Politics Fact-checking Biden's CNN town hall in Baltimore
Biden to take questions on ambitious agenda during CNN town hall in Baltimore
President Joe Biden is set to participate in a CNN town hall from Baltimore Thursday evening, where he'll take questions as Democrats are finalizing negotiations over key aspects of his legislative agenda. © Heather Fulbright/CNN CNN's Presidential Town Hall with Joe Biden in Baltimore, Maryland, on October 21. During the town hall, moderated by CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, Biden is expected to spend time pushing his ambitious proposal to expand the social safety net.
President Joe Biden participated Thursday in ataking questions from anchor Anderson Cooper and local residents about his legislative agenda and a variety of other topics.
Biden made some false claims, along with making other claims that could have used additional context. He also made one claim, an assertion that he has visited the southern border in the past, that CNN couldn't immediately verify and that the White House did not immediately provide evidence to support.
Biden mocks people who use 'freedom' as a cover for refusing a shot
Biden defended vaccine mandates during a CNN town hall on Thursday and ridiculed people who complained their freedom was being infringed.'Yes and yes,' he said to a thunderous round of applause.
Here's a fact check of some of his claims from Thursday's town hall.
Biden and the border
A college student asked Biden: "Given that it's nearly been a year into your campaign, why haven't you been to the southern border of our country?"
After Biden addressed another immigration question from the student but ignored that one, Cooper followed up. Biden then responded, "I've been there before, and I haven't -- I mean, I know it well. I guess I should go down. But the -- but the whole point of it is: I haven't had a whole hell of lot of time to get down."
Biden explained that he has been spending time inspecting hurricane damage and "traveling around the world," then added, "But I plan on -- now, my wife, Jill, has been down. She's been on both sides of the river. She's seen the circumstances there."
AP FACT CHECK: Biden overstates his record on COVID vaccine
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden botched the numbers behind the COVID-19 vaccine rollout Thursday as he stretched to take all the credit for the surge of shots once he was in office. A look at his remarks during a CNN town hall event: COVID BIDEN: “When I first was elected, there were only 2 million people who had COVID shots in the United States of America — and the vaccine. Now we got 190 million, because I went out and bought everything I could do and buy in sight and it worked." © Provided by Associated Press President Joe Biden greets people during a break as he participates in a CNN town hall at the Baltimore Center Stage Pearlstone Theater, Thursday, Oct.
Facts First: CNN could not immediately find any evidence that Biden has previously visited the southern border, and the White House has not specified when this visit supposedly occurred. Also, it's worth noting thatto the border was in December 2019, during the presidential campaign, not as first lady.
Since we don't know what the President did on every day of a political career that began in 1970, we can't currently declare he was making a false statement when he said he has previously visited the border. But we couldn't immediately locate any news stories about such a visit, and the White House hasn't provided corroborating information. A White House spokesman didn't immediately respond to a CNN request late Thursday night.
The subject of Biden visiting the southern borderfrom White House press secretary Jen Psaki. When a Fox News reporter asked if Biden had been to the border, Psaki said, "I will have to get -- look back in my history books and check the times he's been to the southern border." When the reporter said they had not uncovered evidence of Biden visiting at any time, Psaki softened her language, saying, "I can check and see when the last time or when he may have been."
Biden pushes private talks into the open as the White House keeps its foot on the gas
For weeks White House officials have deliberately avoided delving into the details of President Joe Biden's private negotiations over the scope and scale of his mult-trillion dollar domestic agenda. © Heather Fulbright/CNN US President Joe Biden with CNN anchor and host Anderson Cooper at CNN's Presidential Town Hall with Joe Biden in Baltimore, Maryland, on October 21, 2021. Biden apparently had enough of that, going in depth on the policy, concessions, personal interactions with hold-out senators and more in his CNN Town Hall.
Two days later, when the reporter asked why Biden hadn't "ever" visited the southern border, Psaki didn't dispute the assertion, instead saying that Biden believes "the most constructive role we can play is by helping to push immigration reform forward, helping reform the broken policies of the last several years, and listening to his team of advisors, who have been to the border multiple times, about what the path forward should look like."
Though Biden mentioned foreign travel as one of the reasons he has not gone to the border as President to date, he has made only one trip abroad during the first nine months of his pandemic-era term -- a June trip to Europe. He is scheduled for another Europe trip next weekend for a G20 summit and United Nations climate conference.
After he wasa question about taxes on the wealthy, Biden said that under "this present tax code, the highest tax rate is 35 percent."
Facts First: Biden was wrong. The top marginal rate is; 35% is the second-highest marginal rate. The 37 percent rate affects individual single taxpayers with taxable incomes greater than $523,600 and married couples filing jointly with taxable incomes greater than $628,300. The 35 percent rate affects individuals with taxable incomes greater than $209,425 and married joint filers at incomes greater than $418,850.
Biden's safe-space CNN town hall attracts small audience, as poll numbers plummet
All the friendly CNN town halls aren’t going to change the perception that Team Biden-Harris thinks it can play it safe with the media.And the ratings were horrific, even by Biden's standards.
