Trump and Biden's first presidential debate of 2024, fact checked (2024)

Here's the fact check of some of the statements made by President Biden and former President Donald Trump during the first 2024 presidential debate, which took place in Atlanta on Thursday, June 27. The two tangled on topics including immigration, the economy, abortion and their respective records. Mr. Biden seemed to ramble during many of his responses.

CBS Newscovered the debate live as it happened.

Trump claims "we had the greatest economy in the history of our country": False

Trump: "We had the greatest economy in the history of our country. And we have never done so well. Every- everybody was amazed by it. Other countries were copying us."

Details: Trump's claim is false that during his presidency the U.S. had the greatest economy in the history of the country by many of the common metrics used to judge economic performance. The claim struggles when looking at GDP. If the 2020 pandemicis excluded, growth after inflation under Trump averaged 2.49%, according to figures from theWorld Bank. This is far from the GDP growth under Democratic President Bill Clinton of 3.88%, according toWorld Bank data. Including the time period after COVID spread, that average drops to 1.18%.

Trump's claim also falls short when compared to historical figures. Growth between 1962 to 1966 ranged from 4.4% to 6.6%. In 1950 and 1951, GDP ranged between 8.7% and 8%.

Under Mr. Biden, annual GDP growth is averaging 3.4%, according to theAssociated Press.

*An earlier version of this fact check misstated World Bank figures for growth after inflation under Trump at 2.65%, rather than 2.49%, and 1.45%, instead of 1.18%, and also rounded the growth number for Clinton. This has been updated.

Unemployment

Trump's claim is also false even when evaluating the unemployment rate.In February 2020, a month before the COVID pandemic affected the economy, the unemployment rate stood at 3.5% — which was the lowest since December 1969 — but not the lowest ever. When Trump's term ended, the unemployment rate was 6.3%.

In 1953, the unemployment rate fell as low as 2.5%. Under Mr. Biden, the unemployment rate is 4%, according to themost recent datafrom May 2024.

In January 2023 and again in April 2023, the unemployment rate was 3.4%, lower than the best month during Trump's term.

Stock market performance

On Jan. 19, 2021, theS&P 500-stock averageclosed at 67.8% above where it had been the day before Trump was inaugurated in 2017.

According toInvestopedia,at the end of President Barack Obama's first term in office, the S&P closed 84.5% higher. Additionally the S&P gained 79% during President Bill Clinton's first term, and 70% during President Dwight Eisenhower's first term. So far, under President Biden, theS&P 500 has increased almost 40%, according to calculations on June 13.

By Laura Doan and Hunter Woodall

Biden claims he's the only president this century that doesn't have troops dying anywhere in the world: False

Biden: "I'm the only president this century that doesn't have any — this decade — that doesn't have any troops dying anywhere in the world."

Details: At least 16 U.S. service members have died while serving overseas during Mr. Biden's presidency. Thirteen U.S. service membersdiedin an attack at the Kabul airport in Afghanistan in August 2021. Three soldiers werekilledin an attack in Jordan in January of this year.

By Layla Ferris

Trump claims he did not refer to U.S. soldiers who were killed as "suckers and losers": False

Trump: "First of all, that was a made-up quote. 'Suckers and losers,' they made it up."

Details: Current and former U.S. military service members have detailed to CBS News multiple instances when Trump made disparaging remarks about members of the U.S. military who were captured or killed, including referring to the American war dead at the Aisle-Marne American Cemetery in France in 2018 as "losers" and "suckers."

A senior Defense Department official and a former U.S. Marine Corps officer with direct knowledge of what was said detailed how Trump said he did not want to visit the cemetery because it was "filled with losers." These accounts were backed independently by two other officials — a former senior U.S. Army officer and a separate, former senior U.S. Marine Corps officer.

In another conversation on the trip, Trump referred to the 1,800 Marines who died in the World War I battle of Belleau Wood as "suckers" for getting killed. The Atlantic was first to report Trump's comments in 2020. His former chief of staff John Kelly later confirmed to CNN the essence of what Trump had said.

By James LaPorta and Sierra Sanders

Biden claims 40% fewer people are crossing border illegally, better than when Trump was in office: Partially true         

Biden: "I've changed it in a way that now you're in a situation where there 40% fewer people coming across the border illegally; it's better than when he left office."

Details: Since Mr. Biden issued aproclamationbanning most migrants from asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border in early June, illegal crossings there have dropped. In the past week, daily illegal border crossings have averaged roughly 2,000, according to internal Department of Homeland Security data obtained by CBS News. That's a 47% drop from the 3,800daily averagein May.

During the height of a spike in migration faced by the Trump administration in 2019, Border Patrol recorded an average of 4,300 daily illegal crossings,government datashow. But there were months during theCovid-19 pandemicwhen the Trump administration averaged fewer than 2,000 illegal border crossings.

By Camilo Montoya-Galvez

Trump claims migrants coming to U.S. and "killing our citizens at a level...we've never seen before": Misleading

Trump: "People are coming in and killing our citizens at a level like we've never seen before."

Details: Some migrants who are believed to have entered the U.S. along the southern border in recent years have been charged with murder and other heinous crimes in different parts of the country. They include the suspect in the high-profile murder of Georgia nursing student Laken Riley.

But while the data on this question is not comprehensive, availablestudieshave found that migrants living in the country illegally do not commit crimes at a higher rate than native-born Americans.

Governmentstatisticsalso show a very small fraction of migrants processed by Border Patrol have criminal records in the U.S. or other countries that share information with American officials.

By Camilo Montoya-Galvez

On COVID, Trump claims more people died under Biden administration than his: True, but needs context

Trump: "Remember, more people died under his administration — even though we had largely fixed it — more people died under his administration than our administration, and we were right in the middle of it, something which a lot of people don't like to talk about. But [Biden] had far more people dying in his administration."

