Fact Check: Biden’s First Press Conference as President


Here is a fact check of some of the claims he made.

Defending his approach to migration on the southern border, Biden said that “we are sending back the vast majority of families who come.”

Facts first: This was not the case in February, the last month for which we have complete data.

Data released from Customs and Border Protection for February shows that 7,915 migrants who were part of a “family unit” on the southwestern border were removed under the Title 42 pandemic removal policy, about 41% of the 19,246 members. from the family unit who were in “encounters” with US officials that month.

At another point in the press conference, Biden said: “The overwhelming majority of people who make it to the border and cross are returned.” That’s a fair statement about what happened in February, when nearly 72% of the total 100,441 people found at the border – in other words, not just family members – were expelled under Title 42.

Preliminary data this month through March 17, which was reviewed by CNN, showed that the percentage of people expelled under Title 42 had dropped substantially since February. During the week ending March 17, 53% of the 34,526 people found on the southwestern border were evicted, the lowest percentage in a week in 2021 to date. CNN did not review preliminary data for March specifically on family expulsions.

Filibuster Statistics

Biden claimed that there were five times more motions to break filibuster in 2020 than between 1917 and 1971.

“Between 1917 and 1971, there was filibuster, there were a total of 58 motions to break filibuster. All that time. Last year alone there were five more times,” Biden said.

Facts first: While clogging experts say it’s difficult even for them to determine the number per year, Biden’s figures are misleading. In 2020, the number of motions filed to end a Senate debate, an indirect measure for the use of filibuster, was roughly double, not five times, the number from 1917 to 1971.

Molly Reynolds, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who has studied obstructionism, previously told CNN that most scholars think the best indirect measure is the number of motions filed for closure, a measure to end a debate in the Senate.
According to official Senate data, 58 closing motions were filed between 1917 and 1970 and 13 in 1971. If Biden was referring to the number of closing motions filed between 1917 and 1970, he would be correct when he said there were a total of 58 movements to break the obstructionism, but if 1971 were included, the total number of clotting movements would be 71.
Using any of the figures, Biden exaggerated the relative number of clotting movements presented last year, although he was accurate in his general point that the number of filibusters has increased significantly over time. 118 closing motions were filed in 2020 alone, closer to double the number filed between 1917 and 1971.

Vaccines in the US and the rest of the world

While discussing his goal of reaching 200 million Covid-19 vaccines in the first 100 days of his administration, Biden reiterated his claim that “no other country in the world has come close, not even close to what we are doing” regarding to the vaccine. front of.

Facts first: It is true that no country has vaccinated more people in total than the US, although it is worth noting that there are some smaller countries that have vaccinated a greater proportion of their total population. So far, the U.S. has administered vaccines to more than 130 million people, a number higher than any other country in the world. However, 16 countries and territories – including Chile, Israel and the United Kingdom – have administered vaccines to more people per capita. It should be noted that these countries and territories have much smaller populations.

Trump’s tax cut and the top 1%

Biden challenged Republican criticism about the $ 1.9 trillion cost of his pandemic relief bill, which he said would put money in the pockets of “ordinary people.”

He rhetorically asked if people had heard Republicans complaining about President Donald Trump’s $ 2 trillion tax cuts, which Biden said had “83% would go to the top 1%.” Biden and other Democrats have repeatedly invoked the “83%” figure.

Fact first: This stat needs context. While it is generally correct to say that the wealthiest Americans were the biggest beneficiaries of Trump’s tax cuts in 2017, the “83%” figure is a projection of what might happen under certain circumstances in 2027, not what that already happened.

