Politics

State of the Union: Trump Ramps up Mostly False Rhetoric

President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address Tuesday night predictably contained a myriad of untruths, exaggerations and attacks on immigration.

Trump addressed tax reform, strengthening the military, infrastructure, trade and national security. Naturally, immigration remains Trump’s mission.

The New York businessman outlined “four pillars” of his administration’s immigration reform, claiming they include a path to citizenship for 1.8 million undocumented immigrations brought into the country in their youth.

Trump spoke of building a wall on the south border and employing more ICE agents. He did not repeat his campaign pledge that Mexico would pay for that wall.

He also said he would end the visa lottery and claimed that it “randomly hands out green cards without any regard for skill, merit or the safety” of Americans.

In his continued assault on immigrants, Trump said he will end chain migration that allows immigrants to bring to the U.S. “virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives.”

As Democrats sat and watched the address in the Joint Session of Congress on Tuesday, it was little doubt they were mindful of Trump’s alleged “s—hole” remarks about Haiti and some African countries.

Some members of the Congressional Black Caucus boycotted the address, while those who attended sat close together and wore Kente cloth, a tradition African attire to show their solidarity with those from Haiti and Africa.

CBC Chair Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-Louisiana) said earlier that some members would “stare racism in the face” by attending the speech.

The address also predictably was punctuated by false claims and exaggerations from the president.

“Just as I promised the American people from this podium 11 months ago, we enacted the biggest tax cuts and reforms in American history,” Trump said.

Independent fact-checking found that Trump’s cuts amounted to just the eighth-largest in history.

Trump suggested that Apple is investing $350 billion in the United States over five years because of a tax package he signed into law in December. Seattle Times’ fact-checking team concluded that’s a stretch.

Apple did say it would be making a $38 billion tax payment to repatriate overseas profit under a provision of Trump’s tax law. And like other big U.S. companies, Apple responded to the tax legislation by handing out bonuses to its employees.

It’s not clear from Apple’s announcement that it is dialing up U.S. investment levels.

The tech giant spent “between $12 billion and $15 billion on projects such as facilities or land globally in the past few years, though it has not said how much of that went to U.S. projects.”

Trump also said unemployment claims have hit a 45-year low. However, the number of people who filed unemployment claims hit 216,000 for week that ended Jan. 13, the lowest level since January 1973.

However, data for the week that ended Jan. 20 revealed that new jobless claims rose to 233,000, the lowest since December, making it a six-week low, not a 45-year low.

Perhaps one of Trump’s more controversial and grand-standing claims is about Black and minority unemployment.

“African-American unemployment stands at the lowest rate ever recorded, and Hispanic American unemployment has also reached the lowest levels in history,” Trump said.

As one report noted, this is a flip-flop by Trump.

During the 2016 campaign, Trump used to claim a four-Pinocchio statistic that 58 percent of African-American youth was unemployed. The official Bureau of Labor Statistics unemployment rate for black youth at the time was 19.2 percent — about one-third of the rate used by Trump.

Now that he’s president, Trump appears all too happy to cite the unemployment rate for African Americans, bragging that it’s the best since the turn of the century.

The African-American unemployment rate has been on a relatively steady decline since it hit a peak of 16.8 percent in March 2010 during the Great Recession, according to the Seattle Times’ fact-checking team.

The rate had already fallen to 7.7 percent when Trump took the oath of office, so Trump taking credit for this is like “a rooster thinking the sun came up because he crowed,” the Times reported.

“Since the election, we have created 2.4 million new jobs, including 200,000 new jobs in manufacturing alone,” the president claimed.

However, fact-checkers pointed out that Trump often inflates the number of jobs created under his presidency by counting from Election Day rather than from when he took the oath of office.

There have been about 1.8 million jobs created since January 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s the slowest gain in jobs since 2010, which indicates how well job growth was going before Trump took office.

There were 184,000 manufacturing jobs created in the 11 months since Trump took the oath of office, compared to a loss of 16,000 in 2016, according to the BLS. This is a substantial one-year gain, but it’s still more than 1 million manufacturing jobs below the level at the start of the Great Recession.

Finally, the president claimed that “we have ended the war on American energy — and we have ended the war on clean coal. We are now an exporter of energy to the world.”

It should be noted that there’s no such thing as “clean coal” and the U.S. has long been an energy exporter. Further, fact-checkers noted Trump’s pledge during his campaign to turn the country into a net energy exporter, meaning it sells more energy to other countries than it buys from them.

But that hasn’t happened and the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates it won’t happen until sometime between 2020 and 2030.

“Donald Trump’s presidency has been a series of broken promises to the middle class and workers, a fact which tonight’s address did not change,” said Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.).

“This administration talks about helping workers and middle class families, but when it comes to actions it’s all extreme right economics and decimating health care,” Casey said. “After passing into law massive tax giveaways to the wealthiest and biggest corporations, Republicans in Congress now want to tackle entitlement reform, which is nothing more than the clever phrasing of a scheme to cut Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare.”

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Stacy Brown

I’ve worked for the Daily News of Los Angeles, the L.A. Times, Gannet and the Times-Tribune and have contributed to the Pocono Record, the New York Post and the New York Times. Television news opportunities have included: NBC, MSNBC, Scarborough Country, the Abrams Report, Today, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, Imus in the Morning and Anderson Cooper 360. Radio programs like the Wendy Williams Experience, Tom Joyner Morning Show and the Howard Stern Show have also provided me the chance to share my views.

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