Written by 10:02 pm News

Biden and Trump just released new ads. We fact checked them both.

The Biden campaign is launching two ads in battleground states, one that focus on easing social tension in the US and another attacking the administration on Social Security funding.
President Donald Trump’s campaign ad pushes the idea that the worst parts of the pandemic are behind us. It focuses on vaccine progress and job creation while gliding past remaining issues like schools reopening, the continued high level of cases and the 11.5 million jobs still lost in the pandemic.

Here’s a look at some of the misleading claims made in this ad blitz.

Social Security

In one of his ads, Biden says that Trump is “proposing to eliminate a tax that pays for almost half [of] Social Security without any way of making up for that lost revenue.”

Biden is referring to Trump’s comments over the payroll tax, which, according to the Social Security Administration, accounted for 89% of Social Security income in 2019.

Facts First: While it’s true that Trump has suggested doing away with the payroll tax, his comments have been confusing. He has said he would forgive any deferred payroll tax and also that he would completely eliminate the tax. Trump has suggested that economic growth would cover the cost of eliminating the tax, which is highly doubtful.

On August 8, Trump signed an executive action to allow employers to temporarily suspend certain employees’ payroll tax — which is 6.2% of their wages. It also left open the possibility of forgiving the deferred tax down the road.
As CNN has reported, many business leaders have argued against Trump’s push to defer payroll taxes, arguing that workers could end up owing more in taxes if implemented.
The Social Security Administration’s Office of the Chief Actuary recently conducted an analysis at the request of Democratic senators on the effects eliminating the payroll tax would have. It found that the Social Security Trust Fund could be depleted in 2023 if there was no new source of revenue.

“Terminating the payroll tax”

In an August 12 press conference, Trump said that, if he was reelected, “we’ll be terminating the payroll tax. So that will mean anywhere from $5,000 to even more per family.”

Earlier in the press conference, Trump said that if elected he would “completely and totally forgive all deferred payroll taxes without, in any way, shape or form, hurting social security — that money is going to come from the general fund.”

Later, Fox News’ John Roberts asked Trump “if you permanently rescind the payroll tax, how do you pay for Social Security?”

Trump said “we’re taking it out of the general fund” later suggesting that “tremendous” economic growth would cover the loss of the payroll taxes.

With the general fund already incurring trillions of dollars in debt, paired with the fact that the payroll tax brings in more than a third of federal revenue, some see Trump’s belief that economic growth could recoup these loses as fantastical.

Additionally, only Congress can terminate the payroll tax and it’s unclear, with the House controlled by Democrats and the difficulty of rallying Senate Republicans behind such a proposal, how Trump would get rid of the tax by the end of the year.

White House staff have argued that Trump did not mean he would work to completely eliminate the payroll tax but simply forgive any deferred payroll taxes.

‘Shut it down’

After touting the progress of vaccine trials and job numbers, the Trump campaign ad says “but Joe Biden wants to change that,” and plays a clip of Biden saying “I would shut it down.”

“Why would we ever let Biden kill countless American businesses, jobs and our economic future?” the ad continues.

Facts First: This is misleading. Biden was answering a hypothetical scenario, not proposing a national shutdown.

The clip comes from an ABC interview on August 21 where Biden was asked what he would do if experts told him to shut down the country if he was president. Biden said, “I would shut it down. I would listen to the scientists.”

You can read the full exchange here.

Biden was not suggesting the US should be shut down right now. Additionally, the president can’t unilaterally shutdown the country. They can offer guidance and take other measures, but their power to control what restrictions states put in place is limited.

CNN’s Tara Subramaniam contributed to this article.

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