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Biden's Checking

Fact checking Biden’s claims on the trade deficit, auto bailout and his yearly income – CNN

Washington, DC (CNN)In a rare campaign trip during the pandemic, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden made several stops in Michigan Wednesday, giving a speech, holding a roundtable with several steelworkers, and giving an interview to CNN’s Jake Tapper.

We took a look at several claims Biden made during these stops and the facts behind them.

Trade deficit

During a campaign speech in Michigan, focused on manufacturing and his support for unions, Biden claimed that the US trade deficit has hit a record high under the current administration.
“Under President Trump, US trade deficit has grown,” Biden said. “It’s hit an all-time high. Let me say that again. US trade deficit is at an all-time high, under Trump in the last three years.”
Facts First: Biden is wrong. While the trade deficit has grown under Trump, measuring for both goods and services, the overall trade deficit has not hit an all-time high under Trump. Measured by just goods however, Biden is correct. However, he did not specify that he was talking only about goods.
The trade deficit refers to the balance left over after subtracting the amount of goods and services imported to a country from the number exported. While some see trade deficits as a negative thing, many economists dispute that characterization.
The total trade deficit hit a record $763.5 billion in 2006 under George W. Bush. By the end of Barack Obama’s term it had fluctuated and fallen to $481.2 billion in 2016, according to the Census Bureau.
The deficit rose under Trump, hitting $576.9 billion in 2019, despite Trump’s promises during the 2016 campaign that he’d reduce it.
If you looked only at the trade deficit of goods and ignore the surplus of services — which includes things like communication, technical and financial services — the US had a record breaking trade deficit of $880.3 billion in 2018. That year also saw a record trade surplus in services of $300.4 billion.
The US has not seen a trade surplus of goods and services since 1970.

Auto bailout

On Twitter Wednesday, Biden wrote “President Obama and I rescued the auto industry.”
Facts First: Biden is leaving out crucial context in not mentioning the efforts of President George W. Bush.
With just weeks left in his presidency and in the midst of the great recession and an automotive crisis in the US, Bush announced on December 19, 2008 a $17.4 billion auto bailout — $13.4 billion of which would be distributed almost immediately.
After an auto bailout bill was rejected by the Senate, Bush took this money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Obama continued where Bush left off, and by June of 2009, had given — combined with the amount under Bush — $80 billion in bankruptcy loans from TARP, mostly to Chrysler and General Motors.

Biden’s paycheck

In discussing his tax plan — which would raise taxes for those making over $400,000 a year — Biden claimed he has never made that much money.
“We’re not going to punish anybody,” Biden said in a conversation with several Michigan steelworkers Wednesday. “No one making under $400,000, which is more money than I’ve ever made, is going to have to pay more taxes.”
Facts First: The Biden’s have made more than $400,000, though only in the last few years.
In 2017, after leaving office, Biden and his wife Jill reported an income of $11 million and in 2018 they brought in $4.6 million. Much of the new revenue came from book sales and speaking engagements, according to Forbes.
The only other year the Bidens made over $400,000 was in 2013 when they made $407,009.
Otherwise, the Bidens have, year by year, pulled in less than the $400,000 mark that would take on additional taxes under his plan.

Kosovo

Criticizing Trump after multiple reports, including from The Atlantic, that Trump called soldiers who died in battle “losers,” Biden brought up his son Beau’s service. Trump has denied saying it.
“My son volunteered to go — as the assistant US Attorney in Philadelphia — to go into Kosovo. He was there six months,” Biden told CNN’s Jake Tapper Wednesday. “They erected a monument to him thanking him for his service, I think the only American that they did that for. And was he a sucker?”
Facts First: There is a road named after Beau Biden in Kosovo and a monument there in his honor. But it’s not true that Beau Biden is the only American to receive such honors.
The year following his death from brain cancer, Kosovo erected the monument and renamed a highway in honor of Beau, who served as a legal adviser to help rebuild the war-torn area’s justice system in 2001.
Kosovo has done this for other US officials as well. As the Delaware newspaper News Journal reported at the time of Beau’s tribute:
“Kosovo has a long history of naming roads after American officials, a tribute to the U.S. involvement in the nation’s 2008 independence from Serbia. Former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have roadways named after them.”
There are streets and statues of Clinton and former Sen. Bob Dole in Kosovo.

