Citizen Action Monitor

“President Trump demonstrated a willingness to lie”, finds New York Times fact-checker of first debate

“Mr. Biden was more truthful, but he did exaggerate and mislead in some of his answers.” —

No 2664 Posted by fw, September 30, 2020 —

Do American voters even care about the “facts” any more?

Below is my repost of the New York Times’ comprehensive fact-checking report of the first 2020 Presidential debate. A team of NYT reporters fact-checked the “clashes” between the two combatants.

To read the original Times’ report on its website, click on the following linked title.

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Fact-Checking the First 2020 Presidential Debate, New York Times, September 29, 2020

  • President Trump demonstrated a willingness to lie, exaggerate and mislead during the first presidential debate, repeatedly interrupting former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. with attacks based on thin evidence. Mr. Biden appeared exasperated through much of the night but stood his ground, calling the president a liar and a racist and at one point saying, “Shut up, man.”
  • Trump refused to condemn white supremacists, instead blaming “the left wing” for violence in American cities even though — as Mr. Biden pointed out — his own F.B.I. director had said that “racially motivated violent extremism,” mostly from white supremacists, has made up a majority of domestic terrorism threats.
  • The president insisted that he paid “millions of dollars” in federal income taxes during 2016 and 2017. In fact, tax documents obtained by The New York Times show that in both years, Mr. Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes. Mr. Biden repeatedly prodded the president to release his tax returns for those years. In response, Mr. Trump said “you’ll see it as soon as it’s finished, you’ll see it” — a promise he has repeatedly made and broken since becoming a candidate.
  • Several times, Mr. Trump focused his attacks on Hunter Biden, the former vice president’s son, mixing partial truths with misleading statements and falsehoods in a way that appeared designed to rattle his opponent. His claim that “The mayor of Moscow’s wife gave your son $3.5 million” was misleading. He claimed that Hunter Biden “takes out billions” from business deals in China, offering no evidence despite denials from Mr. Biden and his lawyer that he was paid for his role on the board of the company at issue.
  • During clashes over the coronavirus pandemic, Mr. Trump claimed that “young children aren’t” much affected by Covid-19, a statement proven false by the many children who have been infected or died from the disease. He exaggerated Mr. Biden’s plan to confront the virus, claiming that “he’ll close down the whole country.” The former vice president has said he would listen to scientists.
  • Biden was more truthful, but he did exaggerate and mislead in some of his answers. He said that “we left him a booming economy and he caused the recession.” In fact, the economy was not booming in the final year of Mr. Biden’s time as vice president, and Mr. Trump did not “cause” the pandemic recession. The former vice president — who is known for gaffes — also got some facts wrong. He said that “we have a higher deficit with China now than we did before,” even though the trade deficit with China has fallen sharply.

By Linda Qiu Fact-check Reporter

“There aren’t 100 million people with pre-existing conditions.”

— Mr. Trump

False.

The president was challenging a statement by Mr. Biden. A 2017 report from the Department of Health and Human Services estimated that between 61 million and 133 million Americans under the age of 65 have pre-existing conditions.

By Coral Davenport

“I was able to bring down the cost of renewable energy to cheaper than or cheap as coal and gas and oil.”

— Mr. Biden

Mostly true.

The Obama administration’s 2009 economic stimulus bill included over $50 billion in spending to promote renewable energy, such as wind and solar installations, the largest single investment in renewable energy in the nation’s history. Although the spending was plagued with some failures, including the bankruptcy of Solyndra, a solar company that Mr. Biden personally celebrated when it received stimulus funding, overall the stimulus is still credited with boosting the growth and driving down the cost of wind and solar power.

It is accurate that in some particularly windy and sunny parts of the country, wind and solar electricity are now as cheap or cheaper than coal or gas, but fossil-fueled electricity is still cheaper in portions of the country that do not have wind and solar facilities.

By Nick Corasaniti Domestic Correspondent, Politics

“A solicited ballot, solicited, is OK. You solicit, you’re asking, they send it back, you send it back. I did that. If you have an unsolicited, they’re sending millions of ballots all over the country. There’s fraud.”

— Mr. Trump

This is misleading.

Only nine states are automatically sending ballots to all registered voters, which is what Mr. Trump refers to as “unsolicited.” Five of them — Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Utah and Hawaii — have traditionally allowed voting by mail, and four, along with the District of Columbia, adopted the process in response to the coronavirus pandemic: California, New Jersey, Vermont and Nevada.

Of those states, only Nevada is considered a battleground.

The issues Mr. Trump cited were from states that have absentee ballots, or what the president refers to as a “solicited ballot” and is his preferred method of voting. Only his later mention of issues in New Jersey referred to a state that was sending ballots automatically to all registered voters.

By Linda Qiu Fact-check Reporter

“He called the military stupid bastards. On tape.”

