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Trump and Biden Town Halls: Live Fact Check


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— Mr. Trump

The United States is not “rounding the corner” when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic. Over the past week, there have been an average of 53,120 cases per day, an increase of 23 percent from the average two weeks earlier, according to a New York Times database.

As case numbers rise nationally, outbreaks continue to spread in the Upper Midwest and Rocky Mountains, and the Northeast is seeing early signs of a resurgence. The numbers are deeply concerning to public health officials. In an interview this week, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, said he has long been concerned that the daily caseload has never dipped significantly below 20,000.

“And now it’s kind of going back and forth between 40 and 50,000 cases a day,” Dr. Fauci said. “I have said many times, and I’ll say it again, that that is not a good position to be in as you enter the cooler months of the fall and the colder months of the winter.”

— Mr. Biden

Mr. Biden is referring to a report by Moody’s Analytics in September that analyzed the effects of the economic policies that Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump have proposed, depending on the outcome of the presidential election as well as House and Senate elections.

Mr. Biden accurately cites the report’s findings, though it is worth noting the assumptions that go with those findings. Mr. Biden is referring to the best-case scenario for him, in which Democrats control all of government.

In the scenario of a Democratic sweep, with Mr. Biden winning the presidency and Democrats controlling both the House and Senate, the report projected that the economy would create 18.6 million jobs during Mr. Biden’s term — 7.4 million more than under a scenario in which Mr. Trump wins and Republicans control both the House and Senate. With Mr. Biden as president and Democrats in full control of Congress, the analysis found that the nation’s real gross domestic product would be $960 billion larger at the end of the next president’s term than it would be if Mr. Trump won re-election and Republicans controlled both houses.

— Mr. Trump

The $1.5 trillion tax cut, enacted in December 2017, ranks below at least half a dozen others by several metrics. The 1981 Reagan tax cut is the largest as a percentage of the economy and by its reduction to federal revenue. The 2012 Obama cut amounted to the largest cut in inflation-adjusted dollars: $321 billion a year.

— Mr. Trump

Not according to historians. Among modern presidents, historians agreed that the most significant legislative achievements belong to President Lyndon B. Johnson, who shepherded the passage of the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act. A 2017 study that assessed modern presidents based on the analysis of editorials published in Black newspapers ranked Mr. Johnson at the top. Mr. Trump would place in the bottom third, the study’s co-author told The Times.

— Mr. Trump

Mr. Trump is cherry picking isolated incidents of errors in distributing absentee ballots and wrongly suggesting they are examples of widespread election fraud. Voter fraud, in all forms, is extremely rare, according to numerous independent studies and government reviews.

In August, a voting non-profit organization in Virginia accidentally sent 500,000 applications with the wrong address on the return envelopes — not the ballots themselves. This week, an Ohio county determined that about 50,000 voters received an inaccurate absentee ballot this week. In a press release, the election board said that all affected voters would receive a corrected ballot.

It’s unclear what 50,000 ballots in North Carolina he might have been referring to, but Mr. Trump has previously cited a mistake in Mecklenburg County, N.C. There, fewer than 500 voters accidentally received two ballots. Election officials said the mistake was unlikely to lead to double voting, as the ballots contained specific codes for each individual voter.

— Mr. Trump

Mr. Trump’s claim that the country was near 160 million jobs refers to the number of people who were employed before the pandemic. It seems to employ some creative rounding: There were about 152,500 workers on nonfarm payrolls (the typically used number) in February, before the pandemic hit.

It is also a misleading number to use in isolation, because the number of employees climbs with the size of the population. The employment-to-population ratio stood at 61.1 percent in February, substantially lower than a 64.7 percent high in early 2000, at the tail end of the Clinton administration. Even looking at the prime age employment-to-population rate to account for the fact that population aging could depress employment rates, they remained lower in early 2020 than in 2000.

It is also not true that Mr. Trump’s administration has created more jobs than prior administrations.

