Fact-checking McCarthy's false claims in 2022 kick-off letter to Republicans

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The House minority leader is falsely blaming Democrats for the problems his party helped perpetuate.

To kick off the new year, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy released an open letter to his caucus on Sunday in which he once again blamed the nation's problems on President Joe Biden and Democrats in Congress.

"No matter how you slice it, the first year of the Biden administration with Democrat [sic] control of Washington has set our nation back," the California Republican wrote. "What was promised to be a year to break free from the effects of the coronavirus turned out to be a year that only worsened them. And every day brings worse news."

McCarthy said he hopes Republicans will regain control of Congress in November's midterm elections, and promised to spend 2022 "working to solve our country's challenges." But McCarthy and his fellow Republicans in Congress have only helped worsen those challenges while falsely pinning the blame on Democrats.

Here are some of the false or misleading claims from McCarthy's letter:

False Claim No. 1: Democrats are making the coronavirus pandemic worse

"People are really suffering, and the Democrats are making a bad situation even worse," McCarthy wrote of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts. "We are seeing the President’s central promise — 'to shut down the virus' — be so mismanaged that Americans are starting the year with as much uncertainty and unease as at the start of the pandemic."

But McCarthy and GOP lawmakers across the country have consistently tried to undermine Biden's efforts to curb the pandemic. He and the GOP minorities in both houses of Congress unanimously opposed last year's $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which provided tens of billions of dollars for vaccination and testing.

Even as the delta variant brought a spike in cases last year, McCarthy and House Republicans fought against mask rules. He decried vaccination requirements as "un-American" — opposing them even for health care workers — and joined all 212 of his GOP colleagues in co-sponsoring a bill to stop the Biden administration's requirements that workers at large employers either get vaccinated or be tested weekly for the coronavirus.

McCarthy's office also pushed unfounded claims that natural immunity was just as effective at preventing COVID-19 infection as vaccination.

False Claim No. 2: Biden is to blame for inflation and labor shortages

McCarthy bragged that the GOP "knew trillions in new government spending would spur inflation, cause a labor shortage, and hurt people on a fixed income the most" and that it had warned that the current situation would happen.

While the GOP did oppose the pandemic relief package, experts say inflation has little to do with Biden's policies and is not necessarily his fault. Financial adviser Craig Kirsner told Forbes in August that the two biggest causes of inflation are the economy's reopening fueling "a bottleneck with very high demand" and low-interest rates boosting housing demand and "a large backlog."

Republicans falsely claimed that the bill's temporary unemployment supplement of $300 a week for people who lost their jobs due to the pandemic was "incentivizing" Americans to stay home. But numerous analyses found that states that chose to cut off those benefits early saw no statistically significant boost in employment over states that did not. And Biden has presided over the addition of 6 million jobs to the economy since taking office, more than erasing the net jobs lost under his predecessor.

McCarthy and House Republicans unanimously opposed Biden's Build Back Better proposals, which Nobel Prize-winning economists and rating agencies said would help curb long-term inflation.

False Claim No. 3: Democrats are responsible for increased crime

"We knew that disrespecting, defunding, and demonizing law enforcement would result in more crime and less public safety," McCarthy wrote in his letter.

But contrary to GOP assertions, few Democrats have pushed for defunding law enforcement, and few communities have put the idea into effect.

Criminologists have found little correlation between murder rates and which party controls local governments.

While violent crime has been increasing throughout the pandemic — including during the period when Donald Trump was in the White House — property crime has declined. Experts do not know why murders have surged over that time, but theorize that an increase in gun purchases and the pandemic's disruption to normal life could be factors.

McCarthy and his caucus voted against Biden's rescue plan — which provided billions to help localities pay for public safety and other needs — and nearly unanimously opposed a bill to require background checks before gun purchases.

False Claim No. 4: Democrats are to blame for school closures

McCarthy also boasted that the GOP "knew shutting down our schools would cause severe learning loss and social disruption."

But in opposing the American Rescue Plan, he and his party tried to stop $125 billion in funding to help schools more safely return to in-person instruction.

And thanks to Republican efforts around the country to block mask use and vaccine requirements in schools, COVID-19 cases have spiked in those communities that have blocked efforts to curb the virus' spread. With the spread of the omicron variant making shortages of teachers, administrators, and school bus drivers even worse, many school systems are now struggling to find enough workers to remain open for in-person instruction.

False Claim No. 5: Democrats are dividing the country by investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection

McCarthy wrote that as the nation marks one year since the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, "those who broke the law deserve to face legal repercussions and full accountability." But he also claimed that "the majority party" is using a special investigation into the deadly attack "as a partisan political weapon to further divide our country."

He and the vast majority of House Republicans voted against creating a bipartisan independent commission and a special committee to investigate the Jan. 6 riot.

McCarthy has taken no action against members of his caucus who have defended the insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol building and publicly derided Republicans who opted to serve on the House select committee as "Pelosi Republicans."

Meanwhile, while McCarthy continues to undermine the popular and bipartisan investigation, the special committee finds more and more proof that Trump refused to act to stop the attacks.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.