Tag Archives: national debt

Fact-checking Trump’s debate claims

Donald Trump’s habit of peddling hype and fabrication emerged unabated in the first presidential debate while Hillary Clinton played it cautiously in her statements, though not without error. A look at some of Trump’s claims in the debate and how they compare with the facts:

___

TRUMP, denying Clinton’s accusation that he supported the Iraq war: “Wrong. Wrong.” Later: “That is a mainstream media nonsense put out by her. I was against the war in Iraq.”

THE FACTS: There is no evidence Trump expressed public opposition to the war before the U.S. invaded, despite his repeated insistence that he did. Rather, he offered lukewarm support. He only began to voice doubts about the conflict well after it began in March 2003.

His first known public comment on the topic came on Sept. 11, 2002, when he was asked whether he supported a potential Iraq invasion in an interview with radio host Howard Stern. “Yeah, I guess so,” Trump responded.

On March 21, 2003, just days after the invasion began, Trump said it “looks like a tremendous success from a military standpoint.”

Later that year he began voicing doubts.

___

TRUMP, when Clinton accused him of calling climate change a hoax invented by the Chinese: “I did not say that.”

THE FACTS: Yes he did, in the form of a 2012 tweet: “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” He later claimed he was kidding, but he’s also repeated the claim that climate change is a hoax, and one that benefits China.

He tweeted in January 2014: “Snowing in Texas and Louisiana, record setting freezing temperatures throughout the country and beyond. Global warming is an expensive hoax!”

___

TRUMP: “I’ve been under audit for almost 15 years.”

THE FACTS: Trump has never provided evidence to the public that he is actually under audit. A letter released by his tax attorneys never used the word, merely describing his tax returns under continuous examination. That is not a formal term for any kind of action by the Internal Revenue Service.

Trump has declined to provide the IRS’ formal notice of audit to The Associated Press and other news outlets. And former IRS officials have expressed skepticism that anyone would be audited so frequently. Trump cites an audit as the reason he won’t release his tax returns.

______

TRUMP to Clinton: “You’ve been fighting ISIS your entire adult life.”

THE FACTS: Hillary Clinton was born in 1947 and is 68 years old. She reached adulthood in 1965. The Islamic State group grew out of an al-Qaida spinoff, al-Qaida in Iraq in 2013, the year Clinton left the State Department.

___

TRUMP: “My father gave me a small loan in 1975.”

THE FACTS: Trump got a whole lot more than a small loan. Aside from $1 million in financing from his father, Trump received loan guarantees, bailouts and a drawdown from his future inheritance. Tim O’Brien noted in a 2005 book that Trump not only drew an additional $10 million from his future inheritance during hard times, but also inherited a share of his father’s real estate holdings, which were worth hundreds of millions when they were eventually sold off.

___

TRUMP: “You don’t learn a lot from tax returns.”

THE FACTS: Americans stand to learn plenty if he releases his tax returns like other presidential candidates have done.

They would provide vital information about his wealth, taxes paid, tax avoidance efforts, exact amounts of real estate holdings and charitable donations that can’t be gleaned from any other source. For these reasons, every major party candidate for the last 40 years has released at least a few years of recent tax returns.

___

TRUMP: “Our jobs are fleeing the country. They’re going to Mexico. They’re going to many other countries. … Ford is leaving, thousands of jobs leaving Michigan, leaving Ohio.” He added, “They’re leaving, and they’re leaving in bigger numbers than ever.”

THE FACTS: There are no official data on job flows between countries. However, the U.S. economy has added nearly 14.9 million jobs since 2010, when the economy bottomed out after the recession.

Since GM and Chrysler declared bankruptcy, the auto industry in particular has recovered and resumed hiring. The industry has added 300,000 jobs since June 2009, when the recession ended. Ford has announced it is moving production of small autos to Mexico, but the company maintains that it won’t cut any U.S. jobs because it will make other vehicles at the affected plant.

___

TRUMP: President Barack Obama “has doubled (the national debt) in almost eight years. … When we have $20 trillion in debt, and our country is a mess.”

THE FACTS: Trump’s expressed concern about the national debt obscures that his own policies would increase it by much more than Clinton’s, according to the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

Trump’s tax cuts would increase the deficit by $5.3 trillion over 10 years, the group found, while Clinton’s proposals would boost the deficit by $200 billion. Those increases are on top of an already-projected increase of about $9 trillion over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office. By 2026, debt held by the public would total $23.3 trillion under Clinton’s plans, and $28.4 trillion under Trump.

