FACT CHECK: Trump boasts numbers that don’t match official ones in State of the Union address – National

FACT CHECK Trump boasts numbers that don’t match official ones in State of the Union address National
FACT CHECK Trump boasts numbers that don’t match official ones in State of the Union address National

U.S. President Donald Trump delivered his 2019 State of the Union address on Tuesday night.

In the speech, he touched on topics such as the economy, immigration, foreign policy and international trade – at times citing numbers and facts that don’t exactly line up with official accounts.

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Here are some of Trump’s statements that warranted further scrutiny:

“In just over two years since the election, we have launched an unprecedented economic boom.”

The U.S. economy has seen healthy growth that goes back years, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).

It is true, however, that the economy has, in certain quarters, grown at a faster pace under President Trump. It’s a matter of discussion whether that all has to do with actions he and his administration have taken in office.

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“We have created 5.3 million new jobs and more importantly added 600,000 new manufacturing jobs — something which almost everyone said was impossible to do, but the fact is, we are just getting started.”

The latest release from the Bureau for Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that 4.9 million jobs were created between February 2017 and January 2019, although numbers from the last two months are still considered preliminary.

The numbers more closely match Trump’s if one counts January 2017 — but even there, it only adds up to about 5.1 million new jobs.

Manufacturing jobs have grown under the Trump presidency, but only by about 454,000, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

“The United States economy is growing almost twice as fast today as when I took office.”

The U.S. real gross domestic product (GDP) grew at a rate of 3.5 per cent in the third quarter of 2018 — the most recent quarter for which statistics are available.

That’s actually faster growth than Trump reported for when he came into office. Trump entered the White House in the first quarter of 2017, and at that time, real GDP was increasing at a rate of 1.4 per cent.

However, real GDP fluctuates between quarters. It was as high as five per cent in the third quarter of 2014, after growing 4.6 per cent in the previous one — when Barack Obama was president.

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“Unemployment has reached the lowest rate in over half a century.”

This is true — but it’s the latest development in a trend that began after the Great Recession.

Since about 2010, the unemployment rate has never again gone above 9.3 per cent, according to the BLS.

It was four per cent in January 2019, after having reached 3.7 per cent in September.

“African-American, Hispanic-American and Asian-American unemployment have all reached their lowest levels ever recorded.”

African-American, Hispanic-American and Asian-American unemployment rates all track general unemployment very closely — all are historically low right now.

For African-Americans (6.8 per cent) and Hispanic-Americans (4.9 per cent), however, the unemployment rates remain above the one for white people (3.5 per cent).

It’s only lower for Asian-Americans (3.1 per cent).

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“Unemployment for Americans with disabilities has also reached an all-time low.”

The unemployment rate for persons with a disability was nine per cent in January 2019, according to the BLS.

In January 2018, it was 8.8 per cent.

The rate has declined since 2017, however.

“We passed a massive tax cut for working families.”

While the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was passed in 2017, how much it would help you depends on how much money you make.

The Tax Policy Center broke down the benefits of tax cuts by income bracket.

In its analysis, taxpayers in the lower-earning quintile would see an average tax cut of $50 by 2019, or 0.3 per cent of after-tax income.

Taxpayers in the top 1 per cent, meanwhile, were expected to see an average tax cut of $34,000, “or 2.2 per cent of after-tax income.”

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Trump economic advisor Kevin Hassett has said that the average American household would increase its income by at least $4,000 under the new tax law within three to five years, reported CNBC.

However, Jason Furman, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers during the Obama presidency, has warned that while income is up because taxes are lower, that can’t be considered real wage growth — another economic trend that Trump has boasted about.

“We have unleashed a revolution in American energy — the United States is now the number one producer of oil and natural gas in the world.”

Data suggests this is true, with caveats.

In 2018, the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) estimates indicated that the U.S. would surpass Russia and Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest crude oil producer for the first time since 1999.

The report also predicted that American crude oil production would continue to exceed that of Russia and Saudi Arabia for the duration of 2018 and through 2019.

However, the credit can actually be attributed to both the Trump administration and its predecessors, as the government states that the U.S. became the world’s top natural gas producer under the Barack Obama administration in 2013.

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“This is a moral issue. The lawless state of our southern border is a threat to the safety, security, and financial well‑being of all Americans.”

The threat at the southern border depends how you look at safety there.

