President Donald Trump offered a rosy assessment of American life in his first State of the Union address — but several of his points were factually flawed.
Here’s PolitiFact’s truth-testing of the president’s address:
“Just as I promised the American people from this podium 11 months ago, we enacted the biggest tax cuts and reforms in American history.”
The tax-cut package passed in December is not the largest cut ever, as Trump has repeatedly claimed. In inflation-adjusted dollars, the recent tax bill is the fourth-largest since 1940. And as a percentage of gross domestic product, it ranks seventh.
“After years of wage stagnation, we are finally seeing rising wages.”
By the most common measure, wages did go up for the first three-quarters of Trump’s presidency, but they fell in the fourth, wiping out all the gains on his watch and then some. His assertion also ignores that wages — by two different measurements — began their climb during the final years of the Obama administration.
“Since we passed tax cuts, over 3 million workers have gotten tax cut bonuses — many of them thousands and thousands of dollars.”
Americans for Tax Reform, a group that supported the tax bill, found that at least 3 million Americans are receiving bonuses that the companies said were related to passage of the tax bill, based on company press releases and news reports. It’s important to note, though, that bonuses are a short-term response to the tax bill, which is less important than potential long-term changes, such as whether corporations will build new factories or purchase more machinery.
Economists and labor experts say it will take years to fully assess the economic impact of the tax bill. In this tight labor market, it’s possible that some businesses were already planning to give out bonuses or other financial incentives to retain workers.
“We have eliminated more regulations in our first year than any administration in the history of our country.”
Trump’s use of the Congressional Review Act to roll back regulations did set a record in his first year. Trump had signed 15 Congressional Review Act measures compared with one previously. But experts have told us that other presidents signed laws that cut more rules than Trump. Examples include the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 and the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995, as well as Presidents Jimmy Carter’s and Ronald Reagan’s deregulation of such previously heavily regulated industries as air travel, trucking, banking and telecommunications.
“We built the Empire State Building in just one year. Isn’t it a disgrace that it can now take 10 years just to get a permit approved for a simple road?”
The Empire State Building was constructed in one year and 45 days, a little longer than Trump said. He’s off-base when he said that permitting takes 10 years. Recent government studies say the permit approval time ranges from 4.6 to 6.6 years. The only study we found that claims a 10-year approval is common comes from an anti-regulation group, which raises questions about its reliability.
“The third pillar ends the visa lottery — a program that randomly hands out green cards without any regard for skill, merit, or the safety of American people.”
While lottery applicants are randomly selected, they must meet education and work experience requirements. They also must be vetted by the U.S. government before being allowed to come to the United States.
“Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives.”
Neither U.S. citizens nor lawful permanent residents can directly petition for a distant relative — such as an aunt, uncle, cousin, niece, nephew, in-law relative or grandparent — to come to the United States. An immigrant who becomes a U.S. citizen could theoretically petition for a parent, and that parent could eventually become a U.S. citizen and petition his or her siblings. But there is a long queue for certain relatives seeking to come through family sponsorship. For brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, the waiting period for a visa is longer than 13 years.
Green card holders can sponsor a spouse and unmarried children, including unmarried sons and daughters over 21 years old. For U.S. citizens, the categories expand to include parents, married children, brothers and sisters.
“African-American unemployment stands at the lowest rate ever recorded, and Hispanic-American unemployment has also reached the lowest levels in history.”
The black unemployment rate is indeed at record lows, and the Hispanic unemployment rate reached the lowest levels in history during Trump’s tenure. That’s a continuation of an earlier trend. Under former President Barack Obama, the unemployment rate for both groups fell by more than half. Economists are skeptical about the ability of presidents to take either credit or blame for conditions on their watch, because many other factors play into economic results.