Biden said, "When I first was elected, there were only 2 million people who had Covid shots in the United States of America -- had the vaccine. Now we got 190 million, because I went out and bought everything I could do and buy in sight, and it worked."
Facts First: Biden's "2 million people" assertion was inaccurate no matter which way you parse it -- slightly off if you decide to be charitable, way off if not. Also, Biden gave too much credit to his own administration's vaccine purchases. The Trump administrationto who have r
Let's look first at the issue of credit. According to the, a nonpartisan watchdog for Congress, "As of December 31, 2020, the government had at least 800 million vaccine doses under contract expected to be delivered by July 31, 2021, pending any issues with clinical trials, (emergency use authorization) issuance, or other factors." That included 200 million doses each of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines that would prove by far the most popular with Americans. Also, the Trump-era contracts with Pfizer and Moderna gave the US the option to buy hundreds of millions more doses.
Deal on $2T Biden package, seems close but elusive
WASHINGTON (AP) — A deal within reach, President Joe Biden and Congress’ top Democrats edged close to sealing their giant domestic legislation, though the informal deadline appeared to slip as they worked to scale back the measure and determine how to pay for it. Negotiations were expected to continue into the weekend, all sides indicating just a few issues remained unsettled in the sweeping package of social services and climate change strategies.Biden met at the White House Friday with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer joined by video call from from New York, trying to shore up details.
Even withafter delivery, the contracts signed during the Trump presidency covered, at minimum, a large majority of the people who have been vaccinated so far.
Biden is free to boast that his administration'sin more people getting vaccinated than would have under a Trump administration whose pandemic response was widely criticized. Asked about Biden's claim, a White House official noted Friday that the Biden administration bought additional doses in January and again in the summer, and that the administration used the Defense Production Act to allow Pfizer to accelerate its vaccine manufacturing by getting easier access to critical supplies it had struggled to obtain.
All of that is fair enough. But Biden was still hyperbolic here in giving sole credit to his own purchases.
Let's now turn to Biden's claim that "only 2 million people" had Covid shots when he was first elected.
Obviously, only the tiny number of Americans who participated in clinical trials had received Covid-19 shots when Biden was elected in November, since public vaccinations. But even if we look at the situation when Biden first took office on January 20, his claim that "there were only 2 million people who had Covid shots" is at least a bit incorrect.
According to data from the, more than 18 million people in the US had received at least one shot at the time. But Biden did say "shots," plural, and he was comparing this figure to the 190 million current figure for fully vaccinated Americans, so he was likely referring, imprecisely, to the number of people who were fully vaccinated early in his presidency.
How the spending bill would change your life
Before the policy revolution comes the political drama. © Heather Fulbright/CNN US President Joe Biden with CNN anchor and host Anderson Cooper at CNN's Presidential Town Hall with Joe Biden in Baltimore, Maryland, on October 21, 2021. Three people are haggling behind closed doors in Washington, DC, over a social safety net bill -- and the end result could give American kids more years of free education ... or not; combat climate change, expand Medicare, lower drug prices and change the social fabric of the country... or not.
Even then, though, current CDC data says 3.4 million people were fully vaccinated on January 20. Biden might have been thinking of news reports from January 20, based on CDC data available at the time, that put the number at around 2 million, but the CDC numbers get updated over time as more information comes in and vaccinations are assigned to the date they actually occurred instead of the date they were reported.
Biden said that "there are over 800,000 sites right now that exist in America where you can go get a vaccine."
Facts First: This is false; Biden added an extra zero. The White House official said Biden meant 80,000 vaccination sites, the number
Fox and vaccinations
Talking about right-wing television station Fox News, Biden asked, "Do you realize they mandate vaccinations?"
Facts First: This needs context. Fox Corp., which owns Fox News, has a Covid-19 vaccination policy stricter than the one Biden plans to impose on many US companies -- and Fox News hosts, likeand others, have Biden's policy as a "mandate." However, it's important to note that Fox Corp. does not actually require that employees get vaccinated. Rather, in a September , Fox Corp. announced that it would require unvaccinated employees to get tested daily.
In other words, the Fox policy is most thoroughly described as a vaccination-or-test mandate. However, we can't be too hard on Biden for describing it as a vaccination mandate given that his ownvaccination-or-test mandate -- which he says will require companies with 100 or more employees to ensure their workers are either vaccinated or get tested at least weekly -- is also commonly described, on Fox and elsewhere, as a vaccination mandate.
Biden's jobs record
Biden said, "We've created more jobs in the first eight months of my administration than any president in American history."
Facts First: This is, but the circumstances of Biden's first eight months are so different from the circumstances that greeted every other newly elected modern president that is effectively impossible. Biden took office less than a year after the economy shed more than 22 million jobs in two months because of the pandemic. Even with the jobs rebound that began in May 2020, the US still has about 5 million fewer jobs than it did before the pandemic hit. In other words, Biden-era gains -- an average of more than 600,000 jobs added per month from February through September -- are still filling the giant pandemic hole.
Biden is free, of course, to argue that he is doing a good job filling that hole. But his president-versus-president boasts should be viewed with contextual caution.
This is a breaking story and will be updated.
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