Friday, February 17, 2017
Fact check: Did Donald Trump inherit 'a mess' from Barack Obama?
President Donald Trump has told a news conference he "inherited a mess" from his predecessor, Barack Obama.
A look at some of his claims, and how they compare with the facts:
:: Mr Trump: "To be honest I inherited a mess. It's a mess. At home and abroad, a mess."
The facts: By almost every economic measure, Barack Obama inherited a far worse situation when he became president in 2009 than he left for Mr Trump. He had to deal with the worst downturn since the Depression.
Unemployment was spiking, the stock market crashing, the car industry failing and millions of Americans risked losing their homes to foreclosure when Mr Obama took the oath of office. None of those statistics is as dire for Mr Trump.
Unemployment is 4.8%, compared with a peak of 10% during Mr Obama's first year as president.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was sinking until March 2009, only to rebound roughly 200% over the rest of Mr Obama's term- gains that have continued under Mr Trump on the promise of tax and regulatory cuts.
When Mr Trump assumed office last month, a greater percentage of the country had health insurance, incomes were rising and the country was adding jobs.
The Trump administration has noted that a smaller proportion of the population is working or looking for jobs. But even this measure began to turn around toward the end of the Obama era.
Yet it is true that jobs at factories and coal mines have been disappearing for more than three decades, while many Americans with only a high school diploma have seen their incomes fall after adjusting for inflation.
The home ownership rate has slipped even as the economy has improved, leaving many pockets of the country feeling left out of a recovery that technically began more than seven years ago.
:: Mr Trump: "ISIS has spread like cancer, another mess I inherited."
The facts: The Islamic State group began to lose ground before Mr Trump took office, not just in Iraq and Syria but also in Libya.
The gradual military progress achieved in Iraq during Mr Obama's final two years has pushed IS to the point of collapse in Mosul, its main Iraqi stronghold.
It remains a potent danger beyond its shrunken territory, encouraging adherents to stage acts of terrorism.
:: Mr Trump: "I see stories of chaos. Chaos. Yet it is the exact opposite. This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine, despite the fact that I can't get my Cabinet approved."
The facts: Mr Trump's first month has been consumed by a series of missteps and firestorms, and produced far less significant legislation than Mr Obama enacted during his first month.
Republican-led congressional committees will investigate the Trump team's relations with Russians before he took office and the flood of leaks that altogether forced out his national security adviser in record time.
His choice for labour secretary withdrew because he did not have enough Republican support.
By many measures, the administration is in near paralysis in its earliest days, leaving allies unsettled and many in Congress anxious about what Senator John Thune called the "constant disruption".
To many Republicans - never mind Democrats - the "fine-tuned machine" seems in danger of its wheels coming off.
In his first month, Obama signed a $787bn (€740bn) stimulus package into law, as well as a law expanding health care for children and the Lilly Ledbetter bill on equal pay for women.
Mr Trump has vigorously produced executive orders, which do not require congressional approval and typically have narrow effect. The one with far-reaching consequences - banning entry by refugees and by visitors from seven countries - has been blocked by courts.
Mr Trump's biggest initiatives, such as tax cuts and a replacement for Mr Obama's health care law, have not emerged. On Thursday he was signing into law a roll-back of Obama-era regulations on mining near streams.
:: Mr Trump bragging again about his Electoral College vote total: "We got 306 because people came out and voted like they've never seen before, so that's the way it goes. I guess it was the biggest Electoral College win since Ronald Reagan."
The facts: Not even close. In the seven previous elections, the winner of five of those contests won a larger Electoral College majority than Mr Trump. They were George HW Bush in 1988, Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996; and Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.
When a reporter pointed out that Mr Trump was overstating his winning margin, the president said: "Well, I don't know, I was given that information." He then called it "a very substantial victory".
Mr Trump actually ended up with 304 electoral votes because of the defection of two electors in December, but he had won enough states in November to get to 306.
:: Mr Trump saying the appeals court that blocked his selective travel ban "has been overturned at a record number".
The facts: Other appeals courts have seen their decisions overturned at a higher rate than the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit that froze his action on immