EDITORIAL: Fact checking the SOTU

President Donald Trump deliver his State of the Union address to a joint session of U.S. Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. (Jim Bourg/Pool via AP)


President Donald Trump deliver his State of the Union address to a joint session of U.S. Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. (Jim Bourg/Pool via AP)

President Trump gave his second State of the Union (SOTU) Address Tuesday night, continuing a tradition that dates back to 1790, when George Washington delivered a speech to Congress in NYC, since the White House had not been completed yet.

Due to the fact that this is a sacred institution in American history, one would think that any POTUS would respect the platform and not use it to spew lies and propaganda. But this is America in 2019, so as you may have expected, that didn’t happen.

Donald Trump’s second SOTU was chock full of misleading claims and flat out falsehoods. There is a countless and never ending stream of lies that comes from ‘Individual 1”, but I will do my best to break down and provide our readers with what you deserve: the cold, hard facts.

“The border city of El Paso, Texas, used to have extremely high rates of violent crime — one of the highest in the country, and considered one of our nation’s most dangerous cities. Now, with a powerful barrier in place, El Paso is one of our safest cities.”

According to the El Paso Times, their cities’ crime rate peaked in 1993. Border fence construction lasted from 2008-2009. The violent crime rate fell 34% between 1993 and 2006, and, in fact, increased between 2006-2011. These statistics show that El Paso’s barrier did nothing to prevent violent crime rates from increasing, contrary to Mr. Trump’s claim.

“We have “added 600,000 new manufacturing jobs. Something which almost everyone said was impossible to do, but the fact is we are just getting started.”

The President overstated the amount of manufacturing jobs that have been added. Since the beginning of 2017, the number is much closer to 450,000 than 600,000. To Trump’s credit, however, job growth has been increasing at a faster rate since he became POTUS.

“More people are working now than at any time in our history. 157 million people at work.”

This statement is true, but very misleading. More people are working than ever before simply because the American population is larger than it ever has been. In terms of civilian employment to population, the current ratio is 60:7, and it reached its’ peak in April of 2000, when it sat at 64:7.

“In just over two years since the election, we have launched an unprecedented economic boom — a boom that has rarely been seen before.”

One word makes this statement false: launched. If Mr. Trump had said, ‘we continued’, that would be far more accurate.  Per CNN, growth in monthly payrolls reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics averaged 217,000 jobs under President Barack Obama’s second term, and under Trump it has averaged 203,000.” Also, the unemployment rate has been steadily declining since Obama took office, which is perfectly described here. It is completely fair to say that Trump has continued the economic successes started roughly a decade ago, but he certainly did not create ‘an unprecedented economic boom.’ And one more minor correction, the Trump administration has added roughly 4.9 million jobs since taking office, not 5.3, as said in the SOTU.

“Wealthy politicians and donors push for open borders while living their lives behind walls and gates and guards.”

This is not true. No one is calling for open borders. Democrats have vehemently opposed the wall, but have made it clear they still support border security.

“For the first time in 65 years, we are a net exporter of energy.”

If Trump had said this during the week of November 24-30, 2018, this would be true. During that week, the U.S. did export more crude and petroleum than it imported. But, according to Yahoo Finance, “the country is not yet considered a net exporter of energy on an annual basis by the agency – though it could be soon. The EIA estimates that by 2020 the U.S. could reach that milestone for the first time since the 1950s due to increased production of crude oil and natural gas.” Since the president made that claim outside of the November 24-30 of 2018 time frame, it is false.

“We have spent more than $7 trillion dollars in the Middle East.”

This statement is demonstrably false. The Congressional Research Service reported that between the years 2001 and 2014, costs of war in Iraq and Afghanistan was $1.6 trillion, way below the number the POTUS gave.

“Lawmakers in New York cheered with delight upon the passage of legislation that would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments before birth.”

New York passed a law on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade that loosened restrictions on abortion. The new law, called the Reproductive Health Act, allows abortions if the mother was facing a health risk or the fetus was not viable. The president appears to be trying to make it seem like this law would allow a healthy mother to abort a healthy fetus, which is not accurate.

“And then we had the case of the governor of Virginia where he stated he would execute a baby after birth.”

The statement made by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has been mischaracterized by many in the past week, as Northam was accused of supporting infanticide. The facts are, per NBC News,  that “Northam was discussing a hypothetical procedure that would occur only in cases of severe deformities or nonviable pregnancy.” Northam is not saying that he would execute a fully healthy newborn.

“African-American, Hispanic-American and Asian-American unemployment have all reached their lowest levels ever recorded.”

This is one of the the President’s most repeated claims. This statement was true earlier in his administration, but it is now out of date. According to PolitiFact, “African-American unemployment fell to a record of 5.9 percent in May, and is at 6.8 percent as of January. Asian unemployment fell to 2.0 percent in May, and is now at 3.2 percent. Hispanic unemployment reached 4.4 percent in December 2018, and is now at 4.9.”

“Nearly 5 million Americans have been lifted off food stamps.”

Since January of 2017, 4.1 million Americans have left the food stamp program, not nearly 5 million.

The President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, has lied 7,546 times as of the end of 2018. He repeatedly misleads, whips up hate against, and disgusts a large portion of America.

If he continues with this throughout the third year of his first (and hopefully last) term, we may very well be seeing a 2020 State of the Dis-Union.