Biden is correct that the United States has vaccinated more people than any other country — about 130 million people, compared with 83 million for China, 53 million for India and 31 million for the United Kingdom.
But that’s a raw number that lacks context. At least a dozen countries, such as Chile, Israel and the United Kingdom, have vaccinated a greater percentage of their population. For instance, while the United States has provided 39 doses out of every hundred people, Israel has done 114 doses, the United Arab Emirates 77 doses, Chile 47 doses and the United Kingdom 46 doses. (Most of the other nations ahead of the United States in the per capita ranking are small, island countries.)
“To hear them [Republicans] complain when they passed a close to $2 trillion Trump tax cut, 83 percent going to the top 1 percent.”
Biden uses a misleading Democratic talking point that has often earned Two Pinocchios. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimated that initially more than 80 percent of taxpayers would get a tax cut, with less than 5 percent getting a tax increase. The top 1 percent received 20.5 percent of the tax cut in 2018.
So how can Biden use this 83 percent figure? The individual tax cuts expire over the decade. Republicans structured the tax cut this way to keep the whole package — especially the corporate tax cut — in a budget box that allowed only for a $1.5 trillion increase in the federal deficit over 10 years.
The assumption — possibly a big one — is that Congress will vote to extend the tax cuts when they begin to expire, just as most of the George W. Bush tax cuts were extended, with the eventual support of Democrats who had long opposed the Bush-era cuts. So Democrats prefer to focus on the Tax Policy Center estimates for 2027, when the study shows 82.8 percent of the tax cuts will flow to the top 1 percent. But it’s not 2027 yet, so the most of taxpayers are still getting some kind of tax cut.
“I also set a goal before I took office, of getting the majority of schools in K through 8 fully open in the first 100 days. Now, thanks to the enormous amount of work done by our administration, educators, parents, local, state education officials and leaders, a recent Department of Education survey shows that nearly half of the K-through-8 schools are open now, full time, five days a week for in-person learning.”
Biden is referring to a survey, released Wednesday, that surveyed schools on the situation in January, just as Biden took office. So the numbers do not reflect anything that has happened on Biden’s watch. Moreover, Biden overstated what the survey found.
The National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) survey found that 47 percent of schools serving fourth-grade students and 46 percent of schools serving eighth-grade students that participated in the survey were open for in-person learning. But only 38 percent of fourth-grade schools and 28 percent of eighth-grade schools were open full time, five days a week. Seventeen percent of fourth-grade schools and 20 percent of eighth-grade schools offered a hybrid of remote and in-person teaching.
The White House has said it regards “51 percent” as a majority.
“Well, look, the idea that I’m going to say, which I would never do, that if an unaccompanied child ends up at the border, we’re just going to let them starve to death and stay on the other side — no previous administration did that either, except Trump.”
Biden claimed, without apparent evidence, that children “starved to death” in Mexico under President Donald Trump’s 2019 policy allowing border officers to return non-Mexican asylum seekers to locations in Mexico as their claims are adjudicated in immigration courts. Asked for evidence of such deaths, a White House official referred to reports of “widely reported treacherous conditions at camps along the border on the Mexican side that formed as a result of the Trump Administration’s use of the Migrant Protection Protocol, more commonly known as ‘Remain in Mexico.’”
A nurse, for instance, told Reuters that in the camps, “she saw breastfeeding mothers so dehydrated that they could not nurse their babies and parents chewing up donated pizza into mush to feed their infants. Some children were showing early signs of malnutrition.” One woman in the camp told the Guardian: “We’ve gone hungry. We’ve been cold. We’ve had to bathe in the river. This is a desperate place.”
The American Immigration Council also reported on the case of a woman who feared her daughter would die of starvation.
These reports are certainly compelling, but none documented the deaths of children by starvation. Nevertheless, a 2020 report by Physicians for Human Rights described cases of asylum seekers being dismembered or tortured as they waited in Mexico.
“If you take a look at the number of people are coming, the vast majority, the overwhelming majority of people coming to the border crossing are being sent back, are being sent back, thousands, tens of thousands of people, who are over 18 years of age and single people, one at a time coming, have been sent back, sent home. We’re sending back the vast majority of the families that are coming.”
Most single adults who attempt to cross the border with no authorization are quickly turned away. For example, anyone who was previously apprehended at the border would be returned immediately. The types of immigration claims that allow people temporary release into the country are reserved for limited groups such as women, children and refugees.
Biden got two out of three items correct in these remarks.
Almost all single adults are turned away, so Biden started off in accurate territory when he spoke about “the overwhelming majority of people” and those “who are over 18 years of age and single.” Then he flubbed when he added “the vast majority of families.” Only 41 percent were turned away last month.
