Glenn Kessler and the Washington Post's fact-checking team tackled the Wall of lies in Donald Trump's SOTU speech last night, and it's pretty brutal stuff. Some low-lights:
“Unemployment has reached the lowest rate in half a century. African American, Hispanic American and Asian American unemployment have all reached their lowest levels ever recorded.”
This is all in the past. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday that the unemployment rate had increased to 4 percent in January. The unemployment rate in December had no longer been at a 49-year low, but an 18-year low. Now it was merely the best since the beginning of 2018.
The African American unemployment statistic has been in existence for less than 50 years. It reached a low of 5.9 percent in May 2018, but had risen to 6.8 percent in January. The Hispanic American unemployment statistic has been in existence for less than 50 years. It reached a low of 4.4 percent in 2018, but had risen to 4.9 percent in January. The Asian American statistic has been around for less than 20 years. And while it reached a low of 2.1 percent in May 2018, it rose to 3.2 percent rate in January.
“And now, for the first time in 65 years, we are a net exporter of energy.”
The United States has exported more energy than it has imported since 2015. Trump overstates the impact of his energy policy.
“The border city of El Paso, Texas, used to have extremely high rates of violent crime — one of the highest in the country, and considered one of our nation’s most dangerous cities. Now, with a powerful barrier in place, El Paso is one of our safest cities.”
Trump appears to be echoing comments he heard from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Jan. 10, but this claim is wrong.
The El Paso Times, in a fact check, said some form of barrier has existed between El Paso and Ciudad Juárez for decades, though Trump appeared to be referring to fencing that was completed in mid-2009: “Looking broadly at the last 30 years, the rate of violent crime reached its peak in 1993, when more than 6,500 violent crimes were recorded. Between 1993 and 2006, the number of violent crimes fell by more than 34 percent and less than 2,700 violent crimes were reported. The border fence was authorized by [President George W.] Bush in 2006, but construction did not start until 2008. From 2006 to 2011 — two years before the fence was built to two years after — the violent crime rate in El Paso increased by 17 percent.”
The city had the third-lowest violent crime rate among 35 U.S. cities with a population over 500,000 in 2005, 2006 and 2007 — before construction of a 57-mile-long fence started in mid-2008.
"We have spent more than $7 trillion dollars in the Middle East.”
Trump started making a version of this claim shortly after taking office, first saying $6 trillion but then quickly elevating it to $7 trillion. Trump acts as if the money has been spent, but he is referring to a Brown University study that included estimates of future obligations through 2056 for veterans’ care. The study combines data for both George W. Bush’s war in Iraq (2003) and the war in Afghanistan (2001), which is in Central/South Asia, not the Middle East. The cost of the combined wars will probably surpass $7 trillion by 2056, when interest on the debt is considered, almost four decades from now.
The guy actually managed to lie more this year than last.
Hopefully we won't have to hear from him again in January 2020, but there was never any chance of Trump actually practicing the "unity" he screamed about in his address when he spent the entire day attacking the Democrats before his televised rant.
For public consumption, President Trump planned to use his State of the Union address on Tuesday night to appeal for bipartisan unity. But at a private lunch for television anchors earlier in the day, he offered searing assessments of a host of Democrats.
Mr. Trump dismissed former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. as “dumb,” called Senator Chuck Schumer of New York a “nasty son of a bitch” and mocked Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia, who he said “choked like a dog” at a news conference where he tried to explain a racist yearbook photo, according to multiple people in the room.
I'm so tired of this racist, misogynist buffoon. I'm even more tired of the people who voted for and enable him.
The Democratic party response from Stacey Abrams was much better.
In a brief speech lauded by Democrats, Abrams succeeded in elevating an event that is often awkward and anticlimactic by nature. With a measured tone and her trademark working-class anecdotes, Abrams outlined a raft of policy measures, from the potential of Medicaid expansion in combating infant mortality to the importance of gun control and immigration reform. But the high point of the speech was her strong and vocal stance on protecting voting rights. As the national face of the party for a few minutes on Tuesday, Abrams pushed the issue of the franchise closer to the heart of Democratic politics, and gave Democrats another rhetorical weapon against the Republican Party.
Abrams appeared on air shortly after President Donald Trump, who during his address to Congress appeared at times to seek bipartisan praise, while also sticking to his familiar stances on law enforcement, immigration, abortion, and foreign policy. During key moments when Trump talked about women’s suffrage, criminal justice reform, and cancer research, members of both parties cheered. But for much of his speech, he sounded like the president who staged countless political rallies last summer and fall. “Wealthy politicians and donors push for open borders while living their lives behind walls and gates and guards,” he said, admonishing Democrats for not agreeing to his demands for a border wall that led to the longest government shutdown in history. “Meanwhile, working-class Americans are left to pay the price for mass illegal immigration.”
While the president defended his border wall and recited stories of kidnapping and rape along the border, he made no reference to the financial pain suffered by federal employees during the government shutdown. In the moment, he seemed eager for applause and conciliation.
Abrams, by contrast, zeroed in on the workers’ pain. She recalled the time she spent distributing meals from food pantries to furloughed federal workers. Abrams called the impasse “a stunt engineered by the President of the United States, one that defied every tenet of fairness and abandoned not just our people—but our values.”
She also called the White House’s response to rampant gun violence “timid,” a barb that seemed designed to irritate Trump. Abrams lamented the lack of any new immigration reform, and promoted Medicaid expansion as a way to reduce overall mortality among vulnerable groups. She called for action on climate change, criticized the 2017 Republican tax cuts, and hoped for the appointment of “fair-minded judges.”
Still, it was Abrams’s call for a renewed focus on voting rights that seemed to distinguish her rebuttal. “None of these ambitions are possible without the bedrock guarantee of our right to vote,” she said.
And it is this right that Trump threatens the most. Never forget that.