Fact-checking Trump’s State of the Union Address

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Fact-checking Trump’s State of the Union Address

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

Mia Chinni

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President Donald Trump’s first year in office has been… eventful, to say the least. We’ve had the Russia investigation, the battle over Obamacare, the alleged deathwish for sharks (according to the porn star he allegedly paid off), and the release of the hugely critical book, “Fire and Fury,” last month. Since scandals like these have been hits with the press lately, and since the State of the Union is a fairly serious event that doesn’t lend itself Trump’s usual extemporaneous input,  there was a particular push from his handlers to stick to the teleprompter- which for once, it seems, he largely did.

But even as President Trump followed what his writers laid out for him, the speech held misleading comments and facts. Below a list of some of the most notable comments.

The speech started off with:

“Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, the First Lady of the United States, and my fellow Americans:

Less than 1 year has passed since I first stood at this podium, in this majestic chamber, to speak on behalf of the American People — and to address their concerns, their hopes, and their dreams. That night, our new Administration had already taken swift action. A new tide of optimism was already sweeping across our land.”

What the new tide of optimism that he speaks of is, it’s hard to tell, with an approval rating of roughy 40%. But it’s only the beginning of the speech so we can grant him his ability to bullshit.

Since the election, we have created 2.4 million new jobs, including 200,000 new jobs in manufacturing alone. After years of wage stagnation, we are finally seeing rising wages.”

This is one of the first things Trump said after a worrisome amount of clapping for kind-hearted, self-sacrificing, patriots and working joes followed by camera close-ups of Republicans representatives half-smiling, resentful Democrats, and  the Paul Ryan/Mike Pence tag team standing awkwardly in the background. The problem with Trump’s statement is… well, there are a couple problems. First off there, were 1.8 million more people working in the end of 2017 than in the beginning, not 2.4. That may not sound like much, but 600,000 is a lot. As for manufacturing jobs, Trump was close, but there were 184,000 jobs added, not quite 200,000, and the number was higher in 2011 and 2014. Wage growth hasn’t been a thing previously stagnant for years, and instead been continuously climbing over the past couple decades so rising wages only make sense.

“Unemployment claims have hit a 45-year low. African-American unemployment stands at the lowest rate ever recorded, and Hispanic American unemployment has also reached the lowest levels in history.”

This issue with this is while, yes, African-American unemployment stands at the lowest rate ever recorded, the Hispanic American unemployment has not reached the lowest levels in history. The recorded low of the unemployment rate for Hispanics, something the Bureau of Labor Statistics has tracked since 1973, is 4.8%, reached in 2007 and in 2006. So while the unemployment rate for Hispanics was terribly close to being the lowest in history, 4.9%, this December, it didn’t make the cut.

“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.”

In a sense, Trump is right, because Americans invested in the stock market are doing better, but even with that broad definition of owning stock, only around half of Americans are invested in the stock market, not exactly great news for,  “Americans’ 401k, retirement, pension, and college savings accounts.” On top of that, most Americans aren’t fortunate enough to have a 401k or various savings accounts.

Maybe more important, if Trump tries to own the stock market going up, he’ll have to own it going down, which it will inevitably do, Though, frankly, presidents have very little effect on the stock market anyways.

“And 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’s, “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017,” ($150 billion) actually enacted the fourth biggest tax cuts in American history. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (enacted in 2013) enacting the largest ($321 billion), the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 enacting the second largest ($210 billion), and the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981 coming in third ($208 billion). The numbers of course, have been adjusted for inflation.

“Our massive tax cuts provide tremendous relief for the middle class and small businesses.”

This is far from clear, while the tax cuts are massive and provide tremendous relief for businesses, they don’t necessarily protect people as individual tax cuts expire in 2025 and business tax cuts are permanent. On top of this, several analyses say the plan doesn’t relieve middle class families, and instead would help higher-income families the most, those in the 95-99 percent range receiving a 2.2 percent increase in after-tax income.  

Though there may be some discrepancies, all in all, Trump managed to stick to the script. And for that, we are thankful. •