Categoria: Joe Biden

Complete Text: President Biden’s Speech At Monterey Park On Gun Violence

President Joe Biden on Tuesday, March 14, traveled to Monterey Park to visit families of victims of the Jan. 21 mass shooting and to promote gun-control laws and a new executive order aimed at stemming violence nationwide.

While leaders and gun control advocates crowded inside the Boys & Girls Club of the San Gabriel Valley, many others lined streets outside to catch a glimpse of the president’s motorcade, and take in the presidential visit in the wake of the tragedy at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio that left 11 people dead.

Here is the complete text of Biden’s remarks, released Wednesday by the White House.

The Boys & Girls Club of West San Gabriel ValleyMonterey Park, California1:37 P.M. PDT, Tuesday, March 14Good afternoon.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you.  Please have a seat, if you have one.  (Laughter.)

Good afternoon.  Saturday, January 21st, 2023, Lunar New Year, a time to enjoy.  A ballroom dance studio, a place of happiness, friendship, and belonging.  People across backgrounds and generations celebrating their cultural roots and bonding through ballroom song and dance.

A place of refuge where immigrants have lived for years, supported new immigrants who just arrived, becoming not just friends but family.

But as we all saw, a day of festivity and light turned into a day of fear and darkness.  A holiday of hope and possibilities marked by horror and pain.  Vibrant dances and music replaced by vigils and memorials.  Eleven souls taken.  Nine injured.  Private mourning made public.

That sense of safety shattered.  Survivors who will always carry the physical and emotional scars.  Families left behind who will never be the same.

One of the worst mass shootings in California history.  A tragedy that has pierced the soul of this nation, here in Monterey Park, in the San Gabriel Valley, the heart of the Asian American community.

My dear friend, Judy Chu, former Mayor of Monterey Park and your Congresswoman and Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific [American] Caucus.

Senator Alex Padilla, a champion for this community and the entire state.

Our good friend, Supervisor Hilda Solis, and all elected officials, law enforcement, first responders, faith leaders, community members all here today.

You’ve shown up for this community, and I know you always will.

To the families of victims who spend time — I get a chance to meet with today and whom Vice President Harris spent time with a few weeks ago, I’m here on behalf of the American people to mourn with you, to pray with you, to let you know you’re loved and not alone.

Every case is different, but I know what it’s like.  I know what it’s like to get that call.  I know what it’s like to be told.  I know what it’s like to lose a loved one so suddenly.  It’s like losing a piece of your soul.  It’s like a black hole in your chest you feel like you’re being sucked into.

Suffocating, hardly able to breath.  The anger.  The pain.  The depths of the loss so profound it’s hard to explain.  The suddenness tends to magnify the grief.

And as time passes, the shock and numbness slowly make way for the sobering reality of their absence.

That empty chair at the dinner table.  The birthdays, the anniversaries, the holidays without them.

Everyday things, small things, the details you miss the most.  The scent when you open that closet door.  The park you go by that you used to stroll in.  The morning tea you shared together.  The bend of his smile.  The perfect pitch of her laugh.

As Judy shared with me, this is a tight-knit community with intergenerational households and deep reverence and respectfor its elders.  A community that’s opened its heart and its homes to friends and neighbors, and stood strong throughout the pandemic as anti-Asian hate crimes rose.

A community that in the face of horrific tragedy has become a symbol of hope and resilience.  Pushing forward together, healing together.

People from all faiths and backgrounds rallying to show their love and support, raising money for funeral costs and memorials, providing counseling and translation services to the victims’ families.  Providing and proving that even with heavy hearts we have unbreakable spirits.

As a nation, remember them: immigrants from China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan — all of whom found a home in America.

Mr. Ma, age 72.  A pillar of the community.  A beloved manager and dance instructor at Star Ballroom.  He’d walk patrons to their cars at night.  Helped new immigrants find jobs.  His children and grandchildren will carry on his legacy in the spirit of one of his favorite Chinese proverbs, “Cherish the people in front of you.”  “Cherish the people in front of you.”

Andy Kao, 72.  “Mr. Nice” for his kindness, his positivity, his infectious smile.  A free spirit always ready to lend a helping hand.  He died shielding his dance partner.

Xiu Juan Yu, 57.  Devoted mom, wife, sister.  A woman of faith.  Always there to help others bringing food and newspapers to family members who had trouble walking.  Always — always working tirelessly with her husband to build a future for their three children.

Nancy Jian, 62.  Known as “Sister Sunshine.”  She loved to play cards, piano, and a weekly volleyball game.  Always sharing her homegrown plants and vegetables with neighbors and friends.

A dedicated mom married nearly 40 years — a husband and wife who were always together, even in their last dance.

Valentino Alvero, 68 years old.  A servant of God.  Life of the party.  Storyteller who made the whole room laugh.  A man devoted to his children and his grandchildren.

Mymy Nhan, 65.  Bedrock of her family and friends.  Eternal optimist.  Avid dancer who’d visit the studio every weekend, often leaving snacks behind for her classmates.  She radiated positive energy through her laughter, her kind words, and her smile.

Muoi Dai Ung, 67.  Refugee.  A community builder.  A cherished friend, known for her kindness, her sweetness, her generosity.  Her beloved family, the center of her world.

Diana Tom, 70.  Devoted daughter, wife, mother, and grandmother who loved to sing karaoke.  A giver and an adventurer who loved to explore new foods and travel the world.

Charles Yau, 76.  Grateful.  Reflective.  Believed in living to the — life to the fullest.  He constantly showed his family and friends and showered them with warm words of encouragement, hope, and love.

[Wen]-Tau Yu, 64.  A lifelong learner, he retired as a business manager and was pursuing a second career as a pharmacist while caring for his elder mother — elderly mother.  A man beloved by his wife, children, and friends for his compassion, his determination, and his wisdom.

Lily Li, 63.  A matriarch with absolute strength, optimism, and grace.  Her daughter wrote, “Stolen is the grandmother whose granddaughter fell asleep many nights nestled between her loving arms.  Taken away is the opportunity for her grandson to feel her love and warmth.”

All of them lived lives of love, sacrifice, and service for their families, for their community.  They represent a bigger story of who we are as Americans, embodying the simple truth that our diversity — our diversity is the strength of this nation.

We saw that strength in Maria Liang, owner of Star Ballroom, who I want to thank for pouring her heart into creating a warm and welcome space to bring the community together, especially seniors.

And we saw that strength in Brandon Tsay, who met me at the airport, whom Jill and I have gotten to know.  Twenty minutes after the rampage at Star Ballroom, Brandon saw the same shooter walk into his family’s own dance studio just two miles away, pointing a gun at him.  In an instant, he found the courage to act and wrestled the semi-automatic firearm away.

Brandon saved lives.  He protected the community.

