Fact-checking Amy Klobuchar in Waterloo, Iowa
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., speaks at a campaign event in Waterloo, Iowa, on Jan. 26, 2020. (Louis Jacobson/PolitiFact) Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., speaks at a campaign event in Waterloo, Iowa, on Jan. 26, 2020. (Louis Jacobson/PolitiFact)

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., speaks at a campaign event in Waterloo, Iowa, on Jan. 26, 2020. (Louis Jacobson/PolitiFact)

Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson January 26, 2020

WATERLOO, Iowa — Despite polling below the top tier of Iowa caucus hopefuls, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., drew a near-capacity crowd to a ballroom where she described her vision for a post-Donald Trump presidency.

The roughly 300 attendees on a snowy morning were mostly middle-aged and up, a contrast to the youth-dominated crowd that attended a Bernie Sanders event in Ames the previous night. 

Klobuchar, who along with Warren and Sanders is forced to stay in Washington, D.C., for up to six days a week until Trump’s Senate impeachment trial concludes, kicked off her hour-long event Jan. 26 by offering extended criticism of the incumbent president.

She urged calling four witnesses for the Senate trial, including former National Security Adviser John Bolton and acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. Invoking a song from the Broadway musical "Hamilton," she argued for hearing from the people in "the room where it happened."

PolitiFact is traveling through Iowa this week to fact-check Democratic caucus candidates. Klobuchar joked at times about PolitiFact being present for the event in Waterloo, which is about an hour north of Cedar Rapids . At one point, she echoed a line attributed (wrongly) to then Alaska-Gov. Sarah Palin in 2008, saying that as a Minnesota resident, "I can see Canada from my porch." Klobuchar quickly referenced PolitiFact staff in attendance and emphasized with mock exasperation, "It’s just a metaphor!"

Here’s a rundown of some of the talking points Klobuchar used in her remarks, which concluded with a question-and-answer period and a lengthy selfie line.

RELATED: We analyzed the stump speeches of Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden.

"This president was given $413 million over the course of his career from his dad."

This claim is shaky on the details. Trump’s finances remain a mystery to outsiders, and neither Trump’s lawyers nor investigative journalists have said irrefutably how much he is worth or how he made his money. The $413 million Klobuchar cited comes from a New York Times investigation that looked back decades and relied on thousands of documents and many interviews.

"Trump received the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father’s real estate empire, starting when he was a toddler and continuing to this day," the New York Times concluded.

The article talks about how much the dollars would be worth today, not how much Trump got from his father at any one time. Trump has said his father loaned him $1 million, which he repaid with interest.

However, the Times found that when Trump was just 3 years old, his father set up an account in his name and regularly added thousands of dollars to it. In today’s dollars, Trump was a millionaire by the time he was 8.

A National Journal financial journalist estimated that Trump’s wealth shot up $40 million when he took over his father’s real estate business in 1974. Ultimately, only Trump and his accountants know the full details.

Before she was elected to Congress, the pharmaceutical industry got a provision "in the law that says that Medicare can’t negotiate for better prices" on drugs.

This is correct.

Medicare Part D is a voluntary insurance program for prescription drugs for people on Medicare proposed by Republican President George W. Bush. It became law in 2003 and has been in place since 2006, the year Klobuchar entered the Senate. 

Under the law, insurance plans can negotiate prices with drug makers, but the government cannot. President Barack Obama vowed to change the program to allow Medicare to negotiate lower prices, but then backed away from the pledge during negotiations over his Affordable Care Act, earning a Promise Broken on PolitiFact’s Obameter campaign pledge tracker.

Says Trump "said he was going to bring down the cost of pharmaceuticals. But it just hasn’t happened."

Correct. The latest numbers show drug prices rising by about 3.9% in December 2019.

Other ways to measure drug prices show that thousands of drugs have seen prices go up, while only about 100 have seen prices fall.

RELATED: Fact-checking Donald Trump’s claim that drug prices are going down

"The Affordable Care Act is now nearly 10 points more popular than the president of the United States."

Klobuchar is basically accurate. The word "nearly" is key.

In the most recent Kaiser Health Tracking Poll, 52% of adults had a favorable opinion of the Affordable Care Act. At about the same time, Gallup found a slightly lower number of 50% who approve of the health care law.

Trump’s popularity can shift a couple of points from month to month. At the time of the health care polling, Gallup found that 43% of adults approved of the job he was doing. The Real Clear Politics polling average had about the same approval level at the same moment, 43.7%.

Obama "wanted to bring premiums down with a non-profit public option."

This is technically accurate, but it wasn’t Obama’s major priority. A public option was part of his health care plan, which said, "any American will have the opportunity to enroll in the new public plan or an approved private plan."

In 2009, as a public option became a sticking point in the debate over the Affordable Care Act, Obama said, "I didn’t campaign on a public option." And during his campaign, it wasn’t central.

He gave a major address in Iowa on May 29, 2007, outlining his health care plan in considerable detail. There's not one mention of the public option in his speech.

"You only have 64 public (mental) health beds in the state of Iowa.

Correct. We checked this in June 2019. According to the Iowa Department of Human Services, there were 64 staffed psychiatric beds for adults younger than 55 at the mental health institutes in Iowa.

"Every single time (I’ve run for the Senate), I have won Michele Bachmann’s district." 

Correct. Bachmann was an outspoken conservative Republican who represented Minnesota’s 6th congressional district from 2007 to 2015. Election results sifted by J. Miles Coleman at the University of Virginia Center for Politics show that Klobuchar carried the district in her three U.S. Senate campaigns. The last one, though, was a squeaker.

In 2006, she won by 3 percentage points, in 2012 by 21 points, and in 2018 by a slender one-tenth of a percentage point.

Says that when she partnered with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., on a gun control measure, Manchin was an A-rated National Rifle Association member.

This is accurate, as PolitiFact West Virginia reported.

In 2004, when Manchin was running for governor, he received an A-plus rating from the NRA and received the group’s endorsement when running for governor.

And in 2010 and 2012, when Manchin was running for a U.S. Senate seat, he was endorsed by the NRA and received an A rating.

After Manchin’s work on the failed gun control measure, the NRA docked Manchin’s grade to a D during his 2018 re-election bid. 

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Fact-checking Amy Klobuchar in Waterloo, Iowa