It was only 200 days ago, on his 601st day in office, that President Trump exceeded 5,000 false or misleading claims.
Of course, not every day yields 22 claims. The president’s tally expands when he’s giving a speech, usually at a campaign rally. At such events, he runs through many of his favorite lines, such as that he passed the biggest tax cut in history, that his U.S.-Mexico border wall is already being built and that the U.S. economy today is the best in history. All three of those claims are on The Fact Checker’s list of Bottomless Pinocchios.
At a rally in Grand Rapids, Mich., on March 28, for instance, Trump made 64 claims that ended up in the database. Many have been previously covered in our fact checks, but here are some fresh statements that are worthy of attention.
“They [Hillary Clinton] had a tiny, little crowd, and I had I’d like to say more, but I can’t have more than this because every seat is gone, and outside you have 25,000 people. And I remember leaving, and I said so she’s got 500 people, and I had 32,000 people including the people outside. So she’s here at prime time 7:30, I’m here at 1 in the morning. She has 500 or 600 people, I have 32,000.”
As usual, Trump inflates the number of people attending one of his rallies. The Detroit Free Press reported that night that DeVos Place in downtown Grand Rapids, where Trump held a midnight rally, has a capacity of 4,200, far less than the 32,000 he claimed. Clinton held her rally the same day at nearby Grand Valley State University; it was described as a “capacity crowd” at a venue that holds 4,100 people.
“I support the Great Lakes. Always have. … And I’m going to get, in honor of my friends, full funding of $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which you have been trying to get for over 30 years. So we will get it done. It’s time. It’s time. It’s time.”
Trump is being very misleading here. His administration has continually tried to eliminate or reduce funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a program for restoring the ecosystem of the Great Lakes that started under the Obama administration in 2010. Federal funding ranged from nearly $300 million to $450 million a year under Obama. Trump’s 2018 budget request would have zeroed out all funding — the administration wanted “responsibility for funding local environmental efforts and programs to state and local entities” — and his 2020 budget would have cut it by 90 percent. Notwithstanding Trump’s proposed cuts, Congress appropriated nearly $300 million in 2019.
“They [Great Lakes] are beautiful. They are big, very deep, record deepness, right?”
Lake Superior is 1,332 feet deep, but it is not even the deepest freshwater lake in the United States. The deepest is Crater Lake, a volcanic crater in southern Oregon, with the deepest measured depth at 1,949 feet. Lake Tahoe and Lake Chelan are also deeper than Lake Superior, so it ranks fourth in the United States. Lake Baikal in southern Russia is the world’s deepest lake. It is an estimated 5,387 feet deep. Lake Baikal is also the world’s largest freshwater lake in terms of volume. Worldwide, Crater Lake ranks ninth, and Lake Superior does not even make the top 20; it is the 37th-deepest lake in the world.
“In the last two years, we’ve embarked on an unprecedented economic revival. Unprecedented.”
By just about every metric, Trump inherited a thriving economy that was doing far better than he claimed on the campaign trail. He frequently said the unemployment rate was 42 percent, when it was actually 5 percent — a number he embraced once he took the oath of office.
“In Texas, you heard we won the case [on the Affordable Care Act]; now it has to be appealed, and then we will go to the United States Supreme Court.”
The Trump administration originally did not seek a sweeping repeal of the Affordable Care Act. It simply asked that the court nullify provisions that protected people with preexisting health conditions. So the court ruled beyond the administration’s position. But Trump now declares that is a win. The refusal to defend the law was a flip-flop from Trump’s pledge to retain protections for people with preexisting health conditions. Few legal experts think the ruling will survive the appeal process.
“The deductibles and Obamacare are so high, on average $7,000. You don’t get to use it unless a really great tragedy hits, and then you don’t really want it because you don’t give a damn about your deductible, right?”
Deductibles vary according to the type of plan people buy. Trump appears to be referring to “Bronze plan” deductibles, which are $6,258 when prescription drugs and medical spending are in the deductible; the deductibles for Silver, Gold and Platinum plans are much lower. Silver plans are the most common choice in the marketplace and have equivalent deductibles of $4,375. The Affordable Care Act included subsidies that helped keep premiums low for most people on the exchanges. Trump eliminated cost-sharing reduction payments that compensate insurance companies for offering mandatory discounts on out-of-pocket spending to lower-income customers. Ironically, that led to even bigger premium subsidies as companies increased premiums to make up for the loss of income.