At Half Moon Bay, just two days later — (applause) — you’ve got it.  (Applause.)

Brandon, stand up.  (Applause.)

At Half Moon Bay, just two days later, we saw heroism from police officers, firefighters, and other first responders who rushed into the danger to save lives.

As many of you know, Jill and I invited Brandon as our guest at the State of the Union message because we wanted the country to know all of you — not just Brandon, all of you.  The character of this community.  The faith you have in this community.  The pride.  We see across — we see it in you across all of American life.

Just this week, a film about resilience and power of the Asian American immigrant family made history at the Oscars — (applause) — echoing the heart of so many in this community.

But we also hear a message we’ve heard too often, including two years ago this week, after the spa shooting at the Atlanta — in the Atlanta area: Enough.  Do something.

We remember and mourn today, but I am here with you today to act.

Last year, after the mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, I signed into law, after being in both places, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the most significant gun safety law in almost 30 years.

That was in addition to me signing more executive actionsto reduce gun violence than any of my predecessors at this point in their presidencies.

Today, I’m announcing another executive order that will accelerate and intensify this work to save more lives more quickly.

First, this executive order helps keep firearms out of dangerous hands, as I continue to call on Congress to require background checks for all firearm sales.  (Applause.)  And in the meantime — in the meantime, my executive order directs my Attorney General to take every lawful action possible — possible to move us as close as we can to universal background checks without new legislation.

I just — it’s just common sense to check whether someone is a felon, a domestic abuser, before they buy a gun.

The executive order also expands public awareness campaigns about the “red flag” orders — the laws — which my son, when he — before he died — Attorney General of Delaware — was a great proponent of it and instituted it.  So more parents, teachers, police officers, health providers, and counselors know how to flag for the — a court that someone is exhibiting violent tendencies, threatening classmates, or experiencing suicidal thoughts that make them a danger to themselves and others and temporarily remove that person’s access to firearms.

And it promotes — this executive order — safe storage for firearms, something every responsible gun owner agrees with.

The second thing it does — the executive order ramps up our efforts to hold the gun industry accountable.  It’s the only outfit you can’t sue these days.  It does that by calling out for an independent government study that analyzes and exposes how gun manufacturers aggressively market firearms to civilians, especially minors, including by using military imagery.

And it directs the Attorney General to public release — publicly release Alcohol, Tobacco, and Fam- — and Firearms inspection reports of firearms dealers who were cited for violation of the law.  (Applause.)  That way, policymakers can strengthen laws to crack down on these illegal gun dealers and the public can avoid purchasing from them.

Third, the executive order improves federal coordination to support victims, survivors, and their families and communities affected by mass shootings the same way FEMA responds to your natural disasters in California and all around the nation.  And it will help folks recover and build after wi- — that — they help folks recover and build after wildfires and superstorms and droughts.

For example, we need to provide more mental health support and grief — for grief and trauma — (applause) — and more financial assistance when a family loses the sole breadwinner or when a small business shuts down due to a lengthy shooting investigation.

There’s more in this executive order, but I’m not stopping there.

Last week, I laid out in my budget that we invest more in safer communities and expand access to mental health services for those affected by gun violence.  (Applause.)

Congressional Republicans should pass my budget instead of calling for cuts to these services or defunding the police or abolishing the FBI, as we hear from our MAGA Republican friends.

But let’s be clear: None of this absolves Congress the responsibility — from the responsibility of acting to pass universal background checks, eliminate gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability.  (Applause.)

And I am determined once again to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.  (Applause.)  I led that fight in — to ban them in 1994.  In the 10 years that law was in place, mass shootings went down.

Our Republicans friends let it expire, and it — and 10 years later, and mass shootings tripled since then.  Tripled.

So let’s finish the job.  Ban assault weapons.  Ban them again.  Do it now.  Enough.  Do something.  Do something big.  (Applause.)

Folks, let me close with this.  Scripture says, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”  A lot of us have been there.

As we gather here today, I know your hearts are broken, but I know your spirits are strong.

And as you remember and heal, I know the light of your loved one is once again going to lead you forward.

It takes time.  I tell everyone — at least it did with me — it takes time.  But I promise you — I promise you the day will come when the memory of your loved one brings a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eye.  The tear will never fully go away.  But when you had that smile first (inaudible), that’s when you know — that’s when you know you’re going to make it — you’re going to know you’re going to make it.

And my prayer for all of you is that day will come sooner than later, but I promise you it will come.

God bless you all.  I admire you so damn much.  Thank you.  (Applause.)President Joe Biden

1:56 P.M. PDT

Biden Lands At LAX, On His Way To Monterey Park To Unveil Gun Control Order

President Joe Biden is now in Los Angeles and on his way to Monterey Park, where he will meet with those most impacted by the Jan. 21 mass shooting, and where he will unveil an executive order that officials say will go as far as possible without Congressional legislation to encourage universal background checks on gun purchases.

Air Force One touched down at LAX at 12:36 p.m., where Biden was greeted by a delegation of local elected representatives, including L.A. Mayor Karen Bass and Brandon Tsay, the 26-year-old San Marino man hailed as a hero, who disarmed the Monterey Park gunman before another shooting could happen at a second dance studio.

President Biden greeting Tsay.

— Christina Merino (@christinam_love) March 14, 2023

President Joe Biden will be arriving to a gloomy and rainy L.A. today. Later he will be will visiting Monterey Park to discuss his efforts to reduce gun violence and is expected to sign a new executive order aimed at reducing gun violence. @ladailynews

— Christina Merino (@christinam_love) March 14, 2023

It’s a rainy morning here in Monterey Park where President Biden is scheduled to speak later this afternoon.

— Kaitlyn Schallhorn (@K_Schallhorn) March 14, 2023

He is being flown by helicopter to Monterey Park, where he will meet with families and the owner of Star Ballroom Dance Studio, where amid the city’s Lunar New Year celebration, a gunman killed 11 people.

The massacre has shaken the city, known for its diversity, its culinary destinations and peace. While life has gotten back to some semblance of normal, the memory is still fresh and businesses continue to feel the impact of the tragedy as customers haven’t fully come back to the rattled city.

But as it emerges from the shooting, leaders are hopeful that the federal government will help bolster mental health resources and establish anti-violence reforms that reduce the chance of such a tragedy ever happening again.

Biden Says New Taxes On The Rich Can Help Save Medicare


WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Tuesday proposed new taxes on the rich to help fund Medicare, saying the plan would help to extend the insurance program’s solvency by 25 years and provide a degree of middle-class stability to millions of older adults.

In his plan, Biden is overtly declaring that the wealthy ought to shoulder a heavier tax burden. His budget would draw a direct line between those new taxes and the popular health insurance program for people older than 65, essentially asking those who’ve fared best in the economy to subsidize the rest of the population.

