President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address was, as predicted, pretty much chock-full of lies.
The president exaggerated or outright lied about immigration, his tax reforms, wage hike, Obamacare, the stock market, drugs and American energy. Take a look at some of his statements which, in no way, reflect reality.
The Biggest Tax Cuts
"We enacted the biggest tax cuts and reform in American history," Trump said.
Perhaps the president thinks if he keeps repeating the same thing, it will come true. The fact, however, remains that it’s still not correct.
According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, Trump’s tax cut reform is only the eighth biggest since 1918, at about 0.9% of the gross domestic product — putting him considerably below Ronald Reagan’s tax overhaul in the 1980s, which was the largest.
Although the $1.5 trillion tax cuts over a decade is indeed very large, it actually is quite smaller than what the Trump administration first intended, which was originally a $5.5 trillion package. But even then, it would only have been the third largest since 1940.
Massive Tax Cuts For Middle Class And Small Business
"Our massive tax cuts provide tremendous relief for the middle class and small business," the president said.
Not really. In fact, it’s been estimated time and time again since the president first started touting about “tremendous” tax cuts to the average Americans, that the biggest beneficiaries will be the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans — in other words, people like Trump himself.
That’s not to say most Americans will not be getting a tax cut. The Tax Policy Center stated about 80 percent of U.S. households will get a tax cut, but 15 percent will see little change while 5 percent will actually be paying more.
Middle-class household who make between $49,000 and $86,000 annually will see their tax bills fall by a mere $930, while the richest of the rich will save $51,140, increasing their after-tax income by 3.4 percent. In fact, the president’s own family will be able to save as much as $11 million.
“After years and years of wage stagnation, we are finally seeing rising wages,” Trump said.
That’s another exaggeration. The rate of wage hike has actually gone down a bit since Trump took office. The average one-hour pay rose by 2.5 percent in 2017 while it rose by 2.9 percent in 2016 during President Barack Obama’s tenure.
Right now, the unemployment rate is at a 17-year low, which should have triggered a bigger wage hike. According to historical record, the hourly pay rise should have been 4 percent now. It hasn’t happened yet.
Diversity Visa Program
“The third pillar (of Trump’s immigration plan) ends the visa lottery — a program that randomly hands out green cards without any regard to skill, merit or the safety of our people,” said the president.
Once again, this is grossly overstated. The diversity visa program offers 50,000 green cards each year for people from underrepresented regions like African countries. It does take into account merit and skill — contrary to what Trump says — and requires candidates to have at least a high school diploma or two years of experience in the past five years in fields identified by the Labor Department. The nominees are then submitted to extensive background checks — just like other immigrants.
War On American Energy
“We have ended the war on American energy,” Trump stated.
There has never been a war on American energy, contrary to what the president believes. Before Trump assumed office, the United States was getting more of their energy domestically rather than from imports, for the first time in the country’s history. Before that, President George W. Bush was hardly an opponent of the energy industry. In fact, it was Trump himself who will bring oil from foreign countries, considering he approved the Keystone XL pipeline — which comes from Canada.
Exporter Of Energy
"We are now very proudly an exporter of energy to the world,” said Trump.
The U.S. has been an exporter of energy for a long while now. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the country will indeed become a net energy exporter in the next ten years, but this has hardly anything to do with Trump. The change would be a result of a boom in oil and gas production that began before Trump took office during the Obama era — but right now, it hasn’t happened yet.
“For decades, open borders have allowed drugs and gangs to pour into our most vulnerable communities,” Trump said.
The United States never had “open border” in modern history. In fact, Obama’s administration actually increased the number of border patrol agents and actually deported over 2 million immigrants, more people than George W. Bush’s administration. In turn, Bush placed fencing along one-third of the U.S.-Mexico border.
The Trump administration has always asserted an association between undocumented immigrants and crime but decades of research proves otherwise. Some studies even suggest immigrants are much less violent and commit fewer crimes that native-born American citizens.
"Many car companies are now building and expanding plants in the United States, something we haven't seen for decades,” Trump said. “Chrysler is moving a major plant from Mexico to Michigan.”
Not true. Japanese automakers have been making cars in the U.S. for decades. Honda, Toyota and Nissan already build millions of their vehicles in the United States every year. In fact, about 75 percent of Japanese branded cars sold in North America are also manufactured within the continent. Mazda also announced in August that it was working with Toyota and investing $1.6 billion to build a manufacturing plant in the U.S., while Hyundai’s plant in Alabama was created in 2005. Telsa also started producing its electric cars in 2010.
As for Chrysler, it will not be closing its plant in Mexico, though it will move production of heavy-duty trucks to Michigan. The move will result in no change in its Mexican workforce.
“We repealed the core of the disastrous Obamacare — the individual mandate is now gone,” Trump said.
Not yet, it hasn’t. But it will go in 2019 — which is still very different from the GOP’s plan to scrap most of the Affordable Care Act and replace it with “Trumpcare.” The new policy would have been drastically worse than Obamacare and would have left millions of Americans uninsured.
"We have sent thousands and thousands and thousands of MS-13 horrible people out of this country or into our prisons," said Trump, in probably the biggest overstatement of the day.
Nearly 500 human traffickers and 1,200 gang members have been arrested by federal authorities, according to Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The feds also “worked with our international allies to arrest or charge more than 4,000 MS-13 members,” Sessions said, referencing to U.S. partners, including Central American states. This means that at least some of the MS-13 members Trump referred to weren’t caught inside the U.S. and are not languishing in U.S. prisons.
“Small business confidence is at an all-time high. The stock market has smashed one record after another, gaining $8 trillion in value. That is great news for Americans’ 401k, retirement, pension, and college savings accounts,” according to Trump.
The stock market is certainly at a record-high boom after seeing its fastest-ever 1,000-point gain in 2017. However, it hardly reflects the U.S. economy, wage gains or even the disparity in wealth. According to a Federal Reserve report, the richest 1 percent of the U.S. controlled 38.6 percent of the nation’s wealth in 2016.
War On Coal
"We have ended the war on beautiful clean coal," Trump said.
Coal has never been clean. It’s so dirty that a whopping 83 percent of all primary air pollutants from power plants come from coal — although coal only makes up 43 percent of the power generation. The phrase “clean coal” actually applies to power plants that bury carbon emissions in the earth. Even so, they still produce a huge amount of pollutants.
So, all in all, nothing different from what the sensible American public expected from Trump.
Banner/Thumbnail credit: Reuters, Leah Millis