Trump’s Repetitive Lies and Biden’s Half-Truths at The Town Halls

Both candidates took on questions from voters and made several misleading statements. Here’s what they got wrong.

6 min read
Both candidates took on questions from voters and made several misleading statements. Here’s what they got wrong.

After the second presidential debate was cancelled, US President Donald Trump and Democratic Candidate Joe Biden held simultaneous town halls on Thursday night, 15 October.

Moderated by ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos, Biden spoke at the National Constitution Centre in Philadelphia while Trump held his own NBC News town hall at the Pérez Art Museum in Miami simultaneously.

Both the candidates took on questions from voters and made several misleading and false statements along the way. Here’s what the duo got wrong.


1. Trump on COVID-19

Trump stated that the COVID-19 death rate in “the U.K. is up 2,500 percent, the EU is up 722 percent and the United States is down 21 percent.”

It is unclear which time periods were used by Trump to arrive at these figures, since he doesn’t specify any. According to our calculations with the data provided by statistics and data analysis site, Our World In Data, Trump is calculating the percentage change of COVID-19 deaths from their peak in April to that of today.

However, for European Union and the United Kingdom, he has used the figures of their lowest COVID-19 death figures in the month of August to calculate the percentage change up to 15 October.

Thus, Trump’s comparison of his peak figures with EU and UK’s lowest figure is unfair and a misleading statement on the COVID-19 death rates in these regions.

It also important to note that the number of daily deaths in UK and EU have consistently remained lower than US.

He also falsely stated that “they came out with a statement that 85% of the people who wear masks catch” the virus.

Trump is referring to a study published by Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, published on 11 September. The study shows that “adults with COVD-19 were more than twice as likely to have reported dining at a restaurant before getting sick compared to adults without COVID-19.”

85 percent of the approximately 150 COVID-19 patients in the study, reported that they “always” or “often” wore a face mask in the 14 days before illness onset.

CDC had tweeted a clarification on 15 October stating “the interpretation that more mask-wearers are getting infected compared to non-mask wearers is incorrect”

The tweet also stated that people with and without the virus, had high levels of mask use in public. Despite that there are activities where masks can’t be worn, like eating or drinking. “People with COVID-19 were more likely to have eaten in a restaurant,” according to the study.

2. Trump on US Economy

Like on several occasions before, Trump iterated that “we had the greatest economy we have ever had, last year”

According to World Bank’s data, while the US economy did grow, the annual growth rate was down to 2.3 percent in 2019 from 2.9 percent in 2018.

The annual growth rate was at 2.88 percent in 2015, under Obama’s administration, higher than Trump’s figures in 2019.

Fact-checking site, Politifact has also disputed Trump’s claims earlier, stating that while unemployment was down, the GDP growth “was well below that of prior presidents.”

Several factors impact the economy of the country, other than the the President’s actions, but in Trump’s case, even those were “disappointing,” economist Steve Fazzari told Politifact.

“According to its supporters, the tax cut was supposed to rocket GDP growth upward and, in particular, stimulate business capital investment. Neither has happened,” Fazzari said.


3. Trump on Voter Mail-In Ballots

The President again made misleading statements on the mail-in ballots system of voting for the US elections.

Pointing out isolated incidents of mail ballots being dumped, Trump stated, “Fifty thousand in Ohio, the great state of Ohio. Fifty thousand in another location, I think North Carolina. Five hundred thousand applications in Virginia. No, no, there is a tremendous problem.”

The Quint had reported earlier on the safety of the mail-in ballot system.

Studies show that cases of voter fraud are rare. Trump is relying on isolated incidents to make misleading claims about the accuracy of the system.

As opposed to Trumps claim on thousands of ballots being found in dumpsters, CNN had reported that 98 ballots had turned up in a dumpster in New Jersey. The Department of Justice had also charged the mail carrier for delay and obstruction in delivering mail.

