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Sunday, February 11, 2018

Review . . .

. . . of the 'state of the union' and reality . . .

(from". . ". . . Facts. . .

Trump gets black unemployment rate right, but claims undue credit . . . unemployment overall is at a 45-year low and black unemployment did reach a new low this year — but (he took) credit for an awful lot of gains that occurred before his administration. . . Under Trump’s administration thus far, the black unemployment rate has fallen just one point, from 7.8 percent to 6.8 percent. . .

Has the U.S. released terrorists only to meet them later on the battlefield? . . . Trump is correct, though the trend fell dramatically under former President Barack Obama. However, his claim that the U.S. released the man who would become the leader of ISIS is somewhat misleading. The man known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was released into Iraqi custody in 2004 — not set free by the U.S. . .

Trump's right, ISIS did lose almost all its territory in Iraq and Syria . . . This is true. By early December, the Pentagon said 97 percent of ISIS-held territory in Iraq and Syria had been liberated. Now, analysts tell NBC News, the threat the U.S. must fight is dangerous lone wolf attacks and resurgences of the extremist group if forces do not continue to stamp it out. . .

Trump's description of the visa lottery program, which came as the president was describing his framework for immigration reform, is false. The diversity visa program grants 50,000 visas a year to individuals who have graduated high school or "two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience to perform," according to the State Department. . . . Visa applicants are selected through a random, computer-generated lottery. If an applicant is selected, they face all of the same background checks and screening processes as any other immigrant visa applicant to be granted admission, including document presentation, background checks, in person interviews and medical exams.

Did a terrorist enter on the diversity visa? . . . This is half true. Trump is correct that two suspects of recent terror attacks entered thanks to a family connection and the diversity visa lottery program, but both appear to have been radicalized well after they entered the United States, making them homegrown threats.

Can immigrants bring in 'unlimited' and 'distant' relatives? . . . This is false. Legal immigrants can sponsor their spouses, children, parents, and siblings — but distant relatives, like cousins, cannot be sponsored for residency. The family reunification visa process takes years or even more than a decade, preventing "chains" from forming the way Trump suggests, as Politico reported in detail.
. . What's more, there are only so many family visas that can be granted. The numbers are capped by the U.S. government.

Trump claims credit for 2.4 million new jobs, rising wages . . . This is half true. The job numbers are technically correct, but Trump is overstating wage growth and taking credit for jobs added under his predecessor. . . Trump’s first year in office was marked by 2.1 million jobs being added to the economy — the slowest year of job growth in six years — while the other job gains came under President Barack Obama. Wages are indeed rising, but they were not exactly stagnate. They’ve been rising steadily for years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Have 3 million workers received bonuses? . . . This appears to be true. Americans for Tax Reform, an advocacy group that fights all tax hikes, posted a list on Tuesday of 286 companies giving bonuses or pay raises because of the tax reform bill. . . "At least 3 million Americans are receiving special tax reform bonuses," the group writes — likely where Trump is getting his figure. . . While NBC News has not independently verified the group's count, the figure tracks with USA Today’s reporting that more than 2.5 million workers have received bonuses thus far.

Trump overstates tax relief for middle class . . . This claim is misleading — or, at least, depends on your definition of "tremendous." The middle class does get a tax cut under the new law, but unlike the relief for corporations, those cuts are not permanent. Ultimately, taxes for middle income families will rise. . . "The tax cuts that Trump is bragging about? Those are the provisions that are slated to go away," said Kyle Pomerleau, the director of federal projects at The Tax Foundation, an independent tax policy think tank. Most of the tax cuts affecting individuals expire in 2026. By 2027, 47.5 percent of all households will pay more in taxes than under the previous law, including 62.2 percent of taxpayers in the middle 20 percent of earners. . . . "The current law is an across the board tax cut," Pomerleau said, but, "the expiration of that is going to be an across the board tax increase."

Trump touts GOP tax cuts as "biggest" in U.S. history . . . 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. . . . As for the reform aspect: "It’s hard to mathematically measure how reform-y your tax plan is," said Kyle Pomerleau, the director of federal projects at The Tax Foundation, an independent tax policy think tank. Still, Ronald Reagan's 1986 reform simplified the tax code in a big way and was probably more "reformish," Pomerleau told NBC News. . ."

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