— Mr. Trump

This is misleading.

In a speech before U.S. troops in the United Arab Emirates in March 2016, Mr. Biden jokingly — not disparagingly — made the “stupid bastards” comment. Mr. Biden spoke about his visits to war zones and told the soldiers assembled that Americans “don’t fully understand the incredible sacrifices you make for our country,” before trying for an applause line that did not quite land.

“I have incredibly good judgment. One, I married Jill. And two, I appointed Johnson to the academy,” he said, referring to a female lieutenant from Delaware who had introduced him. Upon receiving a tepid reaction, he said, to some laughs, “Clap for that, you stupid bastards. Come on, man. Man, you are a dull bunch. Must be slow here, man. I don’t know.”

By Coral Davenport

“It was driving energy prices through the sky.”

— Mr. Trump

False.

Mr. Trump responded to the moderator’s question about why he rolled back the Clean Power Plan, a set of Obama-era Environmental Protection Agency regulations designed to curb planet-warming pollution from coal-fired power plants, by saying they were sending energy prices skyward. In fact, most of the Clean Power Plan was never implemented: it was temporarily halted by a 2016 Supreme Court order and never reinstated before the Trump administration effectively rolled it back last year.

By Michael Wines and Nick Corasaniti

“Take a look at what happened in Manhattan. Take a look at what happened in New Jersey. … They’re losing 30 and 40 percent. It’s a fraud.

— Mr. Trump

This is partly true, and partly exaggerated.

In New Jersey, four men, including a sitting city councilman, were charged this year with criminal conduct involving mail-in ballots in local elections in Paterson. The state attorney general accused them of attempting to collect hundreds of ballots and dropping them off in mailboxes; state law limits ballot collection to three per person. The episode quickly ricocheted around right-wing news sites with blaring headlines claiming it “signals national trouble,” though it was an isolated case in a local election.

The local board of elections did reject 3,200 ballots, or 19 percent of those cast in that local election, but not just for claims or suspicion of fraud. Ballots can be disqualified for mismatched signatures or for other user errors.

And Mr. Trump’s reference to irregularities in New York were exaggerated. Nearly 100,000 voters were sent defective ballots, apparently because of a printing error, elections officials acknowledged this week, but they said that new ballots would be mailed out.

The episode also seemed to raise the possibility that a voter’s ballot could be credited to someone else. In fact, security measures make that sort of mistake extremely unlikely. Every voter must sign the outside of the envelope they use to mail in their ballot, and election officials compare that signature with signatures in city files of the person whose name is printed on the envelope. Mismatches are set aside and the voter is given a chance to correct the mistake.

By Nick Corasaniti Domestic Correspondent, Politics

“Today, there was a big problem. In Philadelphia, they went in to watch. They’re called poll watchers. It’s a very safe, a very nice thing. They were thrown out, they weren’t allowed to watch.”

— Mr. Trump

This is exaggerated.

Supporters of Mr. Trump were told they were not allowed inside newly-opened satellite election offices on Tuesday because they were not legally allowed to be inside. Philadelphia opened seven satellite election offices on Tuesday for early voting where voters can request, fill out and submit a ballot; they did not open up polling locations.

Philadelphia election law does not allow for poll watchers to come into satellite election offices, only polling locations. The Trump campaign also has no poll watchers registered in Philadelphia at the moment, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

By Stephanie Saul Politics Reporter

“They’re sending millions of ballots all over the country. There’s fraud. They found them in creeks.”

— Mr. Trump

This is exaggerated.

This is an apparent reference to a discovery last week by law enforcement officials of three trays of mail lying in a ditch alongside a highway in Greenville, Wisc. The mail — which appeared to have been headed to the post office — included “several” absentee ballots, according to Lt. Ryan Carpenter of the Outagamie County Sheriff’s Department. The sheriff’s department turned the mail over to inspectors from the United States Postal Service, who are investigating.

Following the discovery, the White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, cited these ballots, as well as several ballots found in a garbage can in Pennsylvania that Mr. Trump has also emphasized as part of his false narrative on dangers of mail-in voting, as evidence that it “a system that’s subject to fraud.”

By Coral Davenport

“Every year, I get the call. California is burning. California is burning. If that was cleaned, if you had forest management, you wouldn’t be getting those calls.”

— Mr. Trump

False.

Mr. Trump’s response to Mr. Wallace’s question, “Do you believe that human pollution, gas and greenhouse gases, contribute to global warming?” was at odds with the scientific conclusions of the most recent United States National Climate Assessment reports, which are published by 13 federal scientific agencies and which stand to date as the most comprehensive and authoritative scientific assessment of the causes and impacts of climate change in the United States.

The 2017 assessment concludes decisively that humans are the dominant cause of the global temperature rise that has created the warmest period in the history of civilization. And it found that tangible impacts of climate change had already started to cause damage across the country — including increasing water scarcity in dry regions and more severe heat waves and wildfires.

