Facts Matter: Blurred seal not proof that Biden isn't really president
Social media users recently pointed to a video that includes a blurred presidential seal, retweeted by Vice President Kamala Harris, as proof that Joe Biden isn't actually president.
"Was the presidential seal blurred out today because he's not the real president?" a Twitter user wrote while another provided an explanation, "The Presidential Seal is blurred out because Trump owns the copyright."
Those claims are false, according to The Associated Press. They are among the "flurry of conspiracy theories" showing up on social media due to the blurred seal.
The clip shows Biden signing the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law, while seated at a desk displaying the presidential seal which appears to be intentionally blurred.
The video Harris shared on her personal account was originally posted by the Democratic National Committee. The group blurred the emblem because of a federal statute that limits how the presidential seal can be used, a DNC spokesperson told the AP.
The DNC has blurred the seal in other clips posted online, including a video shared by Biden, and it's usually obscured in political ads.
"It's generally standard for political parties to try and stay on the right side of the law," Jordan Libowitz, communications director for Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington, told the AP.
The White House doesn't blur the seal when it appears in photos and videos sent for official government business.
Psaki overstates support of bill
President Joe Biden's $1.75 trillion Build Back Better plan has been criticized because of the chance it could drive up inflation. But White House press secretary Jen Psaki said people shouldn't be concerned.
"No economist out there is projecting that this will have a negative impact on inflation," she said during a Nov. 15 press conference.
But not everyone agrees with Psaki, according to PolitiFact.
"I'm an economist, and I disagree," American Action Forum President Douglas Holtz-Eakin told PolitiFact.
Bank of America's head of global economics research Ethan Harris told PolitiFact the plan, during a time with high employment, "will make the labor market even hotter and create even more price pressure.''
Michael Feroli, chief U.S. economist for JPMorgan Chase, agreed.
"Right now, anything that expands aggregate demand is not warranted, not advisable," he told PolitiFact.
However most economists have said the rise in inflation should be manageable.
"I expect Biden's bills to push upward on inflation, rather than downward. That said, the inflationary impact will be very small," Stony Brook University professor of finance Noah Smith told PolitiFact.
McCarthy wrong about bill
California U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, during a more-than-eight-hour speech on the House floor, criticized the Build Back Better bill just before it was passed.
"Never in American history has so much been spent at one time. Never in American history will so many taxes be raised and so much borrowing be needed to pay for this reckless spending." McCarthy said.
He is wrong about all three claims, according to PolitiFact.
Two recent bills, one signed into law by President Donald Trump and one by President Joe Biden, called for spending more than the $1.75 trillion, 10-year price tag proposed in the Build Back Better plan.
Trump's Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, passed in March 2020, totaled $2.3 trillion and the American Rescue Plan, signed by Biden in March 2021, cost $1.9 trillion.
As for raising taxes, the increase would represent 0.44% of the cumulative gross domestic product, or GDP, over the 10 years of the bill, based on estimates from the Congressional Budget Office, PolitiFact said.
Five tax bills since 1968 increased taxes by a larger percentage of the GDP: the Revenue and Expenditure Control Act of 1968; the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982; the Crude Oil Windfall Profit Tax Act of 1980; the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993; and the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990.
In regards to borrowing, the two coronavirus aid plans are estimated to each add more than $17 trillion to the deficit, while estimates show the increase from the Build Back Better plan will be between $160 billion and $367 billion.
Simpsons didn't predict Astroworld tragedy
Ten people died and hundreds were injured during a crowd surge during a Travis Scott concert at the Astroworld Festival in Houston, earlier this month. Following the tragedy, an image on social media from 2018 ties characters from the TV show "The Simpsons" to Scott.
"Why is nobody talking about this, The Simpson's knew," reads a post showing Homer and Lisa walking through a giant gold head arch resembling Scott's head.
But the image, created in 2018, wasn't a prediction of the Astroworld event, according to USA Today. It wasn't from an episode of the show. It was a parody of Scott's album "Astroworld," which was released Aug. 3, 2018. The album cover features the giant gold arch of Scott's head with people walking toward it.
The Simpsons characters were added to the parody created by New Zealand designer Liam Ayson.
"Astroworld just came out and I wanted to make a Simpsons meets Astroworld version of it," Ayson told USA Today.
• Bob Oswald is a veteran Chicago-area journalist and former news editor of the Elgin Courier-News. Contact him at email@example.com