President Joe Biden launched his reelection campaign early Tuesday with a factually challenged video that focuses heavily on accusations against Republicans.
The 3-minute video with Biden’s voice-over opens with scenes of the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, then shifts to a pro-abortion protester in front of the Supreme Court holding a sign saying “abortion is health care.” The ad prominently features images of Vice President Kamala Harris and first lady Jill Biden.
Here are four factually challenged claims made by Biden in the announcement of his reelection bid.
1. ‘Cutting Social Security’
“Around the country,” Biden says in the ad, “MAGA extremists are lining up to take on those bedrock freedoms, cutting Social Security that you paid for your entire life while cutting taxes for the very wealthy.”
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., repeatedly has said that Social Security and Medicare are “off the table” in lawmakers’ budget and debt-ceiling negotiations.
“In the coming weeks, the House will vote on a bill to lift the debt ceiling into the next year, save taxpayers trillions of dollars, make us less dependent upon China, curb our high inflation—all without touching Social Security and Medicare,” McCarthy said last week. “Simply put, it puts us on a fiscally responsible path in three ways: It limits, it saves, and it grows.”
Previously, McCarthy had said that “cuts to Medicare and Social Security, they are off the table.”
Biden made a similar claim Feb. 7 during his State of the Union address, and was fact-checked in real time by members of Congress who booed or shouted, “Liar.”
The best evidence that Biden seems to have for the claim is that before the 2022 midterm elections, Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., released an 11-point planthat, among other things, called for Congress to vote to reauthorize all federal programs, as opposed to allowing all programs to renew automatically.
Scott argued that “if a law is worth keeping, Congress can pass it again.”
The Florida Republican’s proposal didn’t single out Social Security, but also didn’t include a caveat for Social Security or any other budgetary item.
However, Republicans didn’t adopt the Scott plan—with at best vague references to Social Security—as an official campaign document.
2. ‘Stand Up for the Right to Vote’
At several points in the ad announcing his reelection campaign, Biden references the right to vote being under attack.
“That’s been the work of my first term, to fight for our democracy,” Biden says early in the ad.
Biden goes on to say that “MAGA extremists” want to take away numerous freedoms and rights, “all while making it more difficult for you to be able to vote.”
Toward the end of the video, Biden says he will “stand up for the right to vote and our civil rights.”
The president doesn’t specify who or what would take away anyone’s right to vote. But in the past, he has been highly critical of state election reforms such as expanding voter ID requirements and maintenance of voter lists as well as restrictions on the controversial practice of ballot harvesting.
The midterm elections of 2022 broadly show that new election reforms across the nation had no negative impact on voter turnout.
A report earlier this month by Hans von Spakovsky, manager of the Election Law Reform Initiative at The Heritage Foundation, looked at 2022 turnout in Georgia, Texas, and Florida, the three states most targeted by the Left over their election reforms in 2021. (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s multimedia news organization.)
Compared to previous midterm elections, turnout was 5% higher in Georgia in 2022 than in 2018, and 2% higher in Texas.
Turnout dropped 2% from 2018 to 2022 in Florida, according to data from the U.S. Elections Project. Still, Florida had the 18th-highest turnout in the nation, down from 16th in 2018.
National voter turnout averaged 46.6% in 2022, while in Florida it was 49.4%.
Of the states that passed election reforms in 2021, Georgia was perhaps the most maligned. Biden and other Democrats claimed the changes were for “voter suppression.” Biden labeled Georgia’s election reforms as “Jim Crow 2.0” and “Jim Eagle.”
However, the University of Georgia’s Survey Research Center poll of voters in 2022 found that 72.6% of black Georgians said their experience was “excellent” and 23.6% said it was “good,” while 0% reported a “poor” experience voting.
A similar percentage of white Georgia voters, 72.7%, called their 2022 voting experience as “excellent.”
The university’s survey also found that 19.1% of black Georgia voters said voting was “easier” in 2022 than in 2020, while 72.5% said there was “no difference.” Among white voters, 13.3% said they thought it was “easier” to vote, and 80.1% found “no difference.”