Further, the incident in Virginia where 5,00,000 mail-in ballots were sent with the wrong return address, was on account of a misprint. The non-profit organisation has stated that it will coordinate with local election officials to re-direct the vote-by-mail applications to the proper locations, according to ABC10.

In Ohio, incorrect ballots were sent on account of a sorting error, and the Franklin County Board of Elections issued a statement that correct ballots would be delivered within the next 72 hours.

4. Trump on Employment Figures

Trump stated that, “we’ve created more jobs than this country has ever created. We were up to 160 million jobs, we were never even close to that number.”

According the Federal Bank of Reserve, St. Louis’ data, the total non-farm payroll workers stood at 151 million in March 2020 and at nearly 142 million in September 2020, which is far less than his 160 million claim.

These non-farm payroll workers do not include proprietors, private household employees, unpaid volunteers, farm employees, and the unincorporated self-employed,

Further, The Quint had earlier reported that these employment figures lack the context of the high unemployment rates in the country.

In April, the unemployment rate had peaked at 14.7 percent, showing an increase of 10.3 percentage points, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic and stay at home orders. According to the Labour Department, this is the highest rate and the largest over-the-month increase in the history of the series.

5. Trump on His Work for African-Americans

“I have done more for the African-American community than any president with the exception of Abraham Lincoln,” he stated.

Trump’s claims of doing a lot for African-American, with an exception of President Lincoln, who abolished slavery, has been disputed several times before.

The Quint had earlier debunked his statement in an interview for Axios. Trump fails to recognise the work of President Lyndon Johnson towards the African-Americans.

Johnson was responsible for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which has been hailed as “the most sweeping civil rights legislation since Reconstruction”, which prohibited racial discrimination in employment and education, and outlawed segregation in public facilities.

In addition, the act also laid the foundation for the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which made rules to protect the right of African-Americans to vote, which had been curbed in the states of the Confederacy since the end of Reconstruction, a report by Politico said.


6. Trump on DACA

Trump claimed his administration had to curtail the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, created in 2012, to protect young immigrants from deportation due to the pandemic.

“Because of the pandemic, much changed on the immigration front. Mexico is heavily infected,” he stated.

Trump had moved to the Supreme Court in 2017, long before the pandemic, to immediately terminate President Barack Obama’s program that protects young undocumented immigrants.

When the SC turned down the move, his administration issued a memo instating restrictions to the new arrivals under DACA, in July 2020.

The memo, stated that “all pending and future initial requests for DACA” would be rejected.

The New York Times reported that the announcement “appears to directly contradict an order by a federal judge, who ruled last month that the administration must immediately begin accepting new applications for the program.”

Further, those already under the program would now have to renew their status every year, as opposed to the two-years provision before.

The memo clearly states that the decision was taken due to SC’s decision to invalidate Trump’s move to rescind the program, so his claims that DACA was curtailed because of the pandemic are untrue.

While Trump made several misleading and false statements, despite what experts deemed an ‘evasion’ of questions, Democratic Candidate Biden, too made a misleading comment on his plans for climate change.

Biden on Green New Deal

Democratic Candidate Joe Biden stated that, “The difference between me and the New Green Deal, they say automatically, by 2030, we’re going to be carbon free, not possible. My deal is a crucial framework, but not the New Green Deal.”

Biden wrongly referred to the ‘Green New Deal’ as “New Green,” and also misinterpreted the goal of the resolution set down to tackle environmental issues.

The deal does not seek to ‘automatically’ become carbon-free, but in fact suggests a 10-year mobilisation plan with a series of steps, to achieve net-zero emissions by 2030.

Further, while he distances himself from the deal, his campaign states, “Biden believes the Green New Deal is a crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges we face.” His plan is indeed different from the Green New Deal, as he plans on net-zero emissions by 2050.

Amid the lies and half-truths, the Candidates’ answers to pertinent issues like immigration, racial inequality, climate change and COVID-19, would play a significant role in voters’ decisions for the US Elections 2020.

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