While forest management is believed to play some role in wildfires, the 2018 National Climate Assessment drew direct links between climate change and worsening wildfires in the west. And it concluded that if greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels continue to increase at current rates, the frequency of severe fires in the west could triple.

By Linda Qiu Fact-check Reporter

“Excuse me, Portland, the sheriff just came out today and he said, ‘I support President Trump.’ ”

—Mr. Trump

False.

Sheriff Mike Reese of Multnomah County, Ore., where Portland is located, said he does not support Mr. Trump. “In tonight’s presidential debate the President said the ‘Portland Sheriff’ supports him. As the Multnomah County Sheriff I have never supported Donald Trump and will never support him,” Mr. Reeese tweeted.

Mr. Trump may have been referring to comments made by one police officer about the protests last night in Portland: “if people liked our Trump government a lot more, we probably wouldn’t have this issue in the first place.”

By Nick Corasaniti Domestic Correspondent, Politics

“His own homeland security director, and as well as the F.B.I. director, says there is no evidence at all that mail-in ballots are a source of being manipulated and cheating.”

— Mr. Biden

This is mostly true.

Though Mr. Trump’s homeland security secretary, Chad Wolf, has not made this assertion, other intelligence and election security officials have said that mail-in voting for the November presidential election is safe from foreign intervention. They have emphasized that standard security measures and the decentralized nature of the United States’ election system make it extremely difficult for a foreign power to penetrate and change the results.

By Zolan Kanno-Youngs Homeland Security Correspondent

“Almost everything I see is from the left wing.”

— Mr. Trump

This is misleading.

The statement came as the president was being pushed to forthrightly condemn white supremacists, and in an important moment in the debate, Mr. Trump did not condemn violent white racism. His own F.B.I. director said this month that “racially motivated violent extremism,” mostly from white supremacists, has made up a majority of domestic terrorism threats. Kenneth T. Cuccinelli, the acting deputy secretary at the Department of Homeland Security, said days later that “when white supremacists act as terrorists, more people per incident are killed.”

The Homeland Security Department also singled out the white extremist threat as a primary threat in a domestic terrorism assessment published last year. That framework also flagged anti-government groups, including antifa and armed militia groups. But former top officials in the Homeland Security Department have accused the Trump administration of downplaying the rise of domestic terrorism and even suppressing intelligence warning of the rise of white supremacy.

At the debate, Mr. Trump continued a record going back to the 2016 campaign of reluctance to distance himself from white racists who back him.

By Nick Corasaniti Domestic Correspondent, Politics

“They cheat. They found ballots in a wastepaper basket three days ago, and they all had the name military ballots, they were military, they all had the name Trump on them.”

— Mr. Trump

This is exaggerated.

Mr. Trump was referring to a case involving nine ballots in Luzerne County in northeastern Pennsylvania.

Earlier this month, federal law enforcement officials disclosed that they were investigating whether local elections officials improperly discarded the ballots, at least seven of which were cast for Mr. Trump.

The investigation is ongoing and the announcement unnerved election experts, who saw politics at play, in part because of the disclosure about whom the ballots were cast for. County election officials have attributed the discarded ballots to a clerical error and have said it was not a sign of widespread fraud or cheating.

By Coral Davenport

“I want crystal clean water, and air. I want beautiful clean air. We have the lowest carbon. Look at our numbers now. We are doing phenomenal.”

— Mr. Trump

This is misleading.

Mr. Trump’s administration has rolled back or weakened over 100 environmental laws and rules, among them an Obama-era clean-water regulation that had been designed to reduce pollution in the nation’s rivers, lakes, wetlands and other public bodies of water. The administration has also significantly rolled back or weakened multiple Clean Air Act regulations designed to reduce pollution of both planet-warming greenhouse gases as well as soot and toxins from auto tailpipes, power plant smokestacks and oil and gas drilling sites. It is accurate that the United States’ carbon dioxide emissions have fallen slightly in recent years, but they are expected to increase in the coming years in part as a result of the Trump administration’s regulatory rollbacks.

By Michael Crowley White House Correspondent

“The fact is that I’ve gone head-to-head with Putin and made it clear to him, we’re not going to take any of his stuff. He’s Putin’s puppy. He still refuses to even say anything to Putin about the bounty on the heads of American soldiers.”

— Mr. Biden

True.

In July, Mr. Biden publicly announced that he was “putting the Kremlin and other foreign governments on notice” that as president he would “impose substantial and lasting costs on those who interfere with American elections.” Mr. Trump has offered virtually no words of concern or criticism about election meddling directed by Russian President Vladimir V Putin.