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Checking Pence

Fact Checking Mike Pence on the Coronavirus Pandemic – The New York Times

Fact Check

The vice president falsely claimed that increased testing “is generating” more cases, among other exaggerations and inaccurate claims.

Credit…Michael A. McCoy for The New York Times

Linda Qiu

Vice President Mike Pence defended the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic at a news briefing on Friday and sounded notes of optimism, while acknowledging that cases were rising “precipitously” in the South.

Here’s a fact check of some of his claims.

What Was Said

“As we stand here today, all 50 states and territories across this country are opening up safely and responsibly.”

False. While most states are continuing with their reopening plans, several have paused or reversed course this week as the number of new cases nationally surged to new highs and the virus spread at worrisome rates in a number of places.

On Friday, Texas ordered its bars and rafting and tubing businesses to close, limited restaurants with dine-in service to 50 percent of indoor capacity, and generally required gatherings of at least 100 people to seek approval. Florida has also banned drinking at bars, while Maine postponed reopening indoor bar service.

Louisiana extended its Phase 2 of reopening for an additional 28 days, maintaining occupancy limits and social-distancing requirements for most businesses and houses of worship. North Carolina and Nevada also extended Phase 2, while New Mexico delayed entering it.

Idaho announced this week that it would remain in Stage 4, the last phase of its reopening plan, for at least another two weeks.

What Was Said

“We flattened the curve.”

False. This claim, while true in earlier months, is now outdated. Cases are now rising in the United States. While the seven-day average of new cases had declined and held steady from late April to May, the number began to climb in recent weeks. The United States reported 36,975 new cases on Wednesday and 41,113 new cases on Thursday — setting daily records both days.

Flattening the curve generally “refers to avoiding a collapse in the health care system, which we were able to do in March and April,” said Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, a professor of health policy and management at Johns Hopkins University. “What we’re seeing now is a new surge in cases and more than just cases, it’s serious illnesses.”

Dr. Sharfstein pointed to the announcement this week by the Texas Medical Center in Houston that all of its beds in its intensive care unit were occupied as a sign that “we’re in a very bad situation here in June.”

What was said

“In the midst of all of that, I think it always bears saying that because of the great work of our health care workers and because of American manufacturing, no American who required a ventilator has ever been denied a ventilator in the United States.”

True. The New York Times was unable to find any news reports about any patients who were unable to be treated with a ventilator. As of late April, representatives of 30 states told PolitiFact that they were not aware of any cases. A spokesman with the American Health Association said Friday that Mr. Pence’s claim was accurate “to the best of our knowledge.”

What Was Said

“As we reported early on, 34 states across the country though are experiencing a measure of stability that is a credit to all of the people of those states, and when we speak about stability, we are talking about not necessarily states where there are no new cases, but these would be states where there are either no new cases and no rising percentage or no combination of those two things.”

This is exaggerated. Data compiled by The New York Times shows that, as of Friday, the number of new cases is rising in 29 states and Guam, while it is steady in 11 and decreasing in 10 states as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.

What Was Said

“We want the American people to understand it’s almost inarguable that more testing is generating more cases. To one extent or another, the volume of new cases coming in is a reflection of a great success in expanding testing across the country.”

False. Ramped up testing alone does not account for the uptick in cases. Rather, the virus’s spread is generating more cases.

  • Updated June 24, 2020

    • Is it harder to exercise while wearing a mask?

