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Fact check: Breaking down Joe Biden's first month of claims

February 23, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 24.4%. 4 min read.

President Joe Biden was more consistently factual in his first month in office than his predecessor ever was in office. But Biden was not perfect.

You can click here for a fact check on the CNN town hall in which Biden was repeatedly inaccurate, here for a fact check of a quite accurate economic speech Biden made in January, and here for a fact check on Biden's January exaggeration about early media coverage of his goal of having 100 million Covid-19 vaccine doses administered in 100 days.

Biden told reporters before his January 29 visit with wounded soldiers at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center: ". . . as vice president, every single Christmas, we spent all of Christmas day at Walter Reed. " He told military personnel in a chat upon his arrival: "For eight years, as uh, vice president, I'd come here, we'd -- the whole family would spend every Christmas day here, all day. "

Asked whether Joe Biden did visit Walter Reed on Christmas in 2012, 2015 and 2016, the White House official did not answer directly.

Responding to a question that asked generally about racial disparities in health care and specifically about the relatively low rates at which Black and Hispanic people were being vaccinated for Covid-19, Biden said at the CNN town hall that he met with the Congressional Black Caucus and agreed that "all of the community health centers now, which take care of the toughest of the toughest neighborhoods in terms of illness, they are going to get a million doses, you know, a week. . . "

Facts First: Biden was right that his administration planned to send community health centers one million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine -- but wrong when he said it would one million doses "a week. " Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, chair of the administration's Covid-19 Health Equity Task Force, had explained that the plan was to send the million doses over the "initial phase" of their program.

Speaking about how well he knows Chinese President Xi Jinping, Biden claimed twice that he has traveled 17,000 miles with Xi. For example, Biden said in a February 5 interview with CBS Evening News anchor Norah O'Donnell, "I probably spent more time with Xi Jinping, I'm told, than any world leader has because I had 24, 25 hours of private meetings with him when I was vice president.

Biden said at the National Institutes of Health on February 11: "When I got to office, there was no federal plan -- none -- to ship vaccines directly to local pharmacies. "

Specifically, it's worth noting that Biden's administration did not come up with the idea of shipping vaccines directly to local pharmacies; the Trump administration said in fall 2020 that this was its own intention.

However, we aren't calling Biden's claim false or misleading because two sources in the pharmacy industry said the Trump administration never presented an actual plan to turn its concept into reality.

But it doesn't change the fact that we don't yet know for sure whether Biden's general claim that "suicides are up" is correct.

Collins spokeswoman Annie Clark told CNN that Collins did not "change" her vote -- Collins had never decided to vote No before she voted Yes -- and that, while Biden was "was among those who advocated for the bill," Collins negotiated the actual details with four other Democratic officials: then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, then-White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, then-Senator Joe Lieberman, and then-Office of Management and Budget director Peter Orszag.

Biden said during January 29 remarks on his pandemic relief plan: "Thirty million Americans don't have enough food to eat this week. "

Biden said in a January 27 environmental speech: "Unlike previous administrations, I don't think the federal government should give handouts to Big Oil to the tune of $40 billion in fossil fuel subsidies. "

Facts First: Biden has a reasonable factual basis for this claim, but it's worth noting that the accuracy of the "$40 billion" figure depends on what you consider a "handout to Big Oil" and what time period you are looking at.

When we asked the White House about this claim, Biden's team referred CNN to a 2012 Bloomberg article about an Obama-administration budget proposal to cut more than $40 billion in various forms of subsidies for oil, gas and coal companies over 10 years -- so at least 2. 5 presidential terms.

In a January 28 speech about health care executive orders, Biden said the orders would "undo" damage done by Trump.

In 2010, CNN reported, "Three mortar rounds struck harmlessly inside Baghdad's Green Zone on Sunday night during a weekend visit by U. S. Vice President Joe Biden, U. S. and Iraqi officials said. "

Biden said in a January 26 speech on racial issues: "Black and Latino Americans are dying of Covid-19 at rates nearly three times that of White Americans. "

Biden said in the environmental speech: "And I might note, parenthetically: If you notice, the attitude of the American people toward greater impetus on focusing on climate change and doing something about it has increased across the board -- Democrat, Republican, independent. "

Biden said in the environmental speech: "Already, 84 percent of all new electric capacity planned to come onto the electric grid this is year is clean energy. "

Biden said in the environmental speech: "[T]he Defense Department reported that climate change is a direct threat to more than two thirds of the military's operational critical installations. "

The pandemic: Biden was correct that January 2021 was the deadliest US month of the pandemic (with more than 95,000 deaths, per the latest Johns Hopkins University data); that more than 24 million Americans had been infected with the virus as of late January; that the US had 25 percent of the world's confirmed Covid-19 cases with just 4 percent of the world's population (though it's important to note that international statistics do not capture all actual cases); that studies have shown that air pollution is associated with an increased risk of death from Covid-19; that there was initial talk that it could take years or even decades before there was a Covid-19 vaccine; and that, in January, experts predicted more than 100,000 more US deaths from the virus.

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