In his first speech to Congress, President Joe Biden argued that it was time to turn the coronavirus pandemic into a historic opportunity to expand the government for the benefit of a wide range of Americans, urging them to invest in places of work, climate change, child care, infrastructure and more.
Biden said taxes on businesses and the rich should be raised to pay for new spending, as well as to deal with rising inequality.
“My fellow Americans, the drip economy has never worked. It’s time to grow the economy from the bottom up and in the middle,” Biden said.
He has repeatedly urged Congress to act on various measures, including issues such as arms control and immigration that have frozen Congress for decades. He said the proposed police reforms should be enacted in the wake of George Floyd’s death and specifically urged bipartisan consensus.
“I know Republicans have their own ideas and engage in productive discussions with Democrats. We need to work together to find a consensus,” Biden said.
And he recounted a visit he made to a mass vaccination clinic in Glendale, Arizona. “I asked a nurse what it’s like,” Biden said. “He looked up and said every shot looks like a dose of hope.”
The coronavirus pandemic limited the audience to 200 members of Congress and other masked and distanced officials, below a typical audience of about 1,600.
Only two members of the president’s cabinet were invited: Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. Chief Justice John Roberts represented the Supreme Court. First lady Jill Biden’s guests they were invited to watch the event virtually.
And for the first time in U.S. history, two women sat directly behind the president as he delivered his speech: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and Vice President Kamala Harris, the first woman to speak. he held this office.
“Madam Vice President,” Biden said. “No president has ever said those words and it’s time.”
For the most part, Biden’s statements about his progress and future plans were aligned with estimates from think tanks or government data. In some cases, he set aside information that would give a complete view of Americans. Our PolitiFact partners checked their statements on various topics. You can read his full story here. Biden also discussed the ongoing COVID pandemic and other health issues. Here are some highlights of his speech:
“During those 100 days, an additional 800,000 Americans enrolled in the Accordable Care Act when I set a special registration period to do so. 800,000 in that period.”
This seems accurate, but it needs context.
Biden created a special enrollment period so Americans could take out health insurance through the Affordable Care Act market plans, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This special registration period began on February 15 and will run until August 15. Seconds published numbers by the Department of Health and Human Services, more than 528,000 Americans signed up for health insurance coverage from the start of this special enrollment period through March 31st. A senior administration official said Biden’s reference to the 800,000 new registrations reflected the most up-to-date. the date, although not previously announced.
“When I took the oath of office on January 20, less than 1% of the elderly in America were completely vaccinated against COVID-19. One hundred days later, 70% of people over the age of 65 are protected. of older people for COVID-19 have fallen by 80% since January “.
This is largely accurate, but there are uncertainties in the data.
According to the Monitoring of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 0.8% of those 65 and older had been vaccinated on January 20. So Biden is right on this point.
However, when Biden took office, the U.S. vaccination program had only been in place for about a month: Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were not authorized for emergency use until mid-December. I initial recommendations of the Independent Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices gave priority to the vaccination of health workers and then to long-term care center residents. The next two phases included people aged 75 and over and then 65 or older, meaning some states may not have started vaccinating these age groups until mid-January.
As of Wednesday, the CDC reported the proportion of those age 65 and older who had received full doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and were fully protected at around 70%, which was 68.3%. . The percentage who has received at least one dose is higher: 82%.
A senior administration official provided CDC mortality data for all Americans, but not specific statistics on seniors. These data show that the COVID daily mortality rate fell by almost 80% from January 20 to April 27.
He Associated press reported on April 22 that the best available data appeared to show deaths from COVID for people 65 and older had decreased by more than 50% from the high in January, but said the “image is not entirely clear because the latest data on deaths by age from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is incomplete and subject to review. “
The recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic was “the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.”
Two key metrics make a backup.
The greatest economic success since the Great Depression in the 1930s, it was generally considered the Great Recession from 2007 to 2009, but the recession caused by the pandemic dealt a severe blow.
The maximum unemployment rate in the Great Recession was 10% in October 2009, but this is evident compared to the maximum unemployment rate during the pandemic, 14.8% in April 2020 .
Senator Tim Scott and the Republican response
Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), the only black Republican in the Senate, was chosen to deliver the GOP’s rebuttal to Biden’s speech. He said the president is dividing Americans and has not fulfilled his promise of unity.
“I want to have an honest conversation,” Scott said. “On common sense and common ground. On that feeling that our nation is getting rid of its shared foundations and how we move forward together.”
PolitiFact proven five of Scott’s statements, including this statement in which he stated that schools have long carried out face-to-face learning without danger.
“Our public schools should have reopened months ago … Private and religious schools did. Science has shown for months that schools are safe.”
Scott’s statement about what science has shown is generally accurate, but it omits public health experts ’warnings that schools should implement infection control precautions.
“Most private and religious schools have been open most of the school year and the vast majority have been very successful with minimal transmission to the school,” said Dr. David Rosen, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington at St. Lluís. “But this is based on the premise that schools are conducting appropriate mitigation, especially universal masking and preventing symptomatic children from being in the classroom.”
There have also been many examples of large public school districts that have had very few cases of SARS-CoV-2 transmitted in the classroom, Rosen said.
The American Academy of Pediatrics published guidance in June 2020 this said, “All policy considerations for the coming school year should begin with the goal of having students physically present in school” by the fall semester of 2020. Recommendations included requiring students to wear masks, maintain a physical distance of 3 to 6 feet and potentially include temperature testing and controls in the safety protocol.
Schools have become increasingly open to face-to-face training throughout the year, but some remain virtual. As of April 19, 4% of districts were fully remote, while 47% of districts were fully face-to-face and about 48% of districts offer some form of hybrid instruction, according to a tracker from the American Enterprise Institute.
Rosen said it was right to close schools in March 2020 when we didn’t know much about the virus.
“We continued to learn during the summer of 2020, and in the fall, it was pretty clear that the virus wasn’t so morbid in children and that masking was key to preventing the spread from person to person,” Rosen said.