Assessing Claims within the Coronavirus Stimulus Debate


Forward of the vote on President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package deal, lawmakers have provided an array of deceptive claims to advertise their place on the invoice. Right here’s a truth verify of some widespread speaking factors.


“That is speculated to be a Covid invoice. Solely 9 % of it goes to Covid.” — Consultant Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California and the Home minority chief, in an interview this week on Fox Information.

That is deceptive. A spokeswoman for Mr. McCarthy mentioned that the 9 % referred to the $160 billion for a nationwide vaccination program, expanded testing and a public well being jobs program, as outlined by the Biden administration. In different phrases, 8.4 %, or $160 billion of the $1.9 trillion package deal, is allotted particularly to preventing the coronavirus.

However that could be a relatively slim interpretation of pandemic-related funding. The bill also includes different well being care spending like subsidizing insurance coverage protection for laid-off employees, extending paid sick depart and funding for veterans care.

And like the primary two reduction payments signed by President Donald J. Trump and an alternate measure proposed this 12 months by 10 Republican lawmakers, a lot of the Biden plan is dedicated to offering monetary assist to households and companies harmed by the financial results of the pandemic. The $1,400 stimulus checks and extension of unemployment advantages are the 2 largest single expenditures, in line with a breakdown by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.


“We’ve run the numbers and right here’s your receipt, @SpeakerPelosi @SenSchumer,” Senator Marsha Blackburn this week on Twitter, breaking down the invoice into classes like arts, museums and library providers; Pelosi’s subway; providers together with Deliberate Parenthood; and “local weather justice.”

That is deceptive. Ms. Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee, accused Democratic management of drafting a $1.9 trillion invoice that amounted to a liberal “wishlist.” However the 4 particular areas of funding she highlighted add as much as $547 million or about 0.03 % of the entire $1.9 trillion.

“Pelosi’s subway” refers to a project to extend the Bay Area Rapid Transit system into downtown San Jose — which is an hour south of San Francisco and the district Speaker Nancy Pelosi represents. The undertaking is definitely within the district of one other Democrat, Consultant Zoe Lofgren.

A spokeswoman for the Home transportation committee mentioned that the BART extension was not receiving particular funding, however relatively “merely being funded proportionately” to different related initiatives across the nation.

Over all, the invoice consists of $30 billion to help public transit agencies, the majority of which covers operational prices of transit techniques throughout the nation. About $1 billion of that goes to a Transportation Division grant program to make sure that already authorized transit initiatives — just like the BART extension in addition to rail enhancements in Republican-led states like Indiana and Arizona — stay solvent.

“Artwork, museums, and library providers” discuss with the $135 million put aside for the Nationwide Endowment for the Arts and $200 million for the Institute of Museum and Library Providers.

The invoice additionally devotes $50 million to household planning initiatives, which Ms. Blackburn characterised as “providers together with Deliberate Parenthood.” The group shouldn’t be explicitly talked about within the invoice, but it surely has beforehand obtained household planning grants. Other grantees embrace state and native well being companies (together with Tennessee’s Division of Well being household planning program) and different nonprofits.

One other $50 million is earmarked for “environmental justice functions,” the invoice reads, and is meant to handle the well being final result disparities from air pollution and the pandemic.


“There are bailouts to Deliberate Parenthood, stimulus grants to unlawful immigrant households.” — Consultant Jim Banks, Republican of Indiana, in an interview this week on Fox Information.

That is deceptive. Mr. Banks’s declare about “unlawful immigrant households” receiving stimulus grants refers to households with blended immigration standing, not households the place all members are undocumented. Under the bill, {couples} who collectively file their taxes have to have just one legitimate Social Safety quantity to obtain a stimulus verify. However the quantity can be $1,400 for a person, not $2,800 for a pair.

In different phrases, Americans or authorized residents married to undocumented immigrants would obtain the $1,400, however their spouses wouldn’t.

The primary two rounds of stimulus checks had the identical circumstances with virtually identical language.


“There’s over a trillion {dollars} of cash unspent from earlier reduction payments that had been bipartisan. The cash’s nonetheless sitting in a checking account.” — Consultant Steve Scalise, Republican of Louisiana, in an interview this week on ABC.

