FACT CHECK: Trump’s empty boasts on legislation, economy
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s latest recitation of his accomplishments is marked by empty boasts.
He’s not hitting new heights on economic growth compared with his predecessor. His legislative achievements are notably thin, even as he speaks of historic achievements with Congress. His contention that he’s trying to keep “Obamacare” afloat until it can be replaced stretches credulity.
And, no, Obamacare is not making life difficult for Henry Kissinger, as Trump implied.
Here’s a look at some of Trump’s statements in an interview with Forbes magazine and after sitting down Tuesday with Kissinger, the foreign policy maven:
TRUMP: “So GDP last quarter was 3.1 percent. Most of the folks that are in your business, and elsewhere, were saying that would not be hit for a long time. You know, Obama never hit the number.” — Forbes interview.
THE FACTS: Yes, Barack Obama did, repeatedly. Growth topped 3 percent in eight quarters during Obama’s presidency.
When Forbes pointed out that Obama had reached that benchmark, Trump amended his claim: “He never hit it on a yearly basis.”
That’s true. The economy never grew by more than 3 percent for a full calendar year under Obama. That hasn’t happened since 2005. It is unlikely to happen this year, either.
TRUMP: “Now, we’re going to have to do something with Obamacare because it’s failing. Henry Kissinger does not want to pay 116 percent increase in his premiums, but that’s what’s happening.” — after meeting Kissinger.
THE FACTS: It is super safe to assume that Kissinger, 94, the former secretary of state and national security adviser, chairman of his own international consulting firm and prolific author, is not bothered by rising Obamacare premiums. It’s also against the law for an insurer to sell an Obamacare plan to someone who’s covered by Medicare.
It’s also unclear what Trump is referring to when he cites a 116 percent premium increase.
In Arizona this year, unsubsidized premiums for a hypothetical 27-year-old buying a benchmark Obamacare plan increased 116 percent, according to an earlier government estimate. That sticker price, however, could be reduced significantly with subsidies available to low- and moderate-income people.
TRUMP: “I’ve had just about the most legislation passed of any president, in a nine-month period, that’s ever served. We had over 50 bills passed. I’m not talking about executive orders only, which are very important. I’m talking about bills.” — Forbes interview.
THE FACTS: He’s signed little of consequence into law, a thin record all the more striking because of the Republican majority in the House and Senate. His record pales not just next to Franklin Roosevelt’s but with Obama’s and others.
All presidents sign routine legislation. Trump is no exception. Among the more than 50 bills he’s enacted with his signature: legislation naming a Veterans Affairs health clinic in Butler County, Pennsylvania, after Bataan Death March survivor Abie Abraham, appointing a regent at the Smithsonian Institution, and naming a federal building and courthouse in Nashville, Tennessee, after late Sen. Fred Thompson.
He’s also signed emergency aid for hurricane victims.
The only far-reaching bill he’s signed is one he didn’t like but went along with, tightening sanctions on Russia and Iran. Meantime, his promised repeal and replacement of Obama’s health care law has yet to materialize after twice failing in Congress.
His proposed tax overhaul is in play, not in place, and the big-ticket infrastructure initiative he promised hasn’t come to Congress.
FDR, in contrast, pushed through more than a dozen historic laws in his first 100 days, never mind nine months, setting in place the pillars of his New Deal to combat the Depression. Obama signed an enormous stimulus package into law in his first month, while also succeeding in getting a law expanding health care for children and the Lilly Ledbetter bill on equal pay for women, also in 100 days.
TRUMP on Obama’s health law: “What we’re doing is trying to keep it afloat, because it’s failing.” — Forbes interview.
THE FACTS: He’d like to sink Obamacare. Short of that, it’s true he has thrown at least a temporary lifeline to the health insurance markets set up under the law. Despite his threats to cut off payments to insurers that help reduce consumers’ copays and deductibles, his administration has continued making the payments month to month.
Yet his administration has announced sharp cuts in programs promoting health care enrollment under the law for next year.
Advertising will be cut from $100 million spent on 2017 sign-ups to $10 million, according to health officials. As well, money for consumer helpers called “navigators” will be cut about 40 percent. And the enrollment season for the subsidized individual-insurance market will be considerably shorter for 2018, running from Nov. 1-Dec. 15 this year.