By the time this letter is published it will be three weeks since the State of the Union Address delivered by President Donald Trump. I wanted to take my time replying to it so I could do some thorough research. I found that there were three accurate statements in the speech and 12 claims that were inaccurate, exaggerated or lack context or data to back up the statement. I got this information through multiple sources including Politifact (a nonpartisan group which for the past 20 years has been fact-checking members both parties for truthfulness) as well as Forbes and NPR.
So with 12 claims in the speech that were not accurate, I decided I would only focus on two. Immigration and the tax cut.
Trump again demonized immigrants from Central America and Mexico who are coming here seeking asylum. In his speeches he talks about specific crimes immigrants, states thousands of immigrants are committing crimes across the country. Trump suggests that waves of immigrants equal more violence, but research doesn’t substantiate that message. Research on immigrants and crime finds that immigrants are not more likely than U.S.-born individuals to take part in crime. Trump continues to stoke hate and violence against immigrants through his rhetoric. Or maybe he is just satisfying his “white nationalist” allies.
He also has said there is a crisis at the border and that is why we need a wall. The only crisis is that of his own making. The administration has effectively shut down the asylum system and is violating both U.S. and international law. The separation of children from their parents with no record of where the children were placed will go down as one of the darkest times in our history.
So what about the so called “middle class tax cut?” Data shows that the majority of the money saved from the tax cut went to millionaires and billionaires, either in their individual taxes or the cuts in corporate taxes.
According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, a person making between $40,000-$50,000 a year will see a decrease in taxes of $560 or 1.4 percent. A person making $1 million will see a decrease in taxes of $60,600 or 3.3 percent. The key here is the percentage. Wealthy Americans are getting a larger decrease in percentage figures than the middle class. As for the corporations who saw their tax rate go from 35 percent to 20 percent, instead of giving bonuses and pay raises, they spent that saving on buying back their own stock. That was good for their investors, but less than half of Americans invest in stock, so they don’t see any advantage.
What we were told was that these corporations would raise wages—well they haven’t. Trump said in his speech that wages are rising at the fastest pace in decades. Not true: The average increase in wages in 2018 was 2.1 percent. For someone making $10 an hour, that means their hourly rate goes up to $10.21.
There is a great deal of flap right now because people are not getting the refunds they got last year. That is because the Trump administration ordered the IRS to change withholding (the amount your employer takes out of your check) for 2018 so it would appear in January of 2018 when we got our first paycheck after the law passed, that taxpayers were getting a bigger tax cut than they actually were. Because of that, when they filed this year, their refund was much less!
Lies and deception—what Trump does best. Hope we survive the next 22 months!