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AP FACT CHECK: Trump swipes progress from Obama era

Source:This website |Time: 2019-04-16

WASHINGTON (AP) -- In President Donald Trump's estimation, the good times began to roll for the country on the night he was elected. So he doesn't hesitate to swipe job growth from the twilight of the Obama administration and claim it as his own.

That overreach, seen in his State of the Union speech and other forums, extends to his boast about the shrinking numbers of people on food stamps, where he's helped himself even more heartily to Obama-era progress. Likewise, a surge in energy production under President Barack Obama ended up on Trump's ledger of achievement.

Trump's speech to Congress made for a bountiful week of exaggeration, partial truth and outright error. Some highlights:


TRUMP: "We have created 5.3 million new jobs and, importantly, added 600,000 new manufacturing jobs — something which almost everyone said was impossible to do." — State of the Union speech.

THE FACTS: That's not what he's done. He's measuring from Election Day in November 2016 rather than when he took office on Jan. 20, 2017.

Since January 2017, the U.S. has added 4.9 million jobs, not 5.3 million. Of them, 454,000 were in manufacturing, not 600,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Trump apparently reasons that employers and investors were so encouraged by his victory that they stepped up their hiring and investing right after the Nov. 8 election. But the economy simply does not turn on a dime like that, and Trump did not inherit a mess.

Here's what history will record: More jobs were created in Obama's last two years (5.1 million) than in Trump's first two years (4.9 million).

Growth in manufacturing employment began in Obama's second term, when 386,000 jobs were added, and accelerated under Trump.



TRUMP: "Nearly 5 million Americans have been lifted off food stamps." — State of the Union address.

THE FACTS: The number of people receiving food stamps actually hasn't declined nearly that much since Trump took office or even since he was elected.

In January 2017, 42.7 million people were using food stamps. That declined to 38.6 million in September 2018, a drop of 4.1 million, not nearly 5 million.

Monthly comparisons don't mean much because the numbers go up and down over the short term. A more meaningful measure is how many people were using food stamps, on average, over the course of a year.

By that measure, the food stamp rolls declined by only 1.8 million in the 2017 and 2018 budget years. Even that period, which began in October 2016, includes a substantial drop that happened under Obama. Go back to October 2015, the start of the 2016 budget year, and the drop is 3.9 million.



TRUMP: "We have unleashed a revolution in American energy — the United States is now the No. 1 producer of oil and natural gas in the world." — State of the Union address.

THE FACTS: That depends on what the definition of "we" is. His claim is true in the unlikely event he was also crediting Obama and other recent presidents who were aggressive about energy production. The government says the U.S. became the world's top natural gas producer in 2013, under the Obama administration.

The U.S. now leads the world in oil production, too, under Trump. That's largely because of a boom in production from shale oil, which also began under Obama.



TRUMP: "In just over two years since the election, we have launched an unprecedented economic boom — a boom that has rarely been seen before. There's been nothing like it. ... An economic miracle is taking place in the United States." — State of the Union address.

THE FACTS: The president is vastly exaggerating what has been a mild improvement in growth and hiring. The economy is healthy but not nearly one of the best in U.S. history.

The economy expanded at an annual rate of 3.8 percent last spring and summer, a solid pace. But it was just the fastest in four years. In the late 1990s, growth topped 4 percent for four straight years, a level it has not yet reached under Trump. In 1984, growth even reached 7.2 percent.

Almost all independent economists expect slower growth this year as the effect of the Trump administration's tax cuts fade, trade tensions and slower global growth hold back exports, and higher interest rates make it more expensive to borrow to buy cars and homes.