Fact Checking the State of the Union, Part 2

As is his custom, Donald Trump gave his final State of the Union address yesterday, and used the occasion to cram as many lies as possible into the speech. I fact-checked many of these lies yesterday, but there were still quite a few outstanding, so consider this “Part II.” It’s really bad when a “president” who has been caught telling 16,241 lies in his first three years, and the fact that he continues to tell more is an indication that he isn’t being held accountable.

Here is one of them. This is another one of his perennials, in that he repeats this one constantly, with no real changes, even though he has been told many times how ignorant it makes him look.

“I have raised contributions from the other NATO members by more than $400 billion, and the number of allies meeting their minimum obligations has more than doubled.”

This is not just a lie; it demonstrates a galling lack of knowledge about NATO, how it works and how much say he thinks he has with sovereign nations who only share admission in a group with a common purpose. Trump clearly thinks he has a lot of pull among the governments of our allies, apparently through sheer force of his will.

As usual, Trump is overestimating his capability to do anything. In 2006, NATO members agreed to commit two percent of their Gross Domestic Product to spending on defense. Since 2014, when Russia invaded Ukraine and seized their Crimea region, all NATO countries have steadily increased defense spending, but it has had nothing to do with Donald Trump. The mission of NATO has been to prevent incursions like that from Russia from occurring on the European continent. Since 2016, NATO members have increased their defense spending by $130 billion. That does not mean they have “contributed” that money to NATO and the actual number is far below the $400 billion figure. He’s both lying and ignorant with this one.

That leads go his next one;

“Before I took office, health insurance premiums had more than doubled in just five years. I moved quickly to provide affordable alternatives. Our new plans are up to 60 percent less expensive.” And
“We will always protect patients with preexisting conditions.”
“I was pleased to announce last year that, for the first time in 51 years, the cost of prescription drugs actually went down.”

The Trump Administration and the entire Republican Party has made it their mission to sabotage the Affordable Care Act. Why they do this is truly puzzling. The American people largely like the results of implementing the ACA, and they truly hated the previous system, which was a jerry-rigged system, to put it kindly. They’ll never be able to go backward to a system that was on the verge of collapse until Obama and Democrats saved it. And worse, while their mantra seems to be “repeal and replace,” they have never had a “replacement” available at any time.

The “affordable alternatives” Trump has “provided” (in reality, he just removed the ban) are not health insurance, or they are catastrophic plans that cover almost nothing except for medical care to prevent death. And the ACA banned them because they have little or no value in our healthcare system. If you get sick, they provide you with a few dollars in cash for each day you’re in the hospital, which is barely enough to cover a cheap motel. They don’t cover much of anything and they are essentially useless.

And that’s the lie. Trump and his party have done little other than try to destroy the ACA and force us all to fend for ourselves. Oh, and there is one other lie; health insurance premiums have not “more than doubled in the last five years,” by any measure you can name. Sure, there might be a few policies that have doubled, but by and large, they haven’t come close to that. And any increases have come due to the sabotage incurred by Trump and the GOP.

As for “always” treating people with pre-existing conditions, that is a bald-faced lie. People with such conditions have watched the Republican Party do everything possible to take their insurance coverage away. Trump doesn’t seem to have the slightest idea what is being discussed when others talk about “pre-existing conditions,” which makes virtually everything he says about it a complete lie.

It’s also a FACT that the Trump Administration is in court trying a case that would completely abolish the ACA, including the guarantees that no one can be denied coverage for a pre-existing condition, which makes his lie about protection even more galling. And one last note; those cheap plans he has pushed onto people don’t cover anyone with a pre-existing condition.

As for the lie about prescription drugs, there have been many studies in the last few years showing that prescription drugs have not dropped in price on the whole. Trump is trying to refer top the Consumer Price Index for prescription prices, but there are several irregularities that make his comparison ridiculous. In reality, the last time the Drug CPI dropped was just about 5 1/2 years ago, for the year ending July 2013.

That leads to thew next Trump lie:

“Through our Pledge to American Workers, over 400 companies will also provide new jobs and education opportunities to almost 15 million Americans.”

