GOP debate: 5 of the night's biggest flubs

The fourth Republican debate, which aired Tuesday night, offered candidates more time to misspeak.

Jeffrey Phelps/AP
Republican presidential candidates John Kasich, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, and Rand Paul appear during the Republican presidential debate at the Milwaukee Theatre, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015, in Milwaukee.

With eight candidates instead of 10, longer response and rebuttal time, and a focus on the details-heavy topic of taxes and the economy, the fourth GOP debate, which took place Tuesday night, was fertile ground for flubs, exaggerations, and outdated data.

Ben Carson misstated the rate of black youth unemployment, Carly Fiorina inflated the size of the Internal Revenue Service's tax code, and Donald Trump cited outdated data about President Eisenhower's Mexican immigrant deportation plan.

Here's five more whoppers from Tuesday night's debate.

"Welders make more money than philosophers. We need more welders and less philosophers." – Florida Sen. Marco Rubio

It's a great applause line, and it delivered – the crowd at the Milwaukee Theater ate it up.

But it's not true. Senator Rubio has dissed philosophy majors repeatedly on the stump, as a way to promote the value of vocational training. But according to PayScale.com, the mid-career average annual salary for graduates with a bachelor's degree in philosophy is $85,000. For graduates with an associates degree in welding technology, it's $58,500.

For college professors of philosophy, the highest-paid 10 percent enjoy salaries near $200,000. By contrast, the top 10 percent of welders make only about $58,590, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"Every time we raise the minimum wage, the number of jobless people increases." – Ben Carson

To defend his position of not raising the minimum wage, Mr. Carson recited this statement, which made up his main argument and a central Republican refrain: That raising the minimum wage would cost jobs.

But history shows otherwise. PolitiFact has compiled a chart showing the years when Congress raised the federal minimum wage and the months of job growth in the following one-year period. The findings: between 1978 and 2009, raising the minimum wage did not always result in job losses. In fact, according to its chart, the results were split almost evenly: Out of the 11 times the minimum wage was raised in that period, there was overall job growth six times and overall job loss five times.

What's more, it’s not clear that an increase in the minimum wage is the primary culprit for joblessness in the periods in which it rose, since those periods also coincided with broader economic recessions.

But Carson may have a point. The Congressional Budget Office has projected that raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour would result in 500,000 fewer workers having jobs, with up to 1 million possibly affected.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership signed by President Obama with 11 other nations "was designed for China to come in through the back door and take advantage of everyone.... China takes advantage (of the US) through currency manipulation." – Donald Trump 

"It is a deal that is going to lead to nothing but trouble," Trump continued.

The deal, which has yet to be approved by Congress, is a trade pact involving the US and 11 other countries. It has become a political flashpoint of sorts, with many Republicans, including Trump, criticizing it and Obama's negotiating skills. Trump used the occasion to bash the trade pact and China.

The only problem? China isn't actually part of the pact, as Sen. Rand Paul pointed out in one of the best moments of the debate.

It was perhaps the only flub caught in the moment during the debate – and not by the Fox Business Network moderators.

In fact, the TPP is intended to give the United States more influence in Asia as a counterweight to China's rising economic power.

Trump also said China is guilty of currency manipulation by keeping the value of its currency low to make its exports more competitive. That view is now outdated. China's currency, the yuan, has been rising in value for years and the International Monetary Fund says it's now fairly valued, according to NPR

"We have to recognize that small businesses right now, more of them are closing than are being set up." – Jeb Bush

It's a favorite theme among Republican candidates, painting a bleak picture of the US economy, complete with high unemployment, sluggish economic growth, and more.

And it's a claim that's been repeated before: "For the first time in 35 years, we have more businesses dying than starting," Sen. Rubio said in a previous debate.

In fact, that's true for the early years of the Obama administration, which coincided with the Great Recession. But it's not true now. In 2012 and 2013, more businesses opened their doors than closed them, according to the latest figures from the Census Bureau.

"We ought to look where income inequality seems to be the worst. It seems to be worst in cities run by Democrats." – Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul

In fact, Senator Paul's assertion is true. A Brookings Institution report ranked the top 10 and bottom 10 largest cities in the country by income inequality, using 2012 census data.

Of the 10 cities with the highest income inequality, nine had Democratic mayors, including Atlanta, San Francisco, Boston, Washington, and New York.

Of the 10 cities with the lowest income inequality, seven had Republican mayors, including Oklahoma City, Omaha, Fort Worth, Colorado Springs, and Mesa, Ariz.

But correlation isn't necessarily causation. The 10 cities with the most inequality also happen to be large cities, which are often led by Democrats. Larger cities tend to have more income inequality because they simply have more people – and people working in a variety of sectors.

In other words, the economic trends of a city or state aren't necessarily directly tied to the policy of its leader, or his or her party.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to GOP debate: 5 of the night's biggest flubs
Read this article in
https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2015/1111/GOP-debate-5-of-the-night-s-biggest-flubs
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today
https://www.csmonitor.com/subscribe