Biden White House fact-checked by Twitter users again for exaggerated deficit claim

The White House was fact-checked by Twitter users on Monday after trying to take credit for the “largest” one-year cut to the federal budget deficit in American history. 

President Biden’s communications team attempted to exaggerate the administration’s record on lowering the deficit on Twitter and was handed another Community Note that provided missing context for the White House’s claim. 

“The Biden-Harris Administration lowered the deficit with the single largest one-year reduction in American history,” the White House tweeted Monday. 

But readers added important details the White House left out, noting that deficit spending ramped up during the COVID-19 pandemic between fiscal years 2020 and 2021. 

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Guests arrive at the White House for the wedding of Naomi Biden, 28, granddaughter of President Biden, and Peter Neal, 25, on Nov. 20, 2022.

Guests arrive at the White House for the wedding of Naomi Biden, 28, granddaughter of President Biden, and Peter Neal, 25, on Nov. 20, 2022. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)

“COVID-driven deficits in both FY20 & 21 were roughly double the previous record (09), making the drop to FY22 sizable,” the Community Note states.  

“But the FY22 deficit is still the 4th largest in history and is 41% larger than FY19,” Twitter users pointed out. 

Community Notes, previously called Birdwatch, is a feature on Twitter that lets eligible users sign up to provide missing context to factual claims. The program is not managed by Twitter. Instead, users rate notes they find helpful and over time can earn the ability to write. 

“Community Notes doesn’t work by majority rules. To identify notes that are helpful to a wide range of people, notes require agreement between contributors who have sometimes disagreed in their past ratings. This helps prevent one-sided ratings,” Twitter explains in its Community Notes Guide

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In this case, Twitter’s community observed the White House’s deficit claim fails to note that deficit spending has reached record highs under the Trump and Biden administrations, largely because of the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Between fiscal years 2019 and 2021, federal spending increased by about 50% due to pandemic-related legislation, according to the Treasury Department. 

The FY2020 deficit was $3.13 trillion, followed by a $2.77 trillion deficit in FY2021. While the deficit in FY2022 was $1.38 trillion – a decrease of nearly 50% from the year prior – Biden’s administration is still running the fourth-largest budget deficit of all-time.

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President Biden speaks at a National Economic Council roundtable at the White House on Nov. 18, 2022.

President Biden speaks at a National Economic Council roundtable at the White House on Nov. 18, 2022. (Nathan Posner/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The national debt stands at more than $31.2 trillion, which is 121.51% of gross domestic product, a measure of the total value of goods and services in the U.S. economy.  

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This was not the first time the White House was flagged by Twitter users for making exaggerated claims. 

Earlier this month, the White House deleted a tweet that credited Biden’s “leadership” with the “biggest increase” in Social Security payments in 10 years. Twitter users added context that said the rise in Social Security payments was “due to the annual cost of living adjustment, which is based on the inflation rate.”

Fox News’ Peter Kasperowicz contributed to this report.

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