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Trump Check

“My administration wants to work with members in both parties … to promote clean air and clean water.”

Greens and Democrats are going to have a hard time trusting Trump for his pledge to be an environmental president. Just hours before his speech in the Capitol, he signed an executive order that marks the first step toward nixing one of the Obama administration’s most important regulations aimed at protecting the country’s rivers, streams and wetlands.

And a White House spokeswoman also confirmed in an email that Trump will move next week on another executive that would pull back on Obama’s Clean Power Plan, an Environmental Protection Agency rule aimed at cutting greenhouse gas pollution from coal-fired power plants.

Then there’s Trump’s first proposed budget for the EPA, which is expected to call for an approximately 25 percent spending cut and a 20 percent staff cut that would wipe out 3,000 jobs.

“Ninety-four million Americans are out of the labor force. Over 43 million people are now living in poverty, and over 43 million Americans are on food stamps. More than one in five people in their prime working years are not working. We have the worst financial recovery in 65 years.”

These numbers are correct – but one is misleading. Ninety-four million Americans are out of the labor force, according to the Labor Department, but that figure includes high school students, retired senior citizens, the disabled, and people who choose to stay home as primary caregivers. Many of these people have no intention of actually being part of the job market, so the 94 million figure is not the best way to measure the number of people outside of the labor force.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 78.2 percent of people between the ages of 25 and 54 are employed as of January, the most recent data available, making the one-in-five claim true. The food stamp number is also correct – 44 million people participated in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in 2016 – and 43.1 million Americans were in poverty in 2015, according to a September 2016 Census report. (But that was down 3.5 million from the prior year, it’s worth noting.)

Trump is also right that this is the slowest recovery since World War II. Still, unemployment is half the rate it was at the nadir of the Great Recession.

“According to data provided by the Department of Justice, the vast majority of individuals convicted for terrorism-related offenses since 9/11 came here from outside of our country.”

According to data compiled by the New America Foundation, every “jihadist” who carried out a lethal attack in the U.S. since 9/11 was a citizen or legal resident. Counting non-lethal attacks, the vast majority of perpetrators were citizens or permanent residents. Forty-eight percent (192 out of 399) were U.S.-born citizens. Another 86 were naturalized citizens and 46 were permanent residents. Only eight were illegal immigrants and 16 were refugees or asylum seekers.

Trump appears to be citing a 2016 report from Jeff Sessions, Trump’s attorney general, who was then an Alabama senator, claiming that “at least 380 of the 580 individuals convicted of terrorism or terrorism-related offenses between September 11, 2001, and December 31, 2014, were born abroad.” But, as Alex Nowrasteh of the Cato Institute pointed out, only 40 of those convictions were in fact for terrorist attacks planned on U.S. soil, and 241 were not even for terrorism offenses.

“We are blessed to be joined tonight by Carryn Owens, the widow of a U.S. Navy special operator, Senior Chief William ‘Ryan’ Owens. Ryan died as he lived: a warrior, and a hero – battling against terrorism and securing our nation. I just spoke to Gen. Mattis, who reconfirmed that, and I quote, ‘Ryan was a part of a highly successful raid that generated large amounts of vital intelligence that will lead to many more victories in the future against our enemy.’”

Trump’s reference to Ryan and Carryn Owens was the emotional high point of the address, and provoked perhaps its most sustained burst of applause. Yet the events leading up to Ryan Owens’ death are still in question.

After Ryan Owens died in the raid Trump ordered in Yemen last month, the fallen SEAL’s father accused the White House of exploiting his death to avoid an investigation. “Don’t hide behind my son’s death to prevent an investigation,” the father, Bill Owens, told the Miami Herald. “I want an investigation. … The government owes my son an investigation.”

In a “Fox & Friends” interview that aired this morning, Trump blamed his military commanders for Owens’ death. “This was something that was, you know, just — they wanted to do,” Trump said “ And they came to see me and they explained what they wanted to do, the generals, who are very respected. And they lost Ryan.”

In addition, senior U.S. officials told NBC News that the raid yielded no significant intelligence.

America has spent approximately six trillion dollars in the Middle East, all this while our infrastructure at home is crumbling.”

Trump’s claim about the staggering cost of recent U.S. wars, security and development activities in the Mideast is in the ball park, albeit at the high end of some estimates. Trump appears to be referring to U.S. action in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

Studies undertaken by Harvard and Brown Universities in recent years put the cost of military and development costs of wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and in some cases Syria and Pakistan at between $ 3 trillion and $ 6 trillion, including some future costs related to veterans disability and health care costs. The studies are somewhat dated now had varied parameters about which expenses were taken into account, including some U.S. counterterrorism costs.

However, the U.S. continues to spend billions on operations against ISIS in Syria and Iraq and against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Last December, Congress passed $ 5.8 billion in supplemental funding for Afghanistan alone.

While he seems to be criticizing such spending, Trump is preparing to ramp up the defense budget and is preparing a supplemental budget request to cover ongoing U.S. military operations in the same region.

