A Fact-Sheet to Cut Through the Noise
As we are sprinting toward this election, the need to sift through the spin and noise is essential. Different stats and stories are coming from both parties, news sites and the candidates themselves.
A couple months ago, I came across a List of Trump’s Accomplishments shared over social media and got curious. Scanning the 127 item list, I realized I didn’t actually “know” if some the statements were true or not. I started looking into them.
When I was done, I had spent 93 hours researching.
Through this research, I learned that ALL presidents take credit for successes of the past. I also learned so much more on how our government works and how bi-partisan and collaborative our Congress can be and that gave me hope.
If you’re interested and have the time, here is the link:
Trump’s List of Accomplishments
Or: How I Met the Challenge to “Just Google It!”
I wanted to put together a short list of my research. The main topics I see questioned the most are Voter Fraud, Crime & Justice Reform, the Economy and Healthcare. (Although Voter Fraud wasn’t in the original “List of Accomplishments”, I’ve added it because of its relevance.)
Hopefully this list can help cut through the noise.
While this is not a list of accomplishments, on the campaign trail Pres. Trump has stated there were “thousands of unsolicited ballots being given out by the millions and thousands of them are dumped in dumpsters”.
He referenced 50,000 in Ohio, 50,000 in North Carolina and 500,000 fraudulent applications in Virginia.
In the spirit of finding Truth and verifiable data, this seemed relevant to research.
Let’s break this down.
- 50,000 in Ohio: In October 2020, Franklin County, Ohio sent out 50,000 absentee ballots with an error that made them invalid. Within 72 hours, county officials found the error, printed correct ballots and mailed replacement ballots to those who received a wrong ballot. Tracking on the mail-in ballots ensure that voters can only vote once.
- 50,000 in North Carolina: I couldn’t find any mention of this number in North Carolina, even in their local news. I did find that in 2018, North Carolina officials asked Pres. Trump to help them investigate “voter-irregularities involving absentee ballots”. U.S. Attorney Robert Higdon, focused on non-citizens, legal immigrants and felons that had supposedly voted illegally. The investigation resulted in 20 arrests and no jail time.
- 500,000 in Virginia: This is referring to a clerical error by the non-profit group Center for Voter Information. The application for the absentee ballots were legitimate however the return address was not. Election officials were frustrated because although this was well intentioned, it only added to the confusion of first time mail-in voters. But, this is not in the category of voter fraud.
Ballots found in a dumpster:
- Louisville, KY: 112 absentee ballots were found in a dumpster. The ballots were unopened and not filled out. The postal worker was fired and is facing charges.
- Wilkes-Barre, PA: 9 military absentee ballots were discarded. State election officials say it was a mistake made by a new employee. The absentee ballots were not returned in an official envelope and were mistakenly tossed out. The employee was fired and State officials and FBI are still investigating.
There have been 2 instances of this for a total of 121 ballots discarded. Although that is concerning, it is not “thousands” as the president stated.
- In 2016, the US Election Assistance Commission reported that 8,247 absentee ballots were rejected by the states because the voter had also cast a ballot in person. The report concluded these were most likely accidental as there was no evidence of intention. The fact that these was caught and not counted is evidence that the system works against fraud.
- All US States have measures in place to prevent voters from casting 2 ballots. Those that do, are usually caught proving the measures work. See Heritage.org
- It is illegal for non-citizens to vote. This study shows this happens when non-citizens are automatically registered by mistake- for example when getting a driver’s license.
- In 2018, the DOJ indicted only 19 illegal voters from the previous election. Illegal Immigrant votes were 0.0001% of the votes in 2016.
- After the 2016 election, out of 135 million American votes, only 4 cases of in-person voter fraud were found. That’s 0.000002% of the ballots cast.
- The data does not support “widespread” voter fraud despite what some politicians say. Here is a collection of studies from the Brennan Center of Justice for more research: Debunking the Voter Fraud Myth
- In 2017, the White House created the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity to investigate voter fraud. In 2018, it was disbanded after they found no evidence of voter fraud.
- Pres. Trump, First Lady Melania Trump and VP Mike Pence all vote by mail.
To note: There are many organizations that have data that supports the theory of “wide-spread voter fraud”. However, I found that many of them were cherry-picking data and presenting it in a certain way to prop up their argument.
For example, Heritage.org has an Election Fraud Database that has a lot of good info on it.
However, when I looked closer to their data and cross-referenced with the other sources I found, The Heritage Foundation does not give full reports as the others do.
They offer only “a sampling” of election fraud and present the numbers from 1990-present day as if it is an accurate read on what is happening in 2020. I found that to be disingenuous to people wanting to get an accurate read on the subject.
So, I looked for other sources that were more academic and transparent about their data. (See links above for more research.)
