Since the start of his long presidential campaign in June, former Vice President Mike Pence has struggled to gain traction among Republican primary voters.
Mr. Pence has consistently voted in the single digits behind the two main contenders: his former running mate, former President Donald J. Trump, and Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida. The former vice president broke with them more sharply over their approaches to Social Security and health care. He has also carved out clear positions in support of a 15-week nationwide abortion ban and wholeheartedly supports American involvement in the war in Ukraine.
Mr. Pence has made a few inaccurate claims along the way. Here’s a fact check of some of his recent campaign remarks.
What Mr. Pence said
“This week I called on all other candidates for the Republican nomination to support a nationwide minimum 15-week abortion ban standard that would align American law with most countries in Europe that literally ban abortions after 12-15 weeks. Our laws nationwide today are more aligned with North Korea, China and Iran than with other Western countries in Europe. »
– in a June interview on Fox News Sunday
This is misleading. Mr. Pence’s comparison is overly simplistic and glosses over how abortion laws work in practice in Europe. It’s also worth noting that many European countries are moving towards easing restrictions on abortion, not imposing additional ones, as reported by The Upshot.
Of about four dozen countries in Europe, almost everything they legalized elective abortion before 10-15 weeks of pregnancy. All of these countries allow abortions after the gestational age if the mother’s life is in danger, and about half do so for cases of sexual assault, two exceptions that Mr Pence said he supports. But many also allow for broader exceptions, such as socioeconomic circumstances or the mother’s mental health, which Mr. Pence’s proposal doesn’t include.
In Britain, for example, an abortion must be approved by two doctors, but such requests are usually granted for up to 24 weeks. In Denmark and Germany, there are exceptions to the 12-week gestational limits for mental and physical health and living conditions.
In contrast, China allows elective abortions without specifying gestational limits in its national laws, according to the World Health Organization. China has also said in recent years that it will aim to reduce the number of « medically unnecessary » abortions, and at least one province has banned abortions after 14 weeks.
North Korea’s abortion laws are unclear. In 2015, the authorities issued a directive banning doctors from performing abortions, according to the World Health Organization, but « there are no documents after 2015 » on the legality of the procedure.
In the United States, after the Supreme Court struck down the constitutional right to abortion last summer, the legal status of abortion varies greatly from state to state. In some the procedure is prohibited without exception, in others it is sanctioned as a right without gestational limits. A spokesman for Mr. Pence cited nine of those states as exceptionally non-restrictive.
What Mr. Pence said
“Well, first of all, look, Joe Biden’s policy on our national debt is default. And sadly, my former running mate’s politics are identical to Joe Biden’s. Both say they won’t even talk about common sense and compassionate rights reforms to spare future generations a mountain chain of debt.
– in the Fox News Sunday interview
This is over the top. Asked about his calls for a review of Social Security and Medicare, Mr. Pence has criticized Trump and Biden’s approaches to social programs as irresponsible. While both have said they will not cut subsidies, only Mr. Biden has proposed tax increases to support both programs. But to equate that position with accepting total insolvency is an overstatement.
Currently, Social Security and Medicare both face financial shortfalls. The fund that pays Social Security retirement benefits is expected to be exhausted by 2033, and the fund that pays hospitals for Medicare patients will be exhausted in 2031. At that point, the funds will only be able to pay 77 percent of retirement benefits and 89 percent of projected hospital rates.
During the 2020 campaign, Mr. Biden proposed raise taxes on top earners to pay for additional Social Security benefits. The extra funding would reduce the program’s financial gap, although revenues would not fully fill the gap. Although his latest presidential budget, released in March, makes no mention of such a proposal, it does include a plan to extend Medicare’s solvency by 25 years by imposing higher taxes on the wealthy.
Trump’s stance on social security programs is a little harder to pin down. In January 2020, he said he would be willing to consider cuts to social safety nets « at some point, » though he quickly tried to retract his comments and vowed to protect Social Security. His latest presidential budget proposal, in February 2020, didn’t cut benefits for either program, but he did try to save Medicare through a dozen changes like slashing payments to providers and lowering the cost of prescription drugs.