“If you consider what’s occurred already, $4 trillion price of stimulus has been handed. There’s nonetheless a trillion {dollars}’ price, or near a trillion {dollars}, that hasn’t even been spent but.” — Senator Invoice Hagerty, Republican of Tennessee, in an interview this week on Fox Enterprise.

That is deceptive. In an op-ed published this month by The Washington Put up, Mr. Scalise linked to the Committee for a Accountable Federal Price range’s coronavirus spending tracker as his supply for this declare. In response to the tracker, about $3 trillion has already been spent. However that doesn’t essentially imply that $1 trillion will stay unused.

The assume tank explained in a blog post in January that “a lot of it’s already allotted or scheduled to be spent, and a small portion won’t ever be spent.” About $775 billion of the “unspent” funding got here from the $900 billion stimulus package signed into legislation in late December, in line with the weblog submit. Funding anticipated to be doled out over time (loans and Medicaid spending), in addition to knowledge lags, additionally clarify a number of the disparity.


“The truth is, 95 % of that cash can’t even be spent till 2022. Do you actually wish to wait till 2022 to begin having your child return in class? This invoice really will delay faculty reopening. That is loopy.” — Mr. Scalise in an interview this week on Fox Information.

“We have to get and comply with the science and get youngsters again to highschool. This invoice doesn’t try this.” — Mr. McCarthy, in an interview this week on Fox Information.

That is deceptive. The invoice units apart $128.5 billion for funding Ok-12 faculties by the Elementary and Secondary College Emergency Aid Fund. The Congressional Price range Workplace estimated that $6.4 billion of that can be spent within the 2021 fiscal 12 months, which ends in September.

However the finances workplace additionally mentioned that the spending fee it estimated was “topic to appreciable uncertainty.”

In a letter to congressional leaders, training teams wrote that the notion that faculties didn’t want extra funding due to how a lot they might spend this 12 months was “inaccurate.”

“In conversations with our respective memberships, they report that whereas the ‘spend fee’ could seem fairly low to these unfamiliar with state and district faculty monetary procedures and necessities, they’ve budgeted for each greenback they’re scheduled to obtain from the Covid reduction payments and are nonetheless anticipating extra important prices they are going to be unable to fulfill with out further federal funds,” the teams wrote.

A spokeswoman for Mr. McCarthy additionally famous that the invoice “gives no assurance to households that faculties will reopen” and that funding was not tied to reopening faculties.

Nothing within the invoice explicitly delays faculty reopening, nor does it situation funding on reopening. However a spokesman for the Home Schooling and Labor Committee famous that it was by no means supposed to.

“Our place has at all times been that these choices ought to be made by native faculty districts in session with public well being officers,” mentioned Joshua Weisz, the communications director for the committee. “Congress shouldn’t be coercing faculties into reopening.”


“If we don’t go the American Rescue Plan, 40 million Individuals will lose dietary help by a program we name SNAP, the previous meals stamp program. Can we not make investments $3 million — $3 billion to maintain households from going hungry?” — Mr. Biden in remarks final week at a Pfizer plant.

That is exaggerated. As noted, the White Home transcript of Mr. Biden’s remarks added “a few of” in brackets earlier than the phrases “dietary help.” That’s as a result of failure to go the invoice wouldn’t result in Individuals who depend on the Supplemental Diet Help Program in dropping all of their advantages. Quite, the stimulus package signed into law in December briefly elevated meals stamp advantages by 15 % from January to June. The present invoice and Mr. Biden’s plan would lengthen that improve to September.


“For instance, if it went — if we steadily elevated it — once we listed it at $7.20, if we saved it listed by — to inflation, individuals can be making 20 bucks an hour proper now.” — Mr. Biden final week at a CNN town hall event.

False. The federal minimal wage was last raised to $7.25 in July 2009, which if listed for shopper inflation can be about $8.81 today. Mr. Biden almost certainly meant to say “employee productiveness” as an alternative of inflation. Dean Baker, an economist at left-leaning Heart for Financial and Coverage Analysis, has estimated that if the minimal wage had saved up with productiveness, it will be about $24.

We welcome options and ideas from readers on what to fact-check on email and Twitter.