takes to prepare the forms. Foxx’s larger point, that it takes a very long time for Americans to comply with filing their federal taxes, is accurate.

Patty Murray: In the past three years, state legislatures have "enacted more of these restrictions (on abortion) than in the previous 10 years combined."

Both abortion-rights advocates and anti-abortion advocates told PolitiFact that they concurred with Murray, a Democratic senator from Washington state. Murray was basing her claim on data from a Guttmacher Institute report that counted 205 restrictions from 2011 to 2013, compared to 189 from the previous decade.