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Fact-Checkers Pounce on Trump's SOTU Address

They say he was wrong on immigration, coal, wages
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 31, 2018 12:20 AM CST
Updated Jan 31, 2018 6:24 AM CST
Fact-Checkers Pounce on Trump's SOTU Address
President Trump claps at his first State of the Union address in the House chamber of the US Capitol to a joint session of Congress Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018 in Washington.   (Win McNamee/Pool via AP)

(Newser) – President Trump delivered his first State of the Union address Tuesday night—and fact-checkers say it was riddled with "alternative facts," even by the exaggeration-heavy standards of SOTU speeches. They say the president displayed a faulty grasp of immigration policy, among other things. A selection of findings from the AP's fact-checkers:

  • Tax cuts. Trump: "We enacted the biggest tax cuts and reform in American history." The facts: The December tax overhaul ranks behind Ronald Reagan's in the early 1980s, post-World War II tax cuts and at least several more. An analysis by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget in the fall put Trump's package as the eighth biggest since 1918.
  • Visa lottery. Trump: "The third pillar (of my immigration plan) ends the visa lottery—a program that randomly hands out green cards without any regard to skill, merit or the safety of our people." The facts: That's a highly misleading characterization. The program is not nearly that random and it does address skills, merit and safety.

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  • Coal. Trump: "We have ended the war on beautiful clean coal." The facts: Coal is not clean. According to the Energy Department, more than 83% of all major air pollutants—sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, toxic mercury, and dangerous soot particles—from power plants are from coal, even though coal makes up only 43% of power generation.
  • Wage stagnation. Trump: "After years and years of wage stagnation, we are finally seeing rising wages." The facts: Wages are not rising any faster than they have before. Average hourly pay rose 2.5% in 2017, slightly slower than the 2.9% increase recorded in 2016 under President Obama.
  • Family immigration. Trump: "Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives." The facts: It's not happening because the waiting list is so long.There is currently no wait for US citizens to bring spouses, children under 21, and parents. But citizens must petition for siblings and adult children, and green-card holders must do the same for spouses and children. On Nov. 1, there were 4 million people in line for family-based visas, according to the State Department. In January, Mexican siblings of US children who applied in November 1997 were getting called, a wait of more than 20 years.

  • Exporting energy. Trump: "We are now very proudly an exporter of energy to the world." The facts: There's nothing new in that: The US. has long exported all sorts of energy, while importing even more. If Trump meant that the US has become a net exporter of energy, he's rushing things along. The US Energy Information Administration projects that the US will become a net energy exporter in the next decade, primarily because of a boom in oil and gas production that began before Trump's presidency.
  • ObamaCare. Trump: "We repealed the core of the disastrous ObamaCare—the individual mandate is now gone." The facts: No, it's not gone. It's going, in 2019. People who go without insurance this year are still subject to fines. Congress did repeal the unpopular requirement that most Americans carry insurance or risk a tax penalty, but that takes effect next year.
  • Auto industry. Trump: "Many car companies are now building and expanding plants in the United States—something we have not seen for decades." The facts: He's wrong about recent decades. The auto industry has regularly been opening and expanding factories since before became president. Trump also declared that "Chrysler is moving a major plant from Mexico to Michigan." That's not exactly the case, either. Chrysler announced it will move production of heavy-duty pickup trucks from Mexico to Michigan, but the plant is not closing in Mexico. It will start producing other vehicles for global sales and no change in its workforce is anticipated.
(Read more State of the Union Address stories.)

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