Joe Biden

Reality verify: Breaking down Joe Biden’s first month of claims

For this text, CNN appeared into 40 of the claims Biden produced from January 20 by February 19. Our reality checks are beneath — inaccurate claims first; then the claims which can be disputed, sophisticated, or on which Biden may have been clearer if he had added some extra context; then the claims that we will merely name correct.

We invited the White Home to touch upon our findings. The White Home supplied feedback solely on the situation of anonymity. For equity, now we have included these nameless feedback in circumstances the place they assist clarify the place Biden was coming from.

It is price noting that Biden was quieter than Trump not solely qualitatively however quantitatively. Biden spoke far fewer public phrases than Trump did over the identical interval in 2017 — uttering about 34% fewer phrases than Trump did in his personal first month, in keeping with information offered to CNN by Factba.se, an internet site that tracks presidential remarks.

Walter Reed visits

Biden instructed reporters earlier than his January 29 go to with wounded troopers on the Walter Reed Nationwide Navy Medical Heart: “…as vp, each single Christmas, we spent all of Christmas day at Walter Reed.” He instructed navy personnel in a chat upon his arrival: “For eight years, as uh, vp, I might come right here, we would — the entire household would spend each Christmas day right here, all day.”
Details First: There may be public proof that Biden visited Walter Reed on 5 of his eight Christmases as vp, however not on “each single Christmas” as vp as he claimed. We couldn’t discover proof he went to Walter Reed on Christmas in 2012, 2015 or 2016, and the White Home didn’t present any such proof after we requested. (Biden’s son, Beau Biden, died of mind most cancers at Walter Reed in Could 2015. Joe Biden visited the power in 2015 whereas Beau Biden was being handled there.)
Requested whether or not Joe Biden did go to Walter Reed on Christmas in 2012, 2015 and 2016, the White Home official didn’t reply instantly. The official responded by noting that in 2012, Biden hosted a Thanksgiving gathering on the vice presidential residence for wounded troops from Walter Reed.

Vaccines to neighborhood well being facilities

Responding to a query that requested usually about racial disparities in well being care and particularly in regards to the comparatively low charges at which Black and Hispanic folks had been being vaccinated for Covid-19, Biden mentioned on the CNN city corridor that he met with the Congressional Black Caucus and agreed that “the entire neighborhood well being facilities now, which handle the hardest of the hardest neighborhoods when it comes to sickness, they’ll get one million doses, you understand, every week…”
Details First: Biden was proper that his administration deliberate to ship neighborhood well being facilities a million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine — however unsuitable when he mentioned it will a million doses “every week.” Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, chair of the administration’s Covid-19 Well being Fairness Process Power, had defined that the plan was to ship the million doses over the “preliminary part” of their program.
The White Home has not defined how lengthy the “preliminary part” is meant to final, however it’s clear that it’s longer than every week. (Once we requested the White Home how lengthy the part is meant to final, the White Home official referred us to a web based “reality sheet” that did not comprise a solution.)

Biden’s journey with Xi Jinping

Talking about how nicely he is aware of Chinese language President Xi Jinping, Biden claimed twice that he has traveled 17,000 miles with Xi. For instance, Biden mentioned in a February 5 interview with CBS Night Information anchor Norah O’Donnell, “I most likely spent extra time with Xi Jinping, I am instructed, than any world chief has as a result of I had 24, 25 hours of personal conferences with him after I was vp. Traveled 17,000 miles with him. I do know him fairly nicely.”
Details First: Biden has not traveled anyplace near 17,000 miles “with” Xi, as Washington Put up reality checker Glenn Kessler famous. Whereas Biden may precisely say that he has spent many hours and lots of conferences with Xi — they frolicked collectively in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015 — Kessler famous that the 2 leaders typically didn’t even journey parallel routes to their gatherings, not to mention bodily journey collectively. The one obvious solution to get Biden’s mileage previous 17,000, Kessler discovered, is so as to add the size of his flight journeys between Washington and Beijing, throughout which, clearly, Xi was not with him.

