Fact-Checking Trump’s 2020 State of the Union Address
As usual, many lies and mis-statements in this "rally" speech as Trump celebrated himself.
I may break this list of lies down into several posts--kinda long--and be selective--just too many to cover adequately. We will see how it goes.
This fact-check was performed by the NY Times commentators--during the live speech. I do not necessarily agree with all their comments--my assessments are added in [brackets].
- [Misleading--my rating]
- The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement earned the endorsement of the powerful A.F.L.-C.I.O., which had not endorsed a trade agreement since a pact with Jordan in 2001. But that endorsement was largely because of the work of congressional Democrats, who made changes to the agreement that strengthened its protections for labor rights in Mexico. Most labor unions ultimately signed on to the U.S.M.C.A., but not all — the United Automobile Workers, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, and the United Food and Commercial Workers have continued to criticize the pact."
- Partly true [/partly false--my rating].
- No doubt that the Trump administration is closer to a peace settlement with the Afghan Taliban than any previous administration. President Trump has also promised a complete troop withdrawals from Afghanistan, though he has yet to order it. But since May, Mr. Trump has actually deployed more than 14,000 troops to the Middle East to deter Iran from potential attacks and to safeguard American forces and bases. The partial troop withdrawal from Syria last fall was just that, partial.
- About 500 troops in northeastern Syria are still fighting the Islamic State, wedged between Turkish proxy forces, Russian ground troops and Syrian government forces. In Iraq, about 5,200 troops remain, though the defense secretary, Mark T. Esper, has said he is considering withdrawing some forces from the country, according to Defense Department officials.
“Three years ago, the barbarians of ISIS held over 20,000 square miles of territory in Iraq and Syria. Today, the ISIS territorial caliphate has been 100 percent destroyed, and the founder and leader of ISIS — the bloodthirsty killer known as Al‑Baghdadi — is dead.”
- [Yes, but . . . .]
- But it is also important to remember that national security officials and experts had always anticipated that the war against the Islamic State, started by former President Barack Obama in 2014, would result in pushing the extremist group from its self-declared caliphate. Additionally, while the Islamic State no longer controls any territory, it remains a potent threat: Administration officials estimate up to 18,000 fighters still remain and the group is resurging in rural areas in Iraq and Syria where American and local forces have little physical presence.
“Tragically, there are many cities in America where radical politicians have chosen to provide sanctuary for these criminal illegal aliens. In sanctuary cities, local officials order police to release dangerous criminal aliens to prey upon the public, instead of handing them over to ICE to be safely removed.”
- Policies for so-called sanctuary cities vary by location. In most of the cities, politicians direct police departments not to transfer undocumented immigrants suspected of or charged with crimes to the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. But such suspects are not automatically released unless they were to make bail.
“Over 130 legislators in this chamber have endorsed legislation that would bankrupt our nation by providing free taxpayer-funded health care to millions of illegal aliens, forcing taxpayers to subsidize free care for anyone in the world who unlawfully crosses our borders.”
- [Questionable--my rating]
- The [Medicare-for-All] Bill . . . specifies that coverage will not be denied to residents on the basis of “citizenship status.” Whether this aspect of the bill would bankrupt the country is more questionable. The Medicare for all bills are expected to require large increases in federal spending, but the coverage of undocumented immigrants would represent a small fraction of that spending.
- Misleading [and Inaccurate]
- The United States has lost about four million of its 17 million factory jobs since NAFTA went into effect in 1994. But American factory employment actually increased in the years immediately after the deal going into effect, and few economists blame the North American trade deal for the kind of immense job loss the president is talking about. Economists debate the jobs effects from NAFTA, but most agree that the deal had a relatively modest impact, destroying jobs in some communities where factories went to Mexico, but creating other jobs elsewhere.China’s entry into the global trading system when it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, as well as continued automation in factories, has led to more significant job losses in the manufacturing sector.
"My administration is also taking on the big pharmaceutical companies. We have approved a record number of affordable generic drugs, and medicines are being approved by the F.D.A. at a faster clip than ever before. I was pleased to announce last year that, for the first time in 51 years, the cost of prescription drugs actually went down.”
- It is true that, for a portion of last year, the Consumer Price Index for drugs declined. But that measure does not include all prescription drugs. (And it has since risen again.) The Food and Drug Administration has approved a large number of generic drugs, but few of them have made it to market yet, so they have had little impact on drug prices, as a Wall Street Journal analysis showed last year.
- [Yes, but . . . .]
- . . . [E}mployment growth in manufacturing, which Mr. Trump promoted in his speech last year, slowed to fewer than 50,000 jobs in 2019 — the worst rate of his presidency and the second worst of the long recovery from recession. And job growth has slowed sharply — from 2.6 percent at the start of 2019 to 1.3 percent at the end of the year — in so-called middle-wage sectors that include mining, construction and transportation.
"To protect the environment, days ago, I announced that the United States will join the One Trillion Trees Initiative, an ambitious effort to bring together government and the private sector to plant new trees in America and around the world.”
- [Yes, but . . .]
- President Trump did not use the phrase “climate change,” but the plan to plant one trillion trees — unveiled last month by the World Economic Forum in Davos and embraced by Republicans as a way to address global warming — will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As trees grow, they absorb and store the carbon dioxide emissions that are driving planetary warming.
- But just how much all these trees will help is disputed. According to a report last year by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, the United States produced about 5.8 billion tons of emissions in 2019. Getting that much carbon out of the atmosphere with trees alone would require planting on about 371 million acres — about four times the area of California.
“This will be a tremendous boon to our already very strongly guarded southern border where, as we speak, a long, tall, and very powerful wall is being built. We have now completed over 100 miles and have over 500 miles fully completed in a very short period of time. Early next year, we will have substantially more than 500 miles completed.”
- The Trump administration has built 115 miles of new border wall, almost all of it in areas where dilapidated barriers or vehicle barricades once stood. The White House recently celebrated a federal court ruling that would allow it to use $3.6 billion in military construction funds to build 175 miles of barrier in parts of Texas, Arizona and California. That decision is being fought in the courts. The administration also does not have all of the private land it needs to build the border wall. . . . Migrants have used power tools to cut through the border wall and ladders made from cheap materials to scale it.
- Very misleading
- Not only has President Trump failed to strengthen Medicare and Social Security, but the financial outlook for both trusts has not improved . . . . That is at least partly the result of Mr. Trump’s tax law, which has left the Treasury Department to collect fewer taxes from Americans and, in turn, invest less money into each program. Last April, the government projected that Medicare funds would be depleted by 2026, three years earlier than estimated in 2017. The report noted that less money will flow into the fund because of low wages and lower taxes.
I'm taking a break now. So many lies--it's wearing me out just trying to cover some of them.