BLOOMBERG News is checking the facts as Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris have their one and only debate.
Claim: Trump’s trade war with China cost 300,000 American jobs
While the tariffs did hurt some manufacturers and spur job cuts, employment at factories still grew by a net 140,000 from mid-2018 to the start of 2020, before the pandemic. Harris’s point that the trade war spurred a manufacturing recession, however, is backed up by data showing U.S. factory output shrank in the first and second quarters of 2019.
Claim: Biden will repeal all of Trump’s tax cuts
It’s true that Democratic nominee Joe Biden and Harris have both said they want to repeal the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, but their official campaign plan only repeals portions of the law. Harris said no one earning under $400,000 would see their tax bills increase. Economists have said that is technically accurate, but because of the indirect effects of higher taxes on businesses, workers could experience slightly higher tactics.
Claim: Trump tax cut generated $4,000 in extra income for the average American household
The data suggest that the median household did not see a boost anywhere near that big. The U.S. median household income was $63,179 in 2018, the first year the Trump tax cut was in effect. That was up only $553 from the 2017 median of $62,626, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Middle-income households, those that made between about $48,000 and $86,000, paid about $800 less in taxes in 2018 compared to the year prior, according to the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center.
Claim: Economy was strong under Trump before Covid and is recovering
While the stock market was at an all-time high and unemployment was at a decades-low before the coronavirus outbreak, some areas of the economy were weakening. At the end of 2019, consumer spending moderated and business investment was deteriorating due to trade uncertainty. Full-year GDP grew 2.3% in 2019, the slowest of Trump’s presidency and below his promised target of 3%.
Median household income increased 6.8% in 2019, while the poverty rate fell to a record low, but those gains weren’t equal among demographic groups. The poverty rate for non-Hispanic Whites was 7.3% last year, compared with 18.8% for African Americans, and 15.7% for Hispanic Americans. At the same time, women were still more likely to live in poverty -- 11.5%, compared with 9.4% of men.
And the hit from Covid has been devastating.
Weekly continuing unemployment claims remain almost double the high from the last recession. One-third of adults surveyed by the Pew Research Center in early August said either they or someone in their household had to reduce their hours or accept a pay cut because of the coronavirus outbreak, and a third of low-income Americans say they have no or only slight confidence in paying next month’s rent bill, according to a Census Bureau survey. At the same time, the status of a new fiscal stimulus package is unclear after Trump said he was ending negotiations but also floated piecemeal plans on Twitter.
Claim: 2021 will be the biggest economic year in the history of the country
Federal Reserve policy makers last month penciled in growth of 4%, which they had marked down from a 5% median estimate in June. The last time the U.S. saw 4% growth was 2003, under President George W. Bush, and it happened several times in the 1990s. Also, a majority of business economists in a recent survey said they don’t expect the economy to return to its pre-pandemic level until 2022.
Claim: Biden wants to ban fracking
During a primary debate in March, Biden said he would eliminate fracking, but his campaign said the next day that the candidate misspoke. He has called for prohibiting new oil and gas projects on federal land and does not support a ban on fracking -- the controversial natural gas extraction method environmentalists oppose.
"I am not banning fracking, ” Biden said during a recent speech in Pittsburgh. "Let me say that again. I am not banning fracking. No matter how many times Donald Trump lies about me.”
Fracking is used on about 90% of U.S. wells and involves injecting millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals to crack dense rock formations deep underground freeing trapped natural gas or oil. The well stimulation technique, used in combination with horizontal drilling, has led to a record boom in U.S. oil and gas production and the revitalization of hard-hit areas in must-win states like Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Claim: Millions of doses of a vaccine will be ready by year-end
Top health officials have said the general public can expect a vaccine sometime between the end of March and the end of 2021. President Donald Trump has said that an assertion by Robert Redfield, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that disbursement of the vaccine would come in the second or third quarter of next year was "a mistake.”
Redfield isn’t the only top U.S. health official offering a less ambitious forecasts for getting a Covid-19 vaccine out to the public. Paul Mango, deputy chief of staff for policy at the Department of Health and Human Services, said it would probably be widely available by the end of March. And Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, forecast a timeline similar to Redfield’s in an interview with Bloomberg Television.
Trump himself altered his optimistic timeline Wednesday, saying in a video from the White House that he expected one shortly after the election instead of before the vote.
Claim: Trump’s order blocking travel from China saved lives
The novel coronavirus first broke out in Wuhan, China, and there’s evidence that local officials initially downplayed the danger for fear of upsetting Communist Party officials in Beijing.
While Trump moved to halt most travel from China to the U.S. in early February, the restrictions were porous, with thousands of people able to enter the country.
Critics point out that Trump continued to downplay the severity of the virus throughout February and did little to get the U.S. mobilized for a pandemic, saying as late as March 12 that "It’s going away. We want it to go away with very, very few deaths” and then pushing to have the entire country reopen by Easter. - Bloomberg
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