Biden wants to increase the Medicare tax rate from 3.8% to 5% on income exceeding $400,000 per year, including salaries and capital gains. That would likely increase tax revenues by more than $117 billion over 10 years, according to prior estimates by the Tax Policy Center.

“This modest increase in Medicare contributions from those with the highest incomes will help keep the Medicare program strong for decades to come,” Biden wrote in a Tuesday essay in The New York Times. He called Medicare a “rock-solid guarantee that Americans have counted on to be there for them when they retire.”

The proposed Medicare changes are part of a fuller budget proposal that Biden plans to release on Thursday in Philadelphia. Pushing the proposal through Congress will likely be difficult, with Republicans in control of the House and Democrats holding only a slim majority in the Senate.

The proposal is a direct challenge to GOP lawmakers, who argue that economic growth comes from tax cuts like those pushed through by President Donald Trump in 2017. Those cuts disproportionately favored wealthier households and companies. They contributed to higher budget deficits, when growth failed to boom as Trump had promised and the economy was then derailed in 2020 by the coronavirus pandemic.

The conflicting worldviews on how taxes would impact the economy is part of a broader showdown. Biden and Congress need to reach a deal to raise the government’s borrowing authority at some point this summer, or else the government could default and plunge the U.S. into a debilitating recession.

Ahead of the 2024 campaign season, Democrats have ramped up talk around Medicare, vowing to fend off any Republican attempts to cut the program, although so far the GOP has vowed to avoid any cuts. Still, Republican lawmakers have reached little consensus on how to fulfill their promise to put the government on a path toward balancing the federal budget in the next 10 years.

Last year, members of the House Republican Study Committee proposed raising the eligibility age for Medicare to 67, which would match Social Security. But that idea hasn’t moved forward in a split Congress.

Republicans have denied that they plan to cut the program. A proposal from Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., that would require Congress to reconsider all federal laws every five years, including Medicare, has gotten little traction.

Biden’s plan is also intended to close what the White House describes as loopholes that allow people to avoid Medicare taxes on some income. Besides the taxes, Biden wants to expand Medicare’s ability to negotiate drug costs, which began with the Inflation Reduction Act. He signed the sweeping legislation last year.

Taken together, Biden’s new proposals would help shore up a key trust fund that pays for Medicare, which provides health care for older adults. According to the White House, the changes would keep the fund solvent until the 2050s, about 25 years longer than currently expected.

Changes would also be made to Medicare benefits. Biden wants to limit cost sharing for some generic drugs to only $2. The idea would lower out-of-pocket costs for treating hypertension, high cholesterol and other ailments.

In addition, the budget would end cost sharing for up to three mental health or behavioral health visits per year.

Biden To Meet Eastern Flank NATO Leaders Amid Russia Worries


WARSAW — President Joe Biden is wrapping up his whirlwind, four-day visit to Poland and Ukraine by reassuring eastern flank NATO allies that his administration is highly attuned to the looming threats and other impacts spurred by the grinding Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Before departing Warsaw on Wednesday, Biden will hold talks with leaders from the Bucharest Nine, a collection of nations on the most eastern parts of the NATO alliance that came together in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

As the war in Ukraine drags on, the Bucharest Nine countries’ anxieties have remained heightened. Many worry Putin could move to take military action against them next if he’s successful in Ukraine. The alliance includes Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.

“When Russia invaded, it wasn’t just Ukraine being tested. The whole world faced a test for the ages,” Biden said in an address from the foot of Warsaw’s Royal Castle on Tuesday to mark the somber milestone of the year-old Russian invasion. “Europe was being tested. America was being tested. NATO was being tested. All democracies were being tested.”

People use their cellphones as President Joe Biden holds a speech at the Royal Castle after meeting with Polish President Andrzej Duda in Warsaw, Poland, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Michal Dyjuk)

President Joe Biden holds a speech at the Royal Castle after meeting with Polish President Andrzej Duda in Warsaw, Poland, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Michal Dyjuk)

People gather to watch speech of US President Joe Biden downtown Warsaw, Poland, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

President Joe Biden smiles after his speech at the Royal Castle in Warsaw, Poland, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Michal Dyjuk)

People listen as President Joe Biden delivers a speech marking the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, at the Royal Castle Gardens, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023, in Warsaw. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

President Joe Biden delivers a speech marking the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023, at the Royal Castle Gardens in Warsaw. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

President Joe Biden delivers a speech marking the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, at the Royal Castle Gardens, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023, in Warsaw. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

LAFC celebrates after defeating Austin FC in the MLS Western Conference final last fall at what was then Banc of California Stadium. The MLS playoffs have been expanded for 2023, with the top nine teams from each conference qualifying. The eighth- and ninth-place teams in each conference will meet in a new wild-card round. (AP Photo/John McCoy, File)

Biden met Tuesday in Warsaw with Moldovan President Maia Sandu, who last week claimed Moscow was behind a plot to overthrow her country’s government using external saboteurs.

Sandwiched between Ukraine and Romania and one of Europe’s poorest countries, the Eastern European nation has had historic ties to Russia but wants to join the 27-nation European Union. Biden in his remarks endorsed Moldova’s bid to join the EU

“I’m proud to stand with you and the freedom-loving people of Moldova,” Biden said of Sandu and her country in his Tuesday address.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine nearly a year ago, Moldova, a former Soviet republic of about 2.6 million people, has sought to forge closer ties with its Western partners. Last June, it was granted EU candidate status, the same day as Ukraine.

Sandu spoke out last week about a Russian plot “to overthrow the constitutional order.” She spoke out after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his country had intercepted plans by Russian secret services to destroy Moldova. Those claims were later confirmed by Moldovan intelligence officials.

Biden’s speech on the Ukraine war came one day after he made a surprise visit to Kyiv, a grand gesture of solidarity with the Ukraine. The address was part affirmation of Europe’s role in helping Ukraine repel Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine and part sharply worded warning to Putin that the U.S. won’t abide Moscow defeating Ukraine.

The White House has praised several eastern flank countries, including Lithuania, Poland and Romania, over the last year for stepping up efforts to back Ukraine with weapons and economic aid and taking in refugees.

Biden has given particular attention to Poland’s efforts. The country is hosting about 1.5 million Ukrainian refugees and has committed $3.8 billion in military and economic assistance to Kyiv.

“The truth of the matter is: The United States needs Poland and NATO as much as NATO needs the United States,” Biden said during talks with Duda on Wednesday.

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Biden Visits Ukraine, Saying ‘Kyiv Stands. And Ukraine Stands. Democracy Stands.’


KYIV, Ukraine — President Joe Biden paid an unannounced visit to Ukraine on Monday to meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a defiant display of Western solidarity with a country still fighting what he called “a brutal and unjust war” days before the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion.

