During his State of the Union address, President Joe Biden made several notable claims. The Daily Signal team checked them out to see if the facts add up—or if some crucial context was missing.
1. Inflation Reduction Act and Health Care Costs
Biden touted the $740 billion spending bill Democrats dubbed the Inflation Reduction Act, claiming during his State of the Union address Tuesday night that the new law will decrease health care costs.
“With the Inflation Reduction Act that I signed into law, we’re taking on powerful interests to bring your health care costs down so you can sleep better at night,” the president said. “You know, we pay more for prescription drugs than any major country on Earth.”
Biden said big pharmaceutical companies could no longer make record profits by hiking up prices.
“This law also caps out-of-pocket drug costs for seniors on Medicare at a maximum $2,000 per year when there are in fact many drugs, like expensive cancer drugs, that can cost up to $10,000, $12,000, and $14,000 a year,” Biden said. “If drug prices rise faster than inflation, drug companies will have to pay Medicare back the difference.”
Biden later added:
Now, some members here are threatening to repeal the Inflation Reduction Act. … Make no mistake, if you try to do anything to raise the cost of prescription drugs, I will veto it.
I’m pleased to say that more Americans have health insurance now than ever in history.
A record 16 million people are enrolled under the Affordable Care Act. Thanks to the law I signed last year, millions are saving $800 a year on their premiums.
However, the president left out potential increases that could result from the legislation.
The so-called Inflation Reduction Act would likely increase taxpayer costs by $248 billion over the next decade, and contribute to higher insurance prices, all at your expense through more Obamacare subsidies.
The bill ensured the federal government could negotiate drug prices. However, that did not reduce the real costs associated with producing medicine, likely to be passed on to consumers.
Also, extending Obamacare subsidies will likely have little effect on the premiums that insurers charge.
2. ‘Extreme Abortion Bans’
Biden painted lifesaving legislation restricting abortion as “extreme” during his State of the Union remarks on Tuesday.
“Congress must restore the right the Supreme Court took away last year and codify Roe v. Wade to protect every woman’s constitutional right to choose,” Biden said. “The vice president and I are doing everything we can to protect access to reproductive health care and safeguard patient privacy.”
“But already, more than a dozen states are enforcing extreme abortion bans,” he added. “Make no mistake; if Congress passes a national abortion ban, I will veto it.”
The president’s reference to “extreme abortion bans” refers to laws that protect unborn babies from being killed. Almost 70% of Americans support limiting abortions to the first three months of a pregnancy, according to a January 2023 survey by the Knights of Columbus and Marist Poll.
About 14 states have passed near total bans on aborting unborn babies, according to Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, and six more states have passed near total abortion bans dependent on legal action. One state (Florida) bans abortions after 15 weeks. Twenty-six states have few or no laws restricting abortion.
Analysis by the Charlotte Lozier Institute shows that the overwhelming majority of European nations restrict abortions to 15 weeks’ gestation—making the United States’ laws allowing late-term abortions some of the most extreme in the world.
“No European nation allows elective abortion through all nine months of pregnancy, as is effectively permitted in several U.S. states, and America is one of only a small handful of nations, along with China and North Korea, to permit any sort of late-term elective abortion,” said Angelina B. Nguyen, a Lozier Institute associate scholar.
The states with strong pro-life laws on the books allow timely medical treatments for miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, and other medical procedures needed to save the life of a pregnant woman, contrary to the claims of many high-profile Democrats.
3. Border Success?
“We now have a record number of personnel working to secure the border, arresting 8,000 human smugglers and seizing over 23,000 pounds of fentanyl in just the last several months,” Biden said.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection reports that it seized just over 14,000 pounds of fentanyl in fiscal year 2022, which ended Sept. 30, and more than 7,000 pounds between October and the end of December.
In February, CBP reported a large drug seizure in the San Diego sector, including “blue pills” that contained “fentanyl with a total weight of 250 pounds with an estimated street value of $3,412,000.”
Under President Donald Trump in fiscal year 2018, Customs and Border Protection reported seizing 2,135 pounds of fentanyl. And in 2020, it seized nearly 5,000 pounds of the lethal drug.
“Most illicit fentanyl today is manufactured in Mexico and brought across our southern border,” Lora Ries, director of The Heritage Foundation’s Border Security and Immigration Center, and Virginia Krieger, president of Lost Voices of Fentanyl, recently wrote. (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s multimedia news organization.)
“But the Biden administration and the Left remain fully committed to their open border policies—even though opioids, largely fentanyl, are now the No. 1 killer of Americans aged 18-45 years old,” Krieger and Ries wrote.
The increase in the amount of fentanyl flooding into America is accompanied by a record number of illegal migrants crossing the southern border. Fiscal year 2022 saw 2.76 million illegal immigrant border crossings.
