Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Trump's lies, Exaggerations, Obfuscations, and Misleading Statements Are Stunning

His lies are shameful yet he remains Shameless

If there is one trait we expect from our elected officials, and especially from the President, it would that they do not lie to us.

Washington Post FACT CHECKING HERE and HERE of 10 of Trump’s most-notable speech claims that he made to Congress and the public in his Joint Address to Congress (Feb 28, 2017) – show clearly again that Trump is a pathological serial liar and all the while he blames the media for covering his lies:

1.  “We have begun to drain the swamp of government corruption by imposing a five-year ban on lobbying by executive branch officials — and a lifetime ban on becoming lobbyists for a foreign government.”

Trump did sign an order that he said would result in a lifetime ban on administration officials lobbying for foreign governments. But his five-year ban on lobbying as promised for his cabinet and members of congress only applies to their  former agency or office, not for becoming a general lobbyist to others.
In essence, he weakens some of the language from similar bans under Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush and thus, overall reduces the level of expected transparency.

2.  “We’ve defended the borders of other nations, while leaving our own borders wide open, for anyone to cross — and for drugs to pour in at a now unprecedented rate.”

The data are mixed on the amount of drugs coming through the borders. The amount of marijuana seized at the border continues to decline — probably a reflection of drug use in the United States, as more states legalize marijuana for medical or recreational use. In fiscal 2016, 1.3 million pounds of marijuana were seized, down from 1.5 million the year before, and lower than the peak of nearly 4 million pounds in 2009 (CBP data). The amount of cocaine seized at the borders overall in fiscal 2016 (5,473 pounds) was roughly half the amount seized the previous year (11,220 pounds). But the amount of heroin and methamphetamine seized has increased in recent years. In fiscal year 2016, 9,062 pounds of heroin (compared to 8,282 in fiscal 2015) and 8,224 pounds of methamphetamine (compared to 6,443 pounds in fiscal 2015) was seized. Illegal immigration flows across the Southern border in 2015 were lowest since 1972, except for a spike in 2011. Apprehensions in 2016 totaled 408,870 – it exceeded 2015 (331,333) and it all indicates an overall decline since the peak in 2000 of some 1.6 million.

3.  “Since my election, Ford, Fiat Chrysler, General Motors, Sprint, Softbank, Lockheed, Intel, Walmart and many others have announced that they will invest billions of dollars in the United States and will create tens of thousands of new American jobs.”
He again takes credit for business decisions made before his election. For example: Ford’s decision to abandon its plans to open a factory in Mexico and instead expand its Michigan plant has more to do with the company’s long-term goal – Ford chief executive Mark Fields said about the company’s decision to abandon plans to open a factory in Mexico: The reason that we are not building the new plant, the primary reason, is just demand has gone down for small cars.”

Sergio Marchionne, the Fiat Chrysler chief executive, said his company’s plan to invest $1 billion for a factory in Michigan had been in the works for more than a year and had nothing to do with Trump. Marchionne credited instead talks with the United Auto Workers.

4.  “We’ve saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars by bringing down the price of the fantastic new F-35 jet fighter, and will be saving billions more dollars on contracts all across our government.”

Trump once again takes credit for the lowered cost of the F-35 program. The Pentagon had announced cost reductions of roughly $600 million before Trump began meeting with Lockheed Martin’s chief executive. Sometimes Trump says he saved $600 million, other times $700 million. (We previously awarded Four Pinocchios to this claim).

5.  “We have cleared the way for the construction of the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines — thereby creating tens of thousands of jobs — and I’ve issued a new directive that new American pipelines be made with American steel.” 

Trump appears to be combining two disputed figures — 28,000 jobs for Keystone XL and 12,000 for the Dakota Access pipeline. The actual number of Keystone construction jobs is 3,900 annualized. As for the steel, workers in Arkansas have already built about half of the high-strength line pipe needed for the project, some 333,000 tons. And, TransCanada said in 2013 that it had already purchased all of the steel pipe it needed for the Keystone XL, with the rest coming from a Russian-owned plant in Canada, Italy and India. Experts say the plant in Arkansas (owned by an Indian company) is the only one in the United States that could build the pipe — and it gets its steel from India.

6.  “By finally enforcing our immigration laws we will raise wages, help the unemployed, save billions and billions of dollars and make our communities safer for everyone.”

