Fact-Checkers Dispute Trump Claims on Economy, Immigration

His statements on tariff, regulations, and war were also problematic
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 6, 2019 7:31 AM CST
SOTU Address Keeps Fact-Checkers Busy
President Trump sits in his car at the White House in Washington as he heads to Capitol Hill to deliver his State of the Union address, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

President Trump's State of the Union address contained numerous true statements, fact-checkers said after a busy night Tuesday. It also, however, contained numerous false or misleading claims and cherry-picked statistics, while Democrat Stacey Abrams also made a few dubious claims. The Washington Post took issue with almost 30 statements in Trump's 82-minute speech, which works out to one every 2.8 minutes. Some of the statements fact-checkers challenged:

  • "We recently imposed tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods—and now our treasury is receiving billions of dollars." The AP considers this true, but misleading: The Treasury is indeed receiving money from tariffs, as it has always done, but the money is coming from American businesses and consumers, not China.

  • "The US economy is growing almost twice as fast today as when I took office, and we are considered far and away the hottest economy in the world." The second part of this is false, according to the New York Times: China, India, and even Greece had faster-growing economies in the last quarter of 2018, and those of Latvia and Poland grew twice as fast as the US.
  • "We have spent more than $7 trillion on wars in the Middle East." The Post reports that the Brown University study Trump is apparently referring to states that the cost of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will eventually add up to $7 trillion, when factors like veterans' care and debt interest are taken into account—but not until 2056.
  • "Already, as a result of my administration's efforts, in 2018 drug prices experienced their single largest decline in 46 years." Technically true, but probably the result of a statistical quirk, according to the AP. The figures show a 0.6% drop in prices when Dec. 2017 is compared to Dec. 2018—but when the full years are compared, there is a 1.6% rise.
  • "My administration has cut more regulations in a short period of time than any other administration during its entire tenure." Not true, according to the Times: Experts say both the Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan administrations did away with more regulations.
  • "More people are working now than at any time in our history. 157 million people at work." This is true, but only because there are more Americans than at any previous time in history, according to CNN.

  • "The border city of El Paso, Texas, used to have extremely high rates of violence crime—one of the highest in the entire country, and considered one of our most dangerous cities. Now ... with a powerful barrier in place, El Paso is one of the safest cities in our country." False, per the Times: El Paso was never one of the most dangerous cities in America. There was a 34% fall in violent crime between 1993 and 2006, before the barrier went up, and the city had the second-lowest crime rate among 20 similarly sized cities in 2008, before the barrier went up, and in 2010, after it was completed.
  • "Lawmakers in New York cheered with delight upon the passage of legislation that would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother's womb moments before birth." This is a misleading reference to a law that allows practitioners to perform an abortion after 24 weeks if the fetus is not viable or there is a threat to the mother's health, the Post reports.
  • Stacey Abrams: "We know bipartisanship could craft a 21st century immigration plan but this administration chooses to cage children and tear families apart." The cages she is referring to are actually chain-link fences, and they were also used under the Obama administration, the AP reports.
(More State of the Union address stories.)

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