What the president says, and what the facts show
Looking deeper into Trump remarks on immigration, healthcare, tax cuts
Tax cuts and deficit
His tax cuts have helped stoke additional growth in an economic expansion that was already approaching its 10th year. The additional growth is largely fueled by government borrowing, as the federal deficit rises because of the tax cuts. The pace of growth is expected to taper off after next year, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the Federal Reserve and outside analysts.
And while the $1.5 trillion worth of tax reductions over the next decade are substantial, they’re far from the largest in U.S. history as a share of the overall economy. The Trump tax cuts rank behind President Reagan’s in the early 1980s, post-World War II tax cuts and at least several more, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, which advocates for deficit reduction.
Trump’s economic achievements built on the progress started under President Obama. The 3.8% unemployment rate and the historically low level of requests for jobless aid are both the result of a steady and gradual recovery from the worst economic meltdown since 1929.
Several hundred companies responded to the tax cuts by paying workers bonuses or increasing hourly wages, but any significant income growth has yet to surface in the overall economy.
The tax cuts have added on average $17 a month to people’s incomes, according to an analysis by Ernie Tedeschi, head of fiscal policy analysis at the investment firm Evercore ISI and a former Treasury Department economist. The analysis is based off consumer spending, income and inflation data released Friday.
Since the fiscal year started in October, Treasury Department reports show the federal government has recorded a $385.4-billion deficit, a 12% jump from the same period in the previous year.
The Congressional Budget Office was even more blunt in a long-term assessment released last week.
It estimates that the national debt — the sum of yearly deficits — will be $2.2 trillion higher in 2027 than it had previously forecast, largely a consequence of Trump’s 10-year, $1.5-trillion tax cuts. The size of the debt could be even higher if provisions of the tax cuts that are set to expire are, instead, renewed.
The Justice Department has said there are about 10,000 MS-13 members in the U.S., the same number as more than a decade ago. MS-13 accounts for less than 1% of total U.S. gang membership.
Formed in Los Angeles in the 1980s by El Salvador refugees and more recently expanded in Central America, the group is indeed linked to a high number of homicides in certain parts of the U.S. Even so, an FBI report put the group well behind other gangs for crimes on the Southwest border — seventh of 12 — with the Surenos, Barrio Azteca and Tango Blast ranked in the top three.
Trump suggests that weak border enforcement is contributing to crime committed by MS-13. But the gang actually has many U.S.-born members at this point — people who by virtue of U.S. citizenship can’t be denied entry based on their nationality, or deported. The government has not said recently how many members it thinks are citizens and immigrants.
More broadly, Trump overgeneralizes about people who arrive illegally in the United States. Several studies have shown that immigration does not lead to increased crime.
The Senate Intelligence Committee said in May it had uncovered no reason to dispute the conclusions of the intelligence assessment released in 2017. Sen. Richard M. Burr (R-N.C.), chairman of the committee, said his staff spent 14 months “reviewing the sources, tradecraft and analytic work” conducted by the intelligence agencies in accepting its conclusion.
Trump also refers to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team as “13 angry Democrats,” but Mueller is a Republican and some others on his team owe their jobs largely to Republican presidents. Some have indeed given money to Democratic candidates over the years. But Mueller could not have barred them from serving on that basis because regulations prohibit the consideration of political affiliation for personnel actions involving career attorneys. Mueller reports to Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod Rosenstein, a Trump appointee.
Federal studies have found the Affordable Care Act’s popular provision requiring employers and insurers to keep young adults on parental coverage until age 26 — rather than the customary 19 — has helped millions of young people transitioning from school to work, or trying to start a career.
Since 2010, when the new provision went into effect, the number of those 19-25 who were uninsured fell by more than half, to 4.5 million last year.
Regarding the individual mandate, though Congress did repeal the requirement that most Americans carry insurance or risk a tax penalty, that doesn’t take effect until next year.
Other major parts of the Obama-era overhaul remain in place, including its Medicaid expansion, protections for people with pre-existing conditions, guaranteed “essential” health benefits, and subsidized private health insurance for people with modest incomes.
Trump signed into law last month a bill that would ease restrictions on private care. But its success in significantly reducing wait times for appointments depends in large part on an overhaul of the Veterans Affairs Department’s electronic medical records to allow for a seamless sharing of records with private physicians. That overhaul will take at least 10 years to be complete.
Only veterans who endure waits of at least 30 days — not “13 days, 18 days, three weeks, seven days” — for an appointment at a VA facility are eligible to receive care from private doctors at government expense. Under a newly expanded Choice program that will take at least a year to implement, veterans will still have to meet certain criteria before they can see a private physician.
A recent Government Accountability Office report found that despite the Choice program’s guarantee of providing an appointment within 30 days, veterans waited an average of 51 to 64 days.