Fact-Checking Biden’s First State Of The Union Address

Posted on Wed 03/02/2022 by


By Fred Lucas and Jarrett Stepman and Douglas Blair and Virginia Allen ~

In his first official State of the Union speech, President Joe Biden on Tuesday night addressed the Russian invasion of Ukraine, rising inflation at home, an ongoing border crisis, plummeting approval numbers and a fading pandemic.

Biden, who also spoke to a joint session of Congress last April, made numerous assertions in his State of the Union address, which lasted just over an hour.

Here’s a fact check of some of the president’s assertions, to  be expanded throughout the evening.

We Were Ready’ for Putin’s Invasion

President Joe Biden delivers his first State of the Union address Tuesday night before a joint session of Congress. (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Biden addressed the biggest issue in international politics—Russian President Vladimir Putin’s unfolding invasion of Ukraine, and the response from the United States and its allies.

“Throughout our history we’ve learned this lesson—when dictators do not pay a price for their aggression, they cause more chaos,” Biden said. “They keep moving. And the costs and threats to America and the world keep rising.”

He noted that the United States is a member of the 30-nation NATO military alliance.

“It matters. American diplomacy matters,” Biden said. “Putin’s war was premeditated and unprovoked. He rejected efforts at diplomacy. He thought the West and NATO wouldn’t respond. And, he thought he could divide us here at home. Putin was wrong. We were ready.”

How ready the Biden administration and allies were, however, is open for debate.

Russian troops have massed on the Ukrainian border since November.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged Biden to impose sanctions on Russia before an invasion could occur, as a preventive measure.

The Biden administration and European allies imposed sanctions on Russian financing a day after Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. However, several Republicans and Democrats agreed at the time that sanctions should be more severe.

Also, upon announcing the sanctions package, Biden said: “The sanctions we’ve imposed exceed SWIFT. The sanctions we imposed exceed anything that has ever been done.”

??Days later, however, European countries agreed to block Russia from SWIFT, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, the primary international banking system. This move potentially could cut Russia out of global finance.

Under the Trump administration’s policies, the United States became a net exporter of oil starting in 2018, a development that boosted the nation’s energy independence.

The Biden administration increased green energy projects at the expense of fossil fuels and nuclear energy and added regulatory burdens on the oil and natural gas industry. By executive order, Biden shut down the Keystone XL pipeline project to move oil from Canada to the U.S. and he effectively greenlighted financing of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline to carry natural gas to Germany.

Upon Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Biden and Germany  reversed course on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

During his remarks Tuesday night, Biden said, “Tonight, I can announce that the United States has worked with 30 other countries to release 60 million barrels of oil from reserves around the world.”

However, half that amount, 30 million barrels, will come from the U.S.

State of the Economy, Job Market

Biden didn’t shy away from touting his accomplishments on the economy and job market as the  nation emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In fact—our economy created over 6.5 Million new jobs just last year, more jobs created in one year  than ever before in the history of America,” Biden said. “Our economy grew at a rate of 5.7% last year, the strongest growth in nearly 40 years, the first step in bringing fundamental change to an economy that hasn’t worked for the working people of this nation for too long.” 

The U.S. economy indeed added about 6.5 million jobs in the year that Biden has been president, the largest increase for a president in his first year in office.

However, this increase came in the wake of a wide-scale shutdown of the American economy during the pandemic. The total number of jobs is far below what it was under Trump in 2020, when the U.S. lost 9.5 million jobs.

Worse, the U.S. currently faces a serious labor shortage, with a near-record 11 million job openings.

“Job openings—currently at 10.9 million—are 40% above the pre-pandemic record, and more than double the prior 10-year average,” wrote Rachel Greszler, a labor expert at The Heritage Foundation. “Consequently, employers are struggling, with 49% of businesses reporting job openings that they’re unable to fill.”

And although the labor shortage has led to overall wage increases—5.7% over the past yearreal wages have declined by about 2%, because of inflation and other factors.

“Employers have raised wages at about the fastest rate in 15 years, as they compete for talent amid record job openings and quit levels,” CNBC reported. “But consumer prices for goods and services are rising at their fastest annual pace in four decades, eroding those gains for many Americans.” During Biden’s presidency, inflation hit its highest level since 1982.

American Rescue Plan vs. 2017 Tax Cuts

Biden touted the American Rescue Plan, the COVID-19 relief bill he crafted with congressional Democrats.

“And unlike the $2 trillion tax cut passed in the previous administration that benefitted the top 1% of Americans, the American Rescue Plan helped working people—and left no one behind,” he said.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, supported by then-President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans, benefited all working Americans and not just the top 1%, many analysts say.

The Daily Signal reported that following passage of the bill, the labor market improved.

The tax cuts were largest for the lowest-income Americans and smallest for the top 1%, Heritage Foundation analysts noted. Heritage’s calculations also indicate that the top 1% paid more after passage of the bill than before.

The Daily Signal also reported that about 83,000 more Americans left their jobs for better options at the end of 2019, marking a surge in new job openings for the year after passage of the Trump tax cuts.

Heritage research shows that Biden’s American Rescue Plan hurt working people more than helped. One such pain point was a $15 federal minimum wage, which analysts warned would hurt the millions of small businesses struggling to stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Heritage research also indicates that little of the funding went to helping Americans recover from the impact of COVID-19. Only 5% of the $1.9 trillion went to related relief.

As an example, nearly $90 billion was earmarked for a bailout of union pension plans, already underfunded before the pandemic. This union bailout gets about twice as much funding as COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, analysts said.

Lower Your Costs and Lower the Deficit’

Biden pitched a plan that he said would cut inflation and create jobs.