Nor has Mr. Trump condemned or warned Mr. Putin over a C.I.A. assessment that Russia’s military intelligence service covertly offered bounties for the killing of Americans service members in Afghanistan. Mr. Trump said that he did not bring up the report during a phone call with the Russian leader after it was released by the C.I.A. Mr. Trump has called reports of the bounties a “hoax,” but Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took them seriously enough to warn his Russian counterpart.

By Alan Rappeport Economics Reporter

“I’m OK with electric cars too. I’m all for electric cars. I have given big incentives for electric cars.”

— Mr. Trump

This is false.

Mr. Trump offered his backing for electric cars as evidence that he cares about reducing carbon emissions. But the president has actually tried to do away with tax incentives for consumers who buy them.

In 2019, Mr. Trump’s budget called for eliminating a $7,500 tax credit for electric vehicles, which his administration said would save $2.5 billion over a decade.

In 2018, Mr. Trump also threatened to punish General Motors over its plan to cut jobs by dangling the possibility that he could end the federal tax credits that have helped underwrite that automaker’s electric-vehicle fleet.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who used to drive a Tesla, has also said that he believed the subsidy was unnecessary and that the segment of the industry should stand on its own.

By Linda Qiu Fact-check Reporter

“They want to take out the cows.”

— Mr. Trump

False.

Mr. Trump was misleadingly referring to the Green New Deal, a proposal to combat climate change released by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Senator Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts. It is not Mr. Biden’s plan. Though the Green New Deal would significantly alter the transportation and agriculture sectors, it does not literally call for the elimination of cars, airplanes or cows.

Outside the text of the legislation, however, a blog post on Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s website describing the plan did note, “The Green New Deal sets a goal to get to net-zero, rather than zero emissions, at the end of this 10-year plan because we aren’t sure that we will be able to fully get rid of, for example, emissions from cows or air travel before then.” Her staff retracted the post and said that it was incomplete and published by accident.

By Zolan Kanno-Youngs Homeland Security Correspondent

“Somebody has to do something about antifa and the left. This is not a right-wing problem. This is left wing.”

— Mr. Trump

This is misleading.

Some members of antifa, a loose movement of “anti-fascists,” have committed acts of violence. Michael Forest Reinoehl, a self-proclaimed supporter of the movement, was also suspected of fatally shooting a right-wing activist who was part of a pro-Trump caravan in Portland, Ore. Mr. Reinoehl was shot and killed by law enforcement agents before he could be taken into custody.

But Mr. Trump’s own top national security officials have said the movement has not represented the most lethal threat to the United States in recent years. Just this month, the F.B.I. director, Christopher Wray, said “racially motivated violent extremism,” mostly from white supremacists, make up a majority of domestic terrorism threats. Mr. Wray and other top law enforcement officials have expressed alarm about antifa, but also armed militia groups that tend to be aligned with right-wing ideology.

The Trump administration often cites the killing of a Federal Protective Service officer in Oakland, Calif., as an example of the violence within demonstrations protesting police violence. But that fatal shooting was not committed by a protester but rather a member of the anti-government group the Boogaloo, an extremist ideology that seeks to bring about a second civil war. Members of the movement have sought to exploit the demonstrations to commit violence.

By Jim Tankersley Economics Reporter

“We left him a booming economy. And he caused the recession.”

— Mr. Biden

This is false.

The economy was not “booming” in the final year of Mr. Biden’s time as vice president, and Mr. Trump did not “cause” the pandemic recession. When President Barack Obama and Mr. Biden left office, the economy was healthy, though growth had dipped below 2 percent in 2016 in part because of a contraction in business investment stemming in part from a plunge in oil prices rippling through America’s energy industry. Unemployment had fallen steadily.

Under Mr. Trump, economic growth accelerated from 2016, spurred by the fiscal stimulus of tax cuts and increased government spending and continued monetary stimulus from the Federal Reserve. The first three years of Mr. Trump’s presidency were similar, in terms of economic and job growth, to the first three years of Mr. Obama’s second term.

The coronavirus pandemic plunged the United States into recession this spring. Mr. Biden and others have criticized Mr. Trump’s response to it, blaming him for deaths from the virus and a contraction in economic activity. But there is no evidence Mr. Trump’s actions caused the recession: every major wealthy country in the world has experienced a sharp economic contraction along with its outbreak of the virus.

By Sheryl Gay Stolberg Health Reporter

“You know one of the reasons I’ll have so many judges? Because President Obama and him left me 128 judges to fill. They left 128 openings.”

— Mr. Trump

This is misleading.

While it is true that Mr. Trump had vacancies to fill when he assumed the White House, the reason is not simply that former President Barack Obama “left” the positions vacant. The Republican-led Senate refused to confirm many of Mr. Obama’s judicial nominees, including Judge Merrick Garland, whom Mr. Obama named to fill the vacancy left by the death in February 2016 of Justice Antonin Scalia of the Supreme Court.