“Remember this because it’s very important, and I’m speaking now for the Republican Party: We will always protect patients with preexisting conditions, always.”
The House and Senate GOP plans backed by Trump probably would have resulted in higher costs for people with preexisting conditions in some states, according to the Congressional Budget Office. As noted above, the Trump administration did not defend the Affordable Care Act against a lawsuit that would end protection for preexisting conditions.
“The Democrats are now advancing an extreme $100 trillion government takeover called the Green New Deal.”
The estimate Trump is citing comes from a Republican-aligned think tank; it’s actually $93 trillion, and it factors in things that are not in the resolution, such as building high-speed rail at a scale at which air travel becomes unnecessary.
“I love campaigning against the Green New Deal. I want [Democrats] to make that a big part of their platform. No more airplanes, no more cows. One car per family. … And we had a problem because when they didn’t want the airplanes, they were saying, ‘Well, how do you get to Europe?’ ”
In reality, the Green New Deal resolution has no teeth and wouldn’t become law if it passed. So these claims are based on a retracted FAQ about a nonbinding resolution. In these documents, proponents of the Green New Deal mused about ending air travel. As problematic as those lines were, none made it into the resolution. High-speed rail would become an airplane alternative for some travelers under the terms of the Green New Deal, but it wouldn’t end commercial air travel. Travelers who prefer flights over high-speed rail would still have a choice. As for cows, Trump is referring to a line in the FAQ intended to be an ironic reference to the effect of cow emissions.
“We lost 1 in 4 auto manufacturing jobs over the last few decades.”
This statement lacks context. The auto and auto parts manufacturing sectors reached a peak of 1.3 million jobs in June 2000. The number of jobs decreased by more than half, to 623,000, in June 2009, the end of the Great Recession. The number of jobs now tops 1 million, but much of that growth predates Trump. Only about 55,000 auto and auto parts jobs have been created since he took office, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“We lost over the last six, seven years with Mexico $100 million. Before NAFTA, we made $40 [billion] to $50 billion.”
Trump frequently exaggerates the size of trade deficits — with Mexico, it was $78 billion in 2018, $69 billion in 2017 and $62 billion in 2016. Countries do not “lose” money on trade deficits. A trade deficit simply means that people in one country are buying more goods from another country than people in the second country are buying from the first country. Trade deficits are also affected by macroeconomic factors, such as currencies, economic growth, and savings and investment rates.
As for the trade deficit with Mexico before the North American Free Trade Agreement, the United States ran trade deficits in goods (Trump’s preferred metric) with Mexico five out of the 10 years before the North American Free Trade Agreement took effect, according to the Census Bureau. In the years when the United States ran a goods surplus, it was never more than $5 billion and usually about $1 billion to $2 billion. But what matters is not the deficit or surplus but rather the level of trade between the two countries. Cross-border trade in goods was about $100 billion in 1994, compared with more than $500 billion in 2018. According to the Commerce Department, U.S. exports of goods and services to Mexico supported an estimated 1.2 million jobs in 2015 (the latest data available).
“Last month alone, more than 76,000 illegal immigrants arrived at our borders to be apprehended. We have to apprehend them. Do you know what a great job — I mean seriously think of that, 76,000 people, many of which are rough people.”
Trump says there are 76,000 “illegal immigrants,” but almost 53,000 of the total are family units, unaccompanied children or “inadmissibles” who present themselves at the border seeking asylum. It’s a different situation from that of the mostly single men who tried to cross the border in large numbers in the early 2000s. Under Trump, the Customs and Border Protection agency has been releasing a combined total, but the “inadmissibles” — who numbered 9,653 in February — are not part of the apprehensions. Inadmissibles include “individuals encountered at ports of entry who are seeking lawful admission into the United States but are determined to be inadmissible, individuals presenting themselves to seek humanitarian protection under our laws, and individuals who withdraw an application for admission and return to their countries of origin within a short timeframe.”
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