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Fact Checkers Struggle to Criticize Trump’s Speech

Mainstream media efforts to explain away President Trump’s policy successes took some odd turns after the president’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday night.

The Washington Post took issue with Trump’s economic successes in its “Fact Checking President Trump’s 2019 State of the Union address” by Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo and Meg Kelly. [1]

To Trump’s claim that “We have created 5.3 million new jobs and importantly added 600,000 new manufacturing jobs,” it wrote [1]: “Trump often inflates the number of jogs created under his presidency by counting Election Day, rather than when he took the oath of office.”

But the economy began to recover from its eight moribund years under President Obama immediately upon Trump winning the election. On the day after he won in 2016, the Dow soared 257 points and neared lifetime highs [2]. Business investment began almost immediately. Banks began to lend again. Defense contractors ramped up for increased orders. Trump did start making a difference from the day he was elected.

Since he took office – the only measure the Post will accept – it says [1] 436,000 manufacturing jobs were created. But that compares to 900,000 created by Obama – over seven years, compared to barely two for Trump – and “the number of manufacturing jobs is still nearly 1 million below the level at the start of the Great Recession in 2007.”

Trump said [1] wages are rising at the fastest pace in decades. The Post admits this is true, but only if inflation is properly applied. Trump said nearly 5 million Americans were lifted off food stamps. The Post says [1] the figure actually is 3.6 million and that “improvement in the economy may not be the only reason for the decline.”

He then said the U.S. economy is growing twice as fast today as when he took office. “Trump accurately says the most recent numbers,” the Post wrote [1]. “But GDP growth fluctuates, going up and down and into negative territory and then up again since the end of the Great Recession.”

Trump claimed “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.” The Post wrote [1]: “This is all in the past. The unemployment rate in December had no longer been at a 49-year low, but an 18-year low.”

To Trump’s claim that more people are working now than at any time in our history, it says [1], “This is a pretty meaningless statistic. The U.S. population is growing, so of course more people would be employed.” It does not mention this never was the case at any point in the Obama administration.

The New York Times chose to annotate the speech rather than attempt to correct it.

At the part where the president mentions Buzz Aldrin, one of the Apollo 11 astronauts who were first to the moon, the Times annotation reads [3]: “Fun fact: Buzz Aldrin was honored at a $600-a-plate fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago this past weekend, the event organizer told me,” by Katie Rogers, White House correspondent. [3] The organizer did not share apparently who benefited from the fundraiser.

To Trump’s statement that: “My administration has cut more regulations in a short period of time than any other administration during its entire tenure,” the Times says [3], “Not true – the regulatory rollbacks of the Carter and Reagan eras were more substantial – but still music to the ears of Republicans who may sometimes cringe at the president.”

But Wayne Crews, regulatory expert at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said [4] 3,367 regulations were implemented in 2018, the lowest since number since such records were kept in the 1970s. The number would have been lower, Crews said [4], but it takes a regulation to kill a regulation in many instances.

In his Unconstitutionality Index [4] – the number of regulations versus new laws passed – Trump’s number was 12 – 3,367 new rules, compared to 291 new laws. The index reached 29 under President Obama.