PolitiFact roundup

PolitiFact recently checked former Ohio congressman Dennis Kucinich’s statement about soaring student-loan default rates, President Donald Trump’s claim that Democrats’ tactics have caused important government vacancies, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s claim that half of women homicide victims are killed by those close to them. Here are summaries of our findings. Full versions can be found at www.politifact.com.

The default rate for college students has grown from 40 percent 10 years ago to about 50 percent today.”

— Dennis Kucinich on Monday, Jan. 29, 2018 in on a campaign website

We fact-checked his statistics and found Kucinich, a former congressman running for Ohio governor, has a point that student debt is a big problem, but he flubbed some of the numbers about the default rate.

Kucinich’s claim that “the default rate for students 10 years ago was about 40 percent” is based on a credible report, but he presented the number as a default rate in the past. The report actually cites that figure as a prediction for the future.

We found no data to support Kucinich’s claim that the student default rate approaches 50 percent today.

The U.S. Education Department released data in 2017 which showed the national default rate for the 2014 cohort was 11.5 percent.

Our ruling

Kucinich’s claim was based on a report that predicted 40 percent of students who entered college in 2004 will default by 2023. So that’s a prediction about the future, not a default rate for 10 years ago. We found no data to support Kucinich’s claim that about 50 percent of students default today. We rate this claim False.

Says Democratic obstruction is the reason why “many important positions in government are unfilled.”

— President Donald Trump on Wednesday, March 14th, 2018 in in a tweet

Important government posts are empty, but allocating blame is more complicated than President Donald Trump suggests. Democrats bear some responsibility, but so do Senate Republicans and the Trump White House.

Among recent presidents, Trump has had the smallest percentage of nominees confirmed by the Senate at this point in his presidency, 57 percent. That’s below Presidents Barack Obama (67 percent), George W. Bush (78 percent), Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush (each with 81 percent).

According to the White House, Democrats have forced 78 cloture votes on Trump’s nominees. But Republicans have also blocked some of his nominees. And Trump himself has suggested an understaffed bureaucracy might be a feature of his administration rather than a defect. He told Forbes in October 2017: “I’m generally not going to make a lot of the appointments that would normally be — because you don’t need them.”

Our ruling

There’s a lot of blame to go around for the federal government’s relatively modest headcount. Senate Democrats, adopting the upper chamber’s new norms, have engaged in procedural combat. Yet Senate Republicans have also held up Trump’s nominees.

We rate this Half True.

“Half of the American women who are murdered are killed by their intimate partners.”

— Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday, March 13th, 2018 in remarks at a rally

Cuomo’s claim comes from data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2017. The agency looked at the homicides of 10,018 adult women in 13 states from 2003 to 2014. The relationship between the victim and the suspect was known in 8,028 of the cases.

Of those, 4,442 homicides, or 55.3 percent, involved an intimate partner, defined as a current, former, or unspecified spouse or romantic partner. Women killed while intervening in an incident of intimate-partner violence, such as a friend or family member, were also counted in this category.

Numbers in New York state mirror national data. About 48 percent of female domestic homicides in New York state involved an intimate partner in 2016, according to a report from the state Division of Criminal Justice Services.

Our ruling

Data collected by the CDC supports Cuomo’s claim. More than half of the female homicides the agency studied involved an intimate partner when the relationship was known.

We rate his claim True.

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