Get PolitiFact in your inbox.

President Joe Biden delivers remarks at Gateway Technical College in Sturtevant, Wis., on May 8, 2024. (AP) President Joe Biden delivers remarks at Gateway Technical College in Sturtevant, Wis., on May 8, 2024. (AP)

President Joe Biden delivers remarks at Gateway Technical College in Sturtevant, Wis., on May 8, 2024. (AP)

Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson May 9, 2024

President Joe Biden repeated several claims about the economy during a May 8 interview with CNN’s Erin Burnett. 

A day earlier, PolitiFact published a similar assessment of claims about the economy made by former President Donald Trump, Biden’s expected challenger in November, in an interview with WGAL-TV in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. 

Here’s a rundown of Biden’s remarks in the CNN interview.

"I have created over 15 million jobs since I have been president." 

Biden is right on the number — the nation has seen employment increase by about 15.37 million jobs since he was inaugurated — but claiming credit by saying he did it is an exaggeration.

Presidents can help shape the economy by enacting a policy agenda. But a president’s power to influence the economy is limited. Other factors play roles as well, including international economic trends and energy prices.

"Other than Herbert Hoover, (Trump is) the only other president who lost more jobs than created in his four- year term." 

This needs context.

During Trump’s presidency, the U.S. lost a net 2.7 million jobs. In comparison, every president since Harry Truman (who served from 1945 to 1953) has gained jobs during his tenure. 

But when looking at job creation patterns under a president, timing matters — a lot. And Biden’s statement ignores that Trump’s tenure ended amid a once-in-a-century pandemic, which caused significant economic disruption.

Before the pandemic, Trump oversaw a 4.6% employment increase. That trails the rise during the equivalent time period for Biden (about 10%) and Bill Clinton (about 8.1%), but it’s more than the stagnation or shrinkage under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

The pandemic wiped out the first three years of job gains under Trump. Almost 58% of the lost jobs were back by the time Trump left office in January 2021, but his 2020 loss to Biden meant he didn’t get to regain the rest.

"We have got 1,000 billionaires in America. You know what their average federal tax is? 8.3%."

The number of billionaires in the U.S., according to Forbes, is a little lower than that — 735 as of last year. But Biden’s claim about the tax rate is more problematic.

The White House previously told PolitiFact that the figure comes from a White House report that looked at what would happen if the United States were to tax unrealized gains on stocks. Currently, if people see their stock shares rise in value over time, those gains are not taxed unless and until the shares are sold. If the shares are never sold, then they are never taxed, and under current law — which Biden has proposed changing — they may be passed on to the next generation with little or no taxation. 

The White House report found that if you include unrealized gains in the income calculations of the 400 richest U.S. families, then their taxes paid would account for just 8.2% of their income.

Economists and policymakers have long debated whether the government should tax unrealized gains. But Biden made it sound as if 8% was the standard rate today, not what would happen under a future proposal. 

So, what is the actual tax burden under the current tax code for the wealthiest Americans? IRS data from 2019 shows that the top 1% of taxpayers paid an average federal income tax rate of 25.6%, or about three times more than the White House’s estimate. A more elite group, the top 0.001% — which in 2019 meant people earning about $60 million annually or more — paid a percentage that was only modestly smaller, 22.9%.

"We can further reduce the deficit, which I have been able to reduce." 

This needs context.

Biden has presided over smaller deficits than Trump did in his final year. However, Biden omits important context about the unusual federal spending that both presidents approved to stabilize the country during the coronavirus pandemic. 

During Trump’s presidency, the deficit rose from $666 billion in 2017, his first year in office, to $984 billion in 2019, his third year.

But the coronavirus pandemic sent the annual deficit into record territory. In 2020, Trump’s fourth year, the deficit skyrocketed to $3.13 trillion, largely because of government stimulus payments, unemployment insurance expansions, business operation grants and increased funding for public health.

The deficit remained high in 2021, another significant pandemic year. That year, the newly elected Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act, which provided more money for the pandemic response. In 2021, the deficit fell but remained historically high, at $2.78 trillion.

The deficit declines were greater during Biden’s second and third years in office, as vaccines and therapies cut the risks associated with COVID-19 and the economy fully reopened. The deficit was about $1.38 trillion in 2022 and $1.7 trillion in 2023.

