In his first address to a joint session of Congress, President Donald Trump promised to increase the United States military budget by about ten percent, replace the Affordable Care Act and sharply restrict immigration into the United States.
The 60-minute speech was laced with factual inaccuracies, which have quickly become a routine part of any Trump statement.
Trump took credit for jobs created during the prior administration, misrepresented statistics to support false assertions that unemployment and crime rates are significantly worse than they reality, then again claimed that he had inherited “a mess” from his predecessor, Barack Obama.
Although income inequality has many still feeling the pinch, Obama actually turned over to Trump an economy with a 4.7 percent unemployment rate; 75 consecutive months of job growth; rising stock prices, home values, corporate profits and consumer confidence; low inflation; and a record spike in middle-class incomes. That is far better than the economic disaster the Democrat inherited from George W Bush Jr.
Trump also repeated his claim that he is taking action to “drain the swamp of government corruption,” provoking laughter among some Democratic lawmakers since his cabinet consists of millionaires and billionaires with unprecedented conflicts of interest.
“As I outline the next steps we must take as a country, we must honestly acknowledge the circumstances we inherited: 94 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,” Trump said.
Trump’s labor force number includes anyone over sixteen years old who doesn’t have a job and isn’t looking for one, or people who are not interested in working such as high school and college students, stay-at-home moms, people in prison, hospitals and other institutions, and retirees.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about 89.4 million of those people explicitly “do not want a job now,” so the actual number of Americans who want a job but are not looking is less than 6 million.
“More than one in five people in their prime working years are not working,” Trump said. “We have the worst financial recovery in 65 years. In the last eight years, the past administration has put on more new debt than nearly all of the other presidents combined.”
Trump said the murder rate “experienced its largest single-year increase in nearly half a century,” but lefts out some important context from the 10.8 percent spike in homicides between 2014 and 2015.
The number of murders declined by 42 percent between 1993 and 2014, even as the U.S. population rose by 25 percent over the same period. So despite the recent increase, homicide rates remain far below record highs.
Of action to remove criminal undocumented immigrants, Trump said, “As we speak, we are removing gang members, drug dealers and criminals that threaten our communities and prey on our citizens. Bad ones are going out as I speak tonight and as I have promised.”
After Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 680 people in raids across the U.S. in the previous week, the agency reported that approximately 25 percent had no prior criminal convictions.
“American companies are taxed at one of the highest rates anywhere in the world,” said Trump,but he failed to point out that corporations actually pay substantially less, because they can claim deductions and exclusions.
In fiscal year 2015, military spending accounted for 54 percent of all federal discretionary spending, a total of $598.5 billion.
Trump did not elaborate about why but he said the military budget needs to be inflated by $54 billion, which would necessitate big cuts in foreign aid and spending on domestic agencies. America is already responsible for about one third of global defense spending. China, the world’s second biggest military spender, trails the US by more than $350 billion.
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