90 Miles From Tyranny : 13 Fact Checks on the State of the Union Address

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

13 Fact Checks on the State of the Union Address

President Donald Trump spoke for about one hour and 20 minutes Tuesday night in his second State of the Union address, interrupted–by Fox News Channel’s count—102 times by applause.

Trump punctuated his speech by saluting the stories of Americans in the gallery: former prison inmates, World War II soldiers, a Holocaust survivor and a hero cop, an ICE agent, and a young cancer survivor among them.

But what about the specifics Trump cited? Did the president nail the facts? We checked out some of those that stood out. Here are 13.

1. “We have created 5.3 million new jobs and importantly added 600,000 new manufacturing jobs—something which almost everyone said was impossible to do, but the fact is, we are just getting started.”

Trump touted economic growth on his watch in the White House, which began Jan. 20, 2017.

The 5.3 million number appears to be slightly higher than the official number from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which says 4.9 million jobs have been created since January 2017.

However, the number of job openings across the nation has climbed, according to a Wall Street Journal report in November that said unfilled jobs in the United States exceeded the number of unemployed Americans by more than 1 million.

Citing the Labor Department, the Journal reported there was a seasonally adjusted total of 7.01 million job openings on the last business day of September. By contrast, 5.96 million Americans were unemployed.

Now below 4 percent, the unemployment rate has been the lowest in nearly five decades.

2. “Nearly 5 million Americans have been lifted off food stamps.”

A Dec. 7 report on the website of the Department of Agriculture, which operates the food stamp program, shows that the average annual participation in food stamps was 45.8 million in 2015, 44.2 million in 2016, 42.1 million in 2017, and 40.3 million in 2018.

The numbers show that the food stamp program saw a decline of participation from the end of Barack Obama’s administration to the beginning of Trump’s.

From January 2017 to September 2018, during Trump’s presidency, the food stamp program saw an approximate decrease of 4.1 million, according to the report.

It wasn’t immediately clear where the president got his “nearly 5 million” number.

3. “Tolerance for illegal immigration is not compassionate—it is cruel. One in three women is sexually assaulted on the long journey north.”

A 2017 report from Doctors Without Borders looked at crossings into Mexico from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, which it calls the Northern Triangle of Central America. The report says that “nearly one-third of the women surveyed had been sexually abused during their journey.”

In 2014, Fusion reported:

Increasingly, Central American women crossing through Mexico to the United States become victims of sexual assault. Some women choose to sell their bodies for safe passage, but others aren’t given a choice. Migrant shelter directors told Fusion [that] 80 percent of Central American women who make the journey to the U.S. are raped in Mexico.

4. “The savage gang, MS-13, now operates in 20 different American states, and they almost all come through our southern border. Just yesterday, an MS-13 gang member was taken into custody for a fatal shooting on a subway platform in New York City.”

According to a May 2018 article from Time that cited older FBI numbers, MS-13, which originated in Central America, was operating in 42 states here.

In April, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, noted an increase of MS-13 gang members entering the United States along the southern border.

“Stunningly, and disturbingly, there’s been an increase of more than 200 percent of MS-13 coming across the border,” Abbott said.

News reports Monday, including by The New York Times, back up Trump’s reference to an MS-13 member arrested after a subway beating and fatal shooting.

“A 26-year-old man who the police said is a member of the violent MS-13 street gang was arrested Monday in connection with the brazen murder of a gang rival on a Queens subway platform the previous day,” the Times reported.

5. “San Diego used to have the most illegal border crossings in the country. In response … a strong security wall was put in place. This powerful barrier almost completely ended illegal crossings.”

The Daily Signal documented the dramatic results of this wall in a 2017 video report from Kelsey Harkness at the scene.

The barrier erected at San Diego’s border with Mexico in the 1990s“contributed to a 75 percent decline in crossings in the years immediately after fencing was installed in the 1990s, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data,” NBC News reported Friday.

NBC reported that “the sector went from being the top location for border crossings to a relative ghost town with 26,086 apprehensions in fiscal year 2017, according to the Border Patrol.”

6. “Unemployment has reached the lowest rate in half a century. African-American, Hispanic-American, and Asian-American unemployment have all reached their lowest levels ever recorded. Unemployment for Americans with disabilities has also reached an all-time low. ”

Unemployment for the three minority groups cited by Trump has been steadily falling, and hit record lows in 2018.

In May, black unemployment hit a record low of 5.9 percent, a number that was matched in December, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Hispanic unemployment hit 4.4 percent in December, also a record low,according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number climbed slightly to 4.9 percent in January.

The unemployment rate for Asian-Americans fell to a record low of 2.2 percent in May, although the number climbed back up to 3.3 percent in January, according to the Bureau of labor Statistics.

Disabled Americans also have benefited from the growing economy.

The Wall Street Journal reported a “wave of disabled Americans joining or returning to the U.S. labor force, breaking a long-running trend that had pushed millions to the sidelines of work.”

The Journal added:

These workers have benefited from a tight economy with a very low overall unemployment rate—3.9 percent in December, just above lowest level since 1969—as employers in many sectors tackle a shortage of available workers by becoming more creative about whom they recruit.

7. “This new era of cooperation can start with finally confirming the more than 300 highly qualified nominees who are still stuck in the Senate—some after years and years of waiting.”

Trump pushed a theme of bipartisanship. As part of that theme, he asked the Senate to confirm more of his nominees for judicial and executive branch posts.

According to The Washington Times, Trump has “some 300 or so nominations that still languish, including more than 85 judicial picks that never saw final action.”

Senate Democrats have used procedural tactics to slow down the president’s nominations for the executive branch and the judiciary.

8. “It is unacceptable that Americans pay vastly more than people in other countries for the exact same drugs, often made in the exact same place. This is wrong, unfair, and together we can stop it. …Already, as a result of my administration’s efforts, in 2018 drug prices experienced their single largest decline in 46 years.”

That is in fact the case, according to The Washington Post, which reported that on average Americans spend about $1,200 more per person on prescription drugs than anyone else in the world. Some cancer drugs cost...

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1 comment:

  1. No wall? Not a word of it? Which is why Trump and republicans are on my ignore list. There is no person or party on my side. I am alone. Anything else discussed can be held just as viable as the wall.


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