“Admittedly, that number has been changing rapidly over the past few weeks, and while it was true a month ago, it’s not true today,” Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, a researcher at the American Immigration Council, tweeted.
“Nothing has changed. As many people came — 28 percent increase in children to the border in my administration; 31 percent in the last year, in 2019, before the pandemic, in the Trump administration. It happens every single, solitary year. There is a significant increase in the number of people coming to the border in the winter months of January, February, March. It happens every year.”
Biden referred to children at the southern border, but the statistic he’s using actually measures all apprehensions, as well as encounters with migrants who show up legally but are deemed “inadmissible” by U.S. immigration officials.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported 100,441 “land encounters” with migrants at the southern border in February, a 28 percent increase from January. In 2019, the numbers jumped 31 percent from January to February. For children, the figure from January to February is 63 percent.
A White House official said Biden was citing a Washington Post opinion article comparing the one-month changes from January to February in both 2019 and 2021.
Republicans are seeking to pressure Biden to curb immigration, and many observers have called the recent surge at the border a crisis. Biden’s point is that similar waves of hundreds of thousands of migrants have ventured to the U.S. border in previous years, with the most recent spike happening under Trump’s restrictive migration policies in 2019.
But the numbers do not spike in the winter “every single, solitary year,” as he said. In 2017, for instance, apprehensions and encounters with “inadmissible” migrants declined through the winter.
And, as The Washington Post reported Monday, the number of unaccompanied minors arriving at the border could reach a monthly record when March ends. Biden’s comparison covers the January-to-February period, but the tables could turn on him by the end of the week.
“Never before have so many minors arrived so fast,” The Washington Post reported. “Over the last three weeks, the average number of teenagers and children crossing into the United States without their parents has topped 550 per day, according to the latest government data reviewed by The Washington Post. Border officials are on pace to take in more than 17,000 minors this month, which would be an all-time high.”
“I still think the majority of the American people don’t like the fact that we now rank, what, 85th in the world in infrastructure? … We ranked 13th globally in infrastructure.”
Biden initially misspoke, plunking the United States near the bottom of the World Economic Forum’s global infrastructure rankings. The world doesn’t even have 85 developed countries, as defined by intergovernmental organizations, with similar systems of transportation and utilities to compare.
The president corrected himself a few sentences later, noting accurately that the United States ranked 13th in infrastructure. The rankings from the World Economic Forum cover 140 countries from all economic tiers. The latest rankings cover 2019. The group did not issue rankings in 2020 because of the unusual economic circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the 2019 rankings, Singapore had the best infrastructure and most competitive economy overall. The United States was ranked second for its economy overall, down from first place in 2018.
“Ninety of the Fortune 500 companies making billions of dollars not paying a cent in taxes.”
Biden loves this statistic, but he usually is careful to say “federal taxes.” Simply saying “taxes” makes it wrong, because no matter what the federal tax liability, these companies certainly pay a variety of payroll, real estate and local or state taxes.
In a 2019 report, the left-leaning Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) concluded that 91 profitable companies in the Fortune 500 did not pay any federal income tax, largely as a result of the 2017 tax law, such as through deductions for investment that Trump promoted in the bill. The group said an additional 56 companies paid effective tax rates between zero and 5 percent on their 2018 income, for an average effective tax rate of 2.2 percent.
It’s worth noting that companies do not fully disclose their tax liability in their filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, so this statistic is the product of research and analysis by the ITEP. But the group has done this for many years, and certainly the comparison of estimated taxes paid before and after the tax bill is relevant.
“Between 1917 and 1971 the filibuster existed, there were a total of 58 motions to break a filibuster that whole time. Last year alone, there were five times that many.”
When Biden refers to a motion to “break a filibuster,” he is talking about something a vote to invoke cloture — ending Senate debate on a bill or a nomination. There were 298 votes on cloture in the 2019-2020 session (which is two years), but in all but 18 cases, the debate was ended and a final vote could take place. Biden does not mention that Democrats, then in the minority, were responsible for most, if not all, of these filibusters.
“I would like elected Republican support, but what I know I have now is I have electoral support from Republican voters. Republican voters agree with what I’m doing. … Over 50 percent of them must be over that edge, as well, cause they support what I did.”
Biden overstates his support from Republicans, according to Washington Post pollsters Scott Clement and Emily Guskin. “Polls show majorities of Republicans across the country opposed the stimulus bill, although polls show most Republicans supported some key parts of the legislation,” they wrote. “Across five national polls since late February, between 54 percent and 73 percent of Republicans opposed the $1.9 trillion stimulus package. The bill enjoyed majority support from the public overall — from a low of 61 percent to a high of 75 percent in polls by CNN, Monmouth University, the Pew Research Center, CBS/YouGov and YouGov/Economist.”
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