Fact Checking the Barksdale – Isakson Debate

Jim Barksdale, Johnny Isakson and Allen Buckley faced off in a debate on Sunday, October 23.  This is the only debate that Isakson would agree to. Athens for Everyone fact-checked this debate below so that you can have as much information as possible when you go vote!

Athens for Everyone has endorsed Jim Barksdale for US Senate.

4:12 - Buckley: the national debt of the US doubled in 9 years, going from $9 trillion to $20 trillion.
This is only partially true; the total US debt has indeed risen as Buckley claims, but the total debt is not a particularly relevant number. The more relevant number is the debt held by the public, which according to the Treasury department is currently $14.3 trillion, or about 77% of GDP. The remainder of the total debt is debt the government owes to itself, which should not be considered because it counts as both an asset and a debt of equal size.

Buckley also claims that we have “tremendous financial problems” because of the debt. This is not true. Many industrialized countries have equivalent debt to GDP ratios and are doing fine. Other countries, such as Japan, have ratios much higher than ours and are still solvent. The US itself had a significantly higher debt to GDP after World War II and proceeded to have two back-to-back decades of extremely strong economic growth. The debt to GDP ratio is not as useful an indicator of national financial or economic trouble as you might think.

13:07 - Barksdale: 'Our incomes are down since 2000, when Senator Isakson went to Washington.'

True. The real median household income in 2015 was $56,516. In the year 2000, it was $57,790.

14:55 - Barksdale: Isakson's father was accused under the Fair Housing Discrimination Act of discrimination against African-Americans.

True. Johnny Isakson replaced his father as President of Northside Realty in 1979, the same year a discrimination lawsuit was filed against the company. They were found guilty. Isakson responded that he had no idea what Barksdale was talking about, but since he handled the defense in this case as President of the company it seems odd that he would not remember it.

19:54 - Isakson: 'I have never voted for a tax increase.'
Half true at best. Isakson voted for both the “fiscal cliff” tax deal and the Marketplace Fairness Act, both of which include some tax increases. However, the fiscal cliff deal also made the Bush tax cuts permanent and the Marketplace Fairness Act can be considered just a new method for collecting taxes that already existed. Still, Isakson’s statement is misleading. A4E has zero interest in debating the conservative anti-tax one-upmanship on display here, so we’ll just call it even at “half-true.”
22:20 - Barksdale: the Iraq War cost $4 trillion.
True. Despite being attacked by both Isakson and Buckley on this point, Barksdale is correct. Yes, the direct Pentagon spending totaled “only” $757.8 billion, but many other factors must be considered when determining the true cost of such a disastrous conflict, including long-term care for wounded soldiers. It is heartbreaking that Isakson does not seem to understand the actual cost of his “strong fist” foreign policy.
24:12 - Barksdale: 'If you look at the Veteran's Administration (VA), I feel like it's been severely underfunded.'
It’s difficult to rate the truth or falsehood of a feeling, but there are many who agree with Barksdale that the VA should be better funded. Isakson is not wrong that the VA’s funding has been increasing, but they have also seen an increasing number of patients.
34:04 - Isakson: 'The Obama administration pulled us out of Iraq.'

Mostly false. There have been US soldiers stationed in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, and recently those numbers have begun to creep upwards. Currently there are almost 5000 troops stationed in Iraq who were sent to retake Mosul from ISIS. It’s true that President Obama did draw down US forces significantly, but this withdrawal was actually negotiated during the Bush administration.

Athens for Everyone
October 27, 2016

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