The White Home official instructed CNN that Biden was making “a reference to the whole journey forwards and backwards — each internally within the US and China, and in addition to internationally — for conferences they held collectively. Some journey was in parallel, some was individually to joint locations.” However that could be very totally different than touring “with” Xi, particularly within the context a degree about how acquainted he’s with Xi.

The plan for pharmacies

Biden mentioned on the Nationwide Institutes of Well being on February 11: “Once I received to workplace, there was no federal plan — none — to ship vaccines on to native pharmacies.”
Details First: This wants context. Particularly, it is price noting that Biden’s administration didn’t provide you with the concept of transport vaccines on to native pharmacies; the Trump administration mentioned in fall 2020 that this was its personal intention. Nevertheless, we aren’t calling Biden’s declare false or deceptive as a result of two sources within the pharmacy trade mentioned the Trump administration by no means introduced an precise plan to show its idea into actuality.

“Once we first began speaking to the Biden staff throughout the transition, it was unclear what the federal pharmacy partnership program was going to seem like, and key particulars…had been lacking. These particulars had been crucial for us, clearly, as we would have liked to be ready to activate. What we have seen during the last a number of weeks is a transparent nationwide plan emerge,” mentioned a supply at one firm taking part within the partnership program.

A White Home official — a unique official than the one who responded to our different queries — mentioned that when the transition staff approached main pharmacies to ask what the specifics of the federal partnership program had been, “They had been like, ‘We do not know. We had been going to ask you guys this query.'”

Suicide and the pandemic

Biden mentioned within the February 5 financial speech: “Lots of of us reaching the breaking level. Suicides are up.”

Details First: This declare is untimely as a result of full nationwide information on suicide within the final 12 months just isn’t but out there, two specialists on the topic instructed CNN. Dr. Joshua Gordon, director of the Nationwide Institute of Psychological Well being, which is a part of the federal Nationwide Institutes of Well being, mentioned in an interview that whereas it is rather clear that surveys present that suicidal ideas have elevated amongst Individuals throughout the pandemic, it’s not clear if this improve has translated to a nationwide improve in folks truly going by with the act; he mentioned “we at all times have a look at survey information with a grain of salt,” since there’s a lot it can not inform us, and there are additionally some indications that the variety of folks reaching out for assistance is up. “If we have a look at deaths from suicide, the information to date that now we have out there doesn’t but present a rise for 2020,” Gordon mentioned.

Gordon additionally mentioned that the psychological well being penalties of disasters are sometimes “not totally realized till the catastrophe is over,” so it’s potential that the influence of the pandemic may present up in suicide information after the quick menace of the virus itself has handed.

Jonathan Singer, president of the American Affiliation of Suicidology, mentioned no one can definitively say at the moment that suicide deaths are up nationally — and even when the information does find yourself exhibiting that there was a rise, “it may be actually laborious to say it is due to the pandemic.” Singer identified that suicides had yearly elevated for years earlier than a slight decline in 2019.
Once we instructed the White Home what the 2 specialists had instructed us, the White Home official who responded to most of our queries pointed to: reviews about suicides growing specifically areas of the US, the proof that suicidal ideation is up within the US, proof that suicide in Japan has elevated throughout the pandemic, and an NPR article that famous the absence of nationwide numbers but in addition mentioned, “NPR spoke with suppliers at hospitals in seven states throughout the nation, and all of them reported an identical pattern: Extra suicidal kids are coming to their hospitals — in worse psychological states.”

All of that’s truthful sufficient. Nevertheless it would not change the truth that we do not but know for certain whether or not Biden’s common declare that “suicides are up” is right.

Biden’s position within the 2009 stimulus talks

Biden mentioned in an financial speech on February 5: “When this nation hit the Nice Recession that Barack and I inherited in 2009, I used to be requested to steer the trouble on the financial restoration act to get it handed. It was a giant restoration bundle, roughly $800 billion. I did all the things I may to get it handed, together with getting three Republicans to vary their votes and vote for it.”
Details First: This wants context. Biden actually did play a task in persuading three Republican senators (Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania) to vote in favor of the 2009 stimulus invoice, however Collins objects to how Biden portrayed his position right here. Collins spokeswoman Annie Clark instructed CNN that Collins didn’t “change” her vote — Collins had by no means determined to vote No earlier than she voted Sure — and that, whereas Biden was “was amongst those that advocated for the invoice,” Collins negotiated the precise particulars with 4 different Democratic officers: then-Senate Majority Chief Harry Reid, then-White Home chief of employees Rahm Emanuel, then-Senator Joe Lieberman, and then-Workplace of Administration and Funds director Peter Orszag. (After the vote in 2009, Collins additionally famous that President Barack Obama met personally along with her.)

