5 takeaways from President Joe Biden's CNN town hall

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CNN 21 July, 2021 - 10:28pm 24 views

AP FACT CHECK: Biden is too categorical on COVID vaccines

The Washington Post 21 July, 2021 - 08:19pm

Also Biden inflated the impact of his policies on U.S. jobs created in his first half-year in office, misleadingly stating his administration had done more than any other president. He neglects to mention he had population growth on his side in his comparison.

A look at his remarks in a CNN town hall:

BIDEN: “If you’re vaccinated, you’re not going to be hospitalized, you’re not going to be in the IC unit, and you’re not going to die.” — town hall.

THE FACTS: His remark accurately captures the strong protection the COVID-10 vaccines provide as cases spike among people who have resisted the shots. But it overlooks the rare exceptions.

As of July 12, the government had tallied 5,492 vaccinated people who tested positive for coronavirus and were hospitalized or died. That’s out of more than 159 million fully vaccinated Americans. The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, said “99.5% of all deaths from COVID-19 are in the unvaccinated.”

BIDEN: “You’re not going to get COVID if you have these vaccinations.” — town hall.

THE FACTS: Again, he painted with too broad a brush as he described in stark terms the disparity between those who got their shots and those who haven’t. The disparity is real, but a small number of breakthrough infections happen and health officials say they are not a cause for alarm.

No vaccines are perfect, and the government is keeping a close eye on whether new coronavirus mutants start to outsmart the COVID-19 shots. But for now, federal health officials say even when breakthrough infections occur, they tend to be mild — the vaccines so far remain strongly protective against serious illness.

BIDEN, asked about vaccinated people who get infected: “It may be possible, I know of none where they’re hospitalized, in ICU and or have passed away so at a minimum I can say even if they did contract it, which I’m sorry they did, it’s such a tiny percentage and it’s not life threatening.” — remarks to reporters after the event.

THE FACTS: Once again, too categorical. That is evident from the CDC’s finding that 5,492 vaccinated people who tested positive for coronavirus were hospitalized or died as of July 12. That’s not “none.” But he is correct that it is a small percentage of the more than 159 million fully vaccinated Americans.

BIDEN: “We’ve created more jobs in the first six months of our administration than any time in American history. No president, no administration, has ever created as many jobs.” — town hall.

THE FACTS: His claim is misleading.

While Biden’s administration in the first half year as president has seen more jobs created than any other president — just over 3 million in the five months tracked by jobs reports — that’s partly because the U.S. population is larger than in the past.

When calculated as a percentage of the workforce, job growth under President Jimmy Carter increased more quickly from February through June 1977 than the same five months this year: 2.2% for Carter, compared with 2.1% for Biden.

Since the late 1970s, the U.S. population has grown by more than 100 million people.

It’s true, though, that the economy is growing rapidly — it expanded at a 6.4% annual rate in the first three months of the year — and is expected to grow this year at the fastest pace since 1984.

Biden’s $1.9 trillion rescue package contributed to the vigorous growth, but much of the expansion also reflects a broader bounce-back from the unusually sharp pandemic recession, the deepest downturn since the 1930s. Even before Biden’s package, for example, the International Monetary Fund was projecting U.S. growth of over 5% for this year.

Biden is also leaving out the fact that the U.S. economy remains 6.8 million jobs short of its pre-pandemic level, and the unemployment rate is an elevated 5.9%, up from a five-decade low of 3.5% before the pandemic.

Associated Press writers Lauran Neergaard and Christopher Rugaber in Washington and David Klepper in Providence, Rhode Island, contributed to this report.

EDITOR’S NOTE — A look at the veracity of claims by political figures.

Find AP Fact Checks at http://apnews.com/APFactCheck

President Joe Biden in Cincinnati: 'We're gonna fix that damn bridge'

WLWT Cincinnati 21 July, 2021 - 08:17pm

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President Joe Biden expressed pointed frustration Wednesday over the slowing COVID-19 vaccination rate in the U.S. and pleaded that it's "gigantically important” for Americans to step up and get inoculated against the virus as it surges once again.

Biden, speaking at a televised town hall in Cincinnati, said the public health crisis has turned largely into a plight of the unvaccinated as the spread of the delta variant has led to a surge in infections around the country.

“We have a pandemic for those who haven’t gotten the vaccination — it’s that basic, that simple,” he said on the CNN town hall.

The president also expressed optimism that children under 12 will be approved for vaccination in the coming months. But he displayed exasperation that so many eligible Americans are still reluctant to get a shot.

"If you’re vaccinated, you’re not going to be hospitalized, you’re not going to be in the IC unit, and you’re not going to die," Biden said at the forum at Mount St. Joseph University. "So it’s gigantically important that ... we all act like Americans who care about our fellow Americans.”

Over 80 minutes, Biden fielded questions on many of the pressing issues of the day, including his infrastructure package, voting rights and the makeup of the congressional commission that will investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. He also reflected on what it’s like to be president, saying he’s sometimes taken aback by the pomp that comes with the job and the weight of being “the last guy in the room” left to make the call on daunting decisions.

Six months into his presidency, taming the coronavirus remains his most pressing problem.

