Fact-checks and analysis on the Senate debate

The Globe provided fact-checks and analysis on the third Senate debate between Senator Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren in Springfield.

7:59 p.m. | ANALYSIS: A lot of the sniping over turning over client lists and other personal issues did not make it into this debate, which stuck largely to policy.

-- Noah Bierman

7:55 p.m. | FACT CHECK: How bipartisan is Brown? Does he really vote 50 percent with each party?


As Michael Levenson reported following the second debate, it depends how you count the votes.

A Congressional Quarterly analysis found that Brown voted with the Republican leadership 54 percent of the time. But that calculation included dozens of amendments that had no chance of passing.

As the Globe reported in May, on the most important, news-generating votes since he arrived in office in early 2010, Brown joined Republican leaders 76 percent of the time, according to an analysis by Project Vote Smart, a nonpartisan organization.

But Brown repeatedly points to the Congressional Quarterly study to assert that he is a truly bipartisan senator; Democrats meanwhile hold up the Vote Smart study to assert that, on matters of consequence, he is a more reliable Republican vote.

Here’s a graphic illustrating the analysis.

-- Noah Bierman

7:49 p.m. | FACT CHECK: Brown just said he “served in Afghanistan,” but he saw no combat during two brief visits.

-- Noah Bierman

7:45 p.m. | ANALYSIS: Warren making a very strong stance on Brown’s record on women’s issues. Noting he voted against equal pay for equal work, for the Blunt amendment, and against a woman for Supreme Court.

-- Stephanie Ebbert

7:39 p.m. | FACT CHECK: Is Brown pro-choice?

Brown calls himself pro-choice and he generally favors legalized abortions. But Massachusetts Citizens for Life supports him and several abortion rights groups have endorsed Warren. The issue is murky, and activists on both sides cite several issues. Here are a few reported on by colleague Michael Levenson:

Brown cosponsored the Blunt Amendment, which would have allowed health plans and employers to decline to pay for abortions, contraception, or other services based on religious or moral objections.

In 2005, when he was in the state Legislature, Brown sought to allow doctors and nurses to opt out of offering emergency contraception to rape victims if the health care workers had religious objections. Brown later voted for the bill without his changes, meaning doctors and nurses would be required to offer emergency contraception, regardless of their beliefs.

Brown has also taken votes in the state Senate and the US Senate that were applauded by abortion-rights supporters. In 2007, he voted to create a 35-foot buffer zone to keep protesters away from abortion clinics. In 2012, he voted to repeal a law that required women in the military who are victims of rape to pay for abortions at military facilities. He also opposed an effort to cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

-- Noah Bierman

7:38 p.m. | FACT CHECK: Brown notes that Warren did not voluntarily pay a higher state tax rate, which is true, according to tax returns reviewed by the Globe. Nor did Brown.

-- Noah Bierman

7:36 p.m. | FACT CHECK: Warren says Brown has protected subsidies for oil companies.

On March 29, Brown voted against a bill that would have repealed $24 billion in tax breaks for the five largest oil companies operating in the United States. Brown argues those taxes would be passed on to drivers in the form of higher prices at the pump and to homeowners in the form of higher home-heating costs.

-- Noah Bierman

7:36 p.m. | FACT CHECK: Warren said Brown opposed a rule that would prevent CEOs from paying less taxes than their secretaries.

Here’s what colleague Michael Levenson wrote on the Buffett rule following the second debate: The Buffett Rule, championed by billionaire investor Warren Buffett, would impose a 30 percent minimum tax on people with incomes over $1 million a year — guaranteeing that the rich pay the same tax rate as their secretaries.

It would raise about $5 billion in revenue annually, assuming that Congress lets the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire. That is enough to fuel the federal government for about 11 hours, according to a Washington Post analysis.

But that doesn’t mean the Buffett Rule is insignificant, according to Joseph Rosenberg, a research associate at the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

“There’s no single policy that is large relative to the size of the economy, or the size of the entire federal government, but any little bit makes a dent,’’ Rosenberg said. “What we really need is a bunch of little pieces to make up a comprehensive solution.”

-- Noah Bierman

7:32 p.m. | FACT CHECK: Brown has said Warren was seeking to win immunity from lawsuits for Dow Chemical.

Warren worked for Dow Chemical in the early days of the bankruptcy of Dow Corning, a related company, sometime in the mid to late 1990s. Dow Corning declared bankruptcy in 1995 under financial pressure from 19,000 lawsuits related to its silicone breast implants, which more than 200,000 women said had caused health problems.

Warren has suggested that she had advised the company in setting up a trust, which eventually required the firm to establish a fund to pay out $2.3 billion to victims.

Brown said last week that Warren was seeking to win immunity from lawsuits for the company, but offered no proof. And the settlement did not give the company immunity. Plaintiffs were not required to enter into the settlement but faced poor odds in court because judges had begun casting doubt on the scientific link between the implants and health problems, according to a 2004 Houston Chronicle report.

