AP FACT CHECK: GOP taps distortions to heap praise on Trump
WASHINGTON (AP) — Crucial context was missing Tuesday when Republicans heaped praise on President Donald Trump for his judgment on world affairs and handling of the economy. Trump’s economic adviser wholly distorted the conditions Trump inherited.
A look at rhetoric from the second night of the virtual Republican National Convention:
LARRY KUDLOW, Trump economic adviser: Trump was ”inheriting a stagnant economy on the front end of recession,” and under the president, “the economy was rebuilt in three years.”
THE FACTS: This is false. The economy was healthy when Trump arrived at the White House.
Even if the recovery from the 2008 financial crisis was agonizingly slow, Trump took office with unemployment at a low 4.7%, steady job growth and a falling federal budget deficit. The longest expansion in U.S. history began in the middle of 2009 and continued until the start of the year, spanning both the Barack Obama and Trump presidencies.
The U.S. economy did benefit from Trump’s 2017 tax cuts with a jump in growth in 2018, but the budget deficit began to climb as a result of the tax breaks that favored companies and the wealthy in hopes of permanently expanding the economy.
Annual growth during Obama’s second term averaged about 2.3%. Trump notched a slightly better 2.5% during his first three years, but the country swung into recession this year because of the coronavirus and will probably leave Trump with an inferior track record to his predecessor over four years.
SEN. RAND PAUL: “Joe Biden voted for the Iraq war, which President Trump has long called the worst geopolitical mistake of our generation.”
THE FACTS: Trump had no more foresight on this matter than Biden. Neither was against it when it started.
When asked during a Sept. 11, 2002, radio interview if he would support an Iraq invasion, Trump responded, “Yeah, I guess so.” The next month, Biden as a senator voted to authorize George W. Bush to use force in Iraq.
The next March, just days after the U.S. launched its invasion, Trump said it “looks like a tremendous success from a military standpoint.”
It wasn’t until September 2003 that Trump first publicly raised doubts about the invasion, saying “a lot of people (are) questioning the whole concept of going in in the first place.” In November 2005, Biden called his Senate vote to authorize force a mistake.
ERIC TRUMP: “My father rebuilt the mighty American military – added new jets, aircraft carriers.”
THE FACTS: That’s an exaggeration.
It’s true that his administration has accelerated a sharp buildup in defense spending, including a respite from what the U.S. military considered to be crippling spending limits under budget sequestration.
But a number of new Pentagon weapons programs, such as the F-35 fighter jet, were started years before the Trump administration. And it will take years for freshly ordered tanks, planes and other weapons to be built, delivered and put to use.
The Air Force’s Minuteman 3 missiles, a key part of the U.S. nuclear force, for instance, have been operating since the early 1970s and the modernization was begun under the Obama administration. They are due to be replaced with a new version, but not until later this decade.
CRIS PETERSON, from a Wisconsin dairy family: “Our entire economy and dairy farming are once again roaring back. One person deserves the credit and our vote, President Donald J. Trump.”
THE FACTS: Not everyone in the dairy industry views it as booming, especially as larger operations are putting smaller family farms out of business.
The Agriculture Department reported this summer that “dairy herds fell by more than half between 2002 and 2019, with an accelerating rate of decline in 2018 and 2019, even as milk production continued to grow.”
Part of the problem is that smaller farms face higher production costs. Farms with more than 2,000 cattle are more likely for their sales to exceed their total costs, while smaller farms are more likely to operate at a loss by this metric, according to government figures.
EDITOR’S NOTE — A look at the veracity of claims by political figures.
Associated Press writers Hope Yen in Washington and Amanda Seitz in Chicago contributed to this report.
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