By Danny Hakim Investigative Reporter, Politics

“His own former spokesperson said, you know, ‘Riots and chaos and violence help his cause.’ That’s what this is all about.”

— Mr. Biden

This is true.

Mr. Trump’s former counselor, Kellyanne Conway, told Fox News in August that Mr. Trump would benefit politically from unrest in American cities.

“The more chaos and anarchy and vandalism and violence reigns, the better it is for the very clear choice on who’s best on public safety and law and order,” she said.

By Linda Qiu Fact-check Reporter

“Seattle, they heard we were coming in the following day and they put up their hands and we got back Seattle, Minneapolis. We got it back, Joe, because we believe in law and order.”

— Mr. Trump

False.

Mr. Trump is taking undue credit for the relative calm that has settled in Minneapolis, a city roiled by protests in May. The governor, not the president, sent the National Guard there. Gov. Tim Walz of Minnesota activated the state’s National Guard on May 28, three days after George Floyd’s death. The guard tweeted at about 4 p.m. local time that it was ready to respond to the governor’s request.

Mr. Trump tweeted around midnight telling Mayor Jacob Frey of Minneapolis to “get his act together” or “I will send in the National Guard & get the job done right” — an hour after the state National Guard said it had deployed 500 members to the city.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan told the Washington Post, that a conversation that Mr. Trump described “just never happened.”

By Kenneth P. Vogel Investigative Reporter

“The mayor of Moscow’s wife gave your son $3.5 million.”

— Mr. Trump

This is misleading.

This claim is based on an investigative report released last week by Senate Republicans that accused members of Mr. Biden’s family of cashing in on his vice presidency. The report claims that Hunter Biden “had a financial relationship” with Elena Baturina, a wealthy Russian businesswoman and the widow of a former mayor of Moscow. The report based this claim on an unidentified “confidential document” showing that Ms. Baturina transferred $3.5 million in 2014 for “a Consultancy Agreement” to a bank account associated with a company called Rosemont Seneca Thornton, which was associated with Hunter Biden’s business partners.

Hunter Biden’s lawyer has said that he was not a co-founder of Rosemont Seneca Thornton, had no interest in it and did not have a financial relationship with Ms. Baturina. He did not respond to a question about whether Mr. Biden was paid by Rosemont Seneca Thornton or did consulting work for Ms. Baturina.

By Alan Rappeport Economics Reporter

“I’ll have 25,000, 35,000, people show up at airports. We use airports.”

— Mr. Trump

False.

Airport hangars cannot accommodate crowds of that size. While Mr. Trump’s rallies in the past have attracted tens of thousands of attendees, in recent weeks the rallies that he has been holding at airport hangers have been far smaller. According to local news reports this month, a rally at an airport in Virginia drew an estimated 3,000 people, an airport rally in Michigan drew an estimated 10,000 people and a rally in Pennsylvania drew an estimated 7,000 people. Mr. Trump has a tendency to exaggerate his crowd sizes, starting with his inauguration in 2017.

By Jeanna Smialek Economics Reporter

“They had the slowest recovery since — economic recovery — since 1929.”

— Mr. Trump

This is misleading.

Mr. Trump is right that the growth rate of economic output as measured by gross domestic product was slower after the recession that spanned 2007 to 2009 than it had been following other contractions.

But that fact is misleading in isolation. Growth had been slowing for decades as the population aged and other long-run trends caused the economy’s potential run rate to decline. Nor did growth pick up dramatically once Mr. Trump took office, aside from a short-lived jump on the back of his tax cuts.

It is worth noting that the 2007 to 2009 recession was the worst since the Great Depression, and its depth and length led to labor market scarring, which trapped many would-be workers on the sidelines of the job market.

By Katherine J. Wu Science Reporter

“One in 1,000 African Americans has been killed because of the coronavirus.”

— Mr. Biden

True

As of mid-September, 1 in 1,020 Black Americans has died of Covid-19 — the highest rate of death when broken down by race and ethnicity. Since the early days of the pandemic, the coronavirus has disproportionately affected Black, Latino, Native, and Indigenous people, who are contracting the virus at higher rates and are more likely to be hospitalized for severe Covid-19.

1 in 1,220 Indigenous Americans, 1 in 1,400 Pacific Islander Americans, and 1 in 1,540 Latino Americans have died from the virus, compared to 1 in 2,150 white Americans and 1 in 2,470 Asian-Americans. Such statistics are supported by data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which note that people who identify as Black or African-American are more than twice as likely to die from the coronavirus, compared to their white neighbors.

By Kenneth P. Vogel Investigative Reporter

“China ate your lunch, Joe. And no wonder, your son goes in and he takes out, he takes out billions of dollars. He takes out billions of dollars to manage. He makes millions of dollars.”

— Mr. Trump

This lacks evidence.

