Checking facts on the presidential campaign ads Utahns are seeing

Posted at 6:36 PM, Mar 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-17 20:36:37-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- So this is what it’s like to be wanted.

Utah has always been one of those states that holds caucuses too late to matter, but now the candidates are spending a lot of money to get your vote.

So, are all those ads you’re seeing accurate?

For the most part, yes. The presidential campaigns seem to understand that Utahns like to play nice.

There are some minor issues, however.

Governor John Kasich claims credit for balancing the federal budget in 1997 when he was Chair of the House Budget Committee. Chrissie Thompson, with, talked to a number of Republicans and Democrats who were part of the process at the time, and she found that Kasich’s role was significant, but the dot com boom, President Bush Senior's tax hikes, and President Bill Clinton’s budget compromises were the factors that made the deal possible.

Overall, Kasich’s claim is fair.

Bernie Sanders talks about income inequality in two of his ads, using numbers taken from an academic study conducted by Emmanuel Saez, an economist at UC Berkeley. The data is straightforward and the numbers not embellished. Sanders can be accused of cherry-picking the kind of data he’s using. They cite the “average income” of the top 1 percent of American earners. This is one of those cases where using median income would be a better representation of the income landscape in the country.

That’s nitpicking, though. The numbers are accurate, and the phenomenon of wage stagnation while wealth accumulates on the top end is real.

The advertisement on Utah’s airwaves that’s toughest to fact check is the Club for Growth commercial comparing Donald Trump to Hillary Clinton when it comes to health care.

Donald Trump’s website outlines a plan that largely adheres to Republican principles on health policy. It emphasizes repealing Obamacare, sending Medicaid money to states in block grants, and getting rid of restrictions on insurance companies selling policies across state lines.

That plan is nothing like Hillary Clinton’s. She supports Obamacare with hopes to make it’s protection of the poor and uninsured more complete.

Trump used to advocate for a universal single-payer plan. He says that has changed, though he still says single-payer systems in Canada and the United Kingdom work well.

Trump also still talks about making sure everyone has health care by negotiating contracts between the government and hospitals.

For example, in the CBS interview used by the Club for Growth, Trump also says, “"I am going to take care of everybody. I don't care if it costs me votes or not.”

So the Club for Growth ad is accurate insofar as Donald Trump’s policy is in line with what he says in interviews and debates, though it’s inaccurate in terms of the official description of Trump’s health plan on his website.