‘Bottomless Pinocchio’: Biden’s ‘highly misleading’ deficit claim hammered by fact checker

The Washington Post’s supposed “fact-checker” actually performed his job for a change this week and fact-checked President Joe Biden’s latest glaring lie.

The unexpected fact-check was published Friday in response to something the president had said three days earlier at the North America’s Building Trades Unions event.

“As a matter of fact, my first two years in office I’ve lowered the deficit by a record $1.7 trillion. Lowered the deficit — the debt,” the president had said.

Fact-check: FALSE!

In his fact-check, the Post’s Glenn Kessler not only called out this lie, but he also complained about how often the president has repeated the lie.

“[A]s we have documented before, Biden’s talking point is highly misleading — worthy of Three Pinocchios. Yet he keeps saying it over and over. By our count, at least 30 times since June he’s taken credit for reducing the budget deficit by $1.7 trillion,” Kessler wrote.

“Why is this significant? Readers may recall that during Donald Trump’s presidency, we established a new category, the Bottomless Pinocchio, to account for false or misleading statements repeated so often that they became a form of propaganda. A statement would get added to the list if it had earned a Three or Four Pinocchios rating and been repeated at least 20 times. By the end of the Trump presidency, 56 claims made by Trump had qualified,” he added.

And since the president has repeated the deficit lie “over and over” again, Kessler decided to award him with a Bottomless Pinocchio as well.

To be clear, this isn’t the first time the president’s received a Bottomless Pinocchio.

“We’d previously given Biden a Bottomless Pinocchio for claiming — without any evidence — that he’s traveled 17,000 miles with Chinese president Xi Jinping. He’s still saying that line, most recently during a speech to the Irish parliament on April 13,” Kessler noted in his fact-check.

And so he’s only received two Bottomless Pinocchios thus far, despite his presidency being littered with lie after lie after lie …

In explaining why Biden’s latest lie is a lie, Kessler noted first that the $1.7 trillion number was obtained by subtracting the deficit in fiscal year 2022 ($1.375 trillion) from the deficit in fiscal year 2020 ($3.132 trillion).

And so the deficit did drop by $1.7 trillion in two years. The problem is that the president had very little to do with this drop.

“The Congressional Budget Office, the official scorekeeper, in February 2021 already estimated the budget deficit would fall dramatically in fiscal 2021 and 2022 because emergency pandemic spending would lapse,” Kessler wrote.

“The combined 2021 and 2022 budget deficits were projected by the CBO in 2021 to be $3.31 trillion. In November, the CBO said the combined deficits were in fact $4.15 trillion,” he added.

What happened? The president actually made things worse by passing additional COVID spending.

“For instance, the deficit was projected to be about $1 trillion in 2022, and it turned out to be about $1.375 trillion. It was supposed to decline $875 billion in 2021, and it was actually $360 billion under Biden. All told, in those two years Biden increased the national debt about $850 billion more than originally projected,” Kessler noted.

Kessler continued by citing Marc Goldwein of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, who’d calculated that inflation negatively impacted projected GDP and that when the 2022 fiscal year ended in September, “the deficit turned out to be 5.5 percent of GDP in 2022, even higher than the CBO projection at the start of 2021.”

In other words, again the data shows the deficit picture has worsened under Biden,” the WaPo “fact-checker” wrote.

But it gets worse.

“Moreover, going forward, Biden has enacted legislation that will require the federal government to borrow even more, such as the bipartisan infrastructure bill ($370 billion in additional deficits over 10 years), health and disability benefits for veterans exposed to toxic substances ($280 billion), the CHIPS Act for semiconductor manufacturing expansion in the United States ($80 billion) and student loan debt relief and repayment pauses ($750 billion),” Kessler explained.

More money, more problems …

Kessler concluded the fact-check by awarding the president his second Bottomless Pinocchio.

“In his battle with congressional Republicans, who claim they are concerned about rising deficits, through sleight of hand, the president repeatedly has claimed he achieved historic deficit reduction because of his policies,” he wrote.

“Budget numbers often make people’s eyes glaze over and so, from a communications perspective, it’s easy to manipulate the math. But the numbers don’t lie. The president earns his second Bottomless Pinocchio,” he added.


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Vivek Saxena


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