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Progressive Democrat fails fact-check on her claim about poverty in America

Progressive Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington tried and failed to push a pro-tax narrative based on a faulty statistic about poverty in the United States.

Jayapal made the claim from her official social media account on Thursday.

“The U.S. has nearly ONE-THIRD of the world’s billionaires,” tweeted Jayapal.

“Meanwhile, our poverty rate is the 4th highest in the world,” she added. “Tax the rich.”

What are the facts?

An annual study by Wealth-X found in June that there were about 788 billionaires in the United States by the end of 2019, which accounts for more than a quarter of the billionaires in the world. That is not a third as claimed by Jayapal, but not significantly incorrect.

On the other figure, the United States has a poverty rate of 17.8%, which ranks about 105th in list including other major countries like the United Kingdom at 18.6%, India at 21.9%, Mexico at 41.9%, and South Africa at 50.5%. Jayapal might have relied on a figure that depends on poverty being defined according to the median wage, where the U.S. rates reportedly fourth worst.

The reaction

Many on social media didn’t take too kindly to Jayapal misleading use of poverty statistics.

“LOL, this is so ridiculous,” replied Jonah Goldberg of the Dispatch.

“Imagine what your view of the country must be to believe that the US’s poverty rate is 4th highest in the world. No one’s common sense told them to not hit <tweet> on that one??” tweeted editor Jeryl Bier.

“This statistic is so bonkers wrong I cannot fathom how it could have made it past an elementary gut check, even if the gut belonged to an ardent Communist,” responded commentator Megan McArdle.

“I like Jayapal, but this is embarrassingly false. There are plenty of valid criticisms that can be made about the level of poverty in the US, but it isn’t even remotely close to having the fourth highest poverty rate in the world. These balderdash stats don’t help anything,” read another critical tweet.

Not all of the reaction to Jayapal’s tweet was negative. At least 2.2k people “liked” the tweet and signaled their approval for her misleading statistics.

Here’s more about taxing wealth in America:

Why Elizabeth Warren’s Wealth Tax Won’t Work

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