President Donald Trump held court for more than an hour at the Conservative Political Action Conference Friday, delivering remarks that touched on everything from guns in schools to tax cuts.
But just as he did during the off-the-cuff campaign speeches that earned him points for authenticity at the expense of accuracy, the president veered off script — acknowledging to the cheering crowd that his planned remarks were a bit boring — and made at least nine false or misleading claims.
Here’s what Trump got wrong, and what was misleading, in Friday’s speech.
1. Trump says he’s “fulfilled more promises” than he made as a candidate.
In his first year in office, Trump hasn’t yet kept many of his signature promises, like building a border wall and repealing and replacing Obamacare.
In addition, Trump’s campaign promises numbered in the hundreds. The Washington Post counted 282, including this vow to his supporters: “I will give you everything.”
2. A “gun-adept” teacher “would have “shot the hell out of” Parkland gunman.
It’s possible a teacher with firearms training would have been able to subdue the Parkland, Florida shooter who killed 17 at a high school last week — but not the sure solution Trump suggests. The evidence is in law enforcement’s own numbers.
Police statistics highlight just how difficult it is for individuals to be subdued by trained gunmen: between 1998 and 2006, a study found the New York City Police Department’s average hit rate during gunfights to be 18 percent.
3. Trump claims the U.S. had an “almost” $500 billion trade deficit with China last year. “We can’t have that,” he says.
That number is wrong. The trade deficit with China peaked last year at 375.2 billion, according to the Commerce Department.
4. “African-American unemployment has reached the lowest level in our history.”
Trump’s right, it did indeed reach a historic low, according to the jobs report released in January. But then it surged back up this month — and as we’ve noted in previous fact checks, Trump is in part taking credit for one of his predecessor’s victories. President Barack Obama cut black unemployment in half during his administration, from its recession peak of 16.8 percent in 2010 to 7.8 percent when he left office.
5. “Wages are rising for the first time in many, many years.”
Not true. Wages have been rising since 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
6. “We’ve passed massive — biggest in history — tax cuts and reforms.”
This claim is false. The GOP tax bill, passed in December, does not amount to the “biggest” in U.S. history, according to the non-partisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. According to their estimates, Trump’s tax cut is the eighth biggest in history.
7. Trump blames the GOP’s failure to repeal Obamacare on “one senator.”
In a riff, Trump oversimplified Republicans’ months-long effort to repeal and replace Obamacare.
“And except for one senator, who came into the room at three in the morning and went like that—” Trump gave a thumbs down, “We would have had health care, too.”
While one effort in June did fail dramatically with a “no” vote from Republican Sen. John McCain (at 1:29 a.m., not 3 a.m.), all the Senate Democrats and two other Republican senators opposed the GOP proposal: Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Susan Collins, R-Maine, had announced their opposition to the bill earlier in the negotiations.
It also wasn’t the only chance Republicans had to replace the Affordable Care Act: Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Bill Cassidy, R-La. offered another attempt in September, but that too did not have the Republican votes to pass the Senate. Party and partisan divisions on the issue foiled Trump’s ability to keep this campaign promise, not a single senator’s late-night “thumbs down.”
8. “No president has ever cut so many regulations in their entire term as we’ve cut in less than a year.”
Trump has made this claim before, and he has indeed had some deregulatory success. Still, when The New York Times talked to regulation analysts and former federal workers, they did not find evidence backing up the claim.
9. Touting his success at bringing back coal jobs in West Virginia and other Rust Belt states, “it is like a different world,” Trump says.
Federal employment data doesn’t back this boast up. Despite Trump bragging about a coal revival in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia added just 800 mining and logging jobs total in 2017, while Ohio’s mining and logging industry lost 800 jobs in 2017.
West Virginia’s unemployment rate is 5.5 percent, and has been rising since last May, when it hit 4.5 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. On net, it is just 0.1 points lower than it was when Trump took office in January 2017. Pennsylvania unemployment is down 0.5 percent since Trump took office, while Ohio unemployment is down 0.3 percent since last January.