WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump boasted Tuesday night about corporate job expansion and military cost-savings that actually took root under his predecessor and gave a one-sided account of the costs and benefits to the economy from immigration — ignoring the upside.
A look at some of his claims in his prime-time speech to Congress:
TRUMP: “According to the National Academy of Sciences, our current immigration system costs America’s taxpayers many billions of dollars a year.”
THE FACTS: That’s not exactly what that report says. It says immigrants “contribute to government finances by paying taxes and add expenditures by consuming public services.”
The report found that while first-generation immigrants are more expensive to governments than their native-born counterparts, primarily at the state and local level, immigrants’ children “are among the strongest economic and fiscal contributors in the population.” This second generation contributed more in taxes on a per capita basis, for example, than did non-immigrants in the period studied, 1994-2013.
The report found that the “long-run fiscal impact” of immigrants and their children would probably be seen as more positive “if their role in sustaining labor force growth and contributing to innovation and entrepreneurial activity were taken into account.”
TRUMP: “We’ve saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars by bringing down the price” of the F-35 jet fighter.
THE FACTS: The cost savings he persists in bragging about were secured in full or large part before he became president.
The head of the Air Force program announced significant price reductions in the contract for the Lockheed F-35 fighter jet Dec. 19 — after Trump had tweeted about the cost but weeks before he met the company’s CEO about it.
Pentagon managers took action even before the election to save money on the contract. Richard Aboulafia, an analyst with the aerospace consulting firm Teal Group, said there is no evidence of any additional cost savings as a result of Trump’s actions.
TRUMP: “Since my election, Ford, Fiat-Chrysler, General Motors, Sprint, Softbank, Lockheed, Intel, Walmart and many others have announced that they will invest billions of dollars in the United States and will create tens of thousands of new American jobs.”
THE FACTS: It’s unlikely Trump is the sole or even primary reason for the expected hiring he cites. Many of the announcements reflect corporate decisions that predate his election.
In the case of Intel, construction of the Chandler, Arizona, factory referred to by Trump actually began during Barack Obama’s presidency. The project was delayed by insufficient demand for Intel’s high-powered computer chips, but the company now expects to finish the factory within four years because it anticipates business growth.
More important, even as some companies create jobs, others are laying off workers. The best measure of whether more jobs are actually being created is the monthly employment report issued by the Labor Department, which nets out those gains and losses. The department will issue its report for February, the first full month of Trump’s term, on March 10.
TRUMP: His budget plan will offer “one of the largest increases in national defense spending in American history.”
THE FACTS: Three times in recent years, Congress raised defense budgets by larger percentages than the $54 billion, or 10 percent, increase that Trump proposes. The base defense budget grew by $41 billion, or 14.3 percent, in 2002; by $37 billion, or 11.3 percent, in 2003, and by $47 billion, or 10.9 percent, in 2008, according to Defense Department figures.
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