“One year later, Kyiv stands,” Biden declared after meeting with Zelenskyy at Mariinsky Palace. Jamming his finger for emphasis on his podium flanked by U.S. and Ukrainian flags, he continued: “And Ukraine stands. Democracy stands. The Americans stand with you, and the world stands with you.”

Biden spent more than five hours in the Ukrainian capital, consulting with Zelenskyy on next steps, honoring the country’s fallen soldiers and meeting with U.S. embassy staff in the war-torn country.

The visit comes at a crucial moment: Biden is trying to keep allies unified in their support for Ukraine as the war is expected to intensify with spring offensives. Zelenskyy is pressing allies to speed up delivery of promised weapon systems and calling on the West to provide fighter jets — something that Biden has declined to do.

President Joe Biden walks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Cathedral on a surprise visit, Monday, Feb. 20, 2023, in Kyiv. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

Flowers placed by the President Joe Biden at the Memorial Wall of Fallen Defenders of Ukraine in Russian-Ukrainian War with photos of killed soldiers in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

US President Joe Biden, left, walks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at St. Michaels Golden-Domed Cathedral during an unannounced visit, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

US President Joe Biden, right, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy talk at the “Walk of the Brave”, during an unannounced visit in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 20, 2023. The “Walk of the Brave” name plates mark those who have helped in the struggle against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

US President Joe Biden, centre right, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy talk at the “Walk of the Brave”, during an unannounced visit in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 20, 2023. The “Walk of the Brave” name plates mark those who have helped in the struggle against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

US President Joe Biden, left, delivers a statement as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy listens to him at Mariinsky Palace during an unannounced visit, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

US President Joe Biden, right, meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, centre, and Olena Zelenska, left, spouse of President Zelenskyy, at Mariinsky Palace during an unannounced visit in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, Pool)

US President Joe Biden, left, poses with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at Mariinsky Palace during an unannounced visit in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, Pool)

US President Joe Biden, left, meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at Mariinsky Palace during an unannounced visit in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, Pool)

US President Joe Biden, left, shakes hands with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at Mariinsky Palace during an unannounced visit in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, Pool)

President Joe Biden, right, meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at Mariinsky Palace on an unnanounced visit, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, Pool)

President Joe Biden, right, meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at Mariinsky Palace on an unnanounced visit, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, Pool)

In this image from video provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office and posted on Facebook, on Monday, Feb. 20, 2023, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, right, and U.S. President Joe Biden shake hands during their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

President Joe Biden, center, poses with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, right, and Olena Zelenska, left, spouse of President Zelenskyy, at Mariinsky Palace during an unannounced visit in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, Pool)

President Joe Biden, left, meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at Mariinsky Palace during an unannounced visit in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, Pool)

President Joe Biden, center, shakes hands with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, right, as they pose with Olena Zelenska, left, spouse of President Zelenskyy, at Mariinsky Palace during an unannounced visit in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, Pool)

President Joe Biden, center, shakes hands with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, right, as they pose with Olena Zelenska, left, spouse of President Zelenskyy, at Mariinsky Palace during an unannounced visit in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, Pool)

The U.S. president got a taste of the terror that Ukrainians have lived with for close to a year when air raids sirens howled just as he and Zelenskyy wrapped up a visit to the gold-domed St. Michael’s Cathedral.

Looking solemn, they continued unperturbed as they laid two wreaths and held a moment of silence at the Wall of Remembrance honoring Ukrainian soldiers killed since 2014, the year Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and Russian-backed fighting erupted in eastern Ukraine.

The White House would not go into specifics, but national security adviser Jake Sullivan said that it notified Moscow of Biden’s visit to Kyiv shortly before his departure from Washington “for deconfliction purposes” in an effort to avoid any miscalculation that could bring the two nuclear-armed nations into direct conflict.

In Kyiv, Biden announced an additional half-billion dollars in U.S. assistance — on top of the more than $50 billion already provided — including shells for howitzers, anti-tank missiles, air surveillance radars and other aid but no new advanced weaponry.

Ukraine has also been pushing for battlefield systems that would allow its forces to strike Russian targets that have been moved back from frontline areas, out of the range of HIMARS missiles that have already been delivered. Zelenskyy said he and Biden spoke about “long-range weapons and the weapons that may still be supplied to Ukraine even though it wasn’t supplied before.” But he did not detail any new commitments.

“Our negotiations were very fruitful,” Zelenskyy added.

Biden’s mission with his visit to Kyiv, which comes ahead of a scheduled trip to Warsaw, Poland, is to underscore that the United States is prepared to stick with Ukraine “as long as it takes” to repel Russian forces even as public opinion polling suggests that U.S. and allied support for providing weaponry and direct economic assistance has started to soften. For Zelenskyy, the symbolism of having the U.S. president stand side by side with him on Ukrainian land as the anniversary nears is no small thing as he prods the U.S. and European allies to provide more advanced weaponry and to step up the pace of delivery.

“I thought it was critical that there not be any doubt, none whatsoever, about U.S. support for Ukraine in the war,” Biden said.

Biden’s visit marked a brazen rebuke to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who had hoped his military would swiftly overrun Kyiv within days. Biden, a Democrat, recalled speaking with Zelenskyy on the night of the invasion, saying, “That dark night one year ago, the world was literally at the time bracing for the fall of Kyiv. Perhaps even the end of Ukraine.”

A year later, the Ukrainian capital remains firmly in Ukrainian control. Although a semblance of normalcy has returned to the city, regular air raid sirens and frequent missile and killer-drone attacks against military and civilian infrastructure across the country are a near-constant reminder that the war is still fiercely raging. The bloodiest fighting is, for the moment, concentrated in the country’s east, particularly around the city of Bakhmut, where Russian offensives are underway.

At least six civilians have been killed and 17 more have been wounded in Ukraine over the past 24 hours, Ukraine’s presidential office reported. In the eastern Donetsk region, the Russian army was using aviation to strike cities on the front line. A total of 15 cities and villages have been shelled over the past 24 hours, according to the region’s Ukrainian Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko. In the northeastern Kharkiv region, cities near the border with Russia came under fire. A missile strike hit Kupiansk, damaging a hospital, a plant and residential buildings.

Biden warned that the “brutal and unjust war” is far from won. “The cost that Ukraine has had to bear has been extraordinarily high. And the sacrifices have been far too great,” Biden said. “We know that there’ll be very difficult days and weeks and years ahead. But Russia’s aim was to wipe Ukraine off the map. Putin’s war of conquest is failing.”

“He’s counting on us not sticking together,” Biden said of the Russian leader. “He thought he could outlast us. I don’t think he’s thinking that right now. God knows what he’s thinking, but I don’t think he’s thinking that. But he’s just been plain wrong. Plain wrong.”