Biden previously called Texas’ election reforms “wrong and un-American” and an “assault on democracy.” However, Texas saw net improvements in voter participation, von Spakovsky wrote in the Heritage report:
IN 2018, BEFORE THESE LATEST REFORMS WERE IN PLACE, THE VEP [VOTING ELIGIBLE POPULATION] TURNOUT IN TEXAS, ACCORDING TO THE U.S. ELECTIONS PROJECT, WAS 45.6%, OR 4.4 PERCENTAGE POINTS BELOW THE NATIONAL TURNOUT RATE. IN 2022, THE VEP TURNOUT IN TEXAS WAS 42.5%, A DECREASE OF 3.1 PERCENTAGE POINTS, WHICH WAS SMALLER THAN THE NATIONAL DECREASE OF 3.4 PERCENTAGE POINTS.
TEXAS, WITH ITS NEW PROVISIONS IN PLACE, WENT FROM BEING RANKED 42ND IN THE NATION IN TERMS OF VEP TURNOUT IN 2018 TO BEING RANKED 40TH IN 2022. TEXAS THUS SLIGHTLY IMPROVED ITS TURNOUT RELATIVE TO OTHER STATES.
3. ‘Banning Books’
In the ad, Biden says Republicans are “dictating what health care decisions women can make, banning books, and telling people who they can love,” but doesn’t provide any specifics.
Biden apparently was referencing Republicans’ support for pro-life policies and alluding to opposition by some Republicans to same-sex marriage.
What’s more of a stretch is the accusation that Republicans want to ban books.
It’s not clear how Biden defines book bans.
What isn’t occurring is the common definition of a “ban,” which is either prior restraint of publication or restricting all availability of books.
What has happened is that officials, responding to parents’ protests, have removed some books with adult content from school libraries.
Much of the Left’s aim has been directed at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, who signed a bill to prevent pornography in school libraries. After much media criticism for supposedly “banning” books, DeSantis showed some of the explicit material in the books aimed at children.
The same media outlets that criticized the governor for removing the books cut the feed of the press conference. This action indicated that the content was too explicit for the news outlets’ audience.
The American Library Association and PEN America, an advocacy group for literary authors, have issued numerous allegations of book banning while using loose criteria.
The American Library Association defines banned books as including any works that are “challenged” by parents, administrators, or public officials.
PEN America defines a ban as making a book inaccessible in school libraries or classroom curriculums. The organization has claimed that more than 1,600 titles were removed from school libraries during the 2021-22 school year.
However, an examination reveals that most of the titles identified as “banned” by PEN actually have not been removed from school libraries, according to Jay Greene, a senior research fellow in the Center for Education Policy at The Heritage Foundation, and Robert Pondiscio, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
4. ‘Freedom Is Fundamental’
In his video, Biden says several times that he would protect freedom.
“Personal freedom is fundamental to who we are as Americans,” Biden says. He later adds: “Around the country, MAGA extremists are lining up to take on those bedrock freedoms.”
“Stand up for our personal freedom,” the president says in the ad.
“The question we are facing is in the years ahead, will we have more freedom or less freedom, more rights or fewer rights? I know what I want the answer to be, and I think you do too,” he says.
Biden’s references to preserving freedom are vague.
However, during over two years in office, Biden has boosted regulation compared with his immediate predecessor, Donald Trump.
In its first two years, the Biden administration imposed 517 regulatory actions at an economic cost of $318 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported.
That’s fewer rules than the last Democrat president, Barack Obama, but it comes at a greater economic cost.
The Obama administration imposed 740 regulations in the first two years at a cost of $208 billion to the economy.
The Trump administration, known for deregulation, imposed 1,340 rules at a cost of $64.7 billion over four years.
The Journal refers to work by Clyde Wayne Crews, senior fellow in regulatory affairs at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a free-market think tank.
The regulatory burden imposed by the government costs $2 trillion, or 8% of the economy, according to Crews, who estimates this costs $14,684 a year to the average American household. Unelected bureaucrats at federal agencies issue 13 rules for every one law passed by Congress, he says.