Trump’s address to Congress last night was chock full of lies. Here’s a sample:
1.”Obamacare premiums nationwide have increased by double and triple digits,” Trump said, citing a 116 percent increase in Arizona as an example.
Wrong. Most people get their health care through the employer, and those premiums haven’t spiked by nearly this amount. And for many people on the health care exchanges, federal subsidies are offsetting premium increases. Overall premium increases were actually faster under President George W. Bush than under President Barack Obama.
2. “We’ve defended the borders of other nations, while leaving our own borders wide open, for anyone to cross — and for drugs to pour in at a now unprecedented rate.”
Wrong. The data are mixed on the amount of drugs coming through the borders, but illegal immigration flows across the Southern border in fiscal 2015 were at the lowest levels since 1972, except for in 2011.
3. “Since my election, Ford, Fiat-Chrysler, General Motors, Sprint, Softbank, Lockheed, Intel, Walmart, and many others, have announced that they will invest billions of dollars in the United States and will create tens of thousands of new American jobs.”
Rubbish. Trump is taking credit for business decisions made before his election.
4. “As we speak, we are removing gang members, drug dealers and criminals that threaten our communities and prey on our citizens. Bad ones are going out as I speak and as I have promised throughout the campaign.”
More rubbish. About a quarter of the arrests that grabbed headlines in early February were of people who had lesser charges and noncriminal convictions. According to anecdotes of recent arrests, undocumented people with traffic violations were subject to arrest.
5. “By finally enforcing our immigration laws we will raise wages, help the unemployed, save billions and billions of dollars and make our communities safer for everyone.”
Baloney. Research shows noncitizens are less prone to criminality than U.S.-born citizens. The vast majority of unauthorized immigrants are not criminal aliens or aggravated felons. And there’s no evidence that reducing immigration “saves” America any money at all.
6. “Millions lifted from welfare to work is not too much to expect.”
More rubbish. Participation has declined sharply in means-tested programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps).
7. “Ninety-four million Americans are out of the labor force.”
Wrong. Most of the people who are out of the labor force are retired, students, in jail, stay-at-home parents, or disabled.
They aren’t looking for work. Only about a quarter of the approximately 90 million people officially listed as being out of the labor force are able to get back in the job hunt if labor-market conditions were to improve.
8. “Right now, American companies are taxed at one of the highest rates anywhere in the world.”
Rubbish. The official tax rate doesn’t reflect all the deductions and tax credits. When they’re figured in, American corporations pay about the same effective tax rates as companies in other nations.
9. “America has spent approximately $6 trillion in the Middle East, all this while our infrastructure at home is crumbling. With this $6 trillion we could have rebuilt our country — twice.”
Wildly wrong. The wars in Iraq (in the Middle East) and Afghanistan (in South Asia) together cost about $1.6 trillion from 2001 to 2014. Trump’s $6 trillion-figure includes estimates of future spending — much of which Trump himself plans to spend.
10. “The murder rate in 2015 experienced its largest single-year increase in nearly half a century. In Chicago, more than 4,000 people were shot last year alone — and the murder rate so far this year has been even higher. This is not acceptable in our society.”
Wrong again. Overall violent crime is on a decades-long decline, since the height of the crack cocaine epidemic in the early 1990s.
11. “Jamiel’s 17-year-old son was viciously murdered by an illegal immigrant gang member, who had just been released from prison. Jamiel Shaw Jr. was an incredible young man, with unlimited potential who was getting ready to go to college where he would have excelled as a great quarterback. But he never got the chance. His father, who is in the audience tonight, has become a good friend of mine.”
Anecdotes don’t prove anything. U.S. Sentencing Commission data show homicides are a small percentage of the crimes committed by noncitizens, whether they are in the United States illegally or not.
12. “I can tell you the money is pouring in. Very nice.”
Trump ad-libbed this line after mentioning that he was pressing NATO allies in “very frank and strong discussions” to meet their financial obligations to the alliance. But his point is nonsense. NATO allies were already increasing their military spending before Trump was elected. And the money is not “pouring into” the United States or even to NATO anyway; it’s money countries would spend to bolster their own military.
Trump tells lies the way most people breathe. They come so naturally to him that he can’t stop. But his lies undermine our democracy because, told over and over, they begin to sound truthful. As a result, Americans support policies that are wrong or nonsensical.