PolitiFact Check: Bernie Sanders debuts 2 ads

Posted at 11:27 PM, Feb 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-15 20:14:53-05

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders will be in Colorado on Saturday, but he's already visiting your living rooms in two new TV ads.

Sanders will be making a campaign stop at the Colorado Convention Center at 3 p.m. on Saturday. He'll be speaking at the Colorado Democratic Party Annual Dinner on Saturday night, as will his Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton.

Ahead of those visits, Sanders has debuted the pair of political ads in Colorado.

One ad is a minute-long biography, highlighting Sanders' roots and efforts in Congress.

"The son of a polish immigrant, who grew up in a Brooklyn tenement..," the ad starts.

There are some claims in the ad that point toward his service in Congress.

CLAIM: "…fighting for living wages, equal pay and tuition-free public colleges."


Sanders introduced a bill on July 22, 2015, to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Its goal is to gradually increase the minimum wage to that higher amount.

Under the bill, the first minimum wage step raise was supposed to have adjusted to $9 an hour starting on January 1, 2016. One year after the bill's passage, the minimum wage would increase to $10.50. Two years after enactment, minimum wage would be $12. Three years later, it would increase to $13.50. Finally, four years after the enactment of such a bill, it would increase to $15 an hour.

However, the legislation hasn't gone anywhere. It was assigned to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and has not been heard.

Sanders has also supported previous legislation that would help women fight pay discrimination and earn equal pay for equal work.

He sponsored a bill on May 19, 2015, called the "College for All Act." It would create tuition-free public colleges at the estimated cost of $70 billion a year. He would seek federal government help for two-thirds of the cost and state help for one-third. According to a release on his Senate website, the federal share would be offset by imposing a tax on Wall Street transactions by investment houses, hedge funds and other speculators.

CLAIM: "…funded by millions of contributions." The ad graphic specifies: "Millions of Small Contributions."


According to his campaign, Sanders has received more than three million individual contributions, shattering Barack Obama's previous record of 2.2 million.

The Federal Election Commission database shows Sanders with $73.4 million in contributions through the end of 2015. Of that amount, $54 million are considered "unitemized individual contributions," which means they are $200 or less. People who donate up to $200 do not have to reveal their name, occupation or zip code. He also has $19.4 million in larger "itemized individual contributions," when someone donates more than $200 in a calendar year, which account for more than 400,000 records on the FEC site.

In contrast, Clinton has $110 million in contributions through the end of 2015. Of that amount, $18.9 million are smaller "unitemized individual contributions," while $89.9 million in the larger "itemized individual contributions," which account for 164,000 records on the FEC site.

Sanders focuses on social security in his 30-second ad.

CLAIM: "In the middle of a time when senior poverty is increasing, Republicans and some Democrats came up with a brilliant idea for cutting cost-of-living adjustments for social security. We said it will be over our dead bodies if you cut social security."


This is "mostly true' because Denver7 has yet to find where Sanders stood up and said, "Over our dead bodies."

His content, however, is true.

In 2011, poverty for people aged 65 or older was at 8.7 percent. In 2014, it was 10 percent, meaning one out of every 10 people age 65 or older was living below the poverty line. Based on 2016 figures, the poverty level for a single person is $11,880. For a couple, the amount is $16,020. For a family of three, the amount is $20,160. For a family of four, it is $24,300.

Sanders is accurate in stating that Republicans -- and some Democrats -- have supported proposals to reduce cost-of-living adjustments for social security.

For decades, critics have argued that the government's consumer price index, a formula used to measure the price of consumer goods and services over time, overestimates increases in inflation. They want a new consumer price index formula -- known as "chained CPI" -- that would calculate living costs differently by assuming that when prices for one product go up, people sometimes settle for cheaper alternatives -- for example, buying more chicken when beef prices rise.

Opponents of chained CPI say while the reduced cost-of-living increases for social security recipients might initially be a few dollars a month, it compounds over time, eroding the fixed income that many seniors depend on.

Sanders has fought to protect social security.

In 2011, he started the "Defend Social Security Caucus" with five other Senators to fight any cuts to social security.

On March 12, 2015, he introduced the "Social Security Expansion Act."

The bill has not been heard in committee for 11 months.


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