The trip gave Biden an opportunity to get a firsthand look at the devastation the Russian invasion has caused on Ukraine. Thousands of Ukrainian troops and civilians have been killed, millions of refugees have fled the war, and Ukraine has suffered tens of billions of dollars of infrastructure damage.

Biden, wearing a blue suit and his signature aviator sunglasses, pledged long-term support for Ukraine, saying that “freedom is priceless. It’s worth fighting for for as long as it takes.”

“And that’s how long we’re going to be with you, Mr. President, for as long as it takes,” Biden promised. Zelenskyy, speaking in English, responded: “We’ll do it.”

The Ukrainian leader, wearing a black sweatshirt, as has become his wartime habit, said through an interpreter that the “wide discussion” in their meeting “brings us closer to the victory” — hopefully, he added, this year.

“Right now, in Ukraine, the destiny of the international order … is decided,” Zelenskyy said. He added words of gratitude to Biden and to the American people for their support. “Ukraine is grateful to you, Mr. President, to all the U.S. citizens, to all those who cherish freedom just as we cherish them.”

Though Western surface-to-air missile systems have bolstered Ukraine’s defensives, the visit marked the rare occasion when a U.S. president has traveled to a conflict zone where the U.S. or its allies did not have control over the airspace.

The U.S. military does not have a presence in Ukraine other than a small detachment of Marines guarding the embassy in Kyiv, making Biden’s visit more complicated than other recent visits by prior U.S. leaders to war zones.

While Biden was in Ukraine, U.S. surveillance planes, including E-3 Sentry airborne radar and an electronic RC-135W Rivet Joint aircraft, were keeping watch over Kyiv from Polish airspace.

Speculation has been building for weeks that Biden would pay a visit to Ukraine around the Feb. 24 anniversary of the Russian invasion. But the White House repeatedly had said that no presidential trip to Ukraine was planned, even after the Poland visit was announced earlier this month.

Since early morning on Monday many main streets and central blocks in Kyiv were cordoned without any official explanation. Later people started sharing videos of long motorcades of cars driving along the streets where the access was restricted.

At the White House, planning for Biden’s visit to Kyiv was tightly held — with a relatively small group of aides briefed on the plans — because of security concerns. Sullivan said Biden gave final approval for the trip, which had been in the works for months, on Friday during an Oval Office meeting at which he was briefed on security plans for the visit.

The president traveled with an usually small entourage, with just a few senior aides and two journalists, to maintain secrecy.

Asked by a reporter on Friday if Biden might include stops beyond Poland, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby replied, “Right now, the trip is going to be in Warsaw.” Moments later — and without prompting — Kirby added, “I said ‘right now.’ The trip will be in — to Warsaw. I didn’t want to make it sound like I was alluding to a change to it.”

Biden quietly departed from Joint Base Andrews near Washington at 4:15 a.m. on Sunday, making a stop at Ramstein Air Base in Germany before making his way into Ukraine. He arrived in Kyiv at 8 a.m. on Monday.

Other western leaders have made the trip to Kyiv since the start of the war.

In June, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and then Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi traveled together by night train to Kyiv to meet with Zelenskyy. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak visited Kyiv in November shortly after taking office.

This is Biden’s first visit to a war zone as president. His recent predecessors, Donald Trump, Barack Obama and George W. Bush, made surprise visits to Afghanistan and Iraq during their presidencies to meet with U.S. troops and those countries’ leaders.

Madhani and Miller reported from Washington.

Fact-Checking President Biden’s State Of The Union Speech

President Joe Biden delivered his second State of the Union address on Tuesday.

Here is a fact check of some of the claims from Biden and the Republican response by Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders:

Cutting the deficit Biden claimed his administration cut the federal deficit by “more than $1.7 trillion.”

Facts First: Biden’s boast leaves out important context. It is true that the federal deficit fell by $1.7 trillion under Biden in the 2021 and 2022 fiscal years, including a record $1.4 trillion drop in 2022 — but it is highly questionable how much credit Biden deserves for this reduction. Biden did not mention that the primary reason the deficit fell so substantially was that it had skyrocketed to a record high under then-President Donald Trump in 2020 because of bipartisan emergency pandemic relief spending, then fell as expected when the spending expired as planned. Independent analysts say Biden’s own actions, including his laws and executive orders, have had the overall effect of adding to current and projected future deficits, not reducing those deficits.

Dan White, senior director of economic research at Moody’s Analytics — an economics firm whose assessments Biden has repeatedly cited during his presidency — told CNN’s Matt Egan in October: “On net, the policies of the administration have increased the deficit, not reduced it.” The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, an advocacy group, wrote in September that Biden’s actions will add more than $4.8 trillion to deficits from 2021 through 2031, or $2.5 trillion if you don’t count the American Rescue Plan pandemic relief bill of 2021.

National Economic Council director Brian Deese wrote on the White House website in January that the American Rescue Plan pandemic relief bill “facilitated a strong economic recovery and enabled the responsible wind-down of emergency spending programs,” thereby reducing the deficit; David Kelly, chief global strategist at J.P. Morgan Funds, told CNN in October that the Biden administration does deserve credit for the recovery that has pushed the deficit downward. And Deese correctly noted that Biden’s signature legislation, last year’s Inflation Reduction Act, is expected to bring down deficits by more than $200 billion over the next decade.

Still, the deficit-reducing impact of that one bill is expected to be swamped by the deficit-increasing impact of various additional bills and policies Biden has approved.

From CNN’s Daniel Dale

Small business applications Biden touted American small business applications.

Facts First: This is true. There were about 5.4 million business applications in 2021, the highest number since 2005 (the first year for which the federal government released this data for a full year), and about 5.1 million business applications in 2022. Not every application turns into a real business, but the number of “high-propensity” business applications — those deemed to have a high likelihood of turning into a business with a payroll — also hit a record in 2021 and saw its second-highest total in 2022.

Former President Donald Trump’s last full year in office, 2020, also set a then-record for total and high propensity applications. There are various reasons for the pandemic-era boom in entrepreneurship, which began after millions of Americans lost their jobs in early 2020. Among them: some newly unemployed workers seized the moment to start their own enterprises; Americans had extra money from stimulus bills signed by Trump and Biden; interest rates were particularly low until a series of rate hikes that began in the spring of 2022.

From CNN’s Daniel Dale

Unemployment among demographic groups Biden touted low unemployment rates.

Facts First: Biden’s claims are accurate.

The Black or African American unemployment rate was 5.4% in January 2023, just above the record low of 5.3% set in August 2019. (This data series goes back to 1972.) The rate was 9.2% in January 2021, the month Biden took office.