“One way to fight inflation is to drive down wages and make Americans poorer. I have a better plan to fight inflation,” Biden said, adding:

Lower your costs, not your wages. Make more cars and semiconductors in America. More infrastructure and innovation in America. More goods moving faster and cheaper in America. More jobs where you can earn a good living in America. And instead of relying on foreign supply chains—let’s make it in America.

Biden went on to say: “My plan to fight inflation will lower your costs and lower the deficit.”

It’s not known what the actual cost estimate for Biden’s proposals will be. His past promises don’t have a strong record.

The president tried to sell the failed Build Back Better legislation last year as not adding to the national debt or the budget deficit.

However, the Congressional Budget Office determined that Democrats’ spending bill would increase the deficit by $3 trillion from 2022 to 2031. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Plan, which passed after with Republican support, would add $256 billion to the  deficit, according to the CBO.

Fiscal Responsibility

Biden cast his administration as fiscally responsible.

“By the end of this year, the deficit will be down to less than half what it was before I took office,” Biden said, adding that he is the “only president ever to cut the deficit by more than $1 trillion in a single year.”

The budget deficit totaled $2.77 trillion for 2021, according to The Associated Press. That’s still the second highest deficit on record after the $3.13 trillion the previous year, when Trump was still president.

“The deficits in both years reflect trillions of dollars in government spending to counteract the devastating effects of a global pandemic,” AP reported.

The budget deficit typically grows unusually high during a crisis, AP reported: “Before the deficit ballooned during two years of a global pandemic, the highest the biggest deficit had been a shortfall of $1.4 trillion in 2009 as the U.S. spent heavily to lift the country out of a severe recession following the 2008 financial crisis.”

Stil, the Congressional Budget Office projects that the budget deficit will fall to $1.15 trillion in the current budget year and dip below $1 trillion between 2023 and 2025. However, the CBO projects the deficit again will surpass $1 trillion each year from 2025 to 2031.

Rising Energy Costs

In his speech, Biden said he would “cut energy costs for families an average of $500 a year by combatting climate change.”

One of the key ways he said he would attack inflation is by fighting climate change.

The president said Americans will save an average of $500 annually by joining together to combat climate change:

Let’s provide investments and tax credits to weatherize your homes and businesses to be energy efficient and you get a tax credit; double America’s clean energy production in solar, wind, and so much more;  lower the price of electric vehicles, saving you another $80 a month because you’ll never have to pay at the gas pump again.

The most effective way to promote environmentally friendly innovation is through economic freedom, Anthony Kim, a Heritage Foundation research fellow and editor of Heritage’s Index of Economic Freedom,  writes.

“Countries with greater economic freedom tend to fare better on protecting the environment than countries with more government-directed economies,” Kim says.

In 2020, America already had spent “more than $100 billion” on wind and solar energy, despite the fact that “less than 10% of our energy comes from the wind and the sun,” Stephen Moore, a former visiting fellow at Heritage, wrote in an energy and economics report.

Wind and solar power are “expensive, unreliable and unscalable,” Moore said. 

When it comes to electric cars, Forbes reports that an “electric vehicle may or may not save money, depending upon a host of factors, which will vary depending upon your location, driving habits, and choice of vehicle.”

With rising gas prices, electric vehicles may be looking more appealing to many Americans in 2022. In February 2021, the average price of gasoline was $2.50 a gallon, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. By last month, it had risen a full dollar to $3.50 per gallon.

Electric vehicle owners spend an average of 60% less on gasoline, CNBC reports. Using a commercial recharging station for an electric car costs anywhere between $11.50 and $45 per charge.

‘Suppress’ and ‘Subvert’ the Vote

At one point in his address, Biden said: “The most fundamental right in America is the right to vote—and to have it counted. And it’s under assault. In state after state, new laws have been passed, not only to suppress the vote, but to subvert entire elections.”

The president called for the Senate to pass two federal election bills—the “Freedom to Vote Act” and the “John Lewis Voting Rights Act.”

He wasn’t specific about how new state laws would “suppress” voting or “subvert” the outcome.

A total of 19 states enacted new election reforms in 2021. The common themes of the laws were to expand voter ID requirements for mail-in ballots; curb the controversial practice of ballot harvesting that allows political operatives to collect and distribute large quantities of ballots and be present in a voter’s home when he or she votes; and require states to remove the names of dead voters and other ineligible voters from registration rolls.

Many states also banned private funding of election administration, in response to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s spending almost $400 million on funding election administration during 2020, primarily in Democrat-leaning jurisdictions.

As passed in 2021, Georgia’s new voting law— perhaps most criticized by Democrats—is demonstrably less restrictive than voting laws in Democrat-leaning states such as New York, Colorado, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Rhode Island.

Notably, Delaware, the state Biden represented in the Senate from 1973 until 2009, will have early, in-person voting for the first time in the 2022 elections. The new Georgia voting law expands early in-person voting.

Fred Lucas is chief national affairs correspondent for The Daily Signal at The Heritage Foundation . http://www.heritage.org/  and he is the co-host of “The Right Side of History” podcast. Fred Lucas is also the author of “Abuse of Power: Inside The Three-Year Campaign to Impeach Donald Trump.”

Jarrett Stepman is a contributor to The Daily Signal, and co-host of “The Right Side of History” podcast at  The Heritage Foundation . http://www.heritage.org/ He is also the author of the new book, “The War on History: The Conspiracy to Rewrite America’s Past.”

Douglas Blair is a contributor to the Daily Signal and a graduate of Heritage’s Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation . http://www.heritage.org/

Virginia Allen is a news producer for The Daily Signal. She is the co-host of The Daily Signal Podcast and Problematic Women at The Heritage Foundation . http://www.heritage.org/

Read more informative articles at The Daily Signal    http://dailysignal.com/