Friday, August 28, 2020

Fact-checking President Trump's RNC acceptance speech

CNN did not mince words in its fact-check of President Trump's speech yesterday at the Republican National Convention.

"President Donald Trump is a serial liar and he serially lied during his speech accepting the Republican nomination," Daniel Dale and others report. "CNN counted more than 20 false, exaggerated or misleading claims from Trump on Thursday night. That's in addition to a number of falsehoods from other speakers. Trump's dishonesty touched on a range of topics, from the economy to his administration's performance during the coronavirus pandemic. Some of Trump's most egregious false claims were directed at Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden."

Here's some of what CNN's fact-checkers caught:
  • Trump suggested Biden wants to remove the border wall, but Biden has specifically said he will not, and will only stop further construction.
  • Trump said Biden's immigration plan calls for open borders. It does not.
  • Trump said 300 miles of border wall has been built during his administration, but that's not 300 miles of wall where no barriers existed before. About 275 miles of barriers have been built along the U.S.-Mexico border during the Trump administration, but only five miles of barriers were erected in areas where none had existed.
  • Trump claimed he had "very good information" that China wants his foe to win because Biden would help its agenda more. CNN acknowledges that it doesn't know what information Trump may have, but a recent intelligence assessment reported that China wanted Trump to lose because he was "unpredictable," and because of the trade war.
  • Biden opposes school choice and wants to close all charter schools, Trump claimed. The claim about charter schools is an exaggeration; the Democratic platform only recommends barring for-profit charters from receiving federal funding. The claim about school choice is debatable, since the phrase is so nebulous. Biden and his school task force oppose vouchers for private schools, but he supports some alternatives to standard public schools.
  • Trump claimed he has done more for Black Americans than any other president since Abraham Lincoln. At the very least, President Lyndon Johnson's advocacy and signing of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act dwarfed anything Trump has done, CNN says.
  • Trump said he "took on Big Pharma" and signed orders that "will massively lower" the cost of prescription drugs. It's unclear whether executive orders Trump signed in July will ever take effect or lower drug prices. Also, prices have continued to rise throughout the Trump administration, though the growth rate has slowed by some measures.
  • Trump pledged that he and the Republican Party will "always, and very strongly, protect patients with pre-existing conditions." However, his administration is actively trying to dismantle the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which does offer such protections, without providing an alternative plan.
  • Trump made a number of misleading or exaggerated claims about his administration's record on the coronavirus pandemic.
The Washington Post's fact-checkers also weighed in:
  • A Biden-appointed task force calls for abolishing cash bail, "immediately releasing 400,000 criminals onto the streets and into your neighborhoods," Trump said. Biden's task force said that "poverty is not a crime" and that Democrats want to eliminate cash bail because no one should be imprisoned for failing to pay fines or fees. However, in states that have moved to abolish cash bail, pre-trial defendants haven't been released—including in New Jersey, where Republican Chris Christie, a Trump ally, led a coalition to abolish cash bail. 
  • Biden would abolish American production of coal, shale oil and natural gas, which would devastate economies of states that rely on those industries, Trump claimed. Biden's energy plan doesn't call for the end of fossil-fuel production. It does call for the U.S. to expand low- and zero-carbon technologies and offset fossil fuel emissions by other means. Biden has said he will allow hydraulic-fracturing operations to continue but wouldn't grant new permits on federal lands.
  • Trump claimed he passed "Veterans Choice," a program in which veterans can get VA-funded health care from private providers. That's misleading; Obama signed Veterans Choice into law in 2014, Trump merely updated it in 2019. 

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