The Hispanic or Latino unemployment rate was 4.5% in January 2023, not too far from the record low of 4.0% that was set in September 2019 — though the 4.5% rate in January 2023 was a jump from the 4.1% rate in December 2022. (This data series goes back to 1973.) The rate was 8.5% in January 2021.

From CNN’s Daniel Dale

Trump and the national debt Biden criticized the fiscal management of former President Donald Trump’s administration.

Facts First: Biden’s claim is correct. The national debt, now more than $31 trillion, increased by just under $8 trillion during Trump’s four years in office, in part because of Trump’s major tax cuts. It’s important to note, though, that some of the increase in the debt during the Trump era was because of the trillions in emergency Covid-19 pandemic relief spending that passed with bipartisan support. The national debt spiked in the first half of 2020 after increasing gradually during Trump’s first three years in office, and because of spending required by safety-net programs that were created by previous presidents. A significant amount of spending under any president is the result of decisions made by their predecessors.

Charles Blahous, a researcher at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University who authored the 2021 paper “Why We Have Federal Deficits,” wrote that the impact of recent legislation on the long-term structural fiscal imbalance is dwarfed by the creation of Medicare and Medicaid and increases to Social Security, all of which occurred between 1965 and 1972.

“Despite all the political rhetoric expended today to cast blame for skyrocketing federal deficits on either the Joseph R. Biden Jr. administration or the Donald J. Trump administration, on either congressional Democrats or congressional Republicans, the largest drivers of the structural federal fiscal imbalance were enacted roughly a half-century ago,” Blahous wrote.

From CNN’s Katie Lobosco and Daniel Dale

Manufacturing investments Biden claimed that a new law, the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act, will produce hundreds of thousands of new jobs.

Facts First: Biden’s prediction about future job creation is obviously beyond the scope of a fact check. But his claim about companies having announced $300 billion in manufacturing investments during his presidency is accurate; the White House provided CNN with a list of these publicly announced investments. (It’s worth noting that companies sometimes end up investing less than they initially announce.)

The majority of the manufacturing investments that have been publicly announced under Biden to date have been investments in semiconductor facilities. The Biden administration has emphasized the importance of US semiconductor manufacturing, and Biden signed a bill in August that has helped to generate major investment.

From CNN’s Daniel Dale

The unemployment rate Touting economic progress, Biden said:

Facts First: This is true. The unemployment rate was 3.4% in January 2023, the lowest figure since the rate also hit 3.4% in May 1969. The unemployment rate was 6.3% in January 2021, the month Biden took office.

From CNN’s Daniel Dale

Electric vehicle tax credits Biden, speaking about the Inflation Reduction Act, said:

Facts First: This claim needs context. While Inflation Reduction Act tax credits will help save families money on their energy bills, it could take years for EV tax credits to become fully available.

Biden’s claim about energy savings is similar to an estimate from clean electricity nonprofit Rewiring America — which estimated last year that a US household could save $1,800 per year if they installed electric heat pumps to heat their water and heat and cool their air, replaced a gas car with an EV, and installed solar.

Ultimately, new electric vehicles will be eligible for up to $7,500. But there’s a big catch: in order to qualify for these tax credits, the vehicles’ final assembly must happen in North America. At the insistence of Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, the IRA has strict requirements for how many electric vehicle and EV battery components must be made in the US or countries that have a free trade deal with the US.

The US Treasury Department is expected to issue guidance on critical minerals and batteries in March. But the complex requirements for these tax credits could take years to fully kick in as companies must move their supply chain to North America.

Starting this year, 40% or more of the critical minerals used to create a vehicle’s battery must be extracted or processed in the United States, or a country that has a free trade deal with the US, for the vehicle to qualify for tax credits. That number will gradually rise to 80% of the battery minerals by 2027 and reach 100% by 2029.

This provision passed because Manchin wanted the US to compete with China on electric vehicles, and it will eventually have the impact of bringing more EV and battery jobs to the US or countries it has a free trade agreement with. The measure has already resulted in several companies announcing new factories in the US.

But it’s also a complex provision that will take time to implement, likely meaning vehicle manufacturers won’t be able to offer the credit in the next couple years as they move their supply chains to the US and North America.

From CNN’s Ella Nilsen

Child poverty cut in half In calling to revive the Democrats’ enhancement of the child tax credit in 2021, Biden pointed to the fact that the provision helped slash the child poverty rate that year.

Facts First: This is true. The child poverty rate was cut nearly in half in 2021, and the expanded child tax credit was the major factor. The enhancement accounted for the bulk of the reduction.

The child poverty rate fell from 9.7% in 2020 to 5.2% in 2021, according to the US Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure, which takes into account certain non-cash government assistance, tax credits and needed expenses.

That’s a reduction of 46%, sending the rate to the lowest level since the supplemental measure began in 2009.

The child tax credit — both the traditional credit and the enhancement — reduced the child poverty rate from 9.2% to 5.2%, or 43%, according to the Census Bureau. Without the beefed-up credit, the rate would have only fallen from 9.2% to 8.1%, or 12%.

As part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act that passed in March 2021, Congress enhanced the child tax credit for one year, beefing up payments to $3,600 for each child up to age 6 and $3,000 for each one ages 6 through 17, for lower- and middle-income families. For the first time, half the credit was paid in monthly installments from July through December, while parents could claim the other half when they filed their 2021 taxes this year.

Also, more low-income parents became eligible for the full amount because lawmakers made it fully refundable.

From CNN’s Tami Luhby

Gas prices down since their peak Biden touted progress against inflation.

Facts First: Biden’s claim is correct. He didn’t mention, however, that gas prices are still significantly higher today than they were when he took office. And it’s important to note that presidential policy has a limited impact on gas prices, which are determined by a complex global interplay of supply and demand factors.

As of the day of the State of the Union, the national average for a gallon of regular gas was $3.457, per data from the American Automobile Association. That was indeed down more than $1.50 from a record high of $5.016 in mid-June. But it was still up from a national average of $2.393 on Biden’s Inauguration Day in January 2021.

Biden has taken steps to lower gas prices. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in early 2022, which contributed to a spike in gas prices, the Biden administration released 180 million barrels of oil from the national Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The administration also issued an emergency waiver that allowed the sale of E15 gasoline, a blend that contains 15% ethanol, last summer. A White House official noted Wednesday that the price of gas today is lower than it was when the Russian invasion began.

But as we regularly note — whether a president is boasting about a decline in gas prices or his critics are blasting him for an increase in gas prices — presidential policy is not a primary factor in the price of gasoline.

“Similar to why the primary reason for rise in price isn’t due to the President, the same holds true for declines,” Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, told CNN in a message this week. Asked about the role of the president in the decline since the peak of mid-2022, De Haan said: “While the president may have had a minimal role in lowering prices through easing regulation, and occasionally using waivers, the bulk of the decline is simply due to supply and demand changes, and Russian oil and refined products that are still being exported, providing needed supply to the global market.”