Ron Vitiello, former director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told The Daily Signal on Monday that agents are overwhelmed by the border crisis. Vitiello said there is a mental health crisis among Border Patrol agents because of the stress and frustration caused by the Biden administration’s “self-inflicted crisis” at the southern border.
In response to the border crisis, Biden outlined a plan in January to limit the number of illegal immigrants crossing into America. The plan aims at limiting unlawful migrants from Cuba, Nicaragua, Haiti, and Venezuela to 30,000 per month.
“Since we launched our new border plan last month, unlawful migration from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela has come down 97%,” Biden said during his speech Tuesday night.
With a record number of encounters at the border and fentanyl flowing across, Tom Homan, former acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and a visiting fellow at The Heritage Foundation, said in a recent statement:
Congress needs to hold Joe Biden, [Homeland Secretary Alejandro] Mayorkas, and everyone else responsible for this travesty accountable for what they’ve done to this nation.
This administration’s policies are dangerous and inhumane, and the new majority in Congress better get serious about doing something to stop them. We are quickly running out of time to fix this—act now, show some spine, or demonstrate that you care about border security to the same extent the Left does.
4. Greatest Threat to Democracy Since Civil War?
Biden celebrated how far the country has come since the COVID-19 pandemic-induced recession, but he also referenced the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, repeating his claim that it was the “greatest threat” to American democracy since the Civil War.
He noted that his second State of the Union address comes two years after the riot.
“And two years ago, our democracy faced its greatest threat since the Civil War,” Biden said. “Today, though bruised, our democracy remains unbowed and unbroken.”
It’s not clear what he meant in comparing the Capitol riot, in which 950 Donald Trump supporters were charged with crimes, to a war in which several slave-holding Southern states attempted to form a new Confederate States of America, raised their own military in an armed rebellion that wore on for four years, and took the lives of more than 600,000 troops.
During the Capitol riot, hundreds of Trump supporters breached the U.S. Capitol to prevent Congress from certifying Biden’s Electoral College victory over Trump. Several were violent toward police officers and shouted threats at members of Congress and Vice President Mike Pence. Others caused property damage.
Some rioters carried Confederate battle flags into the Capitol on Jan. 6. None of the 950 people arrested were charged with insurrection, or attempting to violently overthrow the government, but federal prosecutors did charge 50 with conspiracy. Out of those, four were convicted of seditious conspiracy. The others were charged with conspiracy to obstruct a congressional proceeding, conspiracy to obstruct law enforcement during a civil disorder, or conspiracy to injure an officer.
Biden didn’t explain why this riot supposedly represented a larger threat to democracy than when Japan attacked the United States on Dec. 7, 1941, which pulled the U.S. into World War II in opposition to the Axis powers.
Further, the Capitol was attacked at least four times before Jan. 6, 2021, three of those times after the Civil War.
In 1814, British soldiers burned the Capitol during the War of 1812. It took about five years to rebuild the House chamber.
In 1954, four Puerto Rican terrorists—Andres Figueroa Cordero, Lolita Lebrón, Irvin Flores Rodríguez, and Rafael Cancel Miranda—attacked the Capitol. Unlike those who got inside the Capitol building in 2021, these terrorists were armed with guns. The four opened fire from the House gallery, wounding five lawmakers: Reps. Alvin Bentley, Ben Jensen, Clifford Davis, George Hyde Fallon, and Kenneth Roberts.
In 1971, a domestic terrorist group called the Weather Underground bombed the Capitol, causing $300,000 worth of damage. No one was harmed. The so-called Weathermen returned in 1983 and set off another bomb that “tore through the second floor of the Capitol’s north wing,” according to the Senate’s history site. No fatalities occurred in this case either.
During the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, several rioters were carrying pepper spray or bear spray, and wielding flagpoles as clubs in attacking law enforcement officers.
Two people died directly from the violence on Jan. 6, 2021, but as many as seven others died indirectly from the events of the day, based on a tally of deaths published in The New York Times.
5. Police Reform
Biden introduced the parents of Tyre Nichols, the 29-year-old man who was fatally beaten by Memphis police officers, as he called for police reform Tuesday night during his State of the Union address.
Biden left out the fact that Senate Democrats blocked a police reform bill in 2020.
“There are no words to describe the heartbreak and grief of losing a child,” Biden said. “But imagine what it’s like to lose a child at the hands of the law.”
Biden went on to quote Nichols’ mother, Kristin Christensen: “With faith in God, she said her son ‘was a beautiful soul and something good will come from this.’”
Biden called for Congress to “give law enforcement the training they need [and] hold them to higher standards” in a police reform bill.
“Let’s commit ourselves to make the words of Tyre’s mother come true: Something good must come from this,” Biden later said. “All of us in this chamber, we need to rise to this moment. We can’t turn away. Let’s do what we know in our hearts we need to do. Let’s come together and finish the job on police reform.”
