Donald Trump’s press conference was a fairly bizarre event. Besides the general narratives included in the event, below are some of his facts, checked.
- Trump falsely claimed that there are “96 million really wanting a job and they can’t get [one].” There are roughly 96 million people not in the labour force, but that includes retirees, students and others who don’t want jobs. Only 5.5 million of them want work.
- Trump said, “you learn very little” from a tax return. But experts have said there’s plenty of information to be garnered from tax returns — such as potential conflicts of interest, charitable giving habits and effective tax rates.
- Trump claimed, “some states” have seen health insurance coverage on the Affordable Care Act exchanges increase by 100 percent. But only Arizona has an average increase that high.
- Trump continues to oversimplify the rise of the Islamic State by blaming President Obama for “leaving at the wrong time” from Iraq. But it was President George W. Bush that set the withdrawal date. More importantly, there were numerous factors in the rise of the terrorist group.
- Trump claimed that “nobody even talked about it” when hacked emails showed that Hillary Clinton’s campaign got debate questions in advance. Actually, there was plenty of press coverage when it was revealed that former CNN contributor Donna Brazile shared questions with Clinton’s campaign.
TRUMP: The Republican National Committee was not hacked because it had better defenses than the Democrats.
REALITY: While the DNC did have inadequate defences, the RNC did not sugger the same fate, stored older material was successfully hacked.
TRUMP: U.S. drug companies “supply our drugs, but they don’t make them here, to a large extent.”
REALITY: This reflects the global pharmaceutical industry and is not surprising or likely to change.
TRUMP: The Affordable Care Act is “imploding.” Congress should repeal the health law and replace it at about the same time.
REALITY: While the health care law does have its troubles, Trump’s timetable is wildly unrealistic as the likelihood of Congress agreeing such a hugely complex issue will take months, at least.
TRUMP: “There will be a major border tax on companies that are leaving and getting away with murder.”
REALITY: It sounds good with voters, but will be very tough to implement in terms of policy as congress would have to approve such a border tax, which is difficult as many members are allergic to the T word.
TRUMP: A Trump hotel’s revenue from a foreign government would not violate the Constitution’s emoluments clause.
REALITY: This remains very much open for debate. Legal experts disagree on whether payments made to hotels or golf courses owned by Trump would constitute a ‘gift’.
TRUMP: Most Americans don’t care that he hasn’t released his tax returns.
REALITY: A Pew Research Center poll this month showed that 60 percent of Americans think Mr. Trump should release his returns; only 33 percent said he doesn’t have a responsibility to do so.
TRUMP: He could legally run his business and serve as president.
REALITY: This is true, legally it is possible – but questions of conflict of interest would undoubtedly mar his presidency.
TRUMP: “I think it was Russia but I also think we get hacked by other countries, other people.”
REALITY: While true, no doubt there is heavy spin attached to this statement. While accepting that Russia was involved, suggesting the involvement of other countries minimises the significance of the Russian attack.
TRUMP: The government will cut the cost of prescription drugs using competitive bidding, “we are going to save billions of dollars.”
REALITY: This is a crowd-pleasing promise, and may in fact be feasible. By making companies bid and compete, the price may lower. However, this is not possible for some highly effective, expensive drugs as no equivalent will be available.
TRUMP: “I will be the greatest job president God has ever created.”
REALITY: This will be a tough one for Trump. For a start, economists have long debated over how much of an impact a president can have on the economy and job creation, beyond just setting the tone. Other economic forces are just as, if not more, powerful. Additionally, The US is close to full employment with less than 5%, and growth remains in the 2% range. TO achieve his goal the economy would have to double its growth speed, a figure deemed unlikely by most economists.
TRUMP: He used to hold news conferences almost daily.
REALITY: While he was on TV regularly, he was not often in news conferences, the last of which was all the way back in July.
TRUMP: “A lot of car companies are moving in” and “big factories are going to be built.”
REALITY: Ford did cancel a new factory in Mexico, and Fiat Chrysler will expand in the US. This is a win for Trump, but less consumer-oriented industries still continue to move jobs abroad to cheaper places like Mexico.
And finally, fact checking the cheers: were they even real?
Trump payed $50 for people to sit through 3 hour Press Conference. This is messed up. Fake audience. Empty folders. https://t.co/FpBNhUlAkU
— MikeFarb (@mikefarb1) January 12, 2017
The list is long, but I think the most pathetic thing about Trump press conference was his inviting his supporters to sneer at reporters.
— Amy Siskind (@Amy_Siskind) January 12, 2017