Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Verifying the information shared in President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address

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President Joe Biden spoke about the country in his annual State of the Union address on Thursday. According to a fact-check by CNN, most of his statements were found to be accurate, but there were also instances where he made claims that were false, misleading, or lacked important context.

Biden was criticized for repeating a misleading statement about reducing the federal budget deficit, not clarifying that the decline was largely due to the expiration of emergency pandemic spending from the previous administration. He also falsely claimed that big companies would no longer be able to pay no federal income tax, overstating the impact of the corporate minimum tax he signed into law.

Senator Katie Britt made few specific factual claims in her Republican response to Biden’s address. Still, she inaccurately stated that inflation is at a 40-year low when it is no longer the case.

Here is a breakdown of some of the key claims made by Biden and Britt:

1. **Biden on Trump and the national debt:**
– Biden’s claim that Trump added more to the national debt than any presidential term in American history was fact-checked and found to be correct. However, it was noted that blaming presidents alone for debt incurred during their tenures is an oversimplification.

2. **Biden claims on job creation:**
– Biden’s statement about the economy adding “800,000 new manufacturing jobs” during his administration was fact-checked and found to be correct.

3. **Biden on the deficit impact of IRA Medicare provisions:**
– Biden’s claim about cutting the federal deficit by $160 billion through the Inflation Reduction Act was fact-checked and found to be true, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

4. **Biden and the deficit:**
– Biden’s claim of cutting the federal deficit by over $1 trillion was fact-checked and found to be misleading. While the deficit did decrease, analysts pointed out that it was primarily due to temporary pandemic-related spending during the previous administration.

5. **Biden claims record ‘15 million new jobs’ in three years:**
– Biden’s claim of creating a record 15 million jobs in the first three years of his term was fact-checked and found to be correct. However, the context of the unusual pandemic context when Biden took office was highlighted.

6. **Biden on the corporate minimum tax:**
– Biden’s claim that big companies will no longer pay zero federal income taxes due to the corporate minimum tax was fact-checked and found to be an exaggeration. The minimum tax applies to companies with at least $1 billion in average annual income.

7. **Biden claims that violent crime has fallen to lowest levels in ‘more than 50 years’:**
– Biden’s claim that violent crime has fallen to one of its lowest levels in “more than 50 years” was fact-checked and found to be true based on preliminary 2023 data, though caution was advised due to the preliminary nature of the data.

8. **Biden on Covid-19 deaths:**
– Biden’s statement implying that over 1 million American lives were lost to Covid-19 under the Trump administration was fact-checked and found to need context. The US didn’t reach its millionth death until May 2022 when Biden was in office.

9. **Biden on the unemployment rate:**
– Biden’s statement that unemployment is at “50-year lows” was fact-checked and found to need context. While the unemployment rate hit a five-decade low during early 2023, the latest available rate for January 2024 was higher than during nine months under Trump in 2019 and pre-pandemic 2020.

10. **Biden claims that a record 16 million Americans have started small businesses:**
– Biden’s claim of a record 16 million Americans starting small businesses was fact-checked and found to be accurate based on federal data, though the nuance of not all applications turning into actual businesses was mentioned.

11. **Biden on child tax credit cutting child poverty in half:**
– Biden’s claim that the child tax credit cut child poverty in half was fact-checked and found to be true for 2021. However, child poverty increased in 2022.

12. **Biden on US trade relationship with China:**
– Biden’s claim that the US trade deficit with China is at the lowest point in over a decade was fact-checked and found to be true. The narrowing trade gap was attributed to various factors, including inflation and Trump-era tariffs.

13. **Biden’s claims about what billionaires pay in taxes:**
– Biden’s claim about the average federal tax rate for billionaires being 8.2% was fact-checked and found to be misleading. The figure is based on an alternative calculation that factors in unrealized capital gains, not treated as taxable income under current law.

14. **Britt on inflation:**
– Britt’s claim of “the worst inflation in 40 years” was fact-checked and found to be false. While inflation peaked at 9.1% in June 2022, it has since declined, and the most recent rate for January 2024 is 3.1%.

15. **Britt on Biden suspending deportations:**
– Britt’s claim that Biden “suspended all deportations” was fact-checked and found to need context. Biden did call for a 100-day pause on deportations, but it excluded certain groups, and the action was blocked by a federal judge.

In summary, while many of Biden’s claims were found to be accurate, there were instances of exaggeration, lack of context, or misleading statements. Britt’s claims, on the other hand, were largely fact-checked as inaccurate.

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