Biden did not declare that he was the one particular person accountable for securing the three Republicans’ votes, so his declare is not false. However he would’ve been extra correct if he had made clear he was a part of a staff and if he had not prompt that the three Republicans flip-flopped on the invoice.

Specter died in 2012. Snowe left workplace in 2013, and her institute didn’t reply to a request for remark.

Starvation in January

Biden mentioned throughout January 29 remarks on his pandemic aid plan: “Thirty million Individuals do not have sufficient meals to eat this week.”
Details First: This determine was barely outdated. A Census Bureau survey for December 9 to December 21, which was launched in early January, discovered that just below 30 million folks mentioned they often or typically didn’t have sufficient to eat within the earlier seven days. Nevertheless, the newest model of the survey on the time Biden spoke, launched two days earlier than his speech, put the quantity at just below 24 million folks.

Oil subsidies

Biden mentioned in a January 27 environmental speech: “Not like earlier administrations, I do not assume the federal authorities ought to give handouts to Large Oil to the tune of $40 billion in fossil gasoline subsidies.”

Details First: Biden has an inexpensive factual foundation for this declare, but it surely’s price noting that the accuracy of the “$40 billion” determine is dependent upon what you contemplate a “handout to Large Oil” and what time interval you’re looking at.

There isn’t a single accepted determine for what counts as a “handout to Large Oil”; the query of what qualifies as a subsidy for fossil fuels is sophisticated. And Biden was unclear about what time interval he was referring to. Once we requested the White Home about this declare, Biden’s staff referred CNN to a 2012 Bloomberg article about an Obama-administration finances proposal to chop greater than $40 billion in varied types of subsidies for oil, fuel and coal firms over 10 years — so not less than 2.5 presidential phrases.
Equally, a 2016 estimate from the Heart for American Progress, a liberal assume tank, listed 9 oil and fuel tax breaks whose elimination would save greater than $39 billion between 2016 and 2026.

Biden’s “$40 billion” determine could be very near not less than one estimate for annual US subsidies for fossil fuels. The estimate, offered to CNN by the analysis and advocacy group Oil Change Worldwide, which seeks to transition away from fossil fuels, is $39.4 billion. That $39.4 billion determine, nevertheless, additionally contains subsidies for coal (so not simply to “Large Oil”), depends largely on figures from 2015 and 2016, and contains billions in subsidies from state governments (not solely the federal authorities).

Masks and lives

Biden mentioned the day after his inauguration that “the specialists say by carrying a masks from now till April, we would save greater than 50,000 lives going ahead; 50,000 lives.”
Details First: The White Home official mentioned this determine got here from the College of Washington’s Institute for Well being Metrics and Analysis (IHME). An IHME research revealed in October estimated that if 95% of the US inhabitants wore masks in public from September 22 by February 2021 “a further 129,574…lives” could possibly be saved. That math comes out to 809 lives per day, which might imply 56,630 lives could possibly be saved from January 21, when Biden made these remarks, to April 1.

Trump and well being care

In a January 28 speech about well being care govt orders, Biden mentioned the orders would “undo” harm performed by Trump. He mentioned, “There’s nothing new that we’re doing right here, apart from restoring the Reasonably priced Care Act and restoring the Medicaid to the best way it was earlier than Trump grew to become President, which by fiat he modified — made extra inaccessible, costlier, and tougher for folks to qualify for both of these two objects: the Reasonably priced Care Act or Medicaid.”

Details First: This wants context. Actions taken by the Trump administration did make it tougher for folks to enroll in the Reasonably priced Care Act or qualify for Medicaid. The query of whether or not these actions additionally made protection costlier is extra advanced.