-- Noah Bierman

7:31 p.m. | FACT CHECK: Did Warren help LTV Steel in its effort to try to avoid paying for health care for retired employees?

Warren helped write a petition to the US Supreme Court for LTV Steel in the 1990s, assisting the former industrial conglomerate in its fight against a congressional requirement that it pay millions of dollars into a fund for its retired coal miners’ health care.

Warren argues that the retirees’ benefits were not in danger, even if LTV had won its legal battle, because other companies would have picked up the tab. And she argues that she was fighting for a principle that could protect less powerful people who have claims against bankrupt companies.

But even as labor unions endorse her today, they argued at the time that LTV and other companies were trying to dodge paying into the fund and could have undermined a congressional act designed to cover health needs for more than 100,000 retirees and their families. Read more here.

-- Noah Bierman

7:28 p.m. | FACT CHECK: Scott Brown says Elizabeth Warren worked against asbestos victims in representing Travelers Insurance. Elizabeth Warren appeared in front of the Supreme Court on behalf of Travelers Insurance in 2009 and was paid $212,000 for three years of legal work for the company. Travelers was fighting to gain permanent immunity from asbestos-related lawsuits by establishing a $500 million trust, to be divided among current and future claimants against the nation’s largest asbestos manufacturer, Johns-Manville, which had been insured by Travelers before it went bankrupt. Most claimants and plaintiffs’ attorneys were on Travelers’ side when the case went to the Supreme Court.

Travelers won the immunity. But after a series of legal twists, the company the company avoided paying the $500 million settlement. Warren was no longer involved at that point, but Brown argues she should have foreseen that potential result.

-- Noah Bierman

7:23 p.m. | FACT CHECK: Warren says her deficit plan will cut 67 percent more than Brown’s. In July, the Globe asked both candidates to offer responses and proposals about the deficit. An analysis prepared for the Globe by a nonpartisan group showed that responses offered by Warren, and positions taken on her website, would trim 67 percent more from the debt over 10 years than those offered by Brown. Neither candidate offered a full plan in response to Globe questions, or anything else since the article ran.

-- Noah Bierman

7:16 p.m. | ANALYSIS: Warren is really trying to link Brown to GOP tonight. Just said he backed the “Newt Gingrich loophole” to protect millionaires over college students’ loans.

-- Stephanie Ebbert

7:15 p.m. | FACT CHECK: $716 billion Medicare cut. The number is an estimate from the Congressional Budget Office of how much Medicare spending can be reduced between 2013 and 2022 by making health care more efficient for seniors. Romney calls it cuts, Obama calls it savings. This article from the Washington Post, citing Harvard professor John McDonough’s great book “Inside National Health Reform,” explains it well.

-- Noah Bierman

7:10 p.m. | ANALYSIS: Warren mentions Mitt Romney first time. She’s trying to link Brown to national GOP, her closing argument of the campaign.

-- Noah Bierman

7:03 p.m. | FACT CHECK: Warren said Brown has voted against three jobs bills.

Brown sided with Republicans in opposing three bills proposed by President Obama. In each case, he said it was not worth the trade-off, raising taxes on upper-earners, a group he says is most responsible for employing workers.

On Oct. 20, 2011, for example, Brown and every other Senate Republican voted to block an Obama jobs bill that would have funneled $35 billion to the states for teachers, police officers, and firefighters, to be paid for by a surtax on the those earning more than $1 million annually.

On Nov. 3, 2011, Brown again joined every other Senate Republican to block one of the president’s jobs bills that would have spent about $50 billion on transportation and infrastructure projects, to be paid for by a surtax on the wealthy.

-- Noah Bierman

6:58 p.m. | ANALYSIS: No consensus winner in first two debates.

-- Noah Bierman

6:55 p.m. | ANALYSIS: In their third debate, I’m hoping for substance on Brown and Warren, less on Native Americans and Kings and Queens. Also wouldn’t mind a game changer.

-- Stephanie Ebbert

6:37 p.m. | ANALYSIS: Democrats tend to dominate Western Mass., but Brown signaled he wants to compete with the release of a new ad today focused on the region.

-- Noah Bierman

6:35 p.m. | ANALYSIS: Most September polls showed Warren with a slight lead. A new poll released yesterday by WBUR showed Brown with a small lead. Both campaigns believe the race is tight.

-- Noah Bierman

6:33 p.m. | ANALYSIS: The first two debates covered some of the same ground. I expect some overlap tonight, but also some new issues, given the change of venue (it’s in Springfield).

-- Noah Bierman

6:26 p.m. | ANALYSIS: In the first two debates, we heard a lot about tax policy. Warren talked about Brown’s votes in the Senate. Brown talked about Warren’s claims of Native American ancestry and her work as an attorney, especially in cases where she represented corporations.

-- Noah Bierman

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