“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 one is a close call. While Trump is correct on his statistics for the number of people shot in Chicago in 2016 (4,367, according to the Chicago Tribune’s tracking site), he’s pushing it a bit when he says the murder rate for 2017 is growing by any measurable amount. The Chicago Tribune says 102 people were killed in the city in January and February 2016, which is one fewer than the 103 people killed there during the first two months of 2017.

“To launch our national rebuilding, I will be asking the Congress to approve legislation that produces a $ 1 trillion investment in the infrastructure of the United States — financed through both public and private capital — creating millions of new jobs.”

Good luck with that.

While lawmakers often relish a chance to tout their work back home building roads, bridges and other large public works projects, they are hardly in agreement on how to actually move such a giant price-tag bill.

For starters, there are partisan disagreements on this issue. Trump needs Senate Democrats, but they’ve pitched a very different $ 1 trillion infrastructure approach that focuses on existing government programs and even adding to the deficit. Trump stayed away from details in his speech Tuesday but has previously suggested tax credits were his main driver. Meantime, Republican leaders have largely shrugged off infrastructure as a top-tier item in favor of the other big lifts of 2017, namely health care and tax reform.

“Obamacare is collapsing — and we must act decisively to protect all Americans.”

Trump here repeated a phrase used often by Republicans as they try to repeal and replace the 2010 law.

This year was definitely a rough year for Obamacare, with declining choice in plans and sharp price hikes seen around the country. But while the law may be on especially shaky ground in some places — the private markets in Tennessee and Oklahoma come to mind — that’s not the case everywhere. Other independent analysts have said there are signs that the health of the individual market is improving and the law is not in a so-called “death spiral.”

It’s unclear at this point what will shake out for the Obamacare markets next year and if insurers will stick around. But that’s partly because of the uncertainty surrounding the GOP’s repeal and replace efforts.

Obamacare supporters have also argued that the Trump administration has actively moved to undermine the law and then proclaim it’s falling apart — including when it decided to pull millions of dollars in ads to promote enrollment during the latest sign-up season.

“Obamacare premiums nationwide have increased by double and triple digits. As an example, Arizona went up 116 percent last year alone.”

The Arizona Obamacare premium hike is one of the most frequently cited by Obamacare critics. But there’s more to the number than appears at first glance.

Where does it come from? HHS under the Obama administration put out statistics on what premiums and insurer competition would look like in the Obamacare exchanges for 2017. In that paper, the agency said that average monthly premiums for a 27-year-old in Arizona would increase by 116 percent. But it’s only an average, and the figure only applies to one type of plan that’s available on the Obamacare market in Arizona.

That premium increase statistic also fails to account for subsidies that Obamacare provides to lower monthly costs, although those subsidies aren’t available to everyone, so there will be some people who bear the full brunt of price hikes.

“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.”

Trump’s claim that imports of illegal drugs are at an all-time high appears to be false. Customs and Border Patrol reported about 1.31 million pounds of drugs seized in Fiscal Year 2016, down from about 2.5 million pounds in Fiscal Year 2011.

The precise volume of drugs being smuggled into the country is impossible to know because of the illegal nature of that activity. In addition, seizure statistics can be affected by the effort being expended on finding such illegal shipments. But the major drop in seizures over the past six years casts serious doubt on Trump’s claim that illegal drug imports are peaking, no matter how serious the U.S. drug problem at the moment.

“Since my election, Ford, Fiat-Chrysler, General Motors, Sprint, Softbank, Lockheed, Intel, Walmart, and many others, have announced that they will invest billions and billions of dollars in the United States and will create tens of thousands of new American jobs.”

Trump has tried to take credit for a number of companies’ announcements to build manufacturing plants and create jobs in the United States, but a many of those were already in the works before Trump took office or even won the presidency.

SoftBank, for example, pledged to invest billions of dollars in the US economy in October, nearly a month before the election. Fiat-Chrysler did the same thing, announcing in September of 2015 that it would invest $ 5.3 billion in US plants.

Walmart and GM also announced in January it would be creating jobs that it had previously announced before Trump’s election. Ford’s announcement did come after Trump’s election and reversed a previous proposal to move production from Michigan to Mexico, though CEO Mark Fields said he did not “cut a deal with Trump.”

My economic team is developing historic tax reform that will reduce the tax rate on our companies so they can compete and thrive anywhere and with anyone.

At the same time, we will provide massive tax relief for the middle class.

This will be a heavy lift. For one thing, the only element of tax reform most lawmakers in both parties can agree is lowering the corporate rate – and Republicans are at odds over the best way to do that. House Republicans have taken the lead on tax reform, but their border adjustment tax proposal – which would bring in $ 1.2 trillion to pour back into lowering rates – is deeply unpopular among retailers and oil refiners, and probably isn’t going anywhere in the Senate. The White House’s position on the border measure is muddy: Trump most recently said it would lead to job growth, but he hasn’t explicitly endorsed the measure, and advisers have given conflicting signals.

As for middle-class tax relief, Trump’s campaign plan did lower taxes for middle-income taxpayers, but the largest gains went to the upper end of the income spectrum. The administration has waved away questions about the distributional effects with pledges to eliminate special tax breaks, but without more detail it’s not clear how it would all shake out.

Source: POLITICO – TOP Stories

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