The seventh Republican debate in Des Moines, Iowa Thursday night was perhaps most memorable for the absence of the petulant frontrunner, Donald Trump, who pulled out of the Fox News spectacle, and in the process, grabbed a great deal of media attention as usual. Yet the absence of the blustery candidate did not stop the GOP presidential hopefuls from issuing a plethora of falsehoods and half-truths. And it did not stop Trump himself from spinning his own lies in the lead-up to his competing event on the other side of town.
Here are the five most egregious lies told both on and off the debate stage last night.
1. False: The Affordable Care Act has forced millions into joblessness and part-time work. This familiar talking point was echoed by Ted Cruz, who called the ACA the “biggest job-killer in this country.” His statement is simply not true. Since the ACA’s employer mandate was implemented at the beginning of last year, over 2.4 million jobs have been added to the U.S. economy. This is not to say that ordinary Americans fare well today or that unemployment is not rampant, but Cruz’s empirical claim does not bear out.
2. False: “Last year there were 81,000 pages of government regulations.”Ben Carson's charge is misleading at best. The Federal Register tallied just over 82,000 pages of regulations last year. But as PolitiFact points out, a huge number of those pages don't actually contain regulations or rules.
3. False: Neighbors of the San Bernardino attackers knew of their plans in advance. This claim has been cynically—and dangerously—levied by lawmakers in attempt to justify racial profiling and Islamophobia. The allegation was repeated last night by Chris Christie despite the fact that there are no credible reports such claims are true. In fact, in the wake of the attack, neighbors and friends told the Wall Street Journal that the couple "didn't attract attention or suspicion."
4. False: Rubio denies ever supporting amnesty. As the Republican Party rushes to the hardline right, Rubio is seeking to rewrite his own immigration policy. Questioned about his record, Rubio claimed, "I do not support blanket amnesty.” Rubio's actual record shows slightly more flexibility than his sweeping statement suggests. He opposed amnesty in 2010, then in 2013 he backed a limited path to citizenship. It would do Rubio well to get in touch with his softer side.
5. False: Trump said he never asked for Megyn Kelly to be removed. In an interview with CNN ahead of Thursday’s debate, Trump claimed, “I never once asked that she be removed.” Well, in a really literal weird sense he’s right, as he didn’t ask just once. Read more about his numerous requests, threats and attacks, here, here and here.