Caveats for Biden’s State of the Union Claims


President Biden may have been at his best during the 2023 state of the union speech, but keep in mind that this speech is a political event where the bully pulpit of the Presidency gets to pick and choose priorities and “facts.” An army of fact checkers including journalists, academics, partisans and less-partisans will dissect the speech. Here are some of my skeptical caveats.

12 million jobs in 2 years: In this case the jobs created in the first two years of the Biden administration needs context. The President used his two-year job growth against the four years of the previous administrations. But what happens in Biden’s next two years? Also, the job loss during the pandemic was in full swing at the beginning of the Biden Administration, followed by the rebound of jobs as the economy comes back toward full employment.

800,000 good-paying, manufacturing jobs. The government figure of 13 million
manufacturing jobs in January is still lower than the number of manufacturing jobs in the USA pre Covid and pre the 2018 recession. The President went on to say that the US was again exporting goods and thereby creating more jobs. Yes, but the US is also importing more than ever. The imbalance between import and export has created the largest trade deficit in US history. And many of the US exports are manufactured from imported parts that were once produced by American workers.

The US used to make 40 percent of the world’s semi-conductor chips, and we’re now down to 10 percent. The US used to be No.1 in infrastructure and has dropped to 13th. But who is ahead of the US? Singapore, Hong Kong, and the Golf Emirate city/states, not a fair
comparison. Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, and France are also ahead of the US, but if you take out the city states and treat the members of the EU as what they are —
a single common market — the US comes up as having the #1 infrastructure despite the popular impression that our bridges are falling down.

The deficit. “Under the previous administration, America’s deficit went up four years in a row. Because of those record deficits, no president added more to the national
debt in any four years than my predecessor. Nearly 25 percent of the entire national
debt, a debt that took 200 years to accumulate, was added by that administration alone.”

True, but 25 percent of the deficit increase was unavoidable as Medicare and Medicaid payments increased with the retirement of all those baby boomers, and the Trumpers had no power over those mandated increases.

Peter Herford
Peter Herford
The Seattle-based author has many years of experience in national broadcast news, including years teaching journalism in mainland China.


  1. Mr. Biden also asserted that private sector companies were making more, for example, he stated that “You may have noticed that Big Oil just reported record profits.”

    What Mr. Biden failed to mention is that chronic 10 percent inflation rates had increased operating expenses, hence the cost of goods and services (which companies pass along to consumers). Increases (in absolute dollars) in revenue/profits are simply a reflection of government-induced inflation.

  2. Reporting skeptically is all well and good, but parts of this article and the comments are a trip to Disneyland. “The President used his two-year job growth against the four years of the previous administrations. But what happens in Biden’s next two years? ”

    Biden wasn’t reporting on what might happen in the next couple of years. He reported on the last two. And credit for the swing back from the pandemic rightly goes to the current president. There simply isn’t room to report on Trump’s colossal failures.

    It was Donald Trump who enacted massive tax cuts for the RICHEST Americans Under his “stewardship,” the wealthiest paid a lower tax rate in 2018 than any other group of people. Was that good for the American economy? I think anyone can agree that tax cuts for the very very rich added to the national debt.

    Somebody above, commenting with the name of a wristwatch, comments that oil company profits should be taken with the caveat of inflationary pressures.

    But Forbes reports that “ExxonMobil announced nearly $56 billion in profits last year, a record high for any U.S. or European oil firm.” And Shell OIl’s profits doubled over the previous year. If I wasn’t laughing so hard, I would weep at :…simply a reflection of government-induced inflation.”


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