A bottomless Pinocchio for Biden – and other recent blunders

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President Biden is a self-proclaimed “blunder machine.” This is no excuse, of course, for a president to make false or misleading statements. Readers asked for fact checks on a variety of recent Biden statements, but none of them seemed significant enough for a standalone fact check. Here, then, is a roundup of some of the president’s recent factual mistakes, made as he stormed the country to boost Democrats and increase contributions ahead of the midterm elections. We don’t usually award Pinocchios for roundups like this – but for reasons that will become clear, we have to make an exception for the former.

“My friends, I have spent a lot of time – more time with Xi Jinping than with any other head of state. … I have traveled 17,000 miles with him.

remarks at a political event in San DiegoNovember 3

This is an old claim that we debunked shortly after Biden took office, giving him Three Pinocchios. There is no evidence that Biden has traveled so much with Xi, the president of China – and even if we added up the miles Biden traveled to see Xi, it still didn’t add up to 17,000 miles. The White House also could not provide an explanation for the number.

But it should be noted that, despite our fact-checking and an admission from the White House that Biden’s line of “traveling with” Xi was not accurate, with this comment Biden had made this claim 20 times over the course of of his presidency. (He then said it a 21st time a few hours later, in another speech, with a slight twist: “…when I rode 17, 18,000 miles with him.”) Biden loves that fake stat so much that he even mentioned it during high-level speeches such as a joint session of Congress and a keynote address.

Why is this important? Readers may recall that during Donald Trump’s presidency, we created a new category, the Bottomless Pinocchio, to account for false or misleading statements repeated so often that they became a form of propaganda. A statement would be added to the list if it scored three or four Pinocchios and was repeated at least 20 times. At the end of the Trump presidency, 56 claims made by Trump were qualified.

Now Biden has won his own Bottomless Pinocchio.

President Biden’s claim that he “walked 17,000 miles with” Chinese President Xi Jinping cannot be verified. (Video: Adriana Usero/The Washington Post)

“The most common price of gasoline in the United States today is $3.39, up from over $5 when I took office.”

remarks at a community college in Syracuse, NYOctober 27

Many readers complained about his comment, given that gas prices averaged around $2.48 the week Biden took office, according to the Energy Information Administration. Soaring gas prices during Biden’s presidency have weighed on his approval ratings. (The White House actually preferred to refer to the “most current price,” which comes from the GasBuddy app and tends to be lower than the average price because California, with its very high gas prices, drives the average up. )

Biden was basically right on ‘most common price’ at the time he made this comment but appears to have misspoken about the award when he took office. Usually his speeches have referenced the awards over the summer, not when he took office, because that tells a better story. For example, a few days later, on October 31, Biden said, “In June, the average price – not the most common price, but the average price – nationally – was over $5 a gallon. Today, the average price of a gallon of gasoline is $3.76. »

“Under my watch, for the first time in 10 years, senior citizens are getting an increase in their Social Security checks.”

remarks at a community center in Hallandale Beach, Florida.November, 1st

A version of that line ended up in a tweet from the White House the same day — ‘Seniors get biggest boost to their Social Security checks in 10 years thanks to President Biden’s leadership’ — that officials deleted after Twitter called it lacking in context.

The problem? The reason Social Security payments are increasing is that Social Security benefits, under a law passed in 1972, are adjusted each year to keep pace with inflation.

Next year, benefits will increase by 8.7%, but that’s because inflation has climbed to that level. Biden and the Federal Reserve have tried to fight inflation, but with little success so far.

“You probably know that I just signed a law challenged by my Republican colleagues. … What we have provided is that if you went to school, if you qualified for a Pell grant … you are eligible for $20,000 in debt forgiveness. Second, if you don’t have one of these loans, you only get a $10,000 write-off. This happened. I got it passed by a vote or two.

remarks during a forum with NowThisOctober 23

In outlining his plan to forgive student loans, Biden oddly said he had just “signed legislation” that passed Congress by “a vote or two.”

But he never presented such a proposal to Congress.

Instead, Biden relied on new authority granted by the Justice Department — a new interpretation of a law passed nearly two decades ago, the Student Aid Opportunities Act of 2003. in higher education, often dubbed the hero law. In a legal opinion, the Justice Department concluded that the law authorizes the Secretary of Education to release borrowers from the obligation to repay federal student loans. Thus, the president could announce a plan to cancel student loans.

Previously, the Trump and Biden administrations used the law to suspend student loan payments as the coronavirus pandemic raged. But the Trump administration has concluded it cannot use the law to cancel or write off student loans. Biden’s Justice Department arrived at the opposite interpretation.

Ultimately, the matter will be settled in court. An appeals court froze Biden’s program in response to a complaint filed by Republican state attorneys general.

The White House said Biden misspoke and meant to refer to the Cut Inflation Act, a bill primarily focused on climate change and increasing tax revenue. This law passed on a party-line vote, with a deciding vote in the Senate cast by Vice President Harris.

But the Inflation Reduction Act has nothing to do with student loans – and analysts have said any deficit reduction achieved by the law will be quickly outweighed by the cost of the student loan program, if it is survived legal challenges.

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