Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Tommy v. Tammy II: Senate debate roundup

Republican Tommy Thompson and Democrat Tammy Baldwin debated in Wausau in the second of three scheduled U.S. Senate debates.
Republican Tommy Thompson and Democrat Tammy Baldwin debated in Wausau in the second of three scheduled U.S. Senate debates.

We've previously fact checked many of the claims made by Tammy Baldwin and Tommy Thompson during the Oct. 18, 2012 debate.

Here’s a sampling from the lively debate in Wausau.

"Obamacare" and Medicare: Thompson, the former Republican governor, told the Democratic congresswoman: "You stole $716 billion from Medicare. You took it out of that and used it for ‘Obamacare.’"

Thompson’s reference was to Baldwin’s support of President Barack Obama’s health care reform law. PolitiFact National rated as Mostly False a similar claim by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who said Obama "robbed" Medicare of $716 billion for the reform law. The law seeks to slow the future rate of growth in Medicare spending, saving $716 billion over 10 years.

Iran’s nuclear ambitions: Thompson said Baldwin had voted against economic sanctions repeatedly in Congress until she got into the Senate race. Baldwin countered that she had repeatedly voted in favor of sanctions.

On the Flip-O-Meter, we ruled that Baldwin has done a Full Flop on her position. She voted no on four major sanctions bills from 2006 to 2011 and only voted yes on another just three months before the November 2012 Senate election. But it’s also true that Baldwin did vote in favor, in 2001, of extending sanctions against Iran for another five years. And in 2009 she backed another, comparatively minor sanctions bill that died in the Senate.

Medicare Part D: Baldwin said that while Thompson was U.S. secretary of health and human services, "it was made illegal" for Medicare "to negotiate with the drug companies for lower prices for our seniors."

We rated True a Baldwin claim that under Thompson, a law was adopted that prohibits the federal government from negotiating prescription drug prices in the Medicare Part D program. Baldwin has since claimed Thompson made a "sweetheart deal" with the drug companies; that attack was not part of the claim we rated. Thompson has since claimed that, although he was the "point man" on Part D, Democrats were responsible for the provision prohibiting negotiation.

Baldwin’s record: Thompson said Baldwin has passed only three bills during her nearly 14 years in the House.

We rated as Mostly True a similar claim by former Republican Senate candidate Jeff Fitzgerald, who suggested Baldwin has been nearly invisible in the House. We noted that although only three Baldwin-sponsored bills have become law, it is only one measure of her overall record.

Health care: Thompson said that Baldwin does not believe that "Obamacare" went far enough and that she wants government intrusion into patients’ decisions on health care providers.

We rated as Mostly True Thompson’s claim that Baldwin wants a health care system that goes "far beyond Obamacare," but False Thompson’s statement that Baldwin backs a law for the government to take over individuals’ decisions about doctors and medicine.

Taxes: Thompson and Baldwin argued over how much a budget proposal backed by Baldwin would raise taxes.

We addressed Baldwin’s support of the Progressive Caucus proposal when we rated False a Thompson statement that the budget spent trillions more than Obama’s budget; we found it actually spent $1.5 trillion less over 10 years. However, we also found the budget Baldwin backed would have raised taxes $5 trillion more than Obama’s budget over 10 years.

Baldwin repeated a claim that Thompson wants to give a new $265,000 tax cut to millionaires like himself while raising taxes on the middle class. We rated that Half True. The first part of the claim was accurate but the impact of his tax plans on the middle class is unclear.