President Trump has come under fire in the past for making claims which have been proved to be misleading, if not outright false. In August, British publication The Independent ran a story that President Trump had made 4,229 false or misleading claims since taking office. The Washington Post has created a fact-checking database to expose all of President Trump’s misdirections, and its current total sits at 6,420. Consequently, it might not come as a surprise that in the heat of battle during the 2018 midterm elections, President Trump added to both his own fiction total — as well as the number of untruths circulating around the nation — as all parties and candidates jockeyed for a top spot in the polls.
Today, the Tampa Bay Times published a fact-check by the Associated Press on claims the President made during and after the midterm elections. The fact-check exposes a number of statements made by the President that are inconsistent with the truth.
Following this month’s election, President Trump commented on the midterm results.
“I think the results that I’ve learned, and maybe confirm, I think people like me. I think people like the job I’m doing, frankly. Because if you look at every place I went to do a rally… and it was very hard to do it with people in Congress because there are just too many… but I did it with the Senate. I did it with Andy Barr, as you know. And he won.”
In reality, several of President Trump’s favored candidates lost Senate races, some of whom enjoyed multiple rally visits from the President. Two Republican Senate hopefuls that closely embraced Trump’s ideology — Matt Rosendale of Montana and Patrick Morrissey of West Virginia — both lost to their Democratic competitors. President Trump had made four visits to Montana and three visits to West Virginia to rally voters for the candidates. Additionally, Dean Heller of Nevada and Leah Vukmir of Wisconsin, both of whom earned rally visits from President Trump in late October, also lost their election contests. In the House, Jason Lewis of Minnesota lost his electoral rematch with Democrat Angie Craig, despite President Trump’s visit in early October.
Those that worked with me in this incredible Midterm Election, embracing certain policies and principles, did very well. Those that did not, say goodbye! Yesterday was such a very Big Win, and all under the pressure of a Nasty and Hostile Media!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 7, 2018
At the same news conference, President Trump chimed in on the balance in the U.S. Senate.
“Fifty-five is the largest number of Republican Senators in that last 100 years.”
Contrary to that claim, there are currently only 51 Republican Senators in Congress, with elections still outstanding in Florida, Arizona, and Mississippi. If all three outstanding elections go to the GOP, that would bring the total to 54 Republican Senators. The GOP held 55 seats in the Senate from 1997-2000, during the Clinton administration, and again in 2005-2006.
In discussing the economy, President Trump claimed “America is booming like never before”, and followed up that statement while discussing his possible impeachment by a Democratically-controlled House.
“We didn’t talk about impeaching. We didn’t talk about– what do you do? Do you impeach somebody because he created the greatest economic success in the history of our country?”
While it is not clear what President Trump’s criteria for the nation’s “greatest economic success” might be, and while many economic indicators suggest a healthy economy, its growth is hardly unprecedented and has often been exceeded. The economy expanded 4.2 percent in Q2 of this year, and another 3.5 percent during Q3. However, those numbers were surpassed just four years ago during the Obama administration, as growth reached 5.1 percent in the second quarter of 2014 and followed with another 4.9 percent in the third quarter. In the late 1990s, during the Clinton administration, the economy exceeded four percent growth for four straight years. In 1984, in the middle of the Reagan era, growth reached 7.2 percent. Unemployment has reached a 50-year low at 3.7 percent, but it remained below four percent for four years during the late 1960s.
President Trump also weighed in on mining and manufacturing.
“And our steel industry is back. Our aluminum industry is starting to do really well. These are industries that were dead. Our miners are working again.”
The steel industry has indeed added jobs at a faster rate than the overall economy since President Trump took office, but most of those gains occurred prior to March’s steel tariffs. The total of 5,500 steel jobs gained leaves the nation at just under 87 percent of the number of steel jobs held before 2009. Aluminum factories have added 2,600 jobs. Both of these totals are small when compared to the 150 million total jobs that comprise our economy.
The President doubled down on that claim.
“China got rid of their ‘China 25’ because I found it very insulting… I said, that’s not happening.”
There is no evidence whatsoever that China has abandoned its “Made In China 2025” economic plan, let alone at President Trump’s demand.
Trump has also commented on how veterans are being treated.
“I’ve done more for the vets than any president has done… with Choice and with other things, as you know… If you look at Choice– Choice alone– I mean, just look at what we’ve done with Choice.”
The Choice program, enacted by President Obama in 2014, allows veterans to see private physicians when they cannot get an appointment with the V.A. within a reasonable time frame or travel distance. President Trump signed legislation to expand the Choice program in June, but that expansion is still awaiting regulations to determine eligibility and funding. The Department of Veterans Affairs has still not resolved long-term financing issues. Even if all of those issues are resolved, the plan would still require an overhaul of the V.A.’s medical records system to allow them to be shared with private physicians. That overhaul could take up to 10 years, by some estimates.
On his record on health care, President Trump had the following to say.
“What we’re doing, if you look at the Department of Labor also– Secretary Azar, what they’ve done. They’ve come up with some incredible health plans, which is causing great competition and driving the prices right down.”
In fact, his administration’s health care options offer lower premiums than comprehensive plans under the Affordable Care Act, but also cover less. The short-term health plans are not obligated to treat patients with existing medical conditions or provide benefits such as maternity, mental health, prescription drugs, and substance abuse treatment. The association health plans must accept people with pre-existing conditions, but don’t have to cover the full 10 essential benefits required by the Affordable Care Act. Additionally, the short-term plans may turn out to be more costly than the Trump administration projects, if insurers expand them to offer 36 months of coverage.