Joe Biden Misspoke on Cost of Free Public College: Campaign Staff

Joe Biden Misspoke on Cost of Free Public College: Campaign Staff
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del. on Oct. 28, 2020. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Paula Liu

A staff member of the Biden campaign said that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden misspoke when referring to the amount of money required for the government to provide free public college.

During the "60 Minutes" interview with Biden, when asked by interviewer Norah O’Donnell, the presidential nominee said that he planned to implement significant changes to the education system by the taxes raised from corporations to fund free public college.

Biden said that this change was part of the revolutionary institutional changes that he planned to implement.

“If we just made every corporation pay a minimum 15 [percent] tax, and 91 [corporations] pay no tax, that raises over $400 billion,” Biden said.

With that money, the presidential nominee said that it would be enough to send every single qualified individual to college for four years for $150 billion.

“I can make sure every single person who qualifies for community college can go, and we still have a lot of money left over,” Biden said.

These numbers, however, were called into question by the Tax Policy Center. A report (pdf) published on Oct. 15 estimated that Biden’s 15 percent minimum tax (filed under “global book income”) would only generate about $108.5 billion between the years of 2021 and 2030.
Other tax policy centers have estimated numbers a little higher, such as the Tax Foundation, which estimated a total of $202.7 billion for the 15 percent corporate minimum tax on book income. However, this still doesn’t meet the number that Biden referred to, which was $400 billion.

Moreover, after the interview, O'Donnell informed viewers in a voice-over that a staff member of the Biden campaign told the segment that Biden misspoke regarding the cost of free public college and that the number required to send all qualified individuals to college for free for four years could actually be twice as high as the number Biden mentioned.

This was also part of Biden’s tax plan, as he promised to undo the tax cut implemented by Trump for corporations and wealthy Americans, O'Donnell said. Furthermore, Biden said that he would raise the taxes for those making more than $400,000 a year to a maximum of 39.6 percent tax rate.

“Nobody making less than $400,000 will pay a penny more in tax under my proposal,” Biden said, during the interview.

The tax raise was called into question by George Stephanopoulos, who asked the Democratic presidential nominee whether it was a good idea to do so amidst the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) Virus pandemic, especially with the economic downturn, The Epoch Times reported.
Biden responded by pointing to an analysis by a Wall Street firm that claims his plan would create millions of jobs and cause the gross domestic product to grow by $1 trillion more than under Trump’s plan.

“When you allow people to get back in the game and have a job, everything moves. Right now, you have the opposite,” Biden said.

Ivan Pentchoukov contributed to this article.