In accordance with Robin Rudowitz, Co-Director of the Kaiser Household Basis’s Program on Medicaid and the Uninsured, the Trump administration’s proposals and actions “largely centered round limiting the scope of Medicaid protection.”

For instance, in a historic step, the Trump administration allowed states to use for waivers to require sure Medicaid recipients to work, volunteer, take courses or seek for jobs with the intention to obtain protection. A dozen states acquired permission to take action. About 18,000 folks had been stripped of their insurance coverage in Arkansas — the one state to completely implement the principles earlier than being stopped by a federal decide — inside a number of months of the mandate taking impact. The Supreme Court docket agreed in December to listen to the case.

The Trump administration additionally made the Reasonably priced Care Act much less accessible by slicing the enrollment interval in half and slashing the promoting finances by 90%, which meant sure people doubtless weren’t conscious of the shorter time-frame to enroll or conscious of their protection choices and potential subsidies for them. Moreover, in his first 12 months in workplace, Trump required these looking for protection throughout particular enrollment intervals due to a serious life change, like job loss or divorce, to offer documentation proving their eligibility.
On the query of affordability, the Congressional Funds Workplace estimated in 2018 that Congress’ discount of the person mandate penalty to $0 would drive up particular person premiums beginning in 2019. In accordance with the Kaiser Household Basis, sure insurance coverage carriers added a mean of 6% to premiums in 2019 which the carriers said was the results of Congress’ efficient elimination of the person mandate and the Trump administration’s promotion of loosely regulated plans as options to the excellent ones bought on the ACA exchanges.
Nevertheless, it is price noting that since 2018, the common premium for the benchmark plan has decreased 8%, in keeping with Facilities for Medicare and Medicaid Companies.
Whereas the Trump administration has tried to take credit score for that, the lower is probably going a results of the market stabilizing as insurers found out how one can set the right premiums based mostly on their enrollees’ well being, which in flip drew insurers again into the exchanges and prompted new carriers to supply insurance policies. This lower additionally comes after an enormous improve when insurance coverage carriers raised the common premium for the benchmark plan by 37% for 2018 protection. Due to this fact, regardless of the latest downward pattern, in keeping with CMS, common benchmark plan premiums stay increased on common than earlier than the Trump administration’s adjustments.

– CNN’s Tami Luhby contributed to this merchandise.

Biden getting ‘shot at’

Biden mentioned on the State Division on February 4: “I have been with a few of you after we’ve been shot at.”

Details First: What counts as being “shot at” is subjective, however there’s sufficient proof for Biden’s imprecise declare that we are saying it’s considerably correct at minimal. The White Home pointed to 5 incidents throughout Biden’s profession as senator and vp, not less than two of them corroborated by media shops.

In 2009, the New York Occasions reported that the fortified Inexperienced Zone in Baghdad, Iraq was “attacked by rocket fireplace for a second evening on Wednesday, this time simply after Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki had made temporary public remarks and sat down for a conventional dinner to interrupt the Ramadan quick.” (The Occasions reported that one rocket landed a couple of mile away from the place Biden was.)
In 2010, CNN reported, “Three mortar rounds struck harmlessly inside Baghdad’s Inexperienced Zone on Sunday evening throughout a weekend go to by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, U.S. and Iraqi officers mentioned.”

The White Home despatched CNN a listing of three different incidents Biden says occurred: one other Inexperienced Zone mortar incident in 2005, an incident in 2005 by which Biden mentioned a bullet narrowly missed a helicopter carrying him from the Inexperienced Zone to the Baghdad airport, and an incident in 2004 by which Biden mentioned he was leaving Iraq in a navy aircraft that needed to take evasive motion after its missile warning system was activated.

A few of Biden’s critics have famous that, as a senator in 2007, he walked again a declare about having been “shot at” within the Inexperienced Zone. In accordance with a report in The Hill in 2007, he mentioned then that it will have been extra correct to say, “I used to be close to the place a shot landed.”

He may have been extra exact then and now. Nonetheless, his declare that he has been with American diplomats as they had been “shot at” just isn’t baseless.