Pres. Trump has been saying that crime is on the rise and the streets are more dangerous than ever before. Here is a quick analysis for some of those claims.
True: Violent crime has fallen every year Trump has been in office but it has been on a downward trend for last 22 years.
Pres. Trump has claimed the Democrat-run cities is where crime is running rampant. However, crime in Republican run cities are also on the rise.
Here is an analysis by the BBC using FBI stats and reports from city police departments. (Sources cited in the article.)
Perceptions about crime vs the actual crime rate has been shown to be disconnected for a long time. Social media, news coverage and political strategy all may contribute. But, it is interesting that the biggest spike came in 2016–2017.
Human Trafficking Arrests Are Up Under Pres. Trump
This is false. President Trump boasts about Human Trafficking arrests under his administration but, his numbers are actually down.
It is still an impressive number however, the purpose of this research project was to find the facts through the spin.
See #9, 49–51 for more Human Trafficking info and resources.
President Trump claims many Criminal Justice Reforms. I want to highlight a few here.
For further reading, I’ll reference #s from my more detailed List of Accomplishments for you to be able to research.
In 2018, President Trump signed the groundbreaking First Step Act, a criminal justice bill which enacted reforms that make our justice system fairer and help former inmates successfully return to society.
H.R.5682 — FIRST STEP Act was passed in 2018 with overwhelming bipartisan support from Republicans and Democrats. (See #29–33)
The new law accomplished:
- Reduced 100–1 crack cocaine sentencing disparity benefited over 2,000 people reducing sentencing by an average of 6 years. Black Americans make up 91% of those reductions.
- 342 people approved for elderly home confinement pilot program.
- 107 people received “compassionate release” sentence reductions.
- Expansion of “good-time credits” led to 3,000 releases from federal prisons however one third of those were not true releases and were transferred to the custody of other jurisdictions.
It did get push back from several Republican Senators, the loudest being Sen Tom Cotton (R-AK). Ultimately, it passed the Senate 87–12.
At the time of signing, it affected about 181,000 federal inmates.
To note: The First Step Act is a generous expansion and reauthorization of H.R. 1593- The Second Chance Act which was a bipartisan effort lead by then-Sen Joe Biden (D-DE).
Pres. Trump received the Bipartisan Justice Award at a historically black college for his criminal justice reform accomplishments.
True. Pres. Trump got this annual award because he signed the First Step Act. After it was awarded, there was some major blowback sparking protests and boycotts of their annual forum from 10 Democratic then-Presidential nominees.
The reason? Trump’s long history -or lack thereof- for criminal justice reform.
- He took a full page ad out in the New York Daily News in 1989, calling for the death penalty of the boys- all POC and minorities.
- The boys charged were later found innocent by DNA testing. Even with the exonerations, Trump refused to recant his position that they were guilty.
- In 2016 (and now, in 2020), the Black Lives Movement seeks to bring attention to the mistreatment of Black Americans by police officers. Trump has responded by calling all the protesters “terrorists” and “thugs” not to mention tweeting videos of black men attacking white people.
- President Trump has yet to change his message or meet with any officials from the Black Lives Matter Movement.
So, yes, he signed the First Step Act into law. And, he was given this award.
However, attacking a Black American Justice Reform Movement and calling for more criminals to be locked up while touting prison reform is a confusing message to criminal justice reform advocates.
This is a controversial subject and probably will be for some time. The goal here is to present diverse perspectives for context so the reader has the opportunity to explore their own opinion on these subjects. (See #38)
If you’d like to learn more about the BLM movement:
Here is a video on a brief history of the Black Lives Matter Movement.
And, here is a video about how the media has falsely portrayed the marches, rallies and riots.
Pres. Trump loves taking credit for the Economy. Here are a few examples of his accomplishments.
For further reading, I’ll reference #s from my more detailed List of Accomplishments for you to be able to research.
Pres. Trump Has Created the Most Jobs of Any President
Not really. Let’s look at it.
Pre-Covid: By Jan 2020, the economy added a total of 6.7 million jobs and the unemployment rate fell to the lowest in 50 years.
This is a major accomplishment, however Trump was still behind Obama in job creation. The average monthly gain in Trump’s first 3 years was 191,000 compared to Obama’s 217,000. (See #44)
Post-Pandemic Jobs Report:
22 million jobs disappeared during the mid-February to mid-April. We have only recovered 52% of those jobs. So any jobs claimed are not new, they are just part of the recovery.
Here is an up-to-date resource on Pres. Trump’s Numbers posted Oct. 14, 2020.
Pres. Trump Created Manufacturing Jobs
This is partially true but, only for his first 2 years in office.
There was absolutely a boom in manufacturing from mid-2017 to the beginning of 2019. Many contribute that to the tax cut and Trump’s “red tape” cutting policies.