Details: More than 460,000 people had died from COVID-19 by the end of the week that Biden was inaugurated in 2021, while more than 725,000 have died in the three years since then, according to data from theCDC. However, research has found that the counts of COVID-19 deaths, especially in the early days of the pandemic, were likelyundercounted.

By Julia Ingram and Jui Sarwate

In discussing abortion, Trump claims former Virginia governor, a Democrat, supported killing babies: False

Trump: "If you look at the former governor of Virginia, he was willing to do this — he said'we'll put the baby aside and we'll determine what we'll do with the baby'...meaning we'll kill the baby."

Details: In a 2019 radio interview then-governor of Virginia Ralph Northam, in discussing late-term abortions, addressed a hypothetical scenario in which a fetus was severely deformed or wasn't otherwise viable. He said, "the infant would be delivered, the infant would be kept comfortable, the infant would be resuscitated if that's what the mother and the family desired."

Northam did not say the fetus should be killed. Killing a newborn baby — or infanticide — is illegal in every state, and not a single state is trying to change that.

By Laura Doan and Daniel Klaidman

Trump claims Biden "went after" his political opponent in New York "hush money" case to damage him: False        

Trump: "[Biden] basically went after his political opponent (Trump) because he thought it was going to damage me, but when the public found out about these cases, 'cause they understand it better than he does, he has no idea what these cases are, but when they found out about these cases, you know what they did? My poll numbers went up, way up."

Details: There is no federal jurisdiction over a state case. The Manhattan district attorney's office is aseparate entityfrom the U.S. Department of Justice. The department does not supervise the work of the Manhattan D.A.'s office, does not approve its charging decisions, and it does not try the D.A.'s cases.

By Pete Villasmil

Trump claims he brought insulin prices down for seniors: Misleading

Trump: "I'm the one that got the insulin down for the seniors. I took care of the seniors."

Details: During Trump's time as president, Medicare created a voluntary programin 2020between some plans and insulin manufacturers that agreed to cap out-of-pocket costs for insulin at $35 per month. Aroundhalf ofMedicare Advantage or stand-alone prescription drug plans ended up participating by 2021.

David Ricks, CEO of insulin drugmaker Eli Lilly, has taken credit for pioneering the idea with Trump administration officials at a congressionalhearingand in aninterview. In the same interview with STAT, Seema Verma, former Medicare agency chief in the Trump administration, gave Ricks the credit for the cap: "He is an unsung hero. He was actually the mastermind of all of this."

Medicareendedthe policy in 2023, after Mr. Biden signed into law theInflation Reduction Act, which capped insulin costs for Medicare beneficiaries — not just for the portion of plans participating in the program. The law capped insulin costs at the same amount of $35 per month.

By Alexander Tin and Hunter Woodall

Trump claims Biden wants open borders: False

Trump: "He wants open borders. He wants our country to either be destroyed or he wants to pick up those people as voters."

Details: When he took office, Mr. Biden reversed numerous Trump-era immigration policies, including a program that required migrants to await their asylum hearings in Mexico. U.S. Border Patrol has also reported record numbers of migrant apprehensions along the southern border during Mr. Biden's presidency. But Mr. Biden has never endorsed or implemented an "open borders" policy.

In fact, Mr. Biden has embraced some restrictive border policies that mirror rules enacted by his predecessor. In 2023, his administration published a regulation that disqualified migrants from asylum if they crossed into the country illegally after not seeking protection in a third country.

Earlier this month, Mr. Biden enacted an even stricter policy: a proclamation that has partially shut down asylum processing along the border. His administration has also carried out over 4 million deportations, expulsions and returns of migrants since 2021, according togovernment data.

Only U.S. citizens can vote in federal elections. Most who cross into the U.S. illegally are not on a path to permanent legal status, let alone citizenship. Even those who apply and win asylum — a process that typically takes years to complete — have to wait five years as permanent U.S. residents before applying for American citizenship. There's no evidence to suggest that the Biden administration's border policy is based on a desire to convert migrants into voters.

By Camilo Montoya-Galvez

Biden claims Trump wants to get rid of Social Security: False        

Biden "[Trump] wants to get rid of Social Security. He thinks there's plenty to cut in social security. He's wanted to cut Social Security and Medicare, both times."

Details: Trump has repeatedlysaidhe will try to protect Medicare and Social Security. Trump said in a March 21 Truth Socialpostthat he would not "under any circ*mstance" allow Social Security to "be even touched" if he were president. Trump had said in a CNBCinterviewon March 11 that "there is a lot you can do" in terms of "cutting" spending under Social Security. Mr. Bidensaidthe comments were proof Trump aimed to make cuts in the programs, but a Trump campaign spokesmansaidTrump was referring to "cutting waste and fraud," not Social Security entitlements.

By Layla Ferris

Trump claims Biden has the "largest deficit" in history of U.S.: False

Trump: "But he's (Biden) got the largest deficit in the history of our country."

Details: The national deficit was the largest it had been in over two decades under Trump's administration, not Mr. Biden's, according todata from the U.S. Treasury. The deficit peaked in fiscal year 2020 at $3.13 trillion, and declined to $1.7 trillion by the end of fiscal year 2023.

By Julia Ingram

    In:
  • Presidential Debate
  • Joe Biden
  • Donald Trump

Arden Farhi

Arden Farhi is the senior White House producer at CBS News. He has covered several presidential campaigns and the Obama, Trump and Biden administrations. He also produces "The Takeout with Major Garrett."

Trump and Biden's first presidential debate of 2024, fact checked (2024)

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