Fact Checking President Trump’s First Speech to a Joint Session of Congress

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“A new chapter of American Greatness is now beginning. A new national pride is sweeping across our Nation.”

The tone of President Trump’s first speech to the joint session of Congress since taking office was a complete turnaround from his Inaugural speech. He focused his message tonight on uniting the nation, facing historically low ratings from approval polls. While President Trump’s address to the joint session of Congress tonight focused on presenting his accomplishments in a positive light, there was not complete truth behind all the statements he made.

Trump claims he convinced companies such as Walmart and Lockheed Martin to stay and strengthen American based job forces as a result of his America First campaign, but most of these companies had already been in talks to remain in the United States. As the economic activity of our nation stabilized after the recession ended, large companies no longer saw the need to veer away from American factories and workers. Companies decided to stay based on the demands of the American people as a whole, such as the need for more jobs, not the demands of President Trump.

Similarly, the initial cost estimates for the construction of new F-35 planes were much higher than the true costs. Though President Trump claimed that his influence lowered the cost of construction, it was in fact discussions between Pentagon officials and Lockheed Martin which cut valuable dollars from the proposed projects.

Trump failed to accurately address several other important budget items during his speech, such as the cost of Middle Eastern wars, to taxation against the middle class to immigration spending. Trump has claimed that we spent “upwards of six trillion dollars in Middle Eastern wars”, but in fact the total cost is at most 4.79 trillion. including long-term veterans benefits and peacekeeping troops. Trump’s false implications of large war costs, while suggesting the largest military defense increases in history, gives the American people even more reason to buy into his racist policies targeted against Middle Eastern nations.

While Trump has promised to slash taxes for the middle class, his statements indicate otherwise. Under Trump’s new taxation plans, 51% of single parent families would see a dramatic increase in their taxes (Clinton). Often, these families are the ones most in need of reduced taxation, as they need government aid to get back on their feet, not more taxes.

President Trump harps on the fact illegal immigration costs billions to the taxpayers every year, but his projections are wildly off from released yearly budgets. While the United States federal government spends 57.4 billion ( on immigration every year, children of immigrants almost make up this cost, adding 30.5 billion to the economy every year. On top of the 30.5 billion, third-generation immigrants add a 223.8 billion dollar benefit to the American economy every year, offsetting the costs of their families. The implication that the government overspends on immigration feeds into the idea that any illegal immigration harms the American economy.

One campaign keystone for the Trump team relied on painting immigration as harmful to the long-lasting stability of our infrastructure and industries. He continues to insist that illegal immigrants commit violent crimes at increased rates, but this statement has been proven false. Illegal immigrants stimulate the economic activity in America. by spending money and funneling part of their incomes into social security benefits, many of the benefits they do not even receive for themselves. Also, by creating the office for Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement, Trump is creating yet another department that will spend government money, instead of cutting costs.

Instead of focusing these resources on investigating the recent wave of anti-semitic attacks, or police brutality against minority communities, Trump fed into the white nationalist sentiments many of his supporters believe. Creating a special department designed to demonize immigrants will make America less safe, because illegal immigrants will not feel safe in reporting their own crimes.

One of the most surprising moments of President Trump’s speech was when he vowed to promote and protect clean air and water investments. Today, he rolled back clean water regulations, that will benefit big industries. President Trump, by appointing Scott Pruitt as the head the Environmental Protection Agency has clearly indicated that the environment is not his top priority. In fact, when this part of the speech hit the audience of the session, there were audible signs of disbelief, even from the Democratic side who remained mostly silent for the entire speech.

Lastly, Trump continues to pin the high number of Americans out of work to the “surge” of illegal immigration. He stated that 93 million Americans are out of work, but this number is false. The statistic refers to any American out of work, including those who are not seeking work, such as children and the elderly. Officially, 8.3 million are out of work, with the highest statistic indicating 21 million Americans who could be seeking a better employment opportunity than they currently have.

Though the highest estimates have 21 million Americans are out of work, this statistic is less than a third of the number Trump continues to report. Though he criticizes President Obama for his failures in fixing the American economic and industrial sectors, Obama actually brought the nation to their lowest unemployment rates in history. Obama helped bring the United States out of one of the worst economic depressions in history, and added millions of new jobs and dollars to the economy, improving the lives of millions.

While President Trump delivered his address, making his supporters happy, he did so by attacking many of the communities which help make America a thriving hub of opportunity and infrastructure.

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