Mr. Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, is involved in a Chinese government-linked private equity fund, BHR Equity Investment Fund Management Co., that won a business license from the Chinese government. Hunter Biden was on the board of the fund when it was formed in late 2013, and he later invested roughly $420,000, giving him a 10 percent stake, after his father had left the vice presidency.

But Hunter Biden’s lawyer has said that he has never been paid for his role on the board, and has not profited financially since he began as a part owner. Hunter Biden left the board in April, according to a letter produced by his lawyer. But as of June, he still owned his stake in the fund, which he was trying to sell. His lawyer did not respond to a request for comment about the status of that effort.

By Alan Blinder Sports Reporter

“I brought back Big Ten football, it was me and I’m very happy to do it. The people of Ohio are very proud of me.”

— Mr. Trump

This lacks evidence.

President Trump publicly pressed the Big Ten to reverse its decision not to play football this autumn, and he even spoke to the league’s commissioner, Kevin Warren. But Big Ten officials, who voted this month to try to play beginning in October, insisted that they accepted no federal aid and that Mr. Trump was not a pivotal figure in the league’s deliberations.

By Jeanna Smialek Economics Reporter

“He’s going to be the first president of the United States to leave office having fewer jobs in his economy than when he became president.”

— Mr. Biden

This is misleading.

Mr. Biden may be relying on the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s nonfarm payroll survey, which stretches back to the late 1930s, to arrive at this conclusion. But Herbert Hoover, who was president during the Great Depression, left office in 1933 at a time when the economy had fewer jobs than when he was elected in 1929, based on subsequent estimates. Mr. Biden’s statement also requires the unproven assumptions that Mr. Trump will lose the election, and that jobs will not bounce back to pre-crisis levels before November.

By Michael D. Shear White House Correspondent

“We’ve had no negative effect and we’ve had 35-40,000 people.”

— Mr. Trump

False.

Mr. Trump claimed his rallies have had “no negative effect” because of the coronavirus and that as many as 35,000 or 40,000 people have attended the events. Both are untrue, as is a separate claim that his rallies have all been held outdoors.

At least eight campaign staff members who helped plan President Trump’s indoor rally in June in Tulsa, Okla., including members of the Secret Service, tested positive for the coronavirus, either before the rally or after attending.

Mr. Trump’s rallies have generally attracted just several thousand people, not the tens of thousands he claimed. While the president’s campaign had claimed that more than 1 million people had sought tickets for the Oklahoma rally, the 19,000-seat arena was at least one-third empty during the rally. A second, outdoor venue for an overflow crowd at the same event was so sparsely attended that he and Vice President Mike Pence both canceled appearances there.

By Jim Tankersley Economics Reporter

“They said it would take a miracle to bring back manufacturing. I brought back 700,000 jobs. They brought back nothing.”

— Mr. Trump

This is false.

Mr. Trump did not “bring back” 700,000 manufacturing jobs, even before the coronavirus recession. In his first three years as president, manufacturing employment rose by just under 500,000 jobs. Through August, because of jobs lost to the pandemic recession, the sector it is down by more than 200,000 jobs from when Mr. Trump took office.

By Susanne Craig Investigative Reporter

“He says he’s smart because he can take advantage of the tax code, and he does take advantage of the tax code.”

— Mr. Biden

This is misleading.

Mr. Biden missed the point. Mr. Trump’s taxes reveal he does take advantage of deductions and tax credits available to him. But the main reason he does not pay income tax is because his businesses have lost far money than they make.

Because of the way the tax code works, businesses can use losses in one year to avoid paying income tax in future years. Mr. Trump has no shortage of losses. Take Trump National Doral, his golf course near Miami. Mr. Trump bought the resort for $150 million in 2012. Through 2018, his losses have totaled $162.3 million.

Overall, since 2000, Mr. Trump has reported losses of $315.6 million at his golf courses. And his namesake hotel in Washington, D.C., showed losses of $55.5 million through 2018.

By Apoorva Mandavilli Health & Science Reporter

“Young children aren’t. Even younger people aren’t.”

— Mr. Trump

False.

The president was referring to the relative risks to young people from the coronavirus. The vast majority of children do not become visibly ill when infected with the coronavirus. But while a strong immune system may protect them from becoming sick, they are far from immune. Several studies have shown that children can get infected and harbor high levels of the coronavirus. And a small proportion of children seem to develop a condition called multisystem inflammatory syndrome, a severe and sometimes deadly overreaction of the immune system.

The debate on schools has mostly centered on whether children who are infected can transmit to others. The bulk of the evidence here suggests that children under 10 are about half as likely to spread the virus to others, but older children, particularly 15 and above, may transmit the coronavirus as efficiently as adults do. Teenagers are also about twice as likely as younger children to be infected with the coronavirus, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suggesting that high schools and colleges may be important contributors to community spread.