De Haan said Biden’s releases of oil from the strategic reserve “put some downward pressure on the price of oil, but I would not call it materially significant.”

The White House official responded Wednesday by pointing to an analysis from the administration’s Treasury Department that estimated that the releases of reserve oil by the US and its allies could have reduced the price of gas by 40 cents a gallon.

From CNN’s Daniel Dale

Job creation Biden claimed to have created more jobs “in two years than any president has ever created in four years.”

Facts First: Biden’s number is accurate: the US economy added 12.1 million jobs between Biden’s first full month in office, February 2021, and January 2023. That number is indeed higher than the number of jobs added in any previous four-year presidential term. However, it’s important to note that Biden took office in an unusual pandemic context that makes meaningful comparison to other periods very difficult.

Biden became president less than a year after the economy shed nearly 22 million jobs over two months, March and April 2020, because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The jobs recovery then began immediately after that, under then-President Donald Trump, but there was still an unprecedented hole to fill when Biden took office.

Biden is free to argue that his stimulus legislation and other policies have helped the country gain jobs faster than it otherwise would have. (As always, it’s debatable precisely how much credit the president deserves for job-creation.) Nonetheless, it is clear that there could only be such an extraordinary number of jobs added in 2021 and 2022 because there was such an extraordinary number of jobs lost in early 2020.

From CNN’s Daniel Dale

Biden on democracy spreading While touting his efforts to stand up to authoritarian leaders in China and Russia, Biden painted himself as a champion of freedom and inaccurately claimed that democracy was spreading under his watch.

Facts First: This claim is at odds with data from Freedom House, a leading nonprofit that tracks democracy and human rights around the world. They say democracy has been in global decline over the past few years.

The group’s most recent annual report on the state of global democracy, released in February 2022, was aptly titled, “The Global Expansion of Authoritarian Rule.” Their 2021 report was called, “Democracy under Siege.”

Getting into the data, Freedom House says 60 countries experienced democratic backsliding in the previous year, while only 25 countries improved their position. The group highlighted backsliding in Sudan, Nicaragua and Afghanistan, where the Taliban reclaimed power when Biden withdrew all American troops from the country.

Freedom House’s most recent report is one year old, with a new report likely coming out soon. And to be fair, Biden could merely be expressing his view that autocratic regimes have lost prestige on the world stage.

But the trends appear to be holding. For instance, after Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine last year, he initiated a domestic crackdown that rolled back the few remaining civil liberties that existed in Russia.

Freedom House is largely funded by grants from the US government.

From CNN’s Marshall Cohen

Building electric vehicle charging stations Biden highlighted his administration’s work to build more electric vehicle charging stations.

Facts First: This is more of a promise than a fact, but even so, it needs context. For a few reasons, it’s questionable whether the Biden administration will be able to meet its goal of installing 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations on US roads.

Installing 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations has long been one of Biden’s goals. The president initially proposed Congress spend $15 billion to make it a reality, but just half of that — $7.5 billion — passed as part of the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure bill.

Though the administration has said that could be backfilled by private investment, that change in funding could hinder the administration’s ability to meet the goal. States can now unlock more than $900 million in funding for fiscal years 2022 and 2023, which the administration estimated will “help build” chargers across approximately 53,000 miles of US highways. Over the next five years, the full $5 billion will be spent to build out a network of EV chargers on major highways. Another pot of $2.5 billion in grant funding is also available for states to apply to.

There is also a wide range in how much different types of chargers cost, and individual states have a lot of leeway in deciding what kinds of chargers will go on their roads. DC fast chargers can charge a car to mostly full in 20 minutes to an hour and are meant to go on major highways and roads. Another kind of charger known as an L2 charger can take hours to charge a car to full. But DC fast chargers are much more expensive, costing around $100,000 compared to around $6,000 for an L2, Ellen Hughes-Cromwick, a senior resident fellow at the think tank Third Way, has told CNN.

In an interview with climate publication Grist last year, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said that ultimately the number of EV chargers on the roads “really depends on how the states decide to mix the fast chargers and different types of technology.”

From CNN’s Ella Nilsen

Biden on creating 800,000 ‘good-paying’ manufacturing jobs In another claim about the economy, Biden claimed to have created “800,000 good-paying manufacturing jobs.”

Facts First: Biden’s figures are correct; however, the “good-paying” qualifier is subjective and can’t be independently verified for each of those 800,000-plus positions.

The US economy added 803,000 manufacturing jobs from Biden’s first full month in office, February 2021, through January 2023, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The job growth rate during Biden’s first two years in office was 6.58%. The last time a comparable growth rate was higher was in 1979.

The average hourly wage in the manufacturing industry was $31.57 for all employees and $25.84 for production and non-supervisory positions in January, preliminary BLS data shows. Nationally, the average hourly wage was a projected $33.03.

From CNN’s Alicia Wallace

Biden on burger chain employees being forced to sign non-compete agreements Biden said 30 million workers had to sign non-compete agreements, illustrating his point with an example of a cashier at a burger place being unable to cross the street to take a similar job at a restaurant that pays more money.

Facts First: This is partially true. Millions of rank-and-file employees and independent contractors, in addition to business executives across industries, have signed non-compete agreements that critics say suppress competition, wages and entrepreneurship. The Federal Trade Commission in January proposed a rule to ban employers from imposing those agreements on workers and to rescind all existing noncompete agreements. But are burger chain workers really subject to those noncompete agreements? It’s not likely — not anymore, anyway.

An investigation in Washington state in 2017 revealed that several fast-food chains, including Arby’s, Auntie Anne’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Carl’s Jr., Cinnabon, Jimmy John’s, and McDonald’s, had been enforcing no-poaching rules that prevented employees from moving between franchises within the same chain — not, as Biden suggested, between rival chains. By 2018, all those chains agreed to end their no-poach practices at roughly 25,000 restaurants nationwide.

From CNN’s David Goldman

Inflation fallen every month; food inflation coming down; take home pay up Biden also addressed inflation.

Facts First: Biden’s claims are true if he was comparing year-over-year growth rates to each other, but not if he was measuring inflation itself.

Food prices were up 10.4% in December 2022 from the year-before period, according to the latest available Consumer Price Index report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Food price inflation, as measured by the CPI, has slowly declined since hitting a 40-year high of 11.4% in August 2022.

Overall inflation, as measured by the CPI, was 6.5% in December 2022. The headline inflation rate has declined for six consecutive months since hitting a 40-year high of 9.1% in June 2022.

The CPI, which measures the average change in the prices over time of a basket of consumer goods, is one of several closely watched inflation barometers that also have showed price increases to have moderated in recent months. Within CPI and other indexes, there are various measures to gauge inflation. Most notably, “core” inflation measures that exclude items with more volatile price increases.

