Friday, July 22, 2016

Fact checkers say Trump off base on issues such as Iran deal, Syrian refugees, cost of regulation

During his speech Thursday at the Republican National Convention, presidential nominee Donald Trump said, "I will present the facts plainly and honestly. The carefully-crafted lies, and the media myths the Democrats are holding their convention next week. But here, at our convention, there will be no lies. We will honor the American people with the truth, and nothing else." (Post photo by Ricky Carioti)

According to the Fact Checker column of The Washington Post, Trump followed that statement with a lengthy list of incorrect assertions. Politifact, NBC News, The New York Times and offered similar reviews of Trump's presentation.

Trump said the nuclear deal with Iran “gave back to Iran $150 billion and gave us absolutely nothing." Kessler and Lee write, "Trump frequently misstates the facts about the Iran deal, making it sound like the United States simply shipped $150 billion of taxpayers’ funds to Iran. This was always Iran’s money, frozen in banks around the world, but $150 billion is the high estimate of the money that could be received."

"The Treasury Department says the figure is in the range of $100 to $125 billion, but the usual liquid assets would only be about $50 billion, as the rest of the assets are either obligated in illiquid projects (such as over 50 projects with China) that cannot be monetized quickly, if at all, or are composed of outstanding loans to Iranian entities that cannot repay them," Kessler and Lee write. "For its part, the Central Bank of Iran said the number was actually $32 billion. Reasonable people can disagree on the merits of the Iran deal, but it’s a stretch to say 'nothing' was received. Iran’s nuclear program was certainly put on ice for at least a decade."

Speaking of Syrian refugees, Trump said, "there’s no way to screen these refugees in order to find out who they are or where they come from," Kessler and Lee write, "The process of vetting refugees starts with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and then continues with checks by U.S. intelligence and security agencies. It takes one to two years, or longer in some cases." Politifact has a detailed description of the process.

Trump said, "Excessive regulation is costing our country as much as $2 trillion a year." Kessler and Lee write, "Trump presents an unbalanced figure here. Various organizations, such as the Small Business Administration, the National Association of Manufacturers and the Competitive Enterprise Institute have come up with similar estimates on the cost of regulations. But there is one huge element missing—the benefit side of the analysis. Every regulation has costs—but also benefits. Look at cars, for example. Seat belts are a regulation, but they also result in fewer deaths, which is presumably a benefit. Higher fuel-economy standards raise the initial cost of a car, but also result in savings on gasoline over time." (Read more)

Beyond the fact checkers, other journalists took issue with Trump. NYT columnist David Brooks said the nominee's focus on law and order was "based on a falsehood. Crime rates have been falling almost without fail for 25 years. Murder rates have been rising just recently among gangs in certain cities, but America is much safer than it was a decade ago. In the first half of 2015, for example, the number of shootings in New York and Washington hit historic lows." In his speech, Trump said the Obama adminstration had failed inner cities on crime.

"Trump dwells on illegal aliens killing our children," Brooks wrote. Between 2010 and 2014, only 121 people released from immigration custody later committed murder; that’s about 25 a year. Every death is a horror, but the number of police officers killed each year as a result of a crime is about 55, in a nation of over 320 million people. The number of police deaths decreased by 24 percent between 2005 and 2015."

Next week we will share what fact-checkers have to say about the Democratic convention. These reports excerpt only a small part of what they have to offer.

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