Fact-Checking the State of the Union, Part I

If there is one thing you can count in when Donald Trump gives a speech, it is that said speech will be chock full of bullshit. He can’t help it. Ask anyone; it’s clear that Trump is incapable of simply making a series of factual statements. Whether it’s part of his personality or the function of some sort of mental disorder is for persons who are far more learned than I to determine; all I know is, he never disappoints. Give a speech and he will simultaneously turn it into a MAGA rally and float a series of lies that he feels benefit him, politically speaking.

This year’s SOTU did not disappoint. Well, it must have disappointed Trump, since the ratings were off more than 20% since last year’s SOTU lie-fest. Make sure you Tweet that to him today, so he gets the full effect. There was plenty of BS in the speech, and I am not referring to Bernie Sanders. This post will uncover a lot of it. I have a feeling we’ll miss a few things, but we got most of it and plan to correct the record. That’s what we do when we get a chance.

He actually began the speech with a load f crap he has tried to get away with many times. He repeats this almost daily, and expects everyone to buy into it without question:

“I am thrilled to report to you tonight that our economy is the best it has ever been.”

It’s hard to even talk about this one, but since he repeats it so often, it seems like a good idea to correct this record.

The best thing one can say about Trump’s record on the economy is that he hasn’t been able to completely screw it up. Yet. While the unemployment rate has been consistently lower than it has been during the neocon era, which started with the ascension of St. Reagan to the presidency, it’s still a single indicator and not a very instructive one, at that. The truth is, the “best economy in history” would have to go to the 1960s and, sure enough, the unemployment rate reached a low of 2.5% several times during the Kennedy Administration, in 1962.

Trump continued this tack during the SOTU, repeated another of his oft-repeated refrains:

“From the instant I took office, I moved rapidly to revive the U.S. economy … enacting historic and record-setting tax cuts.”

The obvious fallacy in that one is that the tax cuts, while stupid and pointless and needlessly favoring large corporations and rich people who don’t need a tax cut, are not the “biggest” in U.S. history. The Trump tax cuts are actually dwarfed by the Reagan tax cuts. Trump’s tax cut totaled less than 1 percent of GDP, while Reagan’s were more than three times that. Not only is Trump’s tax cut not the largest tax cut in history, but there have also been seven tax cuts in the past century that were largest.

Of course, claiming that you have the “eighth largest tax cut in history isn’t enough of a brag for Trump, so expecting him to tell the truth is not gonna happen. So, he moved to repeat a variation of the same brag he started with when he said:

“Incredibly, the average unemployment rate under my administration is lower than any administration in the history of our country.”

Incredible indeed. As we’ve seen, the unemployment rate, while impressive, simply continued the heated economy that Obama had left for him. And really, given that Obama took an unemployment rate that peaked at 10% and reduced it to 4.1% by the time Trump took over, why are we being asked to accept a reduction from 4.1% to 3.5% as the greatest in history? And for the record, the job creation record on his watch also lags behind Obama’s. During Trump’s reign, job creation has averaged 191,000 per month, but the average during Obama’s last three years was 227,000 per month. (Please note the phrasing. Presidents don’t create jobs; they simply try not to impede job creation. It’s also important to note that the 227,000 average during Obama’s term includes the economy Obama inherited, i which his first few months in office featured job LOSSES of motor than 800,000 per month.

Another claim he made that was complete bullshit was this one:

“The unemployment rate for disabled Americans has reached an all-time low.”

What makes this a load of crap is, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has only tracked this number since 2008, so claiming an “all-time low” is a bit of a stretch. And since the rate is currently right around 7% right now, it’s difficult to believe it’s a number worth bragging about.

Trump then turned his bullshit sonar to the social safety net, or what’s left of it, since the GOP has dismantled most of it. But Trump was lying his giant orange ass off when he said,

“Under my administration, 7 million Americans have come off of food stamps.”

According to the latest data, 4.2 million people have dropped off the ASNAP rolls, which is nowhere near the 7 million claimed. However, many of them didn’t lose Food Stamps because of the great economy. Apparently, a number of Republican-run states canceled waivers that were put in place during the Great GOP/Bush Recession to allow families to keep SNAP benefits for a bit longer, so they could catch up following their layoff. There is also the FACT that the number of SNAP recipients has been in decline since 2014.

We’re still just in the first couple of minutes, and we have been treated to a number of Trump’s oldies. Unsurprisingly, this wouldn’t be the last time he would lie-brag about what a great “president” he is. In fact, right after he bragged about kicking people off Food Stamps, he said the following:

“In eight years under the last administration, over 300,000 working-age people dropped out of the workforce. In just three years of my administration, 3.5 million people, working-age people, have joined the workforce.”