Still, even at these reduced levels, the deficit remains higher under Biden than it was before the pandemic. The deficit in 2022 and 2023 under Biden was higher than in each of Trump’s first three years, partly because of bills such as the 2021 American Rescue Plan.

The same pattern emerges when the deficit is compared with the U.S. gross domestic product, a common measure of the economy’s overall size. 

"We have the strongest economy in the world. Let me say it again, in the world." 

A reasonable argument can be made that the U.S. is doing better economically than its industrialized peers. 

Although there’s no surefire metric to measure the world’s strongest economy, the most basic one is gross domestic product, which is the sum of all economic activity within a country. 

In 2023, the U.S. easily outpaced the other countries in the G7, with an annual increase of 2.5%,  higher than in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom. The International Monetary Fund projects that the U.S. will continue outpacing these six nations in gross domestic product growth in 2024 and 2025.

Meanwhile, despite the inability to wrench inflation back to the Federal Reserve’s 2% benchmark, the U.S. is faring reasonably well against inflation compared with other G7 nations.

Comparing the U.S. with the other six nations on an apples-to-apples basis shows that only Italy and Canada achieved a lower inflation rate than the U.S. (In Canada’s case, it was just 0.02% lower.) The other four G7 countries — France, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom — all had higher inflation rates. 

Meanwhile, a broader group of more modestly sized but industrialized nations that belong to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development averaged inflation rates that were two full percentage points higher than the United States’.

Inflation "was 9% when I came to office." 

Inflation did hit 9% during Biden’s tenure — the highest in about four decades — but it reached that level about a year and a half into his presidency. When Biden was inaugurated, year-over-year inflation was about 1.4%. From January 2021 to June 2022, inflation rose precipitously, primarily because of pandemic-related supply-chain difficulties and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, exacerbated by federal spending from Biden’s American Rescue Plan.

The White House told PolitiFact that Biden’s point was that the factors that caused inflation, such as semiconductor shortages, were in place when he took office.

"Look at the Michigan survey, where 65% of the American people think they're in good shape economically. They think the nation's not in good shape, but they're personally in good shape." 

Biden’s general point is accurate, but he misstated the specific poll numbers.

Biden appears to be referring to a poll cited in a March 18 New York Times column by economist Paul Krugman. The poll, by Quinnipiac University, found that 35% respondents said the national economy was excellent or good while 65% said it was not so good or bad. By contrast, 61% said their personal finances were in excellent or good shape, with 38% saying they were in not so good or bad shape.

However, this was a poll of Michigan voters, not voters across the country, as Biden said.

Still, Biden’s underlying point is borne out elsewhere.

The monthly University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment survey, which surveys Americans nationally, shows people feel greater satisfaction with personal finances than with the national economy.

"The idea that you bounce a check and you get a $30 fee for bouncing the check, well, I changed that. You can't charge more than 8 bucks for that. Or your credit card, your late payment, $35." 

Biden has proposed these changes. The credit card rule has been enacted, but the check rule is still undergoing review.

After completing a public comment period, the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has issued a rule that limits the late fees charged by credit card issuers to $8. The rule takes effect May 14.

Meanwhile, the agency proposed a rule in January for check bouncing fees, but it still needs to be finalized, including public comment. The agency said the typical fee of $35 for an overdraft loan exceeds the typical amount of the overdraft, which averages $26. It is seeking comment on whether $3, $6, $7 or $14 is the appropriate amount going forward.

If and when the rules are implemented, critics of the new regulations could sue to block them.

"Snickers bar, they did a thing, and it’s like 20% less for the same price."

When Biden made this claim during the State of the Union address in March, Mars Inc., the company that makes Snickers bars, rebutted Biden’s claim in a statement shared widely on X. 

"We have not reduced the size of Snickers singles or share size in the U.S. Like many industries, we continue to face high inflation and spikes in materials costs; however, we work to absorb these extra costs wherever possible to provide affordable treats at the best value," the company said.

In the CNN interview, Biden mentioned the Shinkflation Prevention Act, a bill Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., proposed in February to "to crack down on corporations that deceive consumers by selling smaller sizes of their products without lowering the prices."

PolitiFact Copy Chief Matthew Crowley contributed to this report.

Sign Up For Our Weekly Newsletter

Our Sources

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Louis Jacobson

Fact-checking Joe Biden on the economy in CNN interview