Biden’s claim that take-home pay has gone up is true if you start the calculation seven months ago; “real” wages, which take inflation into account, started rising in mid-2022 as inflation slowed. However, real wages are lower today than they were both a full year ago and at the beginning of Biden’s presidency in January 2021. That’s because inflation was so high in 2021 and the beginning of 2022.

There are various ways to measure real wages. Real average hourly earnings declined 1.7% between December 2021 and December 2022, while real average weekly earnings (which factors in the number of hours people worked) declined 3.1% over that period.

From CNN’s Daniel Dale and Alicia Wallace

Biden on Republicans, Medicare and Social Security Biden once again took aim at Republicans in Congress over Social Security and Medicare, accusing some of them of wanting to make changes to the programs. His remarks elicited cheers from Democrats but loud jeers from Republicans, including GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene who shouted “liar.”

Facts First: Biden was referring to Florida GOP Sen. Rick Scott, who last year issued “An 11 Point Plan to Rescue America.” As the president said, Scott’s proposal would sunset all federal legislation — including the two entitlement programs — every five years and require Congress to pass them again. Another GOP senator, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, last year suggested while campaigning for a third term that entitlement programs, like Social Security and Medicare, should be shifted to discretionary spending that Congress has to approve annually.

Scott’s plan didn’t make it far. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell quickly dismissed it, also saying that the GOP will not include in its agenda a bill that sunsets Social Security and Medicare within five years.

Also, the Republican Study Committee last year put out a budget plan that calls for making several changes to Social Security and Medicare that would amount to cutting the programs’ benefits for future senior citizens.

For instance, the conservative lawmakers proposed raising Medicare’s eligibility age to be in line with the normal retirement age for Social Security, which currently is 67 for anyone born in 1960 or later, and then indexing it to life expectancy. But they would also raise the normal retirement age for Social Security, as well as trim benefits for higher-income earners.

Biden has repeatedly said that GOP lawmakers want to cut Social Security and Medicare. The drama has flared up again in recent weeks amid the debt ceiling debate. House Republicans are demanding that lifting the borrowing cap be tied to spending reductions.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, however, reiterated in remarks on Monday that “cuts to Medicare and Social Security are off the table” in the debt ceiling discussions.

From CNN’s Tami Luhby

Defund the police In the official Republican rebuttal to the State of the Union, Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders suggested the Biden administration and Democrats have largely called to defund the police.

Facts First: While some Democrats have joined calls for a radical shift in police policy, including a reduction in police budgets, Biden and top congressional Democrats have not supported and even rejected calls to “defund the police.”

It’s worth noting that the slogan “defund the police” means different things to different activists — from the dissolution of police forces to partial reductions in funding.

That being said, Biden in particular has explicitly stated his opposition to abolishing or defunding the police several times.

During the 2020 presidential campaign, Biden told CBS, “No, I don’t support defunding the police.” Rather, he said, “I support conditioning federal aid to police based on whether or not they meet certain basic standards of decency and honorableness. And, in fact, are able to demonstrate they can protect the community and everybody in the community.”

Attacking Biden and Democrats on police funding is not a new tactic from Republicans. Ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, several ads from Republican candidates attempted to create the inaccurate impression that the Democratic candidates they were targeting supported defunding the police. Some of the Republican ads simply made things up. Other ads falsely described bills the Democratic candidates have supported. Still other ads tried guilt by association, noting that the candidates have supporters who have called to defund the police but not mentioning that the candidates themselves rejected defunding the police.

From CNN’s Tara Subramaniam

Sanders on world peace Sanders claimed that after Trump left office, Biden inherited “a world that was stable and at peace.”

Facts First: It’s obviously ridiculous to claim that there was world peace when Trump’s tenure ended, and calling the world “stable” is a subjective claim.

When Trump left the White House in 2021, there were still plenty of wars ongoing around the world — albeit not as many as under previous presidents, and very few of those conflicts directly involved American armed forces.

For instance, Trump did not end the war in Afghanistan, which was still ongoing when Biden took office. There were thousands of US troops in the country when Biden was sworn in, before he withdrew them all in 2021.

The long-running Yemeni civil war was still happening when Trump left office. (Under Trump and Obama, the US supported Saudi Arabia’s military intervention in the war through arms sales. Biden ended that policy in 2021.)

The Syrian civil war was also ongoing, though at a more isolated level than in past years. And a war in Ethiopia’s Tigray region was in full swing. The drug war in Mexico was still leading to deaths and disappearances.

Additionally, the war in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region was still unresolved. The war began in 2014, but had settled into a “frozen conflict,” with Russian proxies occupying a large chunk of the eastern Donbas region, and Ukrainian troops dug into trenches. It escalated into a full-blown war when Russia invaded in February 2022, after Biden had already taken office.

From CNN’s Marshall Cohen

Sanders on the border crisis Sanders said that the US is experiencing the “worst border crisis in American history.”

Facts First: It’s true that the Biden administration is facing record levels of apprehensions along the border, but Democrats and Republicans have defined the crisis on their own terms.

In fiscal year 2022, US Border Patrol encountered migrants more than 2.2 million times attempting to unlawfully cross the US southern border, according to federal data, marking a new record.

Those figures include repeat crossers and reflect shifting migration patterns. For example, there has been an increasing number of Cubans, Venezuelans, Nicaraguans and Haitians journeying to the US-Mexico border amid deteriorating conditions at home exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. That’s posed a unique challenge to the Biden administration because the US is largely limited from removing some of those nationalities.

Republicans and Democrats each define crises differently. Republicans have argued that the increase in migrants at the border is evidence of an “open border” under President Joe Biden despite the administration still using a Trump-era Covid restriction, whereas Democrats have described it as a humanitarian crisis reflective of the poor conditions at home.From CNN’s Priscilla Alvarez

Sanders claimed Biden inherited the fastest economic recovery Facts First: This is partially true, but it lacks context. The US economy was bouncing back from the steepest job losses America had ever faced from the Covid shutdowns at the beginning of the pandemic.

The economy shrank at an annual adjusted rate just shy of 30% in the second quarter of 2020, the sharpest economic contraction on record.

The economy quickly recovered that summer, growing at an annualized rate of 35.3% in the third quarter of 2020, the fastest pace on record. But the pace of economic growth began to stall in the winter before Biden took office.

America’s gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 3.9% in the fourth quarter of 2020 and America lost jobs in December 2020. Biden’s stimulus bill helped juice the economy in 2021, although that helped stoke an inflation crisis caused in part by pandemic-related supply chain disruptions and exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — a war that continues to impact the global economy to this day.

From CNN’s David Goldman