Fact-Checking Joe Biden’s 2024 State Of The Union Address

Check Your Fact Staff | Contributor

President Joe Biden delivered his 2024 State of the Union address on March 7, where he spoke about a variety of topics including Ukraine, healthcare, the economy and January 6. Here are fact-checks of a few of his claims.

“Inflation has dropped from 9 percent to 3 percent — the lowest in the world.”

Biden’s claim that inflation has dropped from 9% to 3% is correct. (RELATED: No, Donald Trump Did Not Endorse Joe Biden For Reelection)

Recent data from Statista comparing wage growth and inflation indicates that inflation peaked at 9.1% before seasonal adjustment in June 2022. The peak inflation that occurred in June 2022, or the “largest 12-month increase since November 1981,” was caused largely by “a big jump in gasoline prices,” the Wall Street Journal reported at the time.

Likewise, the same data set from Statista shows inflation decreased to 3.1% in November 2023, before increasing slightly to 3.4% in December 2023, and then decreasing again to 3.1% in January 2024.

In addition, a February 2024 news release from the U.S. Department of Labor and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) “increased 0.3% in January on a seasonally adjusted basis, after rising 0.2% in December.” The data published by the Department of Labor and the BLS were included in the New York Times’ January Inflation Report, with the outlet noting that inflation had “cooled less than expected.”

Biden’s claim that U.S. inflation is the lowest in the world is incorrect, however.

Global inflation rate data available via the website, “Trading Economics” shows China has the lowest inflation rate at -0.8%. Italy, Switzerland, and Japan also follow close behind with respective inflation rates of 0.75%, 1.2%, and 2.2%.

“There are 1,000 billionaires in America. You know what the average federal tax rate for these billionaires is? … 8.2 percent!”

This claim is misleading. The source for this claim is an “analysis from OMB and CEA economists estimates that the wealthiest 400 billionaire families in America paid an average of just 8.2 percent of their income…” that was previously reported on by Check Your Fact.

Check Your Fact found that “Internal Revenue Service (IRS) data from 2020, as reported by the Tax Foundation, showed that the top 1% of taxpayers paid an average of 25.99% income tax. Data from those returns also suggested that this income bracket’s share of income taxes paid rose from 38.8% in 2019 to 42.3% in 2020.”

A White House spokesperson said to Check Your Fact at the time that the analysis “incorporates capital gains income,” a measurement that is disputed by experts.

Chris Edwards, a policy scholar at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, previously told Check Your Fact that “[u]nrealized gains are not considered ‘income’ under the income tax, and thus should not be in the denominator of tax rate calculations.”

“Because the official tax rates—from Treasury, CBO, JCT, IRS—all show that rates at the top end are much higher than at the middle and bottom end. That undermines the Biden narrative, so they’ve invented their own statistic,” Edwards said.

“More than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed.  Most of whom are not Hamas.”

The 30,000 figure likely comes from the Hamas-run Gaza Ministry of Health, according to BBC. This figure does not distinguish between non-combatants and combatants, Check Your Fact previously reported.

In November 2023, Check Your Fact reported that “numbers reported from the Hamas-controlled health ministry are generally considered reliable, according to The Washington Post. PBS also reported that, citing U.N. officials and Palestinian officials in the West Bank, the agency has ‘long made a good-faith effort to account for the dead under the most difficult conditions,’ while providing how the count is determined.”

A Pentagon spokesperson previously told Check Your Fact that the department “cannot independently verify these Gaza casualty figures.” An IDF spokesperson told Check Your Fact in November 2023 that “the information being released by [the Gaza Ministry of Health] is twisted, fake, and not confirmed.”

The health ministry claims that at least 70 percent of Palestinians killed are women and children. The Wall Street Journal reported in late February that “Hamas leaders in Gaza have told Egyptian officials and the group’s political wing in exile” that the military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, has lost at least 6,000 fighters.

Israel has claimed to have killed at least 12,000 Hamas terrorists, while “U.S. and Egyptian intelligence officials believe the true losses are roughly in the middle,” according to the WSJ.

“I’ve been delivering real results in a fiscally responsible way. I’ve already cut the federal deficit by over one trillion dollars.”

While the deficit for fiscal year 2022 is $1.6 trillion, down from $2.77 trillion in 2021 according to Fiscal Data, the cut was mainly due to a decrease in spending from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB), a non-partisan budget watchdog, attributed over 100 percent of the deficit reduction to the shrinking or expiring of COVID-19 relief, including the American Rescue Plan and Response & Relief Act. They also claim certain “economic changes,” including higher interest rates, will increase future deficits.

A Federal Reserve Economic Data graph shows that the Biden-era deficit is some of the worst in U.S. history, though the largest deficit occurred in 2020 during the Trump presidency, primarily due to COVID-19 spending.

The federal budget deficit will decrease to $1.5 trillion in fiscal 2024 before increasing over the next decade, reaching $2.6 trillion in 2034, according to predictions from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.

“This bogus talking point keeps coming back again and again, but it doesn’t make it any more true,” Maya MacGuineas, president of the CRFB, said previously to Check Your Fact. “The Administration’s policies have added to the debt, not reduced it.”

“I inherited an economy from Donald Trump that was on the brink. Now, our economy is the envy of the world.”

The Covid-19 pandemic shutdown was a far reaching action that caused unemployment to dramatically rise. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported the pandemic resulted in the loss of tens of millions of jobs in 2020.

Urban Institute economic analyst John Buhl previously told Check Your Fact that much of Trump’s job losses were attributable to the Covid-19 shutdown. Buhl also said that while it was difficult to ascertain how much of Biden’s performance was due to the COVID-19 pandemic pandemic subsiding, “the answer is a very, very, very, large chunk. Probably at least 90%, maybe more than that.”

The Trump administration released an economic overview of the United States before the pandemic, where it claimed to oversee the creation of 7 million jobs and an unemployment rate of 3.5 percent. (RELATED: Fact Checking Trump’s Recent Claim On US Aid To Ukraine)

The economy was starting to see signs of recovery by the end of Trump’s term. Data from the St. Louis Fed shows that the number of non-farm employees in the United States in Feb. 2020 was 152.3 million. It dropped to 130 million in April 2020. By the time Trump left office in January 2021, the economy was back up to 142.9 million non-farm employees.

Jai Kedia, a research fellow at the libertarian think tank Cato Institute’s Center for Monetary and Financial Alternatives, told Check Your Fact in February 2024 that [e]mployment numbers look better under Biden simply because the economy was returning to its pre-pandemic growth rate through his term in office.”

Kedia also stated “that macro indicators are largely determined by market forces and shocks, so politicians deserve neither all the credit nor all the blame.”

Elias Atienza, Christine Sellers, Anna Mock and Joseph Caiseri contributed to this report. 

Check Your Fact Staff