AP

WASHINGTON (AP) — The AP is fact-checking remarks from President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech. Here’s a look at some of the claims we’ve examined (quotations from the speech as delivered or as released by the White House before delivery):

WAGE GAINS

TRUMP: “After years and years of wage stagnation, we are finally seeing rising wages.”

THE FACTS: Actually, they are not rising any faster than they have before. Average hourly pay rose 2.5 percent in 2017, slightly slower than the 2.9 percent increase recorded in 2016.

Most economists say wages should increase at a faster rate as the unemployment rate drops. The unemployment rate stands at a 17-year low of 4.1 percent, but that has done little so far to spark rising wages.

The last time unemployment was this low, in the late 1990s, average hourly pay was rising at a 4 percent pace.

ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION

TRUMP: “The first pillar of our framework generously offers a path to citizenship for 1.8 million illegal immigrants who were brought here by their parents at a young age — that covers almost three times more people than the previous administration.”

THE FACTS: Not so. The Obama administration pushed legal status for many more immigrants and was prevented by Congress and the courts from offering it. A 2013 bill that passed the Senate but died in the House would have bestowed legal status on about 8 million people, according to a Congressional Budget Office estimate.

In 2014, the Obama administration announced an expanded program that included parents of young immigrants who were shielded from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. According to the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute, the measure would have given legal status to up to 4 million people. The Supreme Court deadlocked on the plan, letting a lower court ruling stand that blocked it.

MS-13

TRUMP: “We have sent thousands and thousands and thousands of MS-13 horrible people out of this country or into our prisons.”

THE FACTS: That’s an exaggeration and goes beyond how even how Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Trump administration’s most aggressive anti-gang enforcer, characterizes the scope of the effort.

Sessions said in a speech this week that federal authorities had secured the convictions of nearly 500 human traffickers and 1,200 gang members, “and worked with our international allies to arrest or charge more than 4,000 MS-13 members.” On other occasions, the attorney general has specifically said the 4,000 number reflects work done with “our partners in Central America.”

That suggests that at least some of the MS-13 members Trump is referring to weren’t actually in the US when they were arrested, and aren’t now in U.S. prisons.

OPIOIDS

TRUMP: Changes in immigration policies, including more border security, “will also support our response to the terrible crisis of opioid and drug addiction.”

THE FACTS: Drugs being brought across borders are only part of the problem contributing to the nation’s opioid crisis.

According to the US Centers on Disease Control and Prevention, about 40 percent of the opioid deaths in 2016 involved prescription painkillers. Those drugs are made by pharmaceutical companies. Some are abused by the people who have prescriptions; others are stolen and sold on the black market.

The flow of heroin into the U.S. from Mexico is a major problem, but drugs that are brought from other countries don’t all come over land borders. Illicit versions of powerful synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, which are a major factor in rising overdose numbers, are being shipped directly to the US from China.

TRUMP: “My administration is committed to fighting the drug epidemic and helping get treatment for those in need.”

THE FACTS: The bipartisan National Governors Association doesn’t think he’s lived up to that commitment. Earlier this month, the governors called on Trump and Congress to do more to pay for and coordinate a response to the opioid epidemic.

The Trump administration has allowed states to begin allowing states to seek permission to use Medicaid to cover addiction treatment in larger facilities — a measure advocates say is needed.

BORDER SECURITY

TRUMP: “For decades, open borders have allowed drugs and gangs to pour into our most vulnerable communities.”

THE FACTS: “Open borders” is an exaggeration. Border arrests, a useful if imperfect gauge of illegal crossings, have dropped sharply over the last decade.

The government under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama roughly doubled the ranks of the Border Patrol, and Bush extended fencing to cover nearly one-third of the border during his final years in office. The Obama administration deported more than 2 million immigrants during the eight years he was in office, more than in previous administrations.

Studies over several years have found immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than people born in the United States.

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 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. The waits are longest for China, India, Mexico and the Philippines. In January, Mexican siblings of US children who applied in November 1997 were getting called, a wait of more than 20 years.

An immigrant could theoretically bring an uncle by bringing a parent who then brings his sibling, but the wait would be interminable for most.

AUTOS

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. Toyota opened its Mississippi factory in 2011. Hyundai’s plant in Alabama dates to 2005. In 2010, Tesla fully acquired and updated an old factory to produce its electric vehicles.

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.

ISLAMIC STATE

TRUMP: “Last year I pledged that we would work with our allies to extinguish ISIS from the face of the earth. One year later, I’m proud to report that the coalition to defeat ISIS has liberated almost 100 percent of the territory once held by these killers in Iraq and Syria. But there is much more work to be done. We will continue our fight until ISIS is defeated.”

THE FACTS: Although it’s true that the Islamic State has lost nearly 100 percent of the territory it held in Syria and Iraq when the US began airstrikes in both countries in 2014, Syria remains wracked by civil war, with much of that country controlled by the government of Russian ally Syrian President Bashar Assad and not by US-allied groups. The Iraqi government has declared itself fully liberated from IS.

The progress cited by Trump did not start with his presidency. The U.S.-led coalition recaptured much land, including several key cities in Iraq, before he took office. And the assault on Mosul, which was the extremists’ main stronghold in northern Iraq, was begun during the Obama administration. But in the past year the counter-ISIS campaign has accelerated, based largely on the approach Trump inherited.

He’s right that more remains to be done to eliminate IS as an extremist threat, even after it has been defeated militarily. The group is still able to inspire attacks in the West based on its ideology, and it is trying to make inroads in places like Afghanistan and Libya.

MIDDLE-CLASS TAXES

TRUMP: “Our massive tax cuts provide tremendous relief for the middle class and small businesses.”

THE FACTS: That depends on how you define “tremendous.” The biggest beneficiaries from the tax law are wealthy Americans and corporations.

Most Americans will pay less in taxes this year. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimates that about 80 percent of US households will get a tax cut, with about 15 percent seeing little change and 5 percent paying more.

Middle-class households — defined as those making between roughly $49,000 and $86,000 a year — will see their tax bills drop by about $930, the Tax Policy Center calculates. That will lift their after-tax incomes by 1.6 percent.

The richest 1 percent, meanwhile, will save $51,140, lifting their after-tax incomes by 3.4 percent, or more than twice as much as the middle class.

TAX CUTS

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

THE FACTS: No truer now than in the countless other times he has said the same. 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. As a percentage of the total economy, Reagan’s 1981 cut is the biggest followed by the 1945 rollback of taxes that financed World War II.

Valued at $1.5 trillion over 10 years, the plan is indeed large and expensive. But it’s much smaller than originally intended. Back in the spring, it was shaping up as a $5.5 trillion package. Even then it would have only been the third largest since 1940 as a share of gross domestic product.

___

Contributed by Associated Press writers Deb Riechmann, Seth Borenstein, Eric Tucker, Geoff Mulvihill, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Elliott Spagat, Robert Burns, Josh Lederman, Calvin Woodward, Christopher Rugaber and Hope Yen.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *