Commentary

Four Fact Checks Biden Undoubtedly Earned in the First Presidential Debate

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The first of three 2020 presidential debates between incumbent President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden went ahead as scheduled Tuesday night, promptly spiraling into 90 minutes of interruption and untruth.

As was to be expected, however, establishment media allegations of incivility and dishonesty were aimed almost exclusively at Trump, stopping well short of territory in which they might bruise Biden’s reputation as a statesman.

In the interest of righting such wrongful omissions, here are four moments where Biden earned himself a fact check in Tuesday night’s debate:

1. Supreme Court sabotage

With the Sept. 18 death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dominating the news cycle in recent weeks, the debate began with questions regarding the judicial vacancy left by her passing.

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Biden showed no hesitance in sabotaging recently tapped Trump administration Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett with the suggestion that, while the U.S. Court of Appeals judge might be fit for the role, her confirmation would put the Affordable Care Act at immediate risk of being overturned.

“What’s at stake here is the president has made it clear he wants to get rid of the Affordable Care Act. He’s been running on that. He ran on that and he has been governing on that,” Biden said. “He’s in the Supreme Court right now trying to get rid of the Affordable Care Act, which will strip 20 million people from having insurance.”

“I’m not opposed to the justice. She seems like a very fine person. But she’s written before she went on the bench, which is her right, that she thinks that the Affordable Care Act is not constitutional,” he added.

“And if it’s struck down, what happens? Women’s rights are fundamentally changed.”

Unchecked by debate moderator Chris Wallace, Biden’s claim that Barrett believes Obamacare to be unconstitutional was later deemed unequivocally false, even by The Associated Press.

Barrett has never outright suggested the ACA is unconstitutional or that she would see its Supreme Court validation through “National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius” overturned.

On record, the judge has simply forwarded musings as to whether the Roberts court improperly upheld the law on unstable legal footing by reclassifying its passive enforcement measure — a financial penalty on medically uncovered Americans — as a tax.

“[Chief Justice John] Roberts pushed the Affordable Care Act beyond its plausible meaning to save the statute,” Barrett wrote of the case in a 2017 legal review published by Notre Dame Law School.

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“He construed the penalty imposed on those without health insurance as a tax, which permitted him to sustain the statute as a valid exercise of the taxing power; had he treated the payment as the statute did — as a penalty — he would have had to invalidate the statute as lying beyond Congress’s commerce power.”

2. Green New Deal shell games

Debate audiences also saw Biden beat around the bush Tuesday when he was inevitably cornered regarding whether his candidacy could be distinguished ideologically from those of his fellow radical-left politicians like Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

The topic of climate change and sustainability in particular presented itself as a substantial stumbling block throughout the night, as Biden attempted to satisfy both the Democratic establishment and left-wing climate alarmists with regard to his position on the controversial Green New Deal.

Challenged to explain how the federal government might pay for radical sustainability legislation like the Green New Deal, which is estimated to cost trillions of dollars, Biden panned the oft-resurrected bill, saying, “That is not my plan. The Green New Deal is not my plan.”

Less than a minute later, Biden was back to defending the bill, claiming it would in fact be cost-efficient in the long-term.

“The Green New Deal will pay for itself as we move forward. We’re not going to build plants that, in fact, are great polluting plants,” Biden said.

He would conclude by denouncing the plan in favor of his own scaled-down version, but sharp eyes discovered shortly after the debate that the candidate’s official campaign website declares, “Biden believes the Green New Deal is a crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges we face.”

3. Crafty on crime

The vice president operated in the margins on the topic of crime in Tuesday night’s debate — telling audiences “the fact of the matter is, violent crime went down 17 percent, 15 percent, in [the Obama] administration” — as Trump went on the offensive with regard to what may be his campaign’s widely touted tenet in recent months: law and order.

The AP accused Biden of “overstating” the degree to which the Obama administration had addressed America’s violent crime problem by the end of its eight-year term.

Violent crime did fall by roughly 10 percent nationwide from 2008 to 2016, the AP reported, citing the FBI Uniform Crime Report.

Nevertheless, the final years of the Obama era did nothing but damage those numbers, giving way to an 8 percent uptick in violent crime between 2014 and 2016 and the first instances of widespread rioting by the Black Lives Matter movement in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore.

The year 2016 also saw homicide rise to an eight-year high as Obama and Biden prepared to depart the Oval Office, leaving the next administration to get a lid on things.

4. Desperately debating Hunter’s history

The worst of Biden’s debate dishonesty did not come in discussions of public policy, however, but in the candidate’s repeated attempts to hide his controversial son Hunter from the public eye.

Steeped in political scandal, Hunter Biden has emerged in recent years as a major potential liability to the Biden campaign, with critics pointing to his deeply sordid past and a series of suspicious international business dealings in China, Russia and Ukraine as they accuse him of profiting from his father’s role as vice president.

Trump put the screws to Biden on that front several times throughout the debate, asking his opponent directly to explain how his son, a drug addict, had managed to land lucrative international gigs while his father was a heartbeat away from the presidency.

“China ate your lunch, Joe,” Trump said. “And no wonder your son goes in and he takes out billions of dollars. He takes out billions of dollars to manage. He makes millions of dollars. And also, while we’re at it, why is, it just out of curiosity, the mayor of Moscow’s wife gave you a son three and a half million dollars? What did he do to deserve it? What did he do with Burisma [Holdings]?”

“None of that is true,” Biden said.

“Hunter got thrown out of the military. He was thrown out, dishonorably discharged for cocaine use,” Trump said on another occasion — only partially correct, given the fact that Hunter had managed to dodge a dishonorable discharge and instead reportedly received an administrative discharge despite testing positive for a Schedule II drug while in the military.

Either way, Biden did not simply defend his son against suggestions his business dealings had been improper, but seemed at times to outright deny the well-documented allegations that Hunter had received exorbitant payouts.

“Once you became vice president he made a fortune in Ukraine, in China, in Moscow and various other places,” Trump said.

Do you think Biden was dishonest in Tuesday night's debate?

“That is not true,” Biden replied.

Despite Biden’s claim, a newly released report from Senate Republicans says Hunter received a suspicious $3.5 million payout in 2015 from Elena Baturina, the wife of a former Moscow mayor (though the report does not reveal specific details about the alleged payment, according to USA Today).

Moreover, multiple sources have confirmed Hunter was paid monthly amounts as high as $83,000 during his time on the board at Burisma between 2014 and 2019, despite limited prior energy sector experience.

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Andrew J. Sciascia is the supervising editor of features at The Western Journal. Having joined up as a regular contributor of opinion in 2018, he went on to cover the Barrett confirmation and 2020 presidential election for the outlet, regularly co-hosting its video podcast, "WJ Live," as well.
Andrew J. Sciascia is the supervising editor of features at The Western Journal and regularly co-hosts the outlet's video podcast, "WJ Live."

Sciascia first joined up with The Western Journal as a regular contributor of opinion in 2018, before graduating with a degree in criminal justice and political science from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where he served as editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and worked briefly as a political operative with the Massachusetts Republican Party.

He has since covered the Barrett confirmation and 2020 presidential election for The Western Journal, and now focuses his reporting on Congress and the national campaign trail. His work has also appeared in The Daily Caller.




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