___

TRUMP: “A trade deficit of almost … $800 billion a year.”

THE FACTS: The trade deficit was actually $500 billion in 2015, certainly large but a lot lower than Trump’s figure. The deficit peaked at $761.7 billion in 2006, according to the Commerce Department.

___

TRUMP: “Had we taken the oil (in Iraq) — and we should have taken the oil — ISIS would not have been able to form.”

THE FACTS: Donald Trump’s assertion that the U.S. should have seized Iraq’s natural resources would have required that it also seize control of the country and at no point was the U.S. in a position to do so.

To achieve Trump’s stated goal of destroying Islamic State militants’ revenue stream, the U.S. has bombed oil facilities in Iraq. The bombing was designed to render the oil facilities inoperable, but not destroy them, so Iraq could rebuild its economy with its oil when the conflict ended.

___

TRUMP: “Russia’s been expanding. They have much newer capabilities than we do.”

THE FACTS: Russia has indeed been expanding its military and increasing spending on weapons and equipment. But the U.S. still has far more advanced military aircraft, weapons and capabilities than Russia. In addition, the Pentagon plans to spend $108 billion over the next five years to sustain and improve its nuclear force, and is developing the next generation bomber.

___

TRUMP: “The Fed, by keeping interest rates at this level, the Fed is doing political things. … The Fed is being more political than Secretary Clinton.”

THE FACTS: This is a recurrent claim by Trump with no evidence to back it up. It’s the Federal Reserve’s job to help improve the economy and to the extent that happens, political leaders and their party may benefit. But presidents can’t make the Fed, an independent agency, do anything.

Under former chairman Ben Bernanke and current chairwoman Janet Yellen, the Fed has attracted controversy by pegging the short-term interest rate it controls to nearly zero for seven years. After one increase in December, it is still ultra-low at between 0.25 percent and 0.5 percent, a rate that some economists worry could spark a stock-market bubble or inflation. Bernanke was initially appointed by Republican President George W. Bush, and reappointed by President Barack Obama.

One reason Yellen is keeping rates low is that, in some ways, she agrees with Trump that hiring needs to keep growing to provide jobs for Americans who want them.

___

TRUMP said a 1970s racial discrimination case against his real estate business was settled “with no admission of guilt” and that the case was “brought against many real estate developers.”

THE FACTS: The first claim is technically correct; the second is false.

Trump and his father fiercely fought a 1973 discrimination lawsuit brought by the Justice Department for their alleged refusal to rent apartments in predominantly white buildings to black tenants. Testimony showed that the applications filed by black apartment seekers were marked with a “C” for “colored.” A settlement that ended the lawsuit did not require the Trumps to acknowledge that discrimination had occurred. The government’s description of the settlement said Trump and his father had “failed and neglected” to comply with the Fair Housing Act.

Trump was wrong to say the suit was brought against many real estate developers _ it was specific to buildings rented by his father and him.

___

TRUMP: “Stop-and-frisk had a tremendous impact on the safety of New York City. Tremendous beyond belief.”

THE FACTS: Trump is correct that the murder rate has plummeted in New York in the last two decades. But the same could be said for many other large American cities during the same period, and there’s certainly no way to credit stop-and-frisk for the decline.

Stop-and-frisk was a popular tactic for much of the last 15 years in the city. But even as it’s fallen out of favor under the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio the murder rate remains a long way off from where it was in the 1990s, when it topped 2,000 a year. City police department statistics show there were 352 murders and non-negligent homicides in 2015, compared with 673 in 2000 and 539 in 2005.

By Associated Press writers Christopher S. Rugaber and Jeff Horwitz. AP writers Bradley Klapper, Eric Tucker, Stephen Braun, Jeff Horwitz, Jim Drinkard, Matthew Lee and Cal Woodward contributed to this report.

 

 

AP fact check finds numerous lies, distortions in Trump acceptance speech

TRUMP: “Decades of progress made in bringing down crime are now being reversed by this administration’s rollback of criminal enforcement. Homicides last year increased by 17 percent in America’s 50 largest cities. That’s the largest increase in 25 years.”