Racial disparities and the pandemic

Biden mentioned in a January 26 speech on racial points: “Black and Latino Individuals are dying of Covid-19 at charges almost thrice that of White Individuals.”
Details First: Biden was right on the time he spoke; these figures had been taken from revealed Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention (CDC) information on the time. Nevertheless, it is price noting that up to date CDC information revealed later, in mid-February, exhibits smaller disparities.

The up to date CDC information exhibits that, by January 30, Black folks had died of Covid-19 at 1.9 instances the speed of White folks, down from 2.8 instances within the earlier information. Latino folks had died at 2.3 instances the speed of White folks, additionally down from 2.8 instances within the earlier information.

Attitudes about local weather change

Biden mentioned within the environmental speech: “And I’d be aware, parenthetically: If you happen to discover, the perspective of the American folks towards better impetus on specializing in local weather change and doing one thing about it has elevated throughout the board — Democrat, Republican, unbiased.”
Details First: That is right, but it surely’s price noting that survey information suggests there was a a lot smaller improve amongst Republicans than amongst Democrats. Of Pew Analysis Heart survey respondents, for instance, the proportion of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents who thought that coping with world warming or local weather change ought to be a prime precedence for the president and Congress spiked from 47% in 2008 to 78% in 2020. For Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, the rise was 15% to simply 21%.

“During the last decade, we have seen little progress within the shares of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who view local weather change as a serious menace to the U.S. or name it a prime precedence for the president and Congress,” Cary Funk, Pew’s director of science and society analysis, mentioned in an e mail.

Pew requested all respondents about “world warming” from 2008 to 2014. In 2015, it requested half of respondents about “world warming” and half about “local weather change.” From 2016 onward, it has requested all respondents about “local weather change.”

Clear power

Biden mentioned within the environmental speech: “Already, 84 % of all new electrical capability deliberate to return onto the electrical grid that is 12 months is clear power.”
Details First: That is true for those who settle for a sure definition of “clear power.” In accordance with the US Power Info Administration, of the brand new electrical energy producing capability deliberate to return on-line in 2021, 39% is photo voltaic, 31% is wind, 11% is batteries and three% is nuclear. That provides as much as the 84% Biden referenced. Nevertheless, there’s debate over whether or not nuclear energy and batteries ought to be thought-about sources of fresh power era.

Local weather change and the navy

Biden mentioned within the environmental speech: “[T]he Protection Division reported that local weather change is a direct menace to greater than two thirds of the navy’s operational crucial installations.”
Details First: That is correct. A 2019 Pentagon report on the “Results of a Altering Local weather to the Division of Protection” checked out “79 mission assurance precedence installations based mostly on their operational position” throughout the Navy, Military and Airforce, and some different associated companies. The report says two-thirds of those installations are susceptible to “future recurrent flooding.” Individually, “greater than one-half are susceptible to present or future drought. About one-half are susceptible to wildfires.”

Listed below are another claims Biden was right about:

Race and the economic system: Biden was right in saying that about 1 in 4 Black households and 1 in 5 Latino households reported not having sufficient to eat; that 1 in 10 Black folks and 1 in 11 Latino folks had been out of labor; that greater than 10 million folks had been out of labor in whole, 4 million of them for six months or longer; and that greater than 40 % of the active-duty navy is made up of individuals of colour.
The pandemic: Biden was right that January 2021 was the deadliest US month of the pandemic (with greater than 95,000 deaths, per the newest Johns Hopkins College information); that greater than 24 million Individuals had been contaminated with the virus as of late January; that the US had 25 % of the world’s confirmed Covid-19 circumstances with simply 4 % of the world’s inhabitants (although it is necessary to notice that worldwide statistics don’t seize all precise circumstances); that research have proven that air air pollution is related to an elevated danger of dying from Covid-19; that there was preliminary discuss that it may take years and even many years earlier than there was a Covid-19 vaccine; and that, in January, specialists predicted greater than 100,000 extra US deaths from the virus.
Assorted: Biden was additionally right that Trump reversed a late-Obama-era transfer to cut back using personal prisons; that there are greater than 80 million displaced folks around the globe; that China has trains that go greater than 225 miles per hour; and that Biden is the primary president in 40 years to have a toddler who served in a conflict zone.

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