U.S. hospitalizations and deaths are nearly all among the unvaccinated. But COVID-19 cases nearly tripled in the U.S. over two weeks amid an onslaught of vaccine misinformation that is straining hospitals, exhausting doctors and pushing clergy into the fray.

Across the U.S., the seven-day rolling average for daily new cases rose over the past two weeks to more than 37,000 on Tuesday, up from less than 13,700 on July 6, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Just 56.2% of Americans have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The president noted that the rise has become so concerning that even his critics are pushing back against vaccine disinformation.

Biden made an indirect reference to high-profile conservative personalities at Fox News who have “had an altar call” and are now more openly speaking to their skeptical guests about the benefits of getting vaccinated. Sean Hannity recently told viewers, ”I believe in the science of vaccination" and urged them to take the disease seriously. Steve Doocy, who cohosts “Fox & Friends,” this week told viewers the vaccination “will save your life.”

Asked about rising prices, Biden acknowledged “there will be near-term inflation” as the economy rebounds from the pandemic but said it was “highly unlikely long-term inflation will get out of hand.”

Biden, who traveled to Ohio as he's trying to rev up support for his economic agenda, visited a union training center ahead of the town hall.

The trip comes as the fate of his infrastructure proposal remains unclear after Senate Republicans rejected a $1 trillion blueprint i n a key test vote Wednesday. A bipartisan group of 22 senators said in a joint statement after the vote that they were close to coming to terms on a deal and requested a delay until Monday.

Biden expressed confidence in the outcome, saying, “It’s a good thing and I think we’re going to get it done.”

While lawmakers wrangle over the details of that proposal on Capitol Hill, Biden made the case that his nearly $4 trillion package is needed to rebuild the middle class and sustain the economic growth the country has seen during the first six months of his presidency.

The president’s visit took him near the dangerously outdated Brent Spence Bridge — a chokepoint for trucks and emergency vehicles between Ohio and Kentucky that the past two presidents promised without success to replace.

Biden made a passing reference to the structure, telling town hall attendees it's time to “fix that damn bridge of yours.”

He delved into the personal when he faced a question about the scourge of drug addiction, noting he's “so damn proud” of his son Hunter Biden, who has published a memoir about his struggles with substance abuse. The president also noted he feels a bit self-conscious about some of the fringe benefits that come with the office. He elicited laughter when he said he told some of the White House staff not to come in to serve breakfast. The real reason: The president likes to eat breakfast in his robe.

Biden defended the filibuster against repeated questions from CNN moderator Don Lemon about why he feels the need to protect what some critics argue is a legislative tactic once used to protect racist policies.

He said he’s trying to bring the country together around the need to protect voting rights, and he doesn’t want “the debate to only be about whether or not we have a filibuster.” Biden said if Democrats removed the filibuster “you’re going to throw the entire Congress into chaos and nothing will get done.”

Back in Washington, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday rejected two Republicans selected by House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy to sit on a committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. McCarthy said the GOP won’t participate in the investigation if Democrats won’t accept the members he appointed.

Lemon asked how Biden could have confidence that Republicans and Democrats can get together on anything when they can’t even come to agreement on investigating the most brazen attack on the U.S. Capitol in 200 years.

Biden simply replied, “These people,” a nod to forum’s spectators and his faith in Americans writ large. But Biden seemed to also acknowledge the partisan rift in Washington had become maddening.

“I don’t care if you think I’m Satan reincarnated,” Biden said. “The fact is you can’t look at that television and say nothing happened on the 6th and listen to people who say this was a peaceful march."

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Outraged pro-life Catholics call for protests over Biden appearance at a Catholic university

Fox News 21 July, 2021 - 03:40pm

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Podcast host Allie Beth Stuckey predicts there will be 'buyers remorse' among pro-life individuals who voted for Biden on 'Fox News Primetime'

Catholics and pro-life advocates are speaking out against President Biden’s Wednesday night appearance at a Catholic university in Cincinnati, Ohio and urging protesters to show up at the event.

"The university is hosting a president who claims to be Catholic, yet has the most pro-abortion adminstration in the history of our country?" Right To Life Of Greater Cincinnati said in a statement Wednesday while also providing instructions for how to go about protesting the event. 

"President Biden carries responsibility for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of unborn lives," the statement added. 

The town hall event, which will be moderated by CNN’s Don Lemon and is scheduled to air at 8 p.m. EST at Mount Saint Joseph University on Wednesday, has drawn the ire of many of the roughly 400,000 Catholics in the Cincinnati area. 

Cincinnati Auditor Dusty Rhodes, a Catholic Democrat, also spoke out against Biden's appearance, terming him the "most pro-abortion president we’ve ever had" and calling the decision to host him "unconscionable."

"For the Sisters of Charity, an alleged Catholic order, to allow him to use their facilities is just sending all the wrong signals," Rhodes said.

The university has stood by the decision to host Biden, citing the school’s desire to be inclusive. 

"The University has always been and will continue to be a diverse and inclusive place where people from different races, ethnicities, social backgrounds, beliefs, and religions can come together to discuss and share their unique perspectives," the school said. "We look forward to introducing the Mount to a nationally televised prime time audience."

Biden, who attends Mass regularly, has said he personally opposes abortion but doesn’t feel that belief should be imposed on others who disagree. 

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