WASHINGTON (AP) — In his centerpiece speech on the economy, Donald Trump wrongly accused Hillary Clinton of wanting to increase middle-class taxes and blamed America’s crumbling roads and bridges in part on the money spent on refugees, a minuscule expense in comparison with infrastructure.
A look at some of his claims and how they compare with the facts:
TRUMP: “She said she wanted to raise taxes on the middle class.”
THE FACTS: If Clinton said that — and it’s highly debatable — it’s clear she didn’t mean to. Her economic agenda calls for middle-class tax cuts (which are not specified) and she has repeatedly said she would not raise taxes on middle incomes. In a speech in Omaha, Nebraska, last week, she talked about “fairer rules for the middle class” and delivered a line that was difficult to understand, either “we are going to raise taxes on the middle class” or “we aren’t.”
If she said the former, it was obviously a flub. Her policy on middle-class taxes has been consistent — no increases.
TRUMP: “You cannot even start a small business under the tremendous regulatory burden we have today.”
THE FACTS: Trump is exaggerating. There are clear signs that new business formation has slowed, but it hasn’t ground to the halt that he suggests.
Between 2011 and 2013, the most recent years available, the Census Bureau found that the number of companies that employ fewer than four people has increased by 43,232 to 3.58 million.
Nor should anyone assume that regulation alone explains the decline in small business starts. Most entrepreneurs relied on personal savings, home equity and credit cards to finance new companies before the housing bust hurt their ability to access credit, according to a speech by Dennis Lockhart, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. Other studies say student loans are inhibiting entrepreneurship among younger Americans.
TRUMP: The country’s infrastructure has suffered “yet we found the money to resettle millions of refugees at taxpayer expense.”
THE FACT: You have to go a long way back to get to “millions” of refugees.
Over the last eight years, the period Trump addresses when pointing to failures of President Barack Obama, the U.S. resettled 530,830 refugees. That includes many from the final year of the Bush administration. So far in the budget year that ends Sept. 30, the U.S. has resettled 59,099 refugees. Last year, 69,933. Over the last 15 years: about 850,000.
The State Department puts the cost of the resettlement program to taxpayers at less than $1.2 billion a year. That’s roughly 0.03 percent of the federal budget, a rounding error according to most experts. That sum would hardly make up for the infrastructure shortfall. The American Society of Civil Engineers said in a report that the government needs to spend $1.4 trillion through 2025 to close the infrastructure funding gap.