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Assessing Claims within the Coronavirus Stimulus Debate

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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 reality examine of some widespread speaking factors.

WHAT WAS SAID

“That is alleged to be a Covid invoice. Solely 9 p.c 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 p.c 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 p.c, or $160 billion of the $1.9 trillion package deal, is allotted particularly to preventing the coronavirus.

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

And like the primary two aid payments signed by President Donald J. Trump and an alternate measure proposed this yr 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.

WHAT WAS SAID

“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 p.c 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 somewhat “merely being funded proportionately” to different comparable 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 methods throughout the nation. About $1 billion of that goes to a Transportation Division grant program to make sure that already permitted 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” confer 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 deal with the well being consequence disparities from air pollution and the pandemic.

WHAT WAS SAID

“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 examine. 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 situations with virtually identical language.

WHAT WAS SAID

“There’s over a trillion {dollars} of cash unspent from earlier aid payments that have 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 concentrate on what’s occurred already, $4 trillion value of stimulus has been handed. There’s nonetheless a trillion {dollars}’ value, 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 Funds’s coronavirus spending tracker as his supply for this declare. In keeping with 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 information lags, additionally clarify a number of the disparity.

WHAT WAS SAID

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

“We have to get and observe the science and get youngsters again to high school. This invoice doesn’t do this.” — Mr. McCarthy, in an interview this week on Fox Information.

That is deceptive. The invoice units apart $128.5 billion for funding Okay-12 colleges by the Elementary and Secondary Faculty Emergency Reduction Fund. The Congressional Funds Workplace estimated that $6.4 billion of that can be spent within the 2021 fiscal yr, which ends in September.

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

In a letter to congressional leaders, schooling teams wrote that the notion that colleges didn’t want extra funding due to how a lot they’d spend this yr was “inaccurate.”

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

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

Nothing within the invoice explicitly delays college 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 must be made by native college districts in session with public well being officers,” mentioned Joshua Weisz, the communications director for the committee. “Congress shouldn’t be coercing colleges into reopening.”

WHAT WAS SAID

“If we don’t go the American Rescue Plan, 40 million People will lose dietary help by a program we name SNAP, the outdated meals stamp program. Will 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 FactCheck.org 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 People who depend on the Supplemental Vitamin Help Program in dropping all of their advantages. Quite, the stimulus package signed into law in December briefly elevated meals stamp advantages by 15 p.c from January to June. The present invoice and Mr. Biden’s plan would prolong that improve to September.

WHAT WAS SAID

“For instance, if it went — if we steadily elevated it — after we listed it at $7.20, if we stored it listed by — to inflation, folks 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 most probably 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 stored up with productiveness, it could be about $24.

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