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President Trump Delivered His State Of The Union Speech. ABC Did A Fact Check. Their Analysis Was Largely Inaccurate Or Misleading

ArmchairPolitiician, February 7, 2018, by Brad Peery

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President Trump has some important achievements he articulated in his State of the Union Address, ABC has evaluate 12 of these achievements. But, despite how good the achievements are, ABC uses claimed misstatement to minimize the success of the Trump achievements. We will examine the claims ABC analyzed, and the validity of their commentary. The Trump achievements are impressive.

TRUMP CLAIM 1: “We enacted the biggest tax cuts and reforms in American history.”
ABC TAKE: False
ArmcairPolitician.US Response: The truth is that this is the third or fourth largest tax cut in U.S. history. The tax cut was very large and was the largest that could have been accomplished given the constraint that the tax could not increase the deficit by more than $1.5 trillion over the next ten years. This ABC analysis covers only the size of the tax cuts and does not address the size of the reforms.

TRUMP CLAIM 2: “We have eliminated more regulations in our first year than any administration.”
ABC TAKE: It’s complicated
ArmcairPolitician.US Response:
According to ABC “Trump has definitely taken an aggressive approach to eliminating regulations. Federal agencies withdrew 635 rules between fall 2016 and fall 2017, according to the Office of Management and Budget.” The OMB records do not go back before 1995, and Reagan may have done more than Trump. In either case, the Trump deregulation efforts were significant.

TRUMP CLAIM 3: “We are now an exporter of energy to the world.”
ABC TAKE: Mostly spin
According to ABC “Continuing a longstanding trend, energy exports did tick up slightly during the first 10 months of the Trump administration, from 11.5 quadrillion BTU (standard unit of measurement) in January to October 2016 to 14.6 quadrillion BTU in January to October 2017. But the U.S. has exported energy — from crude oil to natural gas to coal — for a long time.
ArmcairPolitician.US Response: The increase in U.S. energy was more than an uptick. Exports increased by 27% in 2017. The increases are probably largely from liquefied natural gas from shale, which Trump has supported, and from coal, for which China is the largest importer, and which Trump has also supported.

TRUMP CLAIM 4: “Unemployment claims have hit a 45-year low. Something I’m very proud of. African-American unemployment stands at the lowest rate ever recorded, and Hispanic American unemployment has also reached the lowest levels in history.”
ABC TAKE: Lacking context
ABC WHY: The figures have been on a downward trend for years.
ArmcairPolitician.US Response: The Trump administration has continued the trends in unemployment that started after the 2009 recession. The Trump administration achieved a 2.6% growth in GDP in 2017, a 30% increase over the 2% growth rate under the 8 years of the Obama administration. This has undoubtedly been an important factor in lowering overall unemployment, and Hispanic and African American unemployment rates to record lows.

TRUMP CLAIM 5: “Working with the Senate, we are appointing judges who will interpret the Constitution as written, including a great new Supreme Court justice, and more circuit court judges than any new administration in the history of our country.”
ABC TAKE: True
ABC WHY: The Senate confirmed 12 of Trump’s circuit court nominees in his first year in office — far more than his recent predecessors.
ArmcairPolitician.US Response: In this case, ABC got it right.

TRUMP CLAIM 6: “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 and in other locations as well.”
ABC TAKE: True
ABC WHY: The State Department reported in December that ISIS had lost 98 percent of the territory it once held specifically in Iraq and Syria.
ArmcairPolitician.US Response: The Trump claim is close to being true. The reality is that 50% of the 98% that has been liberated occurred during the first 11 months of the Trump administration. Giving authority to military troops on the ground, a change from the Obama administration, was an important element in this success. However, the battle against ISIS has expanded geographically to the Philippines and other places in Asia, plus West Africa. Terrorist cells also remain in Syria and Iraq.

TRUMP CLAIM 7: “Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives. Under our plan, we focus on the immediate family by limiting sponsorships to spouses and minor children. This vital reform is necessary not just for our economy, but for our security, and our future.”
ABC TAKE: False
ABC WHY: Citizens and green card holders can petition for immediate family, not an unlimited number of family members.
ArmcairPolitician.US Response: The ABC response of False is misleading or incorrect. It is our understanding that anyone who gets a green card can petition to bring in their family, who in turn get green cards and can bring in their relatives. There are 4 million such persons waiting for entry to the U.S. Additional ABC information is: “Green card holders can petition for a spouse, minor child, or unmarried son or daughter to also become a permanent resident. And refugees or asylum seekers can apply for a spouse or minor child to also obtain that refugee or asylum status. Still, after applying there is a long wait list for all applicants besides spouse, parent or minor child. As of November, nearly 4 million people are waiting to get off the list, according to the State Department. Once someone gets to the front of the line, he or she must pass the required background checks and meet requirements for admission.”