More recently, Mr. Trump promised in a speech in March to the Conservative Political Action Conference that « we will never go back » on proposals to raise the Social Security retirement age or cut Medicare benefits. But Mr. Trump has not yet outlined his position on either program in more detail or addressed their solvency issues this campaign cycle.
Pence’s campaign argued that neither Mr. Trump nor Mr. Biden have a current plan for Social Security and that Mr. Biden’s plan for Medicare only delays the financial shortfall.
What Mr. Pence said
“I mean, when I notified the Justice Department that we had potentially classified material in our home, they were in my home. The next day the FBI was at my door. And what we found is, when Joe Biden apparently alerted the Justice Department 80 days later, they showed up at his office.
— at a CNN Town Hall in June
This is over the top. After the discovery of confidential documents in their personal residences, Mr. Pence and Mr. Biden both cooperated with the government investigation. Mr. Pence is correct that the Justice Department’s responses to the findings were not identical, but he is exaggerating the differences.
In Biden’s case, the searches occurred within weeks, not three months, after the discovery of classified documents. In Mr. Pence’s case, the search occurred about three weeks later.
On Nov. 2, Mr. Biden’s attorneys discovered classified documents at the offices of the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, a think tank in Washington. That same day, according to Biden administration officials, the lawyers alerted the National Archives and Records Administration, which is responsible for protecting those documents. The next day, the National Archives recovered the documents and referred the matter to the Justice Department. The FBI searched the think tank in mid-November.
On Dec. 20, Biden’s aides discovered a second set of classified documents at his home in Wilmington, Del. On the same day, they alerted the US attorney who was leading the investigation into the discovery. A month later, on January 20, the FBI searched the residence and seized further documents. And on Feb. 1, the FBI searched Mr. Biden’s vacation home in Rehoboth Beach, Del., but found no further classified documents.
The discovery of confidential documents in Mr. Biden’s possession prompted Mr. Pence’s aides to search his Indiana home out of caution. They found about a dozen documents with confidential markings on January 16 and alerted the National Archives of the discovery in a letter dated January 18. The Justice Department, rather than the registration agency, later recovered the documents from Mr. Pence’s home on January 19. Almost a month later, on February 10, the FBI searched Mr. Pence’s home and found an additional document.
Pence’s campaign argued that the Justice Department bypassed standard procedures by directly requesting documents from Mr. Pence, which was not the case in Mr. Biden’s case.
Unlike the Biden and Trump cases, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland has not appointed a special counsel to investigate Mr. Pence’s handling of the classified material. The Justice Department also declined to prosecute Mr. Pence while the investigation into Mr. Biden remains ongoing.
Funding for the military
What Mr. Pence said
« Since Joe Biden took office, he has been working to cut military spending. »
— at the Family Leadership Summit in Iowa in July
This is false. Mr. Biden’s annual budgets have generally called for more funding for the military, and actual spending has increased every year.
Biden’s first budget, released in 2021, proposed $715 billion for the Pentagon, essentially maintaining the level of funding. This was an increase of 1.6% over the previous year and a decrease of 0.4% when adjusted for inflation. In December of that year, he signed a $770 billion defense package.
After Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, proposals from Biden and congressional embezzlers further increased military spending.
The budget it released in 2022 called for $773 billion in military spending, a nearly 10 percent increase from a year earlier. He eventually signed an $858 billion spending policy bill.
And Biden’s latest budget, released in March, called for $842 billion for the military, up 3.2 percent from a year earlier, and $886 billion total for national defense. That legislation is currently going through the appropriation process in Congress. Pence’s campaign argued that this amounted to a cut, as the rate of inflation exceeds the rate of increase.
At the Iowa event, Mr. Pence cited Mr. Biden’s debt ceiling deal with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy as an example of a proposed 1% cut to the military. Under that deal, military spending is set at the president’s proposed amount of $886 billion and will rise to $895 billion in 2025. But all spending, both on military and domestic programs, would be subject to a 1 percent cut if Congress doesn’t approve annual spending by January.
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