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They said it, they meant it, but were they right about it?

Reid Angle Debate - Oct. 14 2010

Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Moderator Mitch Fox, center, is joined by Senate candidates Sharron Angle and Sen. Harry Reid for a debate Thursday at the Vegas PBS studios.

Reid Angle Debate - Oct. 14 2010

Sharron Angle and Sen. Harry Reid exchange pleasantries after their debate, moderated by Mitch Fox, center, on Thursday at the Vegas PBS studios. Launch slideshow »

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Among the issues raised during the debate, we examine the claims made about four.

Is Social Security, at its current pace, headed toward bankruptcy?

The context: Angle said pre-primary that she wanted to privatize or “transition out” of Social Security, and now she says she wants to save it. Fox asked her why the change in language.

What the candidates say: Angle said the system, which is paying out more than it takes in, is headed toward bankruptcy. She said Thursday night that there needs to be reforms, such as allowing younger people to opt into a private system.

Reid said the fixes ordered during President Ronald Reagan’s administration will preserve Social Security. He referred heavily to the Congressional Budget Office and actuarial numbers. “For the next 30 years, people will be able to get out all the money they want,” he said.

The truth: Despite Reid’s optimism, most everyone believes Social Security will have to be reformed, either by increasing the age before contributors can draw from it, decreasing payments or a combination.

Experts at the centrist think tank Brookings Institution have warned of inaction. In June, an AARP spokesman said, “Congress should act sooner rather than later to address the program’s adequacy of benefits and long-term solvency.”


Does Sen. Harry Reid promise benefits to illegal immigrants?

The context: Host Mitch Fox asked Sharron Angle if she’d denounce her television ads that accuse Reid of giving benefits to illegal immigrants. “Most reputable fact checkers” have disproved the ads, he said.

The candidates say: Angle stood by the ad and the claim, repeating that Reid supports benefits including Social Security for illegal immigrants.

Reid said that attack is false.

The truth: A number of outlets, including the Sun and “Face to Face With Jon Ralston,” have concluded the ad distorts Reid’s record, because Angle’s ad wrongly cites procedural votes on amendments, rather than the intent of the legislation.


Is English the official language?

The context: The candidates were asked whether they support a constitutional amendment making English the official language.

What the candidates said: Angle: “Yes.” Reid: “English is the official language of the United States.”

The truth: English is not the official language. The Constitution does not specify any language as the official language. In 2006, Reid voted against an amendment declaring English the official language.


Angle doesn’t support insurance mandates, including those for cancer screenings or autism.

What the candidates say: Angle would not name any insurance mandates she supported. She said there should be competition for policies across state lines, and advocated the power of the free market in providing coverage.

“The free market will weed out those companies that don’t offer the choices,” she said. “We don’t have to force anyone to buy anything.” Reid called her position extreme.

The truth: While in the Legislature, Angle supported some insurance mandates, such as those for mammograms. She proposed no fewer than five laws that would have expanded state insurance mandates. But during the campaign she has spoken out against those mandates. Thursday’s debate confirmed that she now does not believe health insurance companies should have to mandate any coverage.

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