Fact checking Night 2 of the second Democratic debate

Fact checking Night 2 of the second Democratic debate
While most of the candidates' claims for the first night of the Detroit debates proved true, the second set of 10 start with a blank slate on Night 2. Copyright Robin Muccari NBC News; Getty Images
Copyright Robin Muccari NBC News; Getty Images
By Jane C. Timm and Adam Edelman with NBC News Politics
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During Night 1, many of the candidates' claims held up — with a few notable exceptions. How will this next set of candidates fare?


The next set of 10 Democratic presidential candidateshit the stage Wednesday for Night 2 of the second presidential debate.

With former Vice President Joe Biden, the current front-runner in the polls for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, and Sen. Kamala Harris of California set for a rematch at Detroit's Fox Theatre, NBC News is fact checking everyone on stage in real time. During Night 1 of the CNN-hosted debate, many of the candidates' claims held up — with a few notable exceptions.

How will tonight's contenders fare? Check back here for which claims are true and false as the debate rolls on.

Does Biden's health care plan cover everyone?

"My plan covers everyone," former Vice President Joe Biden said on Wednesday night, fending off attacks on his plan to overhaul America's health care system.

His claim is half true. While the Biden plan would provide coverage to millions who fell through the cracks in Obamacare, experts tell NBC News there's still likely to be gaps due to affordability.

Biden's plan expands coverage by offering new subsidies to both higher income and lower income Americans who are currently ineligible for government aid to purchase insurance. But it's likely some Americans will still choose to forgo coverage, even with premiums capped at 8.5 percent of their annual income. Additionally, while undocumented immigrants would be allowed to buy insurance for the first time through Biden's plan, they would not be eligible for subsidies to help pay premiums.

It's worth noting that "Medicare for All," Sen. Bernie Sanders' plan, could also have similar coverage gaps with undocumented immigrants. Sanders says he wants to cover undocumented immigrants, but his bill leaves it to the Health and Human Services Secretary to determine who qualifies for coverage and to create rules preventing foreign nationals from traveling to the U.S. for government-sponsored care.

Is Amazon responsible for closing 30 percent of America's stores?

"Amazon is closing 30 percent of Americas stores and malls and paying zero in taxes while doing it," claimed entrepreneur Andrew Yang during Wednesday's debate.

This is a stretch, since Amazon isn't personally buying up stores and malls and closing them. But of course, online shopping is changing how Americans shop.

Malls are facing enormous pressure and closing rapidly. One expert told Forbes he expected roughly 30 percent of the nation's malls would close or be repurposed over the next decade, though analysts in 2017 at Credit Suisse pegged the number of coming closures lower.

And while it's true that the online giant doesn't pay federal taxes, according to an analysis of corporate filings put out by the progressive think tank Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy, the review didn't analyze state and local taxes.

Download the NBC News app for full coverage of the second Democratic debate.

Can de Blasio really take credit for progressive strides in New York?

In his opening statement, Bill de Blasio listed off a handful of accomplishments he says he got done as New York City's mayor.

"We gave pre-K to every child for free. We got rid of stop and frisk and we lowered crime. We raised the minimum wage to $15 an hour," de Blasio said.

This is all true, but some of these key wins were the result of action by Albany, not City Hall. For example, getting a $15 minimum wage in New York City for most businesses — while championed by de Blasio — was a product of a statewide roll-out of increased minimum wages.

In addition, de Blasio's signature campaign promise back in 2013 was providing universal pre-kindergarten, and funding it with a tax for the city's super-wealthy. He enacted universal pre-K — and it's wildly popular — but not with a wealth tax, which Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo would not sign off on. Cuomo, however, found other state funds to pay for the program, which has grown to cover three-year-olds in recent years.

When it comes to crime, citywide total crimes that fall into the seven major felony offenses have consistently fallen since 2014, when de Blasio was sworn in. The overall crime rate for the month of March fell in 2019 to its lowest level for any March since 1994, according to statistics kept by the city.

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