      A commentary published this month on the website of the British Journal of Sports Medicine points out that covering your face during exercise “comes with issues of potential breathing restriction and discomfort” and requires “balancing benefits versus possible adverse events.” Masks do alter exercise, says Cedric X. Bryant, the president and chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise, a nonprofit organization that funds exercise research and certifies fitness professionals. “In my personal experience,” he says, “heart rates are higher at the same relative intensity when you wear a mask.” Some people also could experience lightheadedness during familiar workouts while masked, says Len Kravitz, a professor of exercise science at the University of New Mexico.

    • I’ve heard about a treatment called dexamethasone. Does it work?

      The steroid, dexamethasone, is the first treatment shown to reduce mortality in severely ill patients, according to scientists in Britain. The drug appears to reduce inflammation caused by the immune system, protecting the tissues. In the study, dexamethasone reduced deaths of patients on ventilators by one-third, and deaths of patients on oxygen by one-fifth.

    • What is pandemic paid leave?

      The coronavirus emergency relief package gives many American workers paid leave if they need to take time off because of the virus. It gives qualified workers two weeks of paid sick leave if they are ill, quarantined or seeking diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus, or if they are caring for sick family members. It gives 12 weeks of paid leave to people caring for children whose schools are closed or whose child care provider is unavailable because of the coronavirus. It is the first time the United States has had widespread federally mandated paid leave, and includes people who don’t typically get such benefits, like part-time and gig economy workers. But the measure excludes at least half of private-sector workers, including those at the country’s largest employers, and gives small employers significant leeway to deny leave.

    • Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?

      So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.

    • What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?

      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

    • How does blood type influence coronavirus?

      A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation’s job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.


“Several communities are seeing increased cases driven by multiple factors, including increased testing, outbreaks and evidence of community transmission,” Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, testified to Congress this week.

If the rise in cases was solely attributable to more testing, the rate of positive test results would decrease or at least hold steady. But while the number of daily tests performed has steadily increased from under 100,000 in March to 460,000 to 640,000 this week, the positive rate had fallen from 10 to 20 percent in early March to about 4 percent in early June before climbing back up to 5 to 7 percent this week.

Increased testing in other countries has not produced the uptick in the positivity rate seen in the United States. Russia, for example, has ramped up its testing to about 300,000 a day in recent weeks from about 200,000 in May. But its positive rate has continued to hover at around 3 to 5 percent.

In states with the most severe outbreaks, that trend is starker still. Positive rates in Texas and Florida have increased to 10 to 20 percent this week from rates that were generally below 10 percent in May — a reality the Republican governors of both states have acknowledged.

“Clearly you’re seeing this, this is real,” Gov. Rick DeSantis of Florida said during a news conference on Tuesday. “Now they are testing more than they were for sure, but they’re also testing positive at a higher rate than they were before. And so that would tell you there’s probably been an escalation and transmission over the last seven to 10 days.”

Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas acknowledged the same point.

“If you look at the growth or even the decline in the number of people who were testing positive as well as the positivity rate all the way through the early part of May, Texas was moving in a very productive position,” he said on Monday. “Then around the time of Memorial Day, there was an increase, and that increase has maintained for several weeks now, necessitating that next steps be taken.”

What Was Said

“Fatalities are declining all across the country.”

This is misleading. While official death counts are most likely underreported, Mr. Pence is right that nationwide, deaths are continuing to decrease, though fatalities are rising or holding steady in several states such as Arizona, California, Florida, North Carolina and Texas.

Moreover, public health experts have urged caution that this will continue to be the case. Asked whether still declining fatalities were because of younger, healthier people contracting the disease, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told Congress this week that it was “too early to make that kind of link.”

“Deaths always lag considerably behind cases,” he said. “You might remember that at the time that New York was in their worst situation where the deaths were going up and yet the cases were starting to go down, the deaths only came down multiple weeks later.”

Curious about the accuracy of a claim? Email factcheck@nytimes.com.

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