— Mr. Biden

Data compiled by the Institute on Taxation and Progressive Policy, a liberal research organization in Washington, show that 91 profitable Fortune 500 companies did not pay taxes on the income earned in the United States in 2018. That included companies that reduced their tax liability through deductions for investment, a key aim of the tax cuts that Mr. Trump signed into law in 2017.

— Mr. Trump

Mr. Trump often says that his administration fostered the best economy in history before the onset of the pandemic. But data show that the economy in 2019 failed to measure up to prior economic eras across several dimensions.

The expansion that stretched from 2009 through early 2020 was the longest on record, and it brought very low unemployment and improving wage gains. But many people remained on the job market’s sidelines: the employment rate for men in their prime, for instance, never rebounded to pre-2008 crisis levels. Output growth, which did receive a temporary boost from Mr. Trump’s tax cuts, has otherwise generally hovered around 2 percent. That is roughly the level economists see as sustainable given modern productivity and demographic trends, and lower than the run rate that prevailed in prior decades. And inequality remained very high. The top 1 percent held almost 40 percent of the nation’s wealth last year, little changed from 2016, based on Federal Reserve data.

— Mr. Biden

The former vice president was referring to a monoclonal antibody cocktail developed by the pharmaceutical company Regeneron. The distribution of Regeneron’s treatment, which Mr. Trump received in the hospital this month and praised without evidence as a “cure,” has not been finalized by federal health officials. Regulators are also still examining clinical trial data to determine whether it is effective and which parts of the population might benefit the most from the treatment, which must be infused intravenously.

The Department of Health and Human Services has already started to prepare the outlines of a distribution plan, which leaves much of the decision-making on who gets the treatment to states. Through an agreement with the federal government, Regeneron’s first 300,000 doses will go to the federal stockpile, where the products will then be distributed to the states, who will decide how they should be allocated.

Mr. Biden’s claim that the company had 500,000 vials actually overstated it. Regeneron said it would only initially have enough doses for 50,000 patients, with the plan to have enough for about 300,000 people by the end of the year.

— Mr. Trump

Mr. Trump appears to be referring to a Sept. 10 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that found dining out raised the risk of infection more than other social activities. The report went viral on social media, prompting the C.D.C. to write on Twitter that “the interpretation that more mask-wearers are getting infected compared to non-mask wearers is incorrect.”

The C.D.C. followed 314 people who had coronavirus symptoms and sought testing during the month of July; about half tested positive. The study found that in the 14 days before the onset of illness, 71 percent of those who tested positive and 74 percent of those who did not reported always using a cloth face coverings or masks when in public.

— Mr. Trump

Asked during the September presidential debate to condemn white supremacist and militia groups, Mr. Trump said “sure, I’m willing” but did not outright denounce them. “I would say almost everything I see is from the left wing, not from the right wing,” he said as Mr. Biden and the moderator, Chris Wallace, pressed for a condemnation.

Mr. Trump then asked for a specific group to denounce, to which Mr. Biden responded “Proud Boys.”

“Proud Boys stand back and stand by,” he said, going on to add that “somebody’s got to do something about Antifa and the left because this is not a right wing problem.”

— Mr. Trump

It’s not clear what time frame Mr. Trump was using. But over the last two weeks, reports of new deaths have been mostly flat in the United States while they have increased by 128 percent in the United Kingdom. Still, on a per capita basis, recent deaths in the United States have remained higher than in the U.K.

Mr. Trump may have been selectively comparing the peak of the pandemic in the United Kingdom to a low point in the United States. Deaths in the United States have fallen sharply from their peak this spring, though cases have recently started surging again. Coronavirus deaths in the United Kingdom fell to an average of seven per day at one point this summer, but have since been trending upward as the country struggles to control a growing outbreak.

— Mr. Trump

It is true that people are leaving New York City temporarily amid the pandemic, but it is not yet clear what the city will look like in the months and years after the virus is brought under control. A recent report in Bloomberg, based on data from the U.S. Postal Service collected by the company MYMOVE, suggests that 110,000 people on net signaled that they were leaving Manhattan between February and July 2020. It remains unclear how many will remain out permanently.



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