Trump exaggerates the impact of illegal immigration on crime, taxpayer money, and jobs. Extensive research shows non-citizens are not more prone to criminality than U.S.-born citizens. The vast majority of unauthorized immigrants are not criminal aliens or aggravated felons. Trump appears to reference the cost of illegal immigration from the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which supports lower levels of legal and illegal immigration.

According to the group, the annual cost of illegal immigration at the federal, state and local levels amounted to about $113 billion as of 2013. But this calculation makes assumptions that are not necessarily tied to illegal immigration, like enrollment in English proficiency classes. In general, economists have found that immigration overall results in a net positive to the U.S. economy. There are slight negative effects, which are felt most strongly by less-educated and low-skilled workers. Illegal immigration, in particular, tends to affect less-educated and low-skilled American workers the most — groups disproportionately consisting of black men and recently arrived less-educated legal immigrants.  The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights 2010 report found that illegal immigration has tended to depress wages and employment particularly for black men. But factors other than illegal immigration contribute to black unemployment, the report found, including the high school dropout rate and low job-retention rates.

7.  “Millions lifted from welfare to work is not too much to expect.”

Welfare is a broad term and can apply to people who are working but receiving some government assistance. If someone is receiving means-tested assistance, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are not working. Not all people eligible to collect welfare benefits. When they do, many of the benefits are contingent on the recipients working or actively searching for jobs, as a result of an overhaul of welfare signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996. And even low-income families receive some level of public assistance. Trump is apparently unaware that participation has declined in means-tested programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps).

8.  “Ninety-four million Americans are out of the labor force.”  This earns an absurd 4-Pinocchios and that is based on a real number. 

The BLS relying on a monthly survey known as the Current Population Survey (CPS), shows that as of January 2016, 94.4 million Americans 16 years and older were “not in labor force.” What does that mean exactly? We have a civilian non-institutional population of 254.1 million people, and 159.7 million are in the labor force. Okay, that difference yields the 94.4 million figure.

But the unemployment rate is only 4.8 percent because just 7.6 million people actively are looking for a job and cannot find one. They are considered part of the overall labor force. In other words, you have to be seeking a job to be counted in the labor force. So, who are the 94 million not in the labor force he mentioned?

The BLS has data for the year 2015. It turns out that 93 percent do not want a job at all. The picture that emerges from a study of the data shows that the 95 million consists mostly of people who are: retired, students, stay-at-home parents, or those disabled. Trump is doing a real disservice in citing this 94 million figure and suggesting it means these people are looking for work.

[Note: Again, BLS data say only 1 in 25 people in that 25-54 age group looked for work and could not find it.]

9.  “America has spent approximately $6 trillion in the Middle East, all this while our infrastructure at home is crumbling. With this $6 trillion we could have rebuilt our country — twice.”

Trump often incorrectly claims that the United States has spent $6 trillion on the wars in the Middle East, and here he uses the figure in a particularly misleading way. The wars in Iraq (in the Middle East) and Afghanistan (in South Asia) together cost about $1.6 trillion from 2001 to 2014. The $6 trillion figure adds in estimates of future spending, such as interest on the debt and veterans care for the next three decades.

10.  “I can tell you the money is pouring in. Very nice.” (He implies that is NATO’s reaction to his tough talk recently about their “fair share” to us).

Trump ad-libbed this line after mentioning that he was pressing NATO allies in “very frank and strong discussions,” to meet their financial obligations to the alliance. But the comment is a bit nonsensical.  NATO’s guideline, established in 2006, says that defense expenditures should amount to 2 percent of each country’s gross domestic product.

In 2016, only four countries besides the United States met that standard, but NATO documents also show that defense spending has increased about 3 percent from 2015 to 2016. In any case, the money would not be going to the United States or even necessarily to NATO; this is money that countries would spend to bolster their own military forces.

The part that truly amazes me and I’m pretty millions of others as well is the ease of which Donald J. Trump lies and seems to not even know it or if he does, he does not care. Worse is how can those who support him and his trail of blatant lies, and lies sometimes presented to him with video and audio proof of his own words that are sometimes only days or hours apart, be so easily discounted or worse totally ignored? Have we reached the bottom of the proverbial barrel? Sure seems like it.”

Folks, it is not very pretty at the bottom of that barrel.

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