Certainly, there are perils associated with crossing the border from Mexico.

However, the numbers of people entering the country via the southwest border are historically lower, according to data from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

There were 396,579 apprehensions at the southwest border in the 2018 fiscal year.

That was up from 2017, but it didn’t come close to the numbers that were apprehended in 2007 — over 850,000.

Border apprehensions are considered a strong indicator for how many people are coming  — they’re often “positively correlated to the flow of unauthorized migrants,” according to a congressional report.

“Meanwhile, working class Americans are left to pay the price for mass illegal migration — reduced jobs, lower wages, overburdened schools and hospitals, increased crime, and a depleted social safety net.”

The Brookings Institution has cited evidence showing that providing unauthorized immigrants with legal resident status can actually reduce crime.

“Conversely, restricting access to legal employment for unauthorized immigrants leads to an increased crime rate, particularly for offenses that help to generate income,” the institution wrote.

“In total, unauthorized immigration does not seem to have a significant effect on rates of violent crime.”

As for the economic effects of unauthorized immigrants — their contribution to GDP is estimated at about 2.6 per cent.

“Tens of thousands of innocent Americans are killed by lethal drugs that cross our border and flood into our cities — including meth, heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl.”

Most drugs come into the United States via legal points of entry.

That’s according to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), which said in 2018 that only a “small percentage” of heroin seizures happen between those points.

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“San Diego used to have the most illegal border crossings in the country. In response, and at the request of San Diego residents and political leaders, a strong security wall was put in place. This powerful barrier almost completely ended illegal crossings.”

Additional barrier was installed at the border crossing at San Diego in 1989, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Border apprehensions at that crossing jumped by over 100,000 the following year.

Later attempts to shore up the border in 1996 were followed by a decrease in apprehensions of about 200,000 in 1997, according to McClatchy.

New fencing wasn’t the only measure taken to strengthen that crossing in later years, however. Operation Gatekeeper, a Clinton-era strategy for securing the border, also brought more agents and technology that would be focused on particular areas, the agency said.

Apprehensions have continued since then. There were over 152,000 apprehensions at the San Diego crossing in 2007, but those numbers fell pretty steadily over the next decade, dropping to just over 26,000 in 2017.

“Already, as a result of my administration’s efforts, in 2018 drug prices experienced their single largest decline in 46 years.”

There are conflicting reports on how drug prices have trended.

The Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) tweeted in early January that prescription drug prices fell by 0.6 per cent in 2018, and that this represented the “largest decline in prescription drug prices in almost half a century (46 years).”

In September, however, drug prices appeared to be going up, according to an analysis by The Associated Press (AP).

The news agency found 96 price hikes for every price cut on brand-name prescription drugs after it looked at over 26,000 list price changes from Jan. 1 through July 31 for the years 2015 through 2018.

“As part of a bold new diplomacy, we continue our historic push for peace on the Korean Peninsula. Our hostages have come home, nuclear testing has stopped, and there has not been a missile launch in more than 15 months.”

Trump touted himself as a force for peace when it came to North Korea — in his address, he later said, “if I had not been elected president of the United States, we would right now, in my opinion, be in a major war with North Korea.”

Missile launches may have halted since Trump began having diplomatic relations with Kim Jong Un, but that doesn’t mean the country has stopped its activities.

Trump and Kim met in July. Months later, satellite photos showed evidence of expansion at two sites that observers have said are “ideal places” to store intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

The satellite photos found evidence of expansion at a base near an area known as Hoejung-ni between 2010 and 2018.

“My administration has acted decisively to confront the world’s leading state sponsor of terror: the radical regime in Iran.”

There are four state sponsors of terror, according to the State Department: Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria.

There are even more questions about whether and why certain countries should end up on the list.

The U.S. may feel Iran is the leader within this group. But research has suggested there are other state sponsors of terror that don’t even make the list.

Russia is one of them, according to Daniel Byman, a senior fellow focusing on Middle East policy at the Brookings Institution.

Iran may have killed dissidents in numerous countries and been slammed for terrorism, Byman wrote, but Russia has also killed dissidents in other nations.

But he added there’s one big reason Russia doesn’t sit on the list: it’s a major power, unlike Iran, which is a “mid-level” power, according to him.

Russia can fight back in a way that Iran can’t, he asserted.

  • With files from Rahul Kalvapalle, Rebecca Joseph and The Associated Press

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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