Thu, Feb 01, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Trump inflates impact of some initiatives


Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients and their supporters turn their back on US President Donald Trump (on screen) as he talks about unity, during a State of the Union party at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights and the California Dream Network offices in Los Angeles, California, on Tuesday.

Photo: AFP

Boastful even within the traditional confines of a State of the Union speech, US President Donald Trump on Tuesday night inflated the impact of his tax cuts, declared an end to a “war” on energy that did not exist when he took office and displayed a faulty grasp of immigration policy.

Here is a look at some of the statements in his speech and how they compare with the facts:

TRUMP: “We enacted the biggest tax cuts and reform in American history.”

THE FACTS: No truer now than in the countless other times he has said the same. The December tax overhaul ranks behind former US president Ronald Reagan’s in the early 1980s, post-World War II tax cuts and at least several more.

TRUMP: “After years and years of wage stagnation, we are finally seeing rising wages.”

THE FACTS: Actually, they are not rising any faster than they have before. Average hourly pay rose 2.5 percent last year, slightly slower than the 2.9 percent rise recorded in 2016 under then-US president Barack Obama.

TRUMP: “The third pillar [of my immigration plan] ends the visa lottery — a program that randomly hands out green cards without any regard to skill, merit or the safety of our people.”

THE FACTS: That is a highly misleading characterization. The program is not nearly that random and it does address skills, merit and safety.

The diversity visa program awards up to 50,000 green cards a year to people from underrepresented countries, largely in Africa. It requires applicants to have completed a high-school education or have at least two years of experience in the past five years in a selection of fields identified by the US Department of Labor.

Winners are then randomly selected by computer from that pool of applicants who met the pre-conditions. Winners must submit to extensive background checks, just like any other immigrant.

TRUMP: “For decades, open borders have allowed drugs and gangs to pour into our most vulnerable communities.”

THE FACTS: The borders were far from open before his presidency, however imperfectly they may have been guarded. The government under former presidents George W. Bush and Obama roughly doubled the ranks of the border patrol, and Bush extended fencing to cover nearly one-third of the border during his final years in office. The Obama administration deported more than 2 million immigrants during the eight years he was in office, more than in previous administrations.

TRUMP: “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 US$4,000. A lot of money.”

THE FACTS: Few economists think average incomes will jump by US$4,000 simply because companies are paying less in taxes. The figure cited by Trump comes from his chief economist, Kevin Hassett. Many mainstream economists poked wide holes into this claim, including the author of one of the research papers cited by Hassett. Economists generally say most of the savings from lower corporate taxes would flow to investors, rather than workers.

TRUMP: “Since we passed tax cuts, roughly 3 million workers have already gotten tax cut bonuses — many of them thousands and thousands of dollars per worker.”

THE FACTS: This appears to be true, but may not be as impressive as it sounds. According to a tally of public announcements by Americans for Tax Reform, a conservative group that supported the tax law, about 3 million workers have gotten bonuses, raises or larger payments to their retirement accounts since the tax law was signed. That is about 2 percent of the more than 154 million Americans with jobs.

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