PolitiFact roundup


PolitiFact recently checked President Trump’s remark on Britain’s national health system. We also looked at claims by Sen. Bernie Sanders on how many guns are obtained without background checks and by Georgia governor candidate Stacey Adams on poor people in jail because they can’t pay bail. Here are summaries of our findings. Full versions can be found at www.politifact.com.

“The Democrats are pushing for Universal HealthCare while thousands of people are marching in the UK because their U system is going broke and not working.”

— President Donald Trump on Monday, Feb. 5, 2018 in a tweet

We We found Trump’s tweet gives a misleading impression about how the British public feels about its health care system.

Public support for maintaining the NHS in its current form remains high, according to recent surveys. A poll by YouGov last year, found 84 percent of people were in favor of the service continuing to be run by the public sector.

Trump’s comments after a recent demonstration in London received immediate response by British officials, such as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who said people were marching because they love the NHS and hate what is being happening to it. Health minister Jeremy Hunt hit back at Trump’s remarks, writing on Twitter that not one of the marchers “wants to live in a system where 28m people have no cover.”

Our ruling

The London march about NHS was not in opposition to the service, but a call to increase funding and stop austerity cuts to health and social care. The march resulted because people want universal health care to work better, not because they want it taken over by the private sector.

We rate this Mostly False.

“Forty percent of the guns in this country are sold without any background checks.”

— Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018 in a statement on NBC’s “Meet the Press”

Like many other politicians before him, Bernie Sanders repeated a false claim. It comes from a 20-year-old study by the National Institute of Justice that looked at gun owners’ responses to a 1994 national survey asking how they got their weapons.

The sample size of the 1997 study was very small, with just 251 participants. Furthermore, the statistic stems from survey data that included firearms given as gifts or inheritances, not just sales. This is an important point. When the authors of the NIJ study — Jens Ludwig of the University of Chicago and Philip Cook of Duke University — adjusted the results to include only the guns sold (not given), the number sold without background checks declined to between 14 percent and 22 percent.

That statistic more closely resembles the findings in a relatively new 2017 study.

Our ruling

That statistic Sanders cited is outdated. It stems from a 20-year-old survey that has been overtaken by another study that shows the percentage of gun buyers who obtained their weapons without background checks is just over half the percentage in the zombie claim Sanders cited.

We rate this claim False.

“The majority of Georgians incarcerated in local jails have never been convicted of crime. They are simply too poor to pay their bail.”

— Stacey Abrams on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018 in campaign website

Recent state data indicate that about 64 percent of people in Georgia jails are awaiting trial. It’s unclear how many of them could not pay for bail, but experts said this is the case for many people nationwide and in other states.

Claiming that most of those in local jails “have never been convicted of crime,” could be false, noted William Sabol, a professor in criminal justice and criminology in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University: Some of those inmates may have had prior convictions.

Several experts told us they did not have Georgia-specific data on people who could not afford bail, but did not dispute the likelihood of Georgia mirroring trends nationwide and from other states.

Our ruling

State data show most people in county jails are awaiting trial. The state report did not indicate how many people were jailed because they could not afford bail. Experts told us that based on national trends, it’s possible many Georgians in jail are there because they cannot pay for bail for current charges.

With those caveats, we rate Abrams’ statement Half True.


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