With less than three weeks to go before the midterms, Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill and GOP Attorney General Josh Hawley debated each other about key topics in their race — with varying degrees of veracity. Here’s a few of their statements, fact-checked.
CLAIM ONE: “One of the things that I disagree with Senator McCaskill about is that she voted to cut $716 billion from Medicare in order to pay for Obamacare (federal health care law).” — Josh Hawley
McCaskill and the majority of the Democrat-controlled Congress voted for (and President Barack Obama signed off on) changes that would look to trim future costs by $500 billion over 10 years, Politifact Florida reported in 2012. That was mostly aimed at private insurance companies that ran Medicare plans, not the beneficiaries of those plans. The number increased from $507 billion to $716 billion between 2013 and 2022 due to the fact that Medicare spending goes up annually.
BONUS: Hawley said “average price increase on the (health) exchange is now up to almost $500 a month.” That is true, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, which shows the average federal health care benchmark premium is $529. St. Louis Public Radio also reported in August that premiums will go up again.
CLAIM TWO: “And the help that (farmers are) being given in some instances is frankly insulting. Corn a penny a bushel? It’s almost not worth the effort. They said a buck-sixty for (soy)beans, well now (Agriculture Secretary) Sonny Perdue has just announced that it’ll only be 80 cents.” — Claire McCaskill
The federal government announced earlier this year it was looking to help farmers that are being hurt by the retaliatory tariffs from China, Mexico and Canada to the tune of $12 billion. But as those payments have started up, the payments for commodity crops are low.
According to the Des Moines Register on Aug. 29, the $3.6 billion going to corn farmers equates to about 1 cent per bushel, while soybeans will see about $1.65 a bushel.
BONUS: KCUR could not find data to back up her assertion that Perdue announced it’s 80 cents for soybeans, though Reuters quoted Perdue on Oct. 9 as saying the aid could shrink due to the new NAFTA deal, known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
CLAIM THREE: “Senator McCaskill takes more money than anybody in Congress from the insurance industry except for one other liberal.” — Josh Hawley, talking about health care
McCaskill has taken more more campaign money in the 2018 campaign cycle from the wide-ranging health sector (which is more than just insurance) than most U.S. senators, $1,582,872, and only Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. Bob Casey tops her, according to OpenSecrets.org.
She’s the top in the Senate when it comes to money from health services and health maintenance organizations (HMOs) with $430,967; and near the top in other sectors: $252,391 from hospitals and nursing homes and $167,639 from pharmaceuticals and health products.
CLAIM FOUR: “I am the fifth-most likely member of the Senate to break with my party … (and have voted) with President Trump 50 percent of the time.” — Claire McCaskill
According to FiveThirtyEight, McCaskill has voted with Trump 44.9 percent of the time. She also has voted against her party 16.9 percent of time, ProPublica reported, which puts her at No. 10 out of 100 senators, not No. 5.
But McCaskill's campaign reached out after the debate, saying she based her statement off of two Roll Call articles, one from February that cites a Congressional Quarterly ranking from the 2017 session and one from September citing she voted with Trump's priorities 60 percent of the time.
Samuel King is the Missouri government and politics reporter at KCUR 89.3. Follow him on Twitter: @SamuelKingNews.
Abigail Censky is an intern at St. Louis Public Radio. Follow her on Twitter: @AbigailCensky