Fact vs. Fiction

Fiction

The big Republican attack has been that the health-care law " ... cuts $500 billion from Medicare.” Now the number that's getting tossed around in GOP attack ads is $700 billion.

Fact

While the health-care law does reduce the amount of future spending growth in Medicare, the law doesn't actually cut the program. Savings come from reducing money that goes to private insurers who provide Medicare Advantage programs, among other things. Thus, no money is "cut" or "robbed" from Medicare, as the GOP claims. PolitiFact rated this GOP claim as false. Ironically, it's Bill who's 100-percent committed to protecting Medicare, while the groups behind these attack ads actually want to end Medicare as we know it, and turn it into a voucher system run by insurance companies.

Fiction

“Lockstep liberal” who supports President Obama’s programs and policies 98 percent of the time.

Fact

Major news organizations and watchdogs, including PolitiFact, repeatedly have debunked the notion that Bill's "a liberal," finding instead that in the Senate he’s a centrist. He also fights the White House over things he thinks are best for Florida, like, holding BP fully accountable for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and having a robust space-exploration program.

Fiction

"Big spender."

Fact

Bill’s always been a fiscal conservative, and was one of the early advocates of a balanced federal budget. He’s supported spending cuts; a debt-reduction commission; a line-item budget veto for the president; and, major tax reform. He was one of the few Democrats who voted against raising the debt ceiling to pay for the "TARP" bank bailout.

Fiction

"Career politician."

Fact

Bill always puts Florida first by standing up to lobbyists and special interests. And he never puts personal or financial gain ahead of public service. In fact, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, his net worth has declined since 2004. Also, his background and experience go well beyond congressional office. He’s been a soldier, insurance regulator and astronaut.

Fiction

A right-wing website claimed Bill "cashed in on Florida’s foreclosure crisis, purchasing a lavish million golf course condominium from a major donor on the cheap and subsequently sponsoring a bill to relive his (the builder’s) tax burden.”  

Fact

It turned out Karl Rove’s group was selling the false story to reporters, and the website in question retracted the central claim of its story after it was revealed that Bill actually voted against legislation that this false story said he supported. And, according to The Miami Herald, “This piece, a GOP oppo dump, misses some major context and omits facts ... ."

Fiction

Opposes the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

Fact

Independent fact-checkers have found claims like this to be flat-out “false.” Bill is a gun owner and a hunter who grew up on a ranch. He supports the constitutional right to bear arms.

Fiction

Voted to gut the U.S. military by supporting $500 billion in automatic and across-the-board cuts to defense.

Fact

Bill voted to keep the country from shutting down when it was on the brink of default. And that legislation set up a special committee that was to identify spending cuts to help balance the federal budget. The committee, however, failed to do its job. Most senators do not want across-the-board defense cuts, including Bill.  That’s why he's currently working with Sens. John McCain and Lindsay Graham and others to avoid any kind of overly drastic cuts, especially to defense and other vital programs. It's worth noting Sen. McCain voted the same way as Bill did. On the other hand, Bill's opponent’s “Penny Plan” would cut $2.8 trillion from defense, according to the nonpolitical research arm of Congress.

Fiction

Borrowed six cows to avoid paying property taxes.

Fact

Bill Nelson paid the same property tax rate as everybody else on his house. He also paid all the taxes owed on adjoining pastureland, where his family has kept cows continuously for the last 60 years, whether Bill's dad owned them, whether Bill owned them, or whether another licensed herd owner leased the pastureland. PolitiFact called a central part of this claim "Mostly False."

Bill's Cow Bill Farming

Here's a couple of pictures of Bill on his ranch over the years. Bill pictured with his mother, left, shows off his heifer Gussy in the late 1950s. Nelson, and his son Bill, right, pitch hay on the family's Melbourne, Florida pastureland, circa 1980.

Fiction

Connie Mack IV claims Bill Nelson's not an astronaut. “Nothing could be further from the truth,” Mack told an audience of about 40 members of the Melbourne Regional Chamber of East Central Florida during an hourlong stop at chamber headquarters. “Real astronauts would be offended by that.”

Fact

Earth to Connie: Nelson's official NASA biography says he spent six days orbiting Earth as a payload specialist aboard Columbia in 1986, when he was in Congress. He traveled over 2.1 million miles in 96 earth orbits and logged over 146 hours in space. That experience gave him a new perspective on the Earth’s fragile environment and a greater appreciation of the importance of our nation’s space-exploration program.

Fiction

Voted to send foreign aid to our enemies.

Fact

That claim is just false. Bill Nelson voted against a measure introduced by Republican Sen. Rand Paul that sought to cut foreign aid to our Middle East partners in the war against terrorists. Listen to what Sen. Joe Lieberman says on this issue:

"Cutting off aid to our Middle Eastern allies - as Sen. Paul's amendment sought to do - would have had very bad consequences for our fight against the forces of Islamist extremism and for the security of our ally Israel ... . Bill Nelson and I were part of a large, bipartisan majority of Senators who voted [ 81-10 ] against this misguided proposal."