State of the Union fact check: What Donald Trump is claiming


Posted on: January 30th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — After a tumultuous and busy first year in office, President Donald Trump is delivering his first State of the Union address to Congress and the country.

Our team of journalists from ABC News is investigating some of those statements, looking for additional context, detail and information.

Here is ABC News’ ongoing fact check of the address:

Fact check No. 1

TRUMP CLAIM: “We enacted the biggest tax cuts and reforms in American history.”

OUR TAKE: False

WHY: The recently enacted tax bill is the 12th largest as a percentage of the GDP and the fourth largest in inflation-adjusted dollars since 1918.

This is a claim the president has repeatedly made, but analyses of the current tax law and previous legislation show that’s not the case.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed into law at the end of last year comes with a $1.5 trillion price tag, and according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, an independent bipartisan public policy organization, it ranks as the 12th largest tax cut as a percentage of GDP and fourth largest in inflation-adjusted dollars since 2018. If the plan is extended, the group estimates the bill would cost $2.2 trillion, making it the eighth largest tax cut as a percentage of GDP and fourth largest in inflation-adjusted dollars since 2018.

The tax cut signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1981 was the largest since 1918 — reducing federal revenues by 2.9 percent of GDP, according to the Treasury Department.

The president also claimed roughly 3 million workers have received bonuses stemming from the tax cuts. That figure appears to come from a conservative political advocacy group, Americans for Tax Reform, which recently wrote based off anecdotes, “At least 3 million Americans are receiving special tax reform bonuses.”

Fact check No. 2

TRUMP CLAIM: “We have eliminated more regulations in our first year than any administration.”

OUR TAKE: It’s complicated

WHY: Information available from the Office of Management and Budget only goes back to 1995.

Trump has definitely taken an aggressive approach to eliminating regulations. Federal agencies withdrew 635 rules between fall 2016 and fall 2017, according to the Office of Management and Budget. But it’s difficult to verify if he has eliminated more than any administration in history because similar numbers for previous administrations are not readily available. Some of the Trump administration’s proposals are still going through the process or held up by legal challenges. It’s not even possible to check if the Trump administration has rolled back more regulations than Reagan, who also emphasized deregulation, because information available from the Office of Management and Budget only goes back to 1995.

Fact check No. 3

TRUMP CLAIM: “We are now an exporter of energy to the world.”

OUR TAKE: Mostly spin

WHY
: The U.S. has exported energy — from crude oil to natural gas to coal — for a long time.

Continuing a longstanding trend, energy exports did tick up slightly during the first 10 months of the Trump administration, from 11.5 quadrillion BTU (standard unit of measurement) in January to October 2016 to 14.6 quadrillion BTU in January to October 2017. But the U.S. has exported energy — from crude oil to natural gas to coal — for a long time. And America is still a net importer, and has been since the 1950s — meaning the U.S. still imports more energy than the nation exports. (A report from the Energy Information Administration projects the U.S. will likely become a net exporter by 2026.)

Fact check No. 4

TRUMP CLAIM: “Unemployment claims have hit a 45-year low. Something I’m very proud of. African-American unemployment stands at the lowest rate ever recorded, and Hispanic American unemployment has also reached the lowest levels in history.”

OUR TAKE: Lacking context

WHY: The figures have been on a downward trend for years.

The president’s assertion that first time claims for unemployment benefits recently hit a 45-year low is true. But the president’s claims about African-American and Latino unemployment rates are lacking context.

The African-American unemployment rate is at a record low of 6.8 percent — but has steadily declined since reaching 16.8 percent in 2010. The Latino unemployment — currently at 4.9 percent — reached a record low of 4.8 percent earlier this year. In 2009, it sat at 13 percent. The current unemployment rate sits at 4.1 percent a record low after reaching as high as 10 percent in 2009. These unemployment figures are according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

While the economy is faring well under Trump’s watch, he can’t solely take credit for the change in unemployment rates as these figures have been consistently decreasing for years.

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