Fact Check: Joe Biden Correctly Claims ‘There’s Not a Single Thing American Workers Can’t Do’

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the fourth day of the Democratic National Convention, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020, at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Andrew Harnik/AP Photo

CLAIM: Presidential candidate Joe Biden said, “There’s not a single thing American workers can’t do.”

VERDICT: True, yet Biden and his campaign repeatedly contradict the statement by claiming that Americans’ economy needs immigrants.

Biden said in his August 21 acceptance speech that “there’s not a single thing American workers can’t do.”

The text of Biden’s speech portrayed economic growth as tied to continued immigration. But Biden also ad-libbed his “not a single thing” statement, creating a massive contradiction in his speech.

Biden’s ad-libbed comment is in italics:

My economic plan is all about jobs, dignity, respect, and community. Together, we can, and we will, rebuild our economy. And when we do, we’ll not only build it back, we’ll build it back better.

With modern roads, bridges, highways, broadband, ports, and airports as a new foundation for economic growth, with pipes that transport clean water to every community, with five million new manufacturing and technology jobs so the future is made in America.

With a healthcare system that lowers premiums, deductibles, and drug prices by building on the Affordable Care Act he’s trying to rip away.

With an education system that trains our people for the best jobs of the 21st century, — there’s not a single thing American workers can’t do!and where cost doesn’t prevent young people from going to college, and student debt doesn’t crush them when they get out.

With child care and elder care that make it possible for parents to go to work and for the elderly to stay in their homes with dignity, with an immigration system that powers our economy and reflects our values, with newly empowered labor unions, with equal pay for women.

So the speech text ties economic growth to the Democrats’ priority of “an immigration system that powers our economy.” But Biden declared, “There is not a single thing that American workers can’t do.”

Biden’s website also touts the Democrats’ near-unanimous demand for more immigration, despite his ad-libbed comments.

The site says immigration is essential:

It’s the reason we have constantly been able to renew ourselves, to grow better and stronger as a nation, and to meet new challenges. Immigration is essential to who we are as a nation, our core values, and our aspirations for our future.

Key sectors of the U.S. economy, from agriculture to technology, rely on immigration. Working-age immigrants keep our economy growing, our communities thriving, and country moving forward.

Immigrants are essential to the strength of our country and the U.S. economy.

But the historical evidence suggests that Biden’s ad-lib is correct and that immigration is just an option — not a necessity — for economic or technological growth.

In the century after 1940, the United States suppressed slavery, built railroads across the country, contrasted a vast industrial economy, invented flight, electricity, and autos, and delivered near-universal education and suffrage. But immigration was sharply reduced after 1925, and it then dropped to very low levels in the 1940s and 1950s.

During the 50 years of low immigration after 1925, Americans created Social Security, destroyed Aryan socialism and contained international socialism, invented suburbia and rock and roll, and flew to the moon. They designed the Boeing 747, ended smallpox and polio, invented numerous other life-saving drugs, the computer, the Internet, and cellphones, and created the wealthiest population in history.

In 1860, almost 60 percent of the population worked on farms. In 1920, 27 percent worked on farms, and that number plummeted to 2.6 percent in 1990.

In 1860, roughly 34 percent of children died before reaching age five. By 1925, it had dropped by half to just 14 percent. From 1925 to 1965, the death rate plummeted to only 2.9 percent, amid the arrival of clean water, clean food, suburbs, and novel antibiotics.

“Drivers on the road nearly tripled from 8 million in 1920 to 23 million in 1929. … From 1940 to 1960, auto ownership in the United States more than doubled from 27.5 million registered vehicles in 1940 to 61.5 million in 1960,” according to Cityscope.com. Roughly 60 percent of American families owned autos in 1960, and that number rose to 90 percent by 2000, freeing hundreds of millions of people to range far for work, recreation, and freedom.

Americans invented aircraft and air travel, allowing humans to free travel through a new dimension — and then built the Boeing 747 to enable everyone in the world to follow them.

Americans raced the Russians into unexplored space, got the moon first, and built a new world of satellites for everyone to use — without a care about how the satellites got into space.

Americans invented the computer age in 1950, so creating a new virtual dimension for humans explore, and then built the first personal computer so the world could follow Americans.

Jonas Salk’s 1950s cure for polio was just the most visible of the revolutionary life-saving drugs produced by the U.S. pharmaceutical sector in the 1960s, ensuring many millions of saved lives around the world.

The evidence shows that Biden’s ad-libbed comment — “There’s not a single thing American workers can’t do” — is true.

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