By Katherine J. Wu Science Reporter

“If we just wore masks between now — and social distanced between now and January, we would probably save up to 100,000 lives.”

— Mr. Biden

True.

Scientists projecting the death toll of the virus in the United States have noted that, should the country maintain its current levels of physical distancing mandates and masking, more than 370,000 Americans could be dead by January 1, 2021 — about 165,000 more than the current death toll.

Should masking and distancing become very widespread, as Mr. Biden references, the total death count would be around 275,000, potentially saving nearly 100,000 lives. Models have also projected potential deaths if mandates were to ease, allowing further mingling and exposure. Eased mandates could catapult the country onto a path toward reaching 425,000 deaths by January of next year.

By Jim Tankersley Economics Reporter

“I paid millions of dollars. Millions of dollars.”

— Mr. Trump

False.

While Mr. Trump appears to have paid a variety of taxes in recent years, including payroll taxes for his employees, he has paid very little in federal income taxes, according to tax documents obtained by The New York Times.

They show that in 2017, for example, Mr. Trump chose to pay $750 in federal income taxes. That was the case even though he reported earning some $15 million for the year, through a variety of sources. But on his federal tax return, Mr. Trump offset those earnings by reporting losses from his businesses and claiming a range of tax credits, including one that allowed him to reduce his liability under the alternative minimum tax from $7.4 million to $750. It is unclear how his accountants chose that number: Mr. Trump appeared to have sufficient credits to reduce his liability to zero. That same year, Mr. Biden paid about $3.7 million in federal income tax, his returns show.

By Thomas Kaplan Politics Reporter

“He’ll close down the whole country.”

— Mr. Trump

This is exaggerated.

Mr. Biden, who has stressed the importance of following scientific expertise in responding to the pandemic, is not promising to shut down the whole country.

In an interview with ABC News in August, Mr. Biden was pressed on what he would do “if the scientists say shut it down” and did respond, “I would shut it down. I would listen to the scientists.”

But this month, Mr. Biden said, “There is going to be no need, in my view, to be able to shut down the whole economy.”

By Jeanna Smialek Economics Reporter

“I had to close the greatest economy in the history of the country.”

— Mr. Trump

This lacks evidence.

Mr. Trump often claims that his administration had fostered the best economy in history before the onset of the pandemic. But data show that the expansion that he presided over — which he inherited — failed to measure up to prior economic eras across several dimensions.

The expansion from 2009 through early 2020 was the longest on record. It saw years of strong labor market gains that pushed the unemployment rate steadily lower, until it hit 3.5 percent and held around that half-century low for much of 2019 and early 2020. The robust labor market led to stronger wage gains for low earners and helped to fuel consumer spending.

But many people remained on the job market’s sidelines: the employment rate for men in their prime, for instance, never rebounded to pre-crisis levels.

Output growth, which did receive a temporary boost from Mr. Trump’s tax cuts, has otherwise generally oscillated around 2 percent. That is roughly the level economists see as sustainable given modern productivity and demographic trends, and lower than the run rate that prevailed in prior decades.

And inequality remained very high. The top 1 percent hold almost 40 percent of the nation’s wealth, based on a Federal Reserve survey, while the bottom 50 percent of wealth-holders had only about 1 percent of the overall pie. Those 2019 figures are little changed from 2016, Fed economists said.

By Noah Weiland Health Reporter

“Now we’re weeks away from a vaccine.”

— Mr. Trump

This lacks evidence.

Top health officials have said that a vaccine may not be widely available until next summer. Dr. Moncef Slaoui, the top scientist on the administration’s vaccine development program, recently said that Americans would most likely not be widely vaccinated until the middle of 2021, a timeline echoed by Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Slaoui also said that the chance of having a vaccine by October or November was “extremely unlikely.”

Of the companies with vaccines in late-stage clinical trials in the United States, just one — Pfizer — has said that it could have initial results by the end of October, a time frame the company has clarified is a best-case scenario.

At the same time, Dr. Anthony Fauci and other top health officials in the administration have said that there could be evidence of a vaccine’s effectiveness by November or December. If every aspect of the vaccines’ development and distribution goes exactly as planned, certain people in high-risk groups, including frontline health workers, could get vaccinated this year.

By Sheryl Gay Stolberg Health Reporter

“H1N1. You were a disaster.”

— Mr. Trump

False.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified the first case of the H1N1 virus on April 14, 2009. The Obama administration declared swine flu a public health emergency on April 26. The Food and Drug Administration approved a rapid test for the virus two days later.

At the time, the C.D.C. had reported 64 cases and zero deaths. The C.D.C. began shipping test kits to public health laboratories on May 1 (at 141 cases and one death) and a second test was approved in July. From May to September 2009, the agency shipped more than 1,000 kits, each one able to test 1,000 specimens.