In 2020, after the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota by a police officer, Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., proposed a police reform bill that would create a national policing commission to review the criminal justice system; collect data on use of force by police officers; ban the use of chokeholds by federal officers; and withhold federal funds from state and local law enforcement agencies that don’t ban chokeholds.
Scott’s bill also would withhold federal money from police departments that fail to report no-knock warrants to the Justice Department.
However, Senate Democrats—then in the minority—blocked Scott’s legislation from coming to a vote. Then-Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said the bill from Scott, who is black, was a “token, half-hearted approach.”
Senate Republicans offered to allow floor votes on as many amendments as Democrats wanted. However, during negotiations, Scott said that Democrats said, “We’re not here to talk about that,” and “walked out.”
6. Schools and COVID-19
Biden opened his address with, “Two years ago, COVID had shut down our businesses, closed our schools, and robbed us of so much. Today, COVID no longer controls our lives.”
While Biden now celebrates victory over COVID-19 and the ending of pandemic school closures, his appointees and poor leadership kept classrooms closed far longer than necessary.
The president claimed in a 2021 interview with “CBS Evening News” that closed schools were a “national emergency,” but his solution only included “well-ventilated rooms” and classrooms with very few students.
While Biden’s team promised “to have the majority of schools, so more than 50%, open by Day 100 of his presidency,” the administration later walked the definition of “open” back to include classrooms only open one day a week, hybrid virtual options, and testing proctor sites.
His appointees fared much worse.
Biden’s appointee for deputy secretary of education fought to keep the San Diego Unified School District locked down as superintendent. She refused to set a timeline for any schools to reopen.
Rochelle Walensky, Biden’s pick to head the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, collaborated behind closed doors with the American Federation of Teachers to change the CDC’s recommendation for school reopenings and other COVID-19 guidelines. Unions across the country would vote to keep classrooms virtual well into 2022.
Additionally, progressive groups like teachers unions and liberal media outlets constantly belittled those who desired for schools to reopen—accusing parents and students of racism, bigotry, and murder.
Then-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo suggested children who went back to school might “kill grandma.”
Chicago Public Schools’ teachers union accused the desire to reopen schools as rooted in “sexism, racism and misogyny.”
Republican governors and parents’ rights activists fought, on the other hand, to reopen schools and keep them open. President Donald Trump came under considerable fire for suggesting governors “seriously consider” reopening schools in April 2020.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, announced recommendations to reopen Florida’s entire education system at “full capacity” in June 2020. He later slammed Biden over the sluggish national pace of schools reopening in 2021 as a “pathetic failure of leadership.”
Along with DeSantis, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, signed executive orders to forbid schools from enforcing mask mandates—actions that Biden’s Department of Education openly condemned.
Corey DeAngelis, a senior fellow at the American Federation for Children, told The Daily Signal:
Biden should rename himself the gaslighter-in-chief. Teachers unions—who own Democratic politicians—held children’s education hostage to secure multiple multibillion-dollar ransom payments from taxpayers. And it worked for them. The federal government allocated about $190 billion in so-called COVID relief to K-12 schools since March 2020. The push to keep schools closed was always more about politics and power than safety and the needs of children. Parents aren’t dumb. They’ll never forget how teachers unions hurt their children by fighting to keep schools closed for so long.
Biden may claim that he fought to reopen schools, but does so omitting the timeline and manner in which he advocated. Biden was well over a year behind Republicans in reopening schools—while appointing staff who directly opposed and obstructed the process of putting students back in classrooms.
“Inflation has been a global problem because of the pandemic that disrupted supply chains and Putin’s war that disrupted energy and food supplies,” Biden said, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.
Although it’s true that inflation has hit other nations’ economies, it did not start in the U.S. at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, nor did it begin during Russia’s war on Ukraine. The president’s description of the inflation problem is misleading at best.
When Biden was sworn into office Jan. 20, 2021, inflation stood at 1.4%. As it began to rise in 2021, Biden called high inflation a “transitory” issue. By June of the next year, inflation hit 9.1, a 40-year high.
The rate of inflation increase has slowed, but it remains a significant problem that is eroding the savings of Americans.
“While the rate of price increases has certainly slowed in recent months, as government deficit-spending also slowed and the Federal Reserve hiked interest rates, prices are still up about 14% under Biden,” wrote EJ Antoni, an economics expert at The Heritage Foundation. “That is substantially more than the increase in average earnings.”
In fact, as Antoni also wrote in November, the average American family lost over $7,000 because of inflation under Biden.
The Inflation Reduction Act, signed by Biden in 2022, has done little to reduce inflation. In fact, it mostly added to the government spending.
This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal