“The American people are disgusted,” Trump said in his speech. “Which is worse, the impeachment hoax or the witch hunts from Russia?”
As he made his case, Trump repeated several familiar claims on the economy, health care, and the border wall that needed a fact-check.
Pants on Fire! Trump has repeatedly misrepresented his administration’s efforts to repeal the Obama-era health care law, which guarantees coverage for patients with preexisting conditions. Neither Trump nor congressional Republicans who want the courts to strike down the Affordable Care Act have offered a replacement that might maintain its core protections.
When Trump said in May 2019 that “drug prices are coming down,” we rated that Mostly False. The White House pointed to the Consumer Price Index for drugs, and using one particular time period, there was a small decline.
But that index leaves out the actual prices people pay, and it only covers retail drugs, about three-fourths of all prescriptions.
Beyond those limitations, the latest numbers for that index show drug prices rising by about 3.9% in December 2019.
Other ways to measure drug prices show that thousands of drugs have had prices go up, while only about 100 have seen prices fall.
This ignores that the Veterans Choice program started in 2014. Trump has claimed credit since passage of the Veterans Mission Act in 2018, but the first version of the program was approved four years earlier.
After a scandal of long waits for veterans and the efforts of administrators at some facilities to cover that up, Congress and the Obama administration passed the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014.
For veterans who couldn’t be given appointments quickly enough, or who lived more than 40 miles from a Veterans Health Administration hospital, the government would pay for private care.
While the initial program was riddled with problems —— including paying huge overhead fees to the firms managing it —— it did exactly what Trump described as his own idea. The 2018 Mission Act consolidated several related VA programs and anchored the use of private doctors within the VA system, but the concept was in place when Trump took office.
Trump’s polling remains stable amid the impeachment trial. A Real Clear Politics average of recent polling shows Trump at a 45.3% approval rating. He last hit that level on Sept. 24, 2019, the day House Democrats launched the impeachment inquiry. Put into context, Trump’s Real Clear Politics average approval has remained between 37% and 45.3% since he was inaugurated.
That’s correct. The people at the bottom end of the wage scale make a lot less than those at the top, but the gains Trump cited are real.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics breaks wage earners down into the poorest 10% and the highest 10%. Government numbers on usual weekly earnings show that in 2019, earnings for the bottom 10% went from $442 to $467 —— a 5.6% rise. Earnings for the top 10% went from $2,265 to $2,280 —— a 0.6% increase. The gap wasn’t as large in the previous two years, but the pattern was the same.
Trump is referring to a court victory allowing him to use $3.6 billion for military construction projects toward the wall instead. (Congress was not giving Trump the money he wanted for the wall, so he declared a national emergency in order to tap the military funds.) Most of the border wall projects replace or bolster existing fencing. As for 400 more miles coming next year, it’s not immediately clear what he’s referring to. He said the same thing in May about 2020. In short, the wall still has a long way to go before it matches Trump’s vision from 2016.
There’s no evidence of this. We asked the Trump team for more details and haven’t heard back. Trump previously claimed that Mexico would pay for the wall through the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, which he will soon sign. There is no provision for the wall in the free trade agreement.