The Tax Policy Center estimated in 2017 that the top 1% would reap about 83% of the benefits in 2027, if individual tax cuts in the act (which were designed as temporary) were allowed to expire without an extension and cuts in Corporate taxes of the law (which were designed as permanent) continued to exist. For 2018, conversely, the Tax Policy Center estimated that the top 1% got 20.5% of the benefits, while the 95-99% group got another 22.1%. By 2025, the estimate was 25.3% going to the top 1%, while 95% -99% would get another 21.6%.
Biden was correct at his broadest point that there is a substantial difference in how the new Biden Act and the Trump Act of 2017 treat the rich and the poor. For example, the Tax Policy Center found that households making $ 25,000 or less will receive an average tax cut of $ 2,800 this year from the new relief law, increasing their after-tax income by 20%. Under Trump law, these households saw an average reduction of $ 60 in the first year, or about 0.4% of their after-tax income.

The American rescue plan and economic growth

Biden said that since the United States Rescue Plan was approved, “most forecasters have significantly increased their projections. Now they project that it will exceed 6%, a growth of 6% in GDP.”

Facts first: It is true that many economists updated their 2021 gross domestic product aheadit is above 6% just before or after the legislation was passed, but it is difficult to say if the majority did so without a survey of all economists.

Once the passage of a large Covid aid bill became more likely, several economists improved their forecasts for US GDP growth in 2021.

RSM chief economist Joe Brusuelas said the legislation would boost GDP by an additional 3 percentage points and now forecast 7.2% growth in 2021.

In March, Goldman Sachs raised its projection for US GDP growth for 2021 to 7% from a previous projection of 6.8%. Morgan Stanley now forecasts 7.3% growth, topping the 6.4% projected in December.

Republican support for the American Rescue Plan

Dismissing criticism from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Biden said he has the support of Republican voters. He said that even if McConnell says that “the last thing I did, this last piece of legislation, is so far left, well, then I should take a look at his party. More than 50% of them must have exceeded that limit. Good. Because they support what I did. ”

Facts first: Biden has a reasonable basis for this claim; There are some polls that have shown that the majority of Republicans support the American Rescue Plan. However, many other polls have shown that Republican support for the bill is well below majority level. For example, a CNN poll conducted March 3-8 found that 26% of Republicans supported and 73% of Republicans opposed. The survey results have seemed to vary with the writing of the interviewers’ questions.
A Morning Consult / Politico poll conducted Feb.19-22 found 60% support for the bill among registered Republican voters, after respondents were informed of the $ 1.9 trillion cost of the plan and some key provisions, including direct payments of $ 1,400. A Morning Consult / Politico poll conducted March 6-8 found 59% Republican support.
However, a Monmouth University poll conducted from February 25 to March 1, placed Republican support at just 33%. In addition to the standard differences in methodology and pollster sampling (Monmouth’s survey surveyed adults, not registered voters in particular), it’s worth noting that Monmouth mentioned the $ 1.9 trillion cost of the plan before asking respondents for feedback, but didn’t mention the $ 1,400 payments until after that. question.

Even in the CNN poll in which 73% of Republicans expressed opposition to the bill overall, a majority of Republicans expressed support for three of its specific provisions: checks up to $ 1,400 (55% support ), billions for schools to help resume individual tuition (55%), and higher tax credits for families, making it easier for low-income families to claim them (73%). Yet 71% of Republicans opposed the bill’s $ 350 billion in aid to state, local, tribal and territorial governments.

Children at the border

Addressing the recent influx of unaccompanied migrant children at the southern US border, Biden stated that “nothing has changed” regarding the Trump administration, and said there had been a “28% increase in children at the border under my administration “compared to 31%. increase in the same period of 2019 under Trump.

Facts first: Biden was wrong about the increase in children at the border during his own administration. Seemed to be mixing two different statistics, one on children and the other on migrants in general.

According to Customs and Border Protection data, the number of unaccompanied children found at the border increased by 61% between January and February 2021, not the 28% that Biden claimed. That’s roughly double the increase between January and February 2019.

According to Customs and Border Protection data, overall encounters with migrants at the border increased 28% from January to February this year. But Biden specifically referred to “children.”

This story has been updated with additional fact checks.

CNN’s Geneva Sands contributed to this article.

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