However, manufacturing stalled in 2019, adding only 46,000 jobs total. Because of the pandemic, we will have to wait for manufacturing data at least until 2021. (See #46 & 85)
Pres. Trump claims more Americans are now employed than ever recorded before in our history.
This is false, even in pre-Covid times.
The record was in 2008 at 138.4 million which was the highest employed since 1939 when Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking.
You might look at the data and point to the fact that 158 million Americans were employed (pre-Covid) and say, “That number is bigger”.
It is a bigger number because the Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks by population growth.
We have more people in the country so the accurate number is a percentage of the population that is at work, not just the number. (See # 45)
Poverty Rate for African Americans and Hispanics at an all time low.
Yes, this was true pre-Covid.
However, the poverty rate for Black Americans and Hispanic Americans has been on a steep decline starting in 2013, which would be during the Obama Administration. (See #39–40 and #88–93)
As you can see in the graph, the wage disparity is still striking.
True, the Stock Market has reached record highs.
The single day’s record belongs to Pres. Trump and it was was reached in Feb 2020.
However, it was higher on average during Pres. Obama’s administration. (See #86)
To note: The stock market contributes but does not make the entirety of a healthy economy. The wealthiest 10% of Americans own 87% of stocks and mutual funds in the market.
True, Pres. Trump secured $200 billion in new trade from China. But, this was a direct response to the Trade War with China.
President Trump imposed tariffs on China and in response, they opted not to import goods from the US.
Many small, independently run farms had to file for bankruptcy as a result of the trade war. Some argue that this “trade deal” is fixing a problem that the trade war caused.
The Trump Administration approved billions of dollars in aid for farmers affected by the trade war with China.
Here are the bailouts by year since the trade war began:
2017: $11.5 billion
2018: $12 billion
2019: $28 billion
2020: $32 billion
To note: The number for the year 2020 is $32 billion in bailouts for farmers, more than twice the amount Pres. Obama paid automakers in 2009.
To be fair, the grand total for the auto industry bailout was $80.7 billion and most of these taxpayer dollars have been paid back.
See #70 and #71 for more research on Trade.
American Healthcare is very complicated so, I’ll try to keep these short and easy to understand.
I’ll reference #s from my more detailed List of Accomplishments for you to be able to research further.
Here is what Pres. Trump has accomplished in the last 4 years while in office:
- Eliminated the Individual Mandate and reduced the penalty for not having insurance to $0.
- Signed into law S.2554 — Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act made “gag clauses” from Insurance companies illegal. This law allows pharmacists to tell patients about better, cheaper options for medication. (See #8)
- Issued an executive order so Americans can comparison shop insurance. It revealed the price disparity between the lowest and highest charge is 297%. (See #16)
- Issued an executive order protecting against “Surprise Medical Billing”. (See #17)
To note: No results yet regarding this order. Also, action in Congress has stalled because Sen Majority Leader Mitch McConnel (R-KY) doesn’t want to include these protections in the next legislative package.
Here is what Trump says he’s accomplished but hasn’t:
- REVEALED HIS HEALTH CARE PLAN to replace the ACA (Obamacare). In 4 years, with 2 weeks left till the election, Pres. Trump has yet to release his Healthcare plan.
- Lowered Drug Prices: In 2019 drug makers hiked drug prices 17% higher, even the generic ones. (See #18 & 99)
- Revised an outdated rule in the Medicare Advantage Program making it mandatory that hospitals prescribe the lower cost drugs to seniors. However, it backfired when it went into effect in 2019. Deductibles went up and hospitals pocketed the savings. (See #100)
- Allow drug imports from Canada. Sounds great except that Canada doesn’t want to import their drugs. (See #15)
For context, here is what VP Biden has detailed about Health Care:
- Protect the Affordable Care Act which includes the state Medicaid expansions that 39 out of 50 states have adopted.
- Give Americans a public health insurance option while protecting private insurance.
To note: According to a Kaiser Foundation poll in Jan 2020, 70% of Americans supported a public option to compete with private plans.
- Increase the value of tax credits to lower premiums
- Stop “Surprise Billing” and get it written into law.
- Write into law that drug corporations must negotiate with Medicare about drug prices. (Right now they don’t have to.)
- Put a cap on drug prices that face no competition.
- Terminating pharmaceutical corporations’ tax breaks they get for advertising. In 2016, Drug corporations spent $6 billion in ads.
- Expand free access to contraception and protect women’s constitutional reproductive rights.
- Ensure health care protections for all Americans, regardless of gender, gender identity or sexual orientation.
- Double America’s investment in community health centers.
- Expand access to mental health care.
To note: I included VP Biden’s plan for the reader’s context. If Pres. Trump had one, I would have detailed it as well.