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By Patrick Orsagos March 23, 2020

Facebook claim on Sen. Joe Manchin miscasts his remarks on stimulus aid

If Your Time is short

• The post mischaracterizes Manchin's idea about how best to target immediate federal aid due to the coronavirus pandemic.

• Manchin said he favors prioritizing aid for those who have suffered a direct financial hit due to recent business closures, such as the newly unemployed.

• By contrast, Manchin said, workers who remain employed would not fit those criteria for receiving checks. Nor would people whose income consists of government checks that will remain steady and reliable, such as those who live on Social Security and/or disability checks.

As the coronavirus pandemic forces indefinite business closures, lawmakers are deciding what they can do to keep the economy afloat. One proposal is to send Americans $1,000 checks. 

A March 18 Facebook post, shared more than 6,000 times, takes aim at Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and his views on the proposal.

The post, in a public Facebook group called West Virginia Citizens Against Joe Manchin, says the senator does not believe that West Virginians should receive these checks. The post says, "Senator Joe Manchin hit (an) all time low saying seniors and the disabled did not need the relief package $1000 on Fox News."

Did Manchin say he doesn’t want seniors and disabled people in West Virginia to receive the relief checks? 

Not quite. The post leaves out important context. Manchin did say he believes the aid should be targeted to workers and businesses suffering a financial hit, such as lost income, due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Manchin was interviewed on Fox News on March 18. In the interview, he shared his view about the best way to target federal expenditures. He said that instead of sending $1,000 to those already receiving money from the government through worker’s compensation, disability, Social Security, Medicare and welfare — people who will not be seeing their incomes cut — it would be better to invest in existing programs designed to support families who have lost their paychecks due to the economic crisis, especially through unemployment insurance. 

Here’s what Manchin told Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer:

"They don't need to send me $1,000, and I hope, Bill, they don't need to send you $1,000. There's a lot of people still working who have paychecks. There's people getting their workers' compensation, there are people getting their disability from Social Security, Social Security checks, Medicare, people on welfare. None of their lives are going to change from what it's been, except the inconvenience of not being able to socialize. 

"The people we've got to get money to, Bill, (are) the people who have no paychecks now because we shut down everything. That's where we need to go. And it has to be through the unemployment comp(ensation) programs we already have in place. That does more for a long-term period than anything we do with a short-term check we send one time."

Manchin’s office pointed us to a press release in which the senator explained that sending $1,000 checks to government employees who are still being paid does not solve the problem that unemployed workers are facing. 

In the release, Manchin said, "We can support American workers by removing the waiting period for those applying for unemployment, raising the dollar amount, and creating a small-business stimulus. But we do not need to be in the business of sending $1,000 checks to individuals like myself who are continuing to get a paycheck and not seeing negative financial impacts."

Our ruling 

The Facebook post in the public group West Virginia Citizens Against Joe Manchin said, "Senator Joe Manchin hit an all time low saying seniors and the disabled did not need the relief package $1000 on Fox News."

That’s misleading. Manchin said that federal government compensation should be targeted at those who have suffered a direct financial hit due to business closures, including the newly unemployed.

Manchin said that workers who remain employed would not fit those criteria for receiving checks. Nor would people whose income consists of government checks that remain steady and reliable, such as those who live on Social Security and/or disability checks.

This is a nuanced position involving how to structure government aid, rather than a shot at seniors and the disabled, as the post suggests. The statement is partially accurate but leaves out important details, so we rate it Half True.

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More by Patrick Orsagos

Facebook claim on Sen. Joe Manchin miscasts his remarks on stimulus aid

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