THE FACTS: A rollback? President Barack Obama has actually achieved some big increases in spending for state and local law enforcement, including billions in grants provided through the 2009 stimulus. While FBI crime statistics for 2015 are not yet available, Trump’s claim about rising homicides appears to come from a Washington Post analysis published in January. While Trump accurately quotes part of the analysis, he omits that the statistical jump was so large because homicides are still very low by historical standards. In the 50 cities cited by the Post, for example, half as many people were killed last year as in 1991.

___

TRUMP: “The number of new illegal immigrant families who have crossed the border so far this year already exceeds the entire total from 2015. They are being released by the tens of thousands into our communities with no regard for the impact on public safety or resources.”

THE FACTS: The pace of releasing immigrants is driven not by the Obama administration, but by a court ruling. A federal judge ruled last year that the government couldn’t hold parents and children in jail for more than 20 days. An appeals court partially rolled that back earlier this month, saying that parents could be detained but children must be released.

By the standard used by the government to estimate illegal border crossings – the number of arrests — Trump is right that the number in this budget year has already exceeded last year’s total. But it’s down from 2014.

___

TRUMP: “When a secretary of state illegally stores her emails on a private server, deletes 33,000 of them so the authorities can’t see her crime, puts our country at risk, lies about it in every different form and faces no consequence — I know that corruption has reached a level like never before.”

THE FACTS: Clinton’s use of a private server to store her emails was not illegal under federal law. Her actions were not established as a crime. The FBI investigated the matter and its role was to advise the Justice Department whether to bring charges against her based on what it found. FBI Director James Comey declined to refer the case for criminal prosecution to the Justice Department, instead accusing Clinton of extreme carelessness.

As for Trump’s claim that Clinton faces no consequence, that may be true in a legal sense. But the matter has been a distraction to her campaign and fed into public perceptions that she can’t be trusted. The election will test whether she has paid a price politically.

___

TRUMP: “The number of police officers killed in the line of duty has risen by almost 50 percent compared to this point last year.”

THE FACTS: Not according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, which tracks police fatalities daily. The group found that the number of police officers who died as of July 20 is up just slightly this year, at 67, compared with 62 through the same period last year. That includes deaths in the line of duty from all causes, including traffic fatalities.

It is true that there has been a spike in police deaths from intentional shootings, 32 this year compared with 18 last year, largely attributable to the recent mass shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge. But that was not his claim.

And overall, police are statistically safer on America’s streets now than at any time in recent decades.

For example, the 109 law enforcement fatalities in 2013 were the lowest since 1956.

___

TRUMP: “My opponent has called for a radical 550 percent increase in Syrian (refugees). … She proposes this despite the fact that there’s no way to screen these refugees in order to find out who they are or where they come from. I only want to admit individuals into our country who will support our values and love our people.”

THE FACTS: Trump persists in making the bogus claim that the U.S. doesn’t screen refugees. The administration both screens them and knows where they are from. The Department of Homeland Security leads the process, which involves rigorous background checks. Processing of a refugee can take 18 months to two years, and usually longer for those coming from Syria. Refugees are also subject to in-person interviews and fingerprint and other biometric screening.

For all that caution, U.S. officials acknowledge that the Islamic State group could try to place operatives among refugees. Last year, FBI Director James Comey said data about people coming from Syria may be limited, adding, “If we don’t know much about somebody, there won’t be anything in our database.”

___

TRUMP: “Two million more Latinos are in poverty today than when President Obama took his oath of office less than eight years ago. Another 14 million people have left the workforce entirely. … President Obama has almost doubled our national debt to more than $19 trillion, and growing.”

THE FACTS: Trump is playing with numbers to make the economy look worse than it actually is. The sluggish recovery over the past seven years has been frustrating. But with unemployment at 4.9 percent, the situation isn’t as bleak as he suggests.

Trump’s figure of 14 million who’ve stopped working since Obama took office comes from the Labor Department’s measure of people not in the workforce. It’s misleading for three reasons: The U.S. population has increased in that time; the country has aged and people have retired; and younger people are staying in school longer for college and advanced degrees, so they’re not in the labor force, either.

A better figure is labor force participation — the share of people with jobs or who are searching for work. That figure has declined from 65.7 percent when Obama took office to 62.7 percent now. Part of that decrease reflects retirements, but the decline is also a long-term trend.

On national debt, economists say a more meaningful measure than dollars is the share of the overall economy taken up by the debt. By that measure, the debt rose 36 percent under Obama (rather than doubling). That’s roughly the same as what occurred under Republican President George W. Bush.

