Fact Check: Joe Biden Lies About Stagnant Wages, Hunter's Job in One Interview
On Friday, former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, delivered two flat-out lies in one 16-minute interview with PBS. Biden falsely claimed that wages are stagnant and that he did not know his son Hunter Biden was on the board of Burisma Holdings.
"We're now in a position where — you know — wages are stagnant," Biden told PBS News's Judy Woodruff.
In fact, wages have grown by almost 3 percent in the past three years. According to the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report, "Wages and salaries increased 2.9 percent for the 12-month period ending in September 2019 and also increased 2.9 percent for the 12-month period ending in September 2018." During the year before that, wages increased 2.5 percent. Benefit costs also increased by 2.3 percent from September 2018 to September 2019, and 2.6 percent the year before that.
As The Washington Post reported last year, the 2017-2018 wage increase was "the biggest increase — not adjusted for inflation — since the year that ended in September 2008, when wages rose 3.1%."
Even when adjusted for inflation, the wage increases were substantial — not "stagnant." The Post reported the wage increases were higher in 2015 and 2016, when adjusted for inflation. If Biden wishes to take credit for the uptick in wages under Obama, he should acknowledge the wages are still increasing under Trump.
A few minutes after this lie, when Woodruff asked Biden about Ukraine, the former vice president insisted that he did not know his son Hunter was on Burisma's board.
"No one established that he did anything wrong, or that I did anything wrong. Period," Biden said. "I did not know he was on the board of that company and in fact no one’s asserted on the board that it was illegal for him to be on the board or that he did anything wrong."
This contradicted remarks the former vice president make last month in an interview with a local radio show in New Hampshire.
After insisting that he never spoke with his son about his work, Biden let slip that he did learn Hunter was on the board at Burisma.
"At one point that it came out that he was on the board," Biden recalled, "I said, 'I sure hope to hell you know what you’re doing.' Period. I said that."
The interviewer asked whether Biden was concerned about how much his son was being paid or about the job in general. The former VP responded, "What his job was."
In fact, former State Department officials raised concerns about Hunter Biden's role on the board at Burisma. Even if Joe Biden had not let slip that he knew about his son's job, it does not stand to reason that the former VP had no knowledge his son was on the board.
When Biden made the claim that he never discussed Hunter Biden's Ukraine dealings with his son in the debate last month, even CNN fact-checked it and found it false.
While neither Biden nor his son necessarily broke any laws in this arrangement, it stinks to high heaven. Hunter Biden — who had no experience in the energy industry or in Ukraine — was clearly trading on his father's position as vice president in joining the board of Burisma. The fact that Joe Biden later pressured Ukraine's president to fire a prosecutor who was investigating Burisma just makes the whole seedy situation seem much worse.
Follow Tyler O'Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.