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How to avoid a political food fight this Thanksgiving
John Kruzel
By John Kruzel November 21, 2017

Americans with hypertension should avoid pumpkin pie, red meat and salty snacks over Thanksgiving, doctors say. We here at PolitiFact would add another prescription to keep the blood pressure from spiking this holiday season: Should a political debate arise, sidestep the spin and stick to the facts.

We’ve prepared the following cheat sheet for moments when the Thanksgiving conversation careens toward a political third rail. Whether it’s the economy under President Donald Trump, the Republican tax plan or the latest on Hillary Clinton, our roadmap may help you reason your way out of the wilderness and back to civility.

Armed with these facts, the most fractious debate you may face is if boiled sweet potatoes should be topped with a marshmallow garnish and whether celery belongs in stuffing. (Our ruling: yes to both.)

Trump and the economy

Early into his presidency, Trump was fond of making the misleading claim that he’d inherited an economic mess from President Barack Obama. (Here are eight charts that show otherwise.) Trump seems to have eased off this talking point in favor of focusing on positive economic trends.

Trump has touted that fact that the stock market has reached record highs, the economy has enjoyed two consecutive quarters of around 3 percent real GDP growth and unemployment is at the lowest level in 17 years.

Trump is certainly enjoying economic tailwinds as we head into the Thanksgiving holiday.

But as we’ve previously noted, assigning a president full credit (or blame) misses the bigger picture: No president exercises total control of the economy, as global market forces, changes in technology, oil shocks and random events play roles too.

The Republican tax plan

The GOP tax legislation, which some Republican lawmakers have described as a do-or-die proposition, is certain to get a nod in many Thanksgiving political discussions.

Following the passage of the House plan Nov. 16, the Senate is expected to take up a vote on its version after holiday, with the two chambers reconciling their differences later.

The debate about the Republican tax plan may center on just how big the tax cut is by historical standards, and what it will mean for everyday Americans.

Trump has repeatedly claimed that the tax plan is the biggest cut ever. But tax experts told us Trump’s claim is dubious.

When you adjust for inflation, the current proposal’s tax cut is exceeded by the 1981 tax cut, and as a percentage of GDP, a half-dozen or more previous tax cuts were larger.

While most of the Republican plan’s benefits would flow to corporations and wealthy Americans, we found it Mostly True that the average American family of four would get a tax cut of $1,182 under the House plan — though the results vary by family. (And it’s certainly False to say that every American will get a tax cut from House GOP bill.)

Households that enjoy deductions today might see their taxes rise, and those who immediately benefit from the tax plan might see those gains turn into losses after 2023. So the notion that this tax cut would be ongoing, or every year, is incorrect.

Hillary Clinton and Uranium One

Some have alleged that, as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton approved the sale of U.S. uranium assets to Russia’s nuclear energy agency in exchange for donations to the Clinton Foundation.

While the connections between the Clinton Foundation and the Uranium One deal may appear fishy, there has been no proof of quid pro quo. And Clinton wasn’t the sole official who approved the sale. (Print out our in-depth explainer and keep it under your placemat.)

Nine people related to the company did donate to the Clinton Foundation, but it’s unclear whether they were still involved in the company by the time of the Russian deal and stood to benefit from it.

We also found that most of the Clinton Foundation donations in question occurred before and during Clinton’s 2008 presidential run, before she could have known she would become secretary of state.

Furthermore, the decision in 2010 to greenlight the Uranium One deal was approved by a panel comprising nine federal agencies, as well as the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Utah’s nuclear regulator. So it’s wrongheaded to think the State Department acted unilaterally to approve of Russia’s takeover of a company with significant U.S. uranium assets.

This story is back in the news because of a recent report in The Hill that the FBI had been investigating whether Russia was trying to gain influence in the U.S. nuclear industry when the deal was approved. This raised new questions about whether Clinton knew, or should have known, about problems with the Russian bid for Uranium One before deciding whether to let it go forward.

At least for now, we aren’t aware of any evidence that Clinton knew anything about the FBI investigation when the Uranium One deal was approved.

Obamacare repeal

One of Trump’s oft-repeated vows on the campaign trail was to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

The House managed to pass a replacement bill in May, but legislative efforts died in the Senate, which, for a time, placed one of Trump’s core election promises in limbo.

But that hasn’t stopped Trump from chipping away at the current law.

The administration has taken steps to weaken enforcement of the individual mandate, and the Senate Republican tax plan would eliminate it altogether. The administration has also reduced funding for enrollment assistance and marketing, and ended subsidies — known as cost-sharing reductions — that help low-income people pay out-of-pocket costs.

Meanwhile, Trump continues to inaccurately depict Obamacare as a sop to insurance companies.

We rated it Mostly False when Trump claimed cost-sharing reductions were a gift to insurers, and labeled False his claim that insurance companies "have made a fortune with Obamacare."

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How to avoid a political food fight this Thanksgiving