Let’s start by saying, the number he’s referring to is not as limited as he likes to pretend. The total size of the workforce always fluctuates because it workers always fluctuate. The “workforce participation rate,” which is what he’s trying to claim as his own, includes the recently retired and the self-employed, who are not participating in the workforce based on a choice. The number of workers actively participating in the workforce has been dropping for some time because the character of the workplace is changing. The Boomer retirement phenomenon, in which the largest single generation of Americans has aged into retirement, was always going to make that number spike. In the end, it is meaningless, but it will cause an unusual increase for some time. It will also be an extended rise that may never recover. Freedom of choice is like that sometimes. The current workforce participation rate, which was 62.8% when Trump had is poorly attended inauguration in 2017, has inched up slightly, but it’s still not back to the 68% it was when Bill Clinton was president or the 66% it was before the Great Recession, and it may never to hit that high ever again.

And let’s be clear of something else; given that most of the jobs created during Trump’s term have been service jobs, it’s hard to justify Jos further claim that his economic “boom”, which is essentially not even close to a “boom,” has been “a blue-collar boom.” In fact, the manufacturing sector, which is a key to “blue-collar” fortunes, has been in recession for more than 6 months. In fact, while that sector created 460,000 jobs from his poorly-attended inauguration until this past June, since then they have added only 9,000 jobs since then. And that does not mean 9,000 per month; that 9,000 is for a full six-month period.

Trump was just getting started when he offered up the following lie:

“Since my election, the net worth of the bottom half of wage earners has increased by 47 percent — three times faster than the increase for the top 1 percent.”

Note the tricky wording. This is something he always does, but no journalists ever call him out for it. He times his brags about his economic record as if he “won” the election and immediately started work. “Since [his] election,” Obama was president for the first 2 1/2 months.

He is also, as usual, exaggerating (lying) about his record in this matter. While the “bottom half” of wage earners have seen an increase, the fact of the matter is the bottom 50% of wage earners still only own less than 2% of all wealth, whereas the top FIVE percent of workers control more than 70% of the country’s wealth. More to the point, the top 5% in wealth has control of most wealth in this country, while the top 50% of Americans control almost none of the wealth. To make matters worse, that “bottom half” also has most of the debt, which cancels out what little wealth they own. That means the there 45% makes up the totality of the “middle class” and controls just 28% of the nation’s wealth.

“All of those millions of people with 401(k)s and pensions are doing far better than they have ever done before with increases of 60, 70, 80, 90 and even 100 percent.”

Donny loves to brag about the state of the stock market. He apparently thinks that the markets respond positively to everything he does, which is a bit of a joke. He fails to note, however, when the markets go down. For example, he spent this speech bragging about the effects of the market, but he failed to notice the two days before that, when the Dow alone lost 1,000 points.

There is also the reality that most Americans do not have a retirement account that includes investment. And when comparing 401(k) results, the current return on investment was an average of one percentage point when compared to ROI under Obama in 2016.

The next lie was,

“With the tremendous progress we have made over the past three years, America is now energy independent.”

One must wonder how little the Idiot-in-Chief knows because someone has to have let him know, the United States has been the largest oil producer in the world for a number of years so far. That was achieved by Obama, and Trump is simply trying to take credit. However, that’s not the meaning of “energy independence.” The FACTS are, despite the fact that we produce more oil than anyone, we still import about 10 million barrels a day from other countries. About 43% of that amount is from Canada, but 16% of that is from Middle East countries.

He followed that up with a pretty glaring bit of bullshit:

“After losing 60,000 factories under the previous two administrations, America has now gained 12,000 new factories under my administration, with thousands upon thousands of plants and factories being planned or built.”

According to a very liberal definition of “factories,” data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that 12,000 “manufacturing establishments” were created Between the day of Trump’s poorly attended inauguration and the second quarter of 2019. Therefore, the 12,000 figure is somewhat accurate. The lies comes in when you consider that Obama’s second term featured a gain of 10,000 “manufacturing establishments” in all. He also manages to redefine the term of “factory.” The vast majority of these 12,000 factories employ five or fewer employees because many of them are mom and pop business who make baked goods and clothing and who sell imported goods.

Along these same lines, Trump also lied when he said,

“Following NAFTA’s adoption, our nation lost one in four manufacturing jobs.” And:
“Many politicians came and went, pledging to change or replace NAFTA — only to do so and then absolutely nothing happened. But unlike so many who came before me, I keep my promises. We did our job. Six days ago, I replaced NAFTA and signed the brand new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) into law.”
“The USMCA will create nearly 100,000 new high-paying American auto jobs.”

The first one could be straight from the professional left playbook. One thing is for sure; it’s always been bullshit. Only ONE study of the effects of NAFTA has claimed that we lost a large number of manufacturing jobs due to NAFTA, but it’s always been refuted by the fact that 26.5 million jobs were created during the Clinton Administration.

And let’s be clear; the USMCA is, air best, a minimalist rejiggering of NAFTA, most of which has already been accomplished when the Obama Administration negotiated the TPP. Yes, that’s right. The TPP including both Canada and Mexico and specifically addressed the worst complaints about NAFTA. According to the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), the USMCA would have a relatively minor economic impact, including $68.2 billion in added revenue and a gain of 176,000 jobs in all sectors.

And few of those will be “high-paying American auto jobs,” which is a figure pulled straight out of Donny’s corpulent ass. The ITC estimates a total of 28,000 jobs will be created in the auto sector, and that includes parts manufacturing.

There are many more lies to discuss, so look for Part II tomorrow.

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