AP FACT CHECK: Trump glosses over U.S. pain from trade war
Trump revisits familiar fabrications and exaggerations on the economy, tariffs, China and the Veterans Choice program
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump is sticking to his distorted picture of the consequences of his trade war with China, refusing to acknowledge the U.S. is feeling any pain.
His remarks at a rally in North Carolina on Monday night revisited many of his familiar fabrications and exaggerations. A sampling:
TRUMP on China’s economy: “They’ve had now the worst year in 57 years.”
THE FACTS: That’s not true. China is far from the impoverished disaster of a half century ago, when it was reeling from the massive famine caused by Mao Zedong’s radical economic policies and heading into the chaos of the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s.
China’s economy is indeed slowing from Trump’s taxes on Chinese imports, as well as its own campaign to constrain runaway debt. The International Monetary Fund expects the Chinese economy to grow 6.2% this year. That’s the slowest growth for China in nearly 30 years. But it’s still markedly faster than U.S. growth.
And since overhauling its economy in the late 1970s, China has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, established a growing middle class and surpassed Japan to become the world’s second-biggest economy.
TRUMP: “Hundreds of billions of dollars have been and are coming into our country in the form of tariffs, and China is eating the cost.”
THE FACTS: Americans are also eating the cost.
As he escalates a trade war with China, Trump refuses to recognize that tariffs are mainly, if not entirely, paid by companies and consumers in the country that imposes them.
In a study in May , the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, with Princeton and Columbia universities, estimated that tariffs from Trump’s trade dispute with China were costing $831 per U.S. household on an annual basis, before tariffs were recently escalated. Analysts also found that the burden of Trump’s tariffs falls entirely on U.S. consumers and businesses that buy imported products.
A report last month by JPMorgan Chase estimated that tariffs would cost the average American household $1,000 per year if tariffs on an additional $300 billion of U.S. imports from China proceed in September and December. Trump has since bumped up the scheduled levies even higher, probably adding to the U.S. burden.
TRUMP: “We passed the largest package of tax cuts and reforms in American history.”
THE FACTS: His tax cuts are nowhere close to the biggest in U.S. history.
It’s a $1.5 trillion tax cut over 10 years. As a share of the total economy, a tax cut of that size ranks 12th, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. President Ronald Reagan’s 1981 cut is the biggest, followed by the 1945 rollback of taxes that financed World War II.
Post-Reagan tax cuts also stand among the historically significant: President George W. Bush’s cuts in the early 2000s and President Barack Obama’s renewal of them a decade later.
TRUMP: “More Americans are working today than ever before in the history of our country.”
THE FACTS: He’s correct, but that’s driven by population growth. A more relevant measure is the proportion of Americans with jobs, and that is still below record highs.
According to Labor Department data , 60.9% of people in the United States 16 years and older were working in August. That’s below the all-time high of 64.7% in April 2000.
TRUMP: “We passed something they wanted to do for half a century: We passed VA Choice.”
THE FACTS: No, it was President Barack Obama who won passage of the Veterans Choice program, which gives veterans the option to see private doctors outside the VA medical system at government expense. Congress approved the program in 2014, and Obama signed it into law. Trump expanded it.
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