|Attendance in the House chamber was limited due to the pandemic. (Photo by Doug Mills, The New York Times)|
Biden also claimed that “a broad consensus of economists, left, right, center . . . agree that what I’m proposing will help create millions of jobs and generate historic economic growth.” Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, giving the Republican response, contradicted him, saying unspecified "experts" say the plan would lower the average wage and shrink the economy. Scott appeared to be referring to projections by The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Biden made many ad libs to his prepared text, some of which strayed from the facts. Mentioning the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants, he said "the vast majority [are] overstaying visas." There is no official count, but Daniel Dale of CNN said that was true of the newly undocumented until 2017, and AP cited an expert who figures the overstay share in 2018 was 46 percent, "not a majority, let alone a 'vast majority'."
Finally, two style points, perhaps also attributable to ad libs: Biden asked Congress to send him a bill "which I will gladly, anxiously sign," and said the U.S. is "the most unique idea in history." First, if he was glad, he wouldn't be anxious; what he surely meant was "eager." It's a common mistake.
Also common, but more irritating to those of us who put a premium on clarity of language, was his misuse of "unique," which should take no modifiers of degree. Otherwise, we lose a unique word, the only one that means "one of a kind." We need that word. Let's treat it with respect and accuracy.