Trump usually says this sort of thing has already happened, so someone in the White House is obviously trying to curb the lying to a certain degree. Also, while this “five-year-plan does exist, a large number of companies who signed up for it did so by offering training programs already in existence since before Trump was “president.”

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Trump speech if he didn’t;’t mention his “big, beautiful wall” on the Southern Border:

“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.”

There is little about this subject that is not a lie as it comes from Trump’s mouth. Start with the fact thatchy have not yet built anything close to 100 miles of new wall. Most of hat has been built has been fence and most of that has simply replaced what was already there, with the same kind of fencing. In order to have “500 miles” completed by the time his first (and hopefully only) term is complete, builders will have to double the current pace.

And the “long, tall, and very powerful” part is also a hell of a lie. As noted, most of what its being built is the same type of fencing he was once complaining about as inadequate. Most of that he is building can be cut with a power saw. Also, the floodgates designed to relieve occasional flooding are required to stay open every summer for the desert monsoon. And, of course, there is the breach that happened last week, in which one section of “powerful wall” was apparently not “powerful” enough to survive a stiff wind of about 30 miles per hour.

And like his obsession with the wall, Donny also seems to obsess over doing something (nothing) to curb the opioid crisis. Like this at the State of the Union:

“With unyielding commitment, we are curbing the opioid epidemic. Drug overdose deaths declined for the first time in nearly 30 years.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), overall drug overdose deaths did fall in 2018 for the first time since 1990 (28 years), but that dod not include deaths for opioids, which rose again in 2018. Also, fentanyl overdose deaths rose by 10 percent from 2017 to 2018.

Trump then lied about his prowess at stopping violent crime once and for all:

“Last year, our brave ICE officers arrested more than 120,000 criminal aliens charged with nearly 10,000 burglaries, 5,000 sexual assaults, 45,000 violent assaults and 2,000 murders.”

This is among Donny’s perennials, a variation on the lying speech he gave when he first descended the escalator to announce his candidacy. After all, most Mexicans who come here are rapists and murderers. The problem with his continuance of this nonsense is that he’s become LESS sophisticated with his proclamations. He got the “120,000” number from the total ICE arrests, most of which were for non-criminal immigration offenses, and almost none were for violent offenses. The number is also misleading because some people are charged with multiple offenses and because not all charges lead to convictions. In other words, it’s complete and total fiction.

The lies he told during the SOTU got worse when it came to bragging about his record on immigration

“Before I came into office, if you showed up illegally on our southern border and were arrested, you were simply released and allowed into our country, never to be seen again. My administration has ended catch-and-release. If you come illegally, you will now be promptly removed from our country. Very importantly, we entered into historic cooperation agreements with the governments of Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. As a result of our unprecedented efforts, illegal crossings are down 75 percent since May — dropping eight straight months in a row. And as the wall rapidly goes up, drug seizures rise, and border crossings are going down.”

Trump has tried repeatedly to end “Catch and Release” when it comes to asylum seekers, but he hasn’t been able to do it because the law requires they be released, based on the backlog in immigration courts.

The claim that “illegal crossings” are down 75% since May is also, at best, a half-truth. When you look at the totals from May through December 2019, the drop has been significant, but when you look at Trump’s entire presidency, the gains are extremely small. There were 42,359 apprehensions in Trump’s first month, January 2017, and 40,620 last December 2019. Therefore, in order to brag about the massive drop in apprehensions of immigrants from May-December 2019, you have to ignore the significant increase in apprehensions between January 2017 to April 2019.

Trump then took the opportunity to brag about something that he had little or nothing to do with:

“Forty million American families have an average $2,200 extra thanks to our child tax credit.”

The problem with his taking credit for this is, the child tax credit has existed since 1997. While American families with children did indeed average a $2,200 child tax credit, that is only up from $1,500 a year during Obama’s last year. That means the benefits increase is relatively modest and is primarily the result of inflation.

Well, that’s most of the lies Trump told in the State of the Union. There were several others, but I only have so much time… Keep in mind, I do this for free… so far.

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