Fact check: CNN's Democratic debate

Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate In Detroit Over Two Nights
Posted at 9:34 PM, Jul 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-30 21:34:48-04

(CNN)  — Welcome to CNN's fact check of the second round of Democratic debates.

Just as we did during the first debates, the Facts First team is spending the night fact-checking candidates' claims from the stage in Detroit.

Tuesday's debate features two of the more progressive candidates, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who will likely try to draw distinctions between themselves.

This could be the last chance for a handful of lesser-known moderate candidates to speak to a national audience, including Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper.

Here are the facts.

Amazon and taxes

Sen. Bernie Sanders claimed that Amazon pays not "one nickel" in federal income taxes.

"Companies like Amazon that made billions in profits did not pay one nickel in federal income tax."

Facts First: Sanders is correct — for the previous two tax years, Amazon's own financial filings showed that it expected to receive money back from the federal government, not that it owed money.

According to an analysis by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy for the second year running, Amazon made a profit of more than $11 billion in 2018, but reported a $129 million tax rebate from the federal government.

Amazon does pay state taxes, and has also paid federal taxes in the past. The Wall Street Journal reported recently that Amazon's overall tax rate from 2012 through 2018 was 8%."From 2012 through 2018, Amazon reported $25.4 billion in pretax US income and current federal tax provisions totaling $1.9 billion," the Journal reported. "That is an 8% tax rate — low, but not zero or negative. Looking back further, since 2002, Amazon has earned $27.7 billion in global pretax profits and paid $3.6 billion in global cash income taxes, a 13% tax rate."

Amazon's SEC filings in 2017 show it did not expect to owe any federal tax, and in fact expected to get a $137 million refund from the federal government. It did, however, say it expected to pay $211 million to states.

-Brian Fung

Climate crisis

Pete Buttigieg said that "Science tells us we have 12 years before we reach the horizon of catastrophe when it comes to our climate."

Facts First: Buttigieg is likely referring here to the definitive UN report that put the impacts of the climate crisis into stark relief.

The science that Buttigieg was referring to comes from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report published in 2018. The report did not set a 12-year deadline for "the horizon of catastrophe," though some politicians and media outlets have characterized it as such.

The report was created to assess the impact of global warming and predicted what could happen if the planet warmed to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The report did look at what could happen in 2030, 12 years from the date of publication, but the authors of the report have said that they picked that date to be helpful countries that had promised to meet deadlines to reduce carbon emissions set under the Paris climate accord.

The report did find that if the planet was able to keep warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius or under, countries would have to reduce about 45% of human-caused carbon dioxide emissions by 2030.

-Jen Christensen

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