Fact-Checking Trump’s State Of The Union Address
Trump’s State of the Union address was the second longest in history, but was it accurate?
It is said and done. President Donald Trump on Tuesday night delivered his first annual State of The Union address amid the mounting pressure on him over the Russia probe. In his maiden speech, he promoted unity and expressed his willingness to cooperate with Democrats.
The State of the Union is an annual speech delivered by the President of the United States to a joint session of the U.S. Congress. During the speech, the president presents achievements in the past year and provides an outline what the government will do in the coming years.
Trump, as expected, boasted of his accomplishments during the past year but how accurate were the claims he made in his speech?
“African-American unemployment stands at the lowest rate ever recorded,” Trump said.
Fact: The black unemployment rate has been falling since 2011, before Trump took the presidency, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed. The figure reached its peak (16.8 percent) in March, 2010 and declined to 7.7 percent when Trump was sworn in. Now it stands at 6.8 percent.
Unemployment rates for other races have been dropping too since before Trump became president. Some African-American senators and representatives in the Congressional Black Caucus decided to boycott the annual address.
“Our massive tax cuts provide tremendous relief for the middle class and small businesses.”
Fact: Trump repeatedly brags about his tax reform policy. But in fact, more than three-quarters of the individual tax cut benefit will go to a small amount (5 percent) of taxpayers who have an annual income of over $200,000, according to Moody’s Investors Service as quoted by marketwatch.com.
According to Moody’s estimation, the tax bill will significantly cut the tax intake of the federal government in the 10 coming years in the scope of 1 percent of GDP on average.
Trump also said his tax cut policy is the biggest in US history. That is not true. According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, Trump’s cut is the eighth largest as a percent of Gross Domestic Product since 1918.
There is a positive side. Since the enactment of tax reform, at least around 3 million Americans have received bonuses from their companies related to the passage of new tax policy. Still, rewards are a short-term solution. The Trump administration needs to consider the long-term impact on companies such as whether corporations can invest in more capital.
The president was proud of rolling back the Obamacare mandate. “We repealed the core of disastrous Obamacare. The individual mandate is gone,” as he stated in the House chamber.
On the surface, it is true. No more mandate. But the problem is not over yet. According to the Congressional Budget Office’s estimation, by 2027 13 million Americans would likely be left without health coverage if the mandate was overturned, leading to the increase in insurance premiums.
Another poll by Gallup, according to CNBC, indicated that the numbers of uninsured Americans rose to about 3.2 million in Trump’s first year of presidency, which included some efforts to end Obamacare.
Younger persons, African-Americans, and low-income people showed the greatest increase in uninsured rates, the study said.
FOREIGN POLICY, IMMIGRATION AND OTHER ISSUES
Foreign policy was one of the most anticipated points in the annual speech. Trump proudly claimed victories in the war against the Islamic State.
“Last year, I pledged that we would work with our allies to extinguish ISIS from the face of the earth. One year later, I’m proud to report that the coalition to defeat ISIS has liberated very close to 100% percent of the territory just recently held by these killers in Iraq and in Syria,” Trump said.
It was the Syrian government alliance, backed by Iran and Russia, that took over the territory once claimed by ISIS, not the United States. Simply put, the ISIS had lost before Trump held office, BBC reported.
Trump blamed the immigration program called the Green Card lottery for producing terrorists. He said that the lottery randomly gives an opportunity to people with no adequate education and no qualifications to come to the U.S. What Trump left out is that terrorist attackers like Sayfullo Saipov are often radicalized in the United States and all immigration programs, lottery or not, face the same challenges and use the same screening tools. Immigration screening will not stop people from being radicalized in the United States.
There was also a misleading claim about energy when Trump said the U.S. is the world’s largest energy exporter. A government analysis stated the country is currently a net energy importer and based on some models would become a net energy exporter around 2026.
WHAT TRUMP LEFT OUT OF HIS SOTU
There are several crucial issues the president did not touch in his first annual speech.
Gun control is one example. Trump vowed to combat “American Carnage,” but he forgot to highlight how gun-related deaths continue to be a national epidemic. The numbers of gun-related deaths in 2016 alone reached more than 38,000, based on data from the Centers for Disease Control as The New York Daily News reported.
Trump did not discuss the investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election, mentioning Russia only once.
Nor did Trump mention the #MeToo movement that has emerged as a cultural force after producer, and top Democrat fundraiser, Harvey Weinstein was alleged to have engaged in various incidents of rape and sexual misconduct in last October.
In solidarity with the #MeToo movement, democrat female politicians wore black as a protest to the president, who has been accused by 19 women of sexual misconduct.
Puerto Rico was another of the forgotten issues. In his 90-minute speech, Trump praised volunteers and rescue teams for responding quickly when Hurricane Harvey struck. The president only mentioned Puerto Rico, a US territory since 1898, one time.
“To everyone still recovering in Texas, Florida, Louisiana, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, California, and everywhere else — we are with you, we love you, and we will pull through together,” he said.
But Trump did not outline his plan to improve the island’s living conditions which were decimated by Hurricane Maria last September. The dire situation has forced many of Puerto Rico’s residents to move to the U.S. mainland for a better life. According to data from Vox, more than 250,000 people have left Puerto Rico since Oct. 3.
Social media was abuzz after Trump’s first annual address. What attracted internet users the most were rebuttals from Rep. Joseph Kennedy III and Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s sour expression during Trump’s speech. There were 4.5 million tweets using hashtags #JointSession and #SOTU, breaking last year’s record of 3 million tweets.
The next question is whether Republicans will release a classified document about the FBI investigation into one of Trump’s campaign aides. Reports from CNN and other sources indicate that memo could be released on Friday.
Trump stated he was “100 percent” going to release the memo. On Wednesday the FBI issued a statement expressing “grave concerns” about the release and indicated that there were inaccuracies in it.
Americans and the world will be watching what President Trump will do next. For now, it remains a mystery.