The Hispanic population has risen since Obama while the poverty rate has fallen. The Pew Research Center found that 23.5 percent of the country’s 55.3 million Latinos live in poverty, compared with 24.7 percent in 2010.

___

TRUMP: “Another humiliation came when President Obama drew a red line in Syria, and the whole world knew it meant absolutely nothing.”

THE FACTS: Trump’s reference is to a threat by Obama for retaliatory strikes if Syrian President Bashar Assad used chemical weapons against rebels — and he’s basically on target. When Assad crossed Obama’s “red line” in 2013 by using chemical weapons, the U.S. president backed down.

Obama’s two secretaries of state, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, pushed for intervention, as have a former defense secretary and CIA director. But Obama as commander-in-chief has the last word, and nothing has swayed him thus far.

___

TRUMP: “When that same secretary of state rakes in millions and millions of dollars trading access and favors to special interests and foreign powers, I know the time for action has come.”

THE FACTS: That’s a somewhat overheated take on a legitimately troublesome issue for Clinton.

Although financial disclosures show she earned only her government salary as secretary of state, she made more than $21 million afterward, over three years, for speeches and appearances for private companies. None of those speeches was paid for by foreign governments, but some groups she addressed could be counted as special interests.

As well, the Clintons’ family charity, the Clinton Foundation, received millions of dollars in donations while she was secretary of state, some from foreigners. And Bill Clinton earned millions making appearances and speeches for foreign corporations and organizations while his wife was at the State Department.

___

TRUMP: “After four years of Hillary Clinton, what do we have? ISIS has spread across the region, and the entire world. Libya is in ruins, and our ambassador and his staff were left helpless to die at the hands of savage killers. Egypt was turned over to the radical Muslim Brotherhood, forcing the military to retake control. Iraq is in chaos. Iran is on the path to nuclear weapons. Syria is engulfed in a civil war and a refugee crisis now threatens the West. … This is the legacy of Hillary Clinton: death, destruction, terrorism and weakness.”

THE FACTS: It’s an exaggeration to suggest Clinton, or any secretary of state, is to blame for the widespread instability and violence across the Middle East.

Clinton worked to impose sanctions that helped coax Tehran to a nuclear deal with the U.S. and other world powers last year, a deal in which Iran rolled back its nuclear program to get relief from sanctions that were choking its economy.

She did not start the war in Libya, but supported a NATO intervention well after violence broke out between rebels and the forces of dictator Moammar Gadhafi. The country slid into chaos after Gadhafi was ousted and killed in 2011, leaving it split between competing governments.

Clinton had no role in military decisions made during the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. Republicans’ claim that high-level officials in Washington issued a “stand-down” order delaying a military rescue in Benghazi has been widely debunked.

On Iraq, Clinton as a senator voted in 2002 to grant President George W. Bush authority to invade Iraq, but has since said it was a “mistake.” Many in the Middle East do not regret Saddam’s ouster and regional allies allowed U.S. bases in their country to support the war. But many also now fear the Islamic State group, which rose in the chaos of Syria’s civil war and Iraq’s security vacuum.

TRUMP: “America is one of the highest-taxed nations in the world.”

THE FACTS: Trump continues to repeat this inaccuracy. The U.S. tax burden is actually the fourth lowest among the 34 developed and large emerging-market economies that make up the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Taxes made up 26 percent of the total U.S. economy in 2014, according to the OECD. That’s far below Sweden’s tax burden of 42.7 percent, Britain’s 32.6 percent or Germany’s 36.1 percent. Only three OECD members had a lower figure than the U.S.: Chile, South Korea and Mexico.

TRUMP: “My opponent wants to essentially abolish the Second Amendment.”

THE FACTS: Hillary Clinton has not proposed any revocation of the constitutionally protected right to bear arms. She does support a ban on certain military-style weapons, similar to the law President Bill Clinton signed in the 1990s. That ban expired after 10 years and was not renewed. Clinton also backs an expansion of existing criminal background checks to apply to weapons sales at gun shows. The checks now apply mainly to sales by federally licensed gun dealers.

Associated Press writers Josh Boak, Stephen Braun, Deb Riechmann, Jim Drinkard and Alicia A. Caldwell in Washington and Elliot Spagat in San Diego contributed to this report.