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Fact-checking Biden on GOP tax cuts, NAACP endorsement, and other false and misleading claims

While former Vice President Joe Biden has been limited in his campaign efforts due to the coronavirus pandemic, the presumptive Democratic nominee has continued to hold virtual town halls, remote interviews with the press, started a podcast and, more recently, has held several in-person roundtables.

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Holmes Lybrand
Tara Subramaniam, CNN
CNN — While former Vice President Joe Biden has been limited in his campaign efforts due to the coronavirus pandemic, the presumptive Democratic nominee has continued to hold virtual town halls, remote interviews with the press, started a podcast and, more recently, has held several in-person roundtables.

Here's a look at several incorrect and misleading claims Biden has made during these events and interviews over the past several weeks.

USPS funding and mail-in ballots

In a June 23 virtual fundraiser with former President Barack Obama, Biden claimed Trump "wants to cut off money for the post office so they cannot deliver mail-in ballots."

Facts First: While Trump has said he won't approve additional funding for the US Postal Service unless they agree to certain changes, primarily an increase in package prices, there's no evidence his intention is to prevent USPS from delivering mail-in ballots. Factcheck.org reported that the Biden campaign did not provide any instances of Trump specifically saying he wants to impede the service's ability to deliver ballots.

Trump's antipathy toward mail-in voting is no secret, as he has falsely claimed on several occasions that it is rife with fraud and could lead to the most rigged election in history. He has also previously criticized the USPS, but not in regards to the upcoming presidential election.

Some, like Virginia Rep. Gerry Connolly, are concerned that if the Postal Service can't receive the loan from the Treasury Department, the resulting operational delays and disruptions could impact mail-in voting. However, a USPS spokesperson told CNN that the Postal Service's "current financial condition will have no impact on its ability to deliver mail-in ballots this year."

Republican tax cut

While criticizing the 2017 Republican tax cut during a June 11 roundtable in Philadelphia on reopening the economy, Biden claimed that the Heritage Foundation -- a conservative think tank -- said the tax cut did not increase growth in the economy.

"Even places like the Heritage Foundation said it didn't grow the economy," Biden said of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Facts First: While economists and experts disagree as to the overall effect of the tax cut, Biden is incorrect that the Heritage Foundation "said it didn't grow the economy."

When asked about Biden's claim, the Heritage Foundation pointed us to Senior Policy Analyst and tax analyst Adam Michel's tweets pushing back against nearly the exact same claim from Biden in 2019. At the time, Michel tweeted, "I think I've written something basically every week for the last year+ that says the tax cuts are working."

In response to Biden's most recent claim, Michel tweeted, "This again?"

Heritage also pointed us to a tweet following Biden's comment from the Executive Director of Heritage Action -- a sister organization and lobbying wing of the Heritage Foundation -- Jessica Anderson who said that Biden's "false claims...have been debunked again and again" adding that "the country saw increased wage growth, business investment, and employment thanks to the law."

Blocking judges

During a June 10 town hall with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Biden was asked about older judges stepping down to allow Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to usher new judges through the Senate. In response Biden suggested that Senate Democrats should somehow block that from happening.

"At this point if he does that I'm going to urge the Democrats in the U.S. Senate to block the ability to have a vote on those judges," Biden said. "We only have 140-some days left to go. We are not going to let that happen."

Facts First: It's unclear how Biden would propose stopping Senate Republicans from approving judges because Republicans only need a simple majority -- which they currently have -- to approve judges.

In 2013, Senate Democrats -- under the leadership of Harry Reid -- removed the filibuster for many Presidential nominations. Senate Republicans now only need 51 votes to break a filibuster and approve a judicial nomination. They currently hold 53 seats.

Hispanic unemployment

During a June 5 speech on the economy, Biden twice claimed that Hispanic unemployment had increased in that day's jobs report.

Condemning comments President Donald Trump made on George Floyd, Biden said "the fact that he did so on the day when black unemployment rose, Hispanic unemployment rose, black youth unemployment skyrocketed tells you everything you need to know about this man."

Later, Biden said, "Latino [unemployment] jumped to over 37%."

Facts First: The jobs report showed that Hispanic unemployment decreased, not increased.

A readout of Biden's speech shows that in referencing the "jump to over 37%" Biden was supposed to say "Latino youth unemployment," which would have been correct.

"Latino youth unemployment jumped to over 37 percent," the readout says. However, Biden incorrectly said Hispanic unemployment had risen twice during the speech.

According to the report, in May the Hispanic or Latino unemployment fell from 16.7% to 15.1% while the Hispanic youth unemployment rate increased from 35.8% to 37.4%.

NAACP endorsement

In an interview with radio host Charlamagne tha God on May 22, Biden falsely claimed that the NAACP has endorsed him "every time I've run."

Facts First: The NAACP does not endorse candidates.

While Biden does have a lifetime membership with the organization and recently participated in an NAACP town hall, the organization has a policy of not endorsing candidates.

After the comment from Biden, the organization issued a statement "to clarify that the NAACP is a non-partisan organization and does not endorse candidates for political office at any level."

White supremacy

In a June 16 interview on Instagram with actress and musician Keke Palmer, Biden claimed that Trump has not acknowledged the problem of White supremacy.

"You know the President has talked about the systematic racism," Palmer said, "but whenever he's asked...he just says that the answer is a better economy, that's what will fix it. But I really don't think that's the answer."

Palmer went on to ask Biden what his plan was to eradicate White supremacy in the US.

"Well first of all, I don't even think Trump's even acknowledged White supremacy," Biden said. "He doesn't even acknowledge it," Biden later added.

Facts First: Trump has condemned White supremacy but only recently said "there probably is some" systemic racism in the US.

Following the mass shootings in Ohio and Texas in August 2019, Trump in prepared remarks said that "in one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry, and White supremacy. These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America."

Two days after the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, during which Heather Heyer was killed, Trump issued a statement condemning racism, specifically "the KKK, neo-Nazis, White supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans."

This statement came a few days after Trump suggested there were "very fine people on both sides" of the rally and protest, a statement for which he has been sharply criticized by Biden and others.

Trump has also been criticized for not being as forceful or persistent in criticizing White supremacist violence as he has about terrorism by Islamic extremists or crime by undocumented immigrants -- and he has himself used racist rhetoric.

Regardless, it's not true that he has not acknowledged the problem of White supremacy at all.

Several days after the Instagram interview with Biden, Trump addressed systemic racism -- potentially for the first time in his Presidency -- in an interview with the Wall Street Journal on June 17.

"I'd like to think there is not" systemic racism, Trump told the journal, "but unfortunately, there probably is some. I would also say it's very substantially less than it used to be."

CDC employees in China

During a May 14 interview on MSNBC, Biden said that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention staff in China went down from 44 to 4 members.

"We had over 44, if I'm not mistaken, people from the CDC in China, in China to observe what was going on," Biden said. "The President brought home the vast majority of them, I think left only four in place."

Facts First: Biden is right that under Trump the CDC staff in China decreased, but he overstated that decrease. It shrank to 14 members, not 4.

Biden hedged on both numbers with "if I'm not mistaken" and "I think" -- the actual number of staff in China in 2017 was 47, with 8 US assignees and 39 locally employed. By December of 2019 that number was 14, with 3 US assignees and 11 local workers.

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