The White House issued a grandiose statement on Monday morning celebrating “President Donald J Trump’s 500 days of American greatness.”
Trump made a series of claims about his first 500 days in office, celebrating his economic policies, touting his success in adding jobs, and claiming to have made communities safer.
As ever with Trump, many of these boasts are inaccurate or misleading. Here, under his own four main headings, we appraise some of his key 500-day declarations.
“America’s economy is stronger … thanks to President Trump’s pro-growth agenda”
CLAIM “Three million jobs have been created since Trump took office,” booms Trump’s news release. He made the same claim at a rally in April.
REALITY What Trump does not tell people is that the rate of job creation under him is actually slower than the last four years under Obama. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2.188m jobs were added in 2017. Obama added 2.3m in 2013, 2.99m in 2014, 2.71m in 2015, and 2.24m in 2016.
Trump claimed that the unemployment rate has dropped to 3.8%. On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics did indeed report the unemployment rate for May was 3.8%.
But what Trump ignores is that the unemployment rate is declining in part because of large numbers of people leaving the workforce rather than getting jobs. The percentage of workers in jobs or looking for work dropped from 62.9% in March, to 62.8% in April to 62.7% in May. Those levels have not been seen since the 1970s.
CLAIM “American families received $3.2tn in gross tax cuts.”
REALITY Trump has been making this claim since 2017, when he signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act into law. In fact, the bill delivers $1.5tn in tax cuts – and that number includes cuts that corporations will receive.
The disparity is because Trump does not include aspects of the bill which will actually increase taxes. Factcheck.org pointed out that the non-partisan joint committee on taxation estimates the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will result in $1.456tn less in taxes over the next 10 years.
Some of that comes from the corporate income tax rate being cut from 35% to 21%, while the tax rate for wealthy individuals has been cut from 39.6% to 37%. The tax cut for corporations is permanent; the tax cuts for individuals will expire in 2026.
The bill is projected to add $1.46tn to the nation’s debt over the next decade. And the Washington thinktank the Center for American progress predicts that Trump will save $11m to $15m a year under the tax bill, while Jared Kushner will save between $5m and $12m per year.
CLAIM “President Trump has rolled back unnecessary job-killing regulations such as the Clean Power Plan.”
REALITY Trump hails the government’s October 2017 decision to scrap the Clean Power Plan, which was introduced by Obama and was designed to cut US carbon dioxide emissions by 32% by 2030.
The Environmental Protection Agency had previously estimated the plan would prevent 90,000 child asthma attacks and 3,600 premature deaths a year by 2030.
While Trump claims the Clean Power Plan has already been rolled back, as of May 2018 the EPA was yet to finalize its repeal, and 19 states are challenging the government’s move to scrap the plan – giving hope that Trump and Pruitt could be thwarted, or at least delayed.
“America is winning on the world stage”
CLAIM “The president has taken action to confront aggression by Iran and its proxies.”
REALITY Trump has withdrawn from the landmark international deal on Tehran’s nuclear program. In doing so he drew condemnation from the leaders of the UK, Germany and France, who made clear that Iran was abiding by the terms of the agreement.
“America’s government is more accountable”
CLAIM “President Trump has confirmed the most circuit court judges of any president in their first year.”
REALITY Unfortunately for those not aligned with the president’s political views, this is correct. Republicans have rushed through the appointment of 21 such judges, and Trump plans to add 20 more by the end of 2018.
Most of those appointments are white men, and almost one-third have anti-LGBT records. The majority of Trump’s appointments are under 50 – meaning they could influence decision-making in the US for decades to come.
Plus, Trump just indicated that he could pardon himself of any crimes. How is that being held accountable?
“America’s communities are safer and more secure”
CLAIM Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Ice – has “made 110,568 arrests of illegal aliens – a 42% increase for the same time frame in 2016.”
REALITY There is no mention of the disruption this has had on communities across the country – and on the terrible toll Trump’s actions have had on families.
Between 6 and 19 May, 658 children were taken away from their parents at the border, after the Trump administration announced that parents detained while entering the US without documentation would be separated from their children and prosecuted.