Reason Roundup

Biden Claims 5 Past Fed Chairs Back His Jobs Plan, but 2 Are Dead and 2 More Have Been Quiet About It

Plus: Boomer electoral power dwindling, U.S. migration patterns appear linked to pandemic restrictions, and more...

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Biden claims dead economists love his jobs plan. The past five leaders of the Federal Reserve have come out in support of President Joe Biden's American Jobs Plan, the president told reporters at the White House last week. "What'd they say? They said, 'Biden's plan is going to grow the economy,'" Biden claimed.

That's not true. In fact, two of the five chairs before incumbent Jerome Powell—G. William Miller and Paul Volcker—are now dead.

Two of the three living previous Fed chairs—Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke—have been quiet or vague about the $2.3 trillion spending proposal Biden has put forth in the name of "infrastructure" and "jobs." Greenspan's only comments on it seem to be about infrastructure spending generally, and I can find no comments from Bernanke.

Only former Chair Janet Yellen, who is now Biden's treasury secretary, has really been promoting it.

So what the heck was Biden talking about?

A White House official told CNN that Biden had misspoken and meant to reference a May 4 Washington Post op-ed written by five former commissioners of the IRS.

But this, too, falls somewhat short of accuracy. "The former IRS commissioners did not say anything about how Biden's plan would affect economic growth," notes CNN.

Rather, they said Biden's proposals -- including a well-funded effort to crack down on the non-payment of taxes owed -- would make the tax administration system "far fairer and more effective" and "produce a great deal of revenue by reducing the enormous gap between taxes legally owed and taxes actually paid."

Even if this was an accidental mix-up by Biden, it was a substantial mix-up. A positive economic forecast from former tax chiefs is almost certainly less likely to sound impressive to the public than a positive economic forecast from people who ran the US central bank and are among the nation's best-known economic figures. And, again, there was no economic forecast at all in the tax chiefs' article.

In the past week, Biden has also made a false claim (again) about how many jobs his plan would create:

On May 2, we pointed out that, after early-April fact checks from CNN and others, Biden's team had stopped wrongly claiming or suggesting that economic firm Moody's Analytics found that the American Jobs Plan proposal would create 19 million jobs.

Well, Biden made a version of the claim last week. In a slightly different form than the original, but that new form was misleading too -- and Biden added an additional inaccuracy this time.

In his Thursday speech in Louisiana, Biden said, "All the economists, including the liberal as well as conservative think tanks, point out what we'll create when we pass this Jobs Plan -- we'll create up to 16 million good-paying jobs." And in the White House speech the day prior, Biden said, "You have Moody's talking about increasing it up to -- I don't know what the most recent one is -- 16 million new jobs."

Not only is there no liberal-conservative (or any sort of) consensus about job creation here, "even Moody's did not say the plan would create up to 16 million jobs," notes CNN.

Rather, Moody's estimated in May that the economy will create about 16.5 million jobs between the fourth quarter of 2020 and the fourth quarter of 2030 if the American Jobs Plan is not passed, or create about 19.2 million jobs if Biden's plan is passed. In other words, Moody's found that the passage of the American Jobs Plan would produce 2.7 million additional jobs, not up to 16 million.

These fibs or flubs about the American Jobs Plan last week come in addition to Biden's false claims about CEO pay, which he said last week was more than 450 times that of the average worker. The discrepancy is large, but not that large, according to progressive think tank the Economic Policy Institute. It said in a 2019 study that CEOs at the 350 largest U.S. companies made 320—not 456—times what the average worker at these companies did.


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Millennial and Gen Z voters will likely outnumber boomer voters within a few years:


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The link between U.S. moves and pandemic restrictions. Researchers from Vanderbilt University and the Georgia Institute of Technology looked at migration patterns during the COVID-19 pandemic and roughly three years preceding it. They found that 10 to 20 percent "of moves between April 2020--February 2021 were influenced by COVID-19, with a significant shift in migration towards smaller cities, lower cost of living locations, and locations with fewer pandemic-related restrictions."

The researchers discovered "very different patterns across higher-income and lower-income migrants with higher income households moving out of more populous cities at greater rates, and moving more for lifestyle reasons and much less for work-related reasons compared to the pre-pandemic period." Schooling was one frequently cited factor, with 5 percent of COVID-influenced movers naming "access to in-person learning as an important factor in their decision."

"My take on this is that the overall driver in these migrations is flight from restrictions," University of Toronto professor Richard Florida tweeted yesterday. "Higher income households are moving from more restrictive places (which also happen to be larger, denser & bluer) to less restrictive places. These households have more ability to move & less tolerance for restrictions. They feel they can manage risk on their own without government restrictions. They also prefer environments where in-person schooling is more likely."

"What I think is driving these moves is a preference for 'normalcy', the pursuit of personal freedom & day to day liberty, & the ability to live one's life & family they [sic] way you choose, less subject to government mandates," Florida added.


QUICK HITS

• Medical marijuana legalization is making progress in South Carolina, while legislators in Minnesota are moving forward with legalizing marijuana generally.

• Georgia has repealed its citizen's arrest law, which allowed anyone who witnessed (or thought they witnessed) a crime to arrest the suspected perpetrator. ABC News calls the law's repeal "a continuing reaction" to the death of Ahmaud Arbery, a black man killed by three white men who said they suspected him of a crime and are now charged with murdering Arbery.

• In pursuit of a stolen U-Haul vehicle, the Los Angeles Police Department descended on two young women trying to move. "At least 10 officers surrounded them, some with guns drawn, while a police helicopter hovered above." They had the wrong truck.

• The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds.

• The FBI seized heirlooms, coins, and cash from hundreds of safe deposit boxes in Beverly Hills, despite knowing "some" belonged to "honest citizens."

• When eminent domain is used for economic assassination.

• The audio-only social app Clubhouse—initially only available for iPhones—is now available for Android phones.