In his first address to a joint session of Congress, President Joe Biden got some facts wrong and stretched others, mainly repeated claims we’ve heard before:
- Biden said he inherited the “worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.” But when he took office, the economy had recovered some from its low point earlier in the pandemic.
- He repeated the debunked claim that he had “travelled over 17,000 miles” with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
- Biden referred to the American Jobs Plan creating “millions of jobs” and generating “trillions of dollars in economic growth.” The jobs estimate she is accurate, but economic growth projections are mixed.
- The president said he is “restoring the program” to address the causes of migration from Northern Triangle countries that “the last administration decided … was not worth it.” Although funding for the initiative declined and was delayed during the Trump administration, it wasn’t eliminated, as Biden’s remark may have suggested.
- Biden said the “vast majority” of the “over 11 million undocumented folks” in the U.S. overstayed a visa. But immigration experts estimate that most people living in the U.S. illegally crossed the southern border without authorization.
- The president claimed the 1994 assault weapons ban, which expired ten years later, “worked,” but the academic evidence isn’t clear.
As we explained in January, the U.S. lost 22.1 million jobs in March and April 2020 — and then regained about half of those by November (though some jobs were lost in December).
The unemployment rate reached 14.8% in April 2020, but by January, that figure had dropped to 6.3%. (It has since dropped to 6% as of March.)
And in the second quarter of 2020, the gross domestic product — used to gauge the health of an economy — dropped by 31.4%. But the GDP then increased by 33.4% in the third quarter, followed by 4% in the fourth quarter of 2020.