TRUMP CLAIM 8: “For decades, open borders have allowed drugs and gangs to pour into our most vulnerable communities. They have allowed millions of low-wage workers to compete for jobs and wages against the poorest Americans. Most tragically, they have caused the loss of many innocent lives.”
ABC TAKE: Mostly spin
ABC WHY: A 2016 report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine found that the impact of immigration on the wages of native-born workers overall is very small.
ArmcairPolitician.US Response: The 2016 report mentioned by ABC only talks about jobs. There is no doubt that illegal immigrants are important to industries such as agriculture, but there is no reason such immigrants cannot be allowed to enter legally. There is no doubt that gangs such as MS-13, from El Salvador, has used illegal immigrants to build its gangs in most of the U.S. states, and has tens of thousands of current members. They also prey on immigrant children to build their gangs.

According to the Trump White House:
• On average, DHS apprehends over 1100 people a day crossing the border illegally, with December marking the eighth month in a row of an increase in apprehensions at the border. That is a rate of almost 400,000 per year;
• DHS refuses entry to 7 known or suspected terrorists every day, 50 every week, 2,500 every year. Although the terrorists are under 1% of the apprehensions, the numbers are disturbing because of the amount of havoc one terrorist can reap;
• Roughly 628,000 aliens overstayed their visa in Fiscal Year 2016 alone.
As of May 2016, there were 950,062 aliens with final orders of removals on ICE’s national docket.
• Officials apprehended 8,000 Family Units in December, 2017. This is almost 100,000 family units per year;
• 306% increase in unaccompanied alien children detained at the border since April. Most will be released after no more than 20 days;
• Officials apprehended over 4,000 unaccompanied alien children (UACs) in December. This is almost 50,000 children per year; and,
• 95% of family units and unaccompanied children who are released pending a hearing NEVER show.

Putting in a Southern border wall will eliminate the hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants per year, including terrorists, gang members, and illegal drug trafficers.

TRUMP CLAIM 9: “In recent weeks, two terrorist attacks in New York were made possible by the visa lottery and chain migration. In the age of terrorism, these programs present risks we can just no longer afford. It is time to reform these outdated immigration rules and, finally, bring our immigration system into the 21st century.”
ABC TAKE: Mostly spin
WHY: Both men entered the country legally through the two programs President Trump mentioned and were not radicalized until years after they arrived in the U.S.
ArmchairPolitician.US Response: The ABC response does not address the real problems of the visa program and chain migration. Radicalization is only one of the risks of not vetting immigrants and orienting the visa program to those who will be self-sufficient and contribute to the U.S. by being good citizens.

TRUMP CLAIM 10: “Last year, Congress also passed, and I signed, the landmark VA Accountability Act. Since its passage, my administration has already removed more than 1,500 VA employees who failed to give our veterans the care they deserve.”
ABC TAKE: Mostly spin
ABC WHY: The law was enacted in June, by that time 500 of the 1,500 Veterans Affairs employees removed from their jobs for poor performance had already been fired under a previous system.
ArmchairPolitician.US Response
There is not doubt that the VA has provided miserable support for veterans, including under the Obama administration. Trump is a strong supporter of the military and U.S. veterans. For ABC to call his statement “mostly spin” implies that Trump is not a supporter of the VA, and ignores the fact that, even though it took Trump six months to pass the VA Accountability Act, he was a strong advocate for change from the moment he became President, which is when the first 500 VA employees were removed.

TRUMP CLAIM 11: “Last year, the FDA approved more new and generic drugs and medical devices than ever before in our history.”
ABC TAKE: True
ABC WHY: The FDA approved 1,027 generic drugs in FY 17, a “record number,” according to Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb.
ABC said: “The agency’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research also approved 46 so-called novel drugs, the highest number in at least a decade, and a record 95 “novel” devices in 2017. New drugs included cancer therapies and medications to treat infectious diseases and neurological disorders.”
ArmchairPolitician.US Response:
ABC is acknowledging that Trump is making a large impact on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In addition to the results being achieved, it remains to be seen if drug prices can be reduced, particularly by FDA support for generics.

TRUMP CLAIM 12: “We slashed the business tax rate from 35 percent all the way down to 21 percent, so American companies can compete and win against anyone else, anywhere in the world. These changes alone are estimated to increase average family income by more than $4,000.”

OUR TAKE: It’s complicated

WHY: It’s a bold prediction, based on economic estimates that are far from uniform.

ArmchairPolitician.US Response:
ABC says that the tax reductions are complicated, and economic estimates vary. Those statements are misleading. The average corporate tax rate around the world is 23%, and at a 35% tax rate, U.S. corporations were at a disadvantage. With the corporate tax rate at 21%, companies will, in general, be able to compete more effectively. The tax changes will also allow the return of trillions of dollars U.S. companies have been holding offshore to avoid taxes. That has changed, and much of this money will come back to the U.S. The improvements in income for families will come from increased income from companies that pass on part of their tax reductions to their employees. Also, there will be reductions in taxes for families. Additionally, there are possible increases in family income because economic growth, which could reach 4% in 2018 and 2019, and the possibility that growth could thereafter be above 3% of GDP. Those economic increases could raise wages, which have recently gone from about 2.5% increases during the Obama administration, to the 2.9% level reached in January, 2019.

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