A vaccine became available in early October but, amid reports of shortages, President Obama declared the outbreak a national emergency later that month. The estimated death toll in the United States from the H1N1 epidemic was 12,469 from April 2009 to April 2010.

By Linda Qiu Fact-check Reporter

“Did you use the word ‘smart’? So you said you went to Delaware State but you forgot the name of your college.”

— Mr. Trump

False.

Mr. Biden, at a campaign event in South Carolina last year, claimed that he “got started out” out of Delaware State University, a historically Black university. Many in conservative media interpreted the comment as Mr. Biden claiming to have attended the university, when he attended the University of Delaware. But he was likely referring to the political support he received from the college when he first campaigned for Senate, as he has done in several other appearances.

In a September visit to North Carolina, Mr. Biden called Delaware State University “the best H.B.C.U. in America.” He noted that he began his political career after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr “and a lot of my support came out of that H.B.C.U.”

“I am a political product of Delaware State University, a great H.B.C.U.,” he said in May. “Delaware State University is the best. They’re the ones that brought me to the dance, they’re where I got started,” he said in March.

By Katherine J. Wu Science Reporter

We in fact have 5 percent — 4 percent — of the world’s population, 20 percent of the deaths.

— Mr. Biden

This is true.

The global population is estimated to be around 7.8 billion; roughly 330 million people live in the United States, accounting for about 4 percent of it. More than 205,000 people have died in the United States — a fifth of the million who have died worldwide. About 40,000 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus are identified each day in the country, and roughly 300,000 each day worldwide.

By Noah Weiland Health Reporter

“I closed it, and you said, ‘He’s xenophobic.’ You don’t believe we should have closed the country.”

— Mr. Trump

This is misleading.

Mr. Biden wrote on Twitter in March that “banning all travel from Europe — or any other part of the world — will not stop” the coronavirus, which critics seized on to argue that he was against imposing travel restrictions. A top Biden campaign official said in early April that Mr. Biden did support the Trump administration’s restrictions on travel from China.

Mr. Biden did accuse Mr. Trump of xenophobia. On the day the travel restrictions were announced by the administration, Mr. Biden said that “this is no time for Donald Trump’s record” of “hysterical xenophobia and fear-mongering to lead the way instead of science.” But he did not specifically tie the accusation to the day’s announcement.

By Margot Sanger-Katz Health Policy Reporter

“I’m cutting drug prices, I’m going with favored nations which no president has the courage to do, because you’re going against big pharma. Drug prices will be coming down 80 percent. You could have done it in your 47 year period in government. Nobody’s done it.”

— Mr. Trump

This is exaggerated.

Mr. Trump has signed four executive orders on drug prices, which direct the Department of Health and Human Services to pursue various policies to lower drug prices. But none of them have gone into effect yet. The policy Trump described in the most detail, his “most favored nations” policy, will be difficult to implement without new legislation, and will be vulnerable to court challenges. And that policy would only influence the prices paid by the Medicare program for drugs, not the prices paid by Americans who buy their own health insurance or get it from their jobs.

By Sheryl Gay Stolberg Health Reporter

“Your party wants to go socialist.”

— Mr. Trump

This is exaggerated.

Mr. Trump was referring to Mr. Biden’s health care platform. The left wing of the Democratic Party has embraced Medicare for All, the universal government run insurance program advocated by Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont, and a self-described democratic socialist.

But Mr. Biden has not embraced Medicare for all. He supports expanding the Affordable Care Act, which relies on the current system of private insurers. Mr. Biden would, however, favor adding a “public option” to the Affordable Care Act — a government run-program that would cover compete with private insurers.

By Adam Liptak Supreme Court Correspondent

“She thinks that the Affordable Care Act is not constitutional.”

— Mr. Biden

This is exaggerated.

Judge Amy Coney Barrett, Mr. Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, has expressed reservations about the reasoning in Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.’s opinion in 2012 upholding a central provision of the Affordable Care Act. But she has not expressed a view about the constitutionality of the entire law or about a challenge to it pending in the Supreme Court.

By Margot Sanger-Katz Health Policy Reporter

“He’s in the Supreme Court right now trying to get rid of the Affordable Care Act which will strip 20 million people from having insurance, health insurance.”

— Mr. Biden

Mostly true.

Mr. Trump’s Justice Department is arguing in Supreme Court briefs that the entirety of the Affordable Care Act should be overturned. The effects of that reversal would be far-reaching. Mr. Biden’s estimate that 20 million more Americans would lose health insurance is consistent with calculations from the Urban Institute, a Washington research group with a widely respected model that the measures the likely effects of changes in health policy. But that estimate is a bit out of date, since fewer Americans have coverage now than did before the coronavirus pandemic.

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This entry was posted on September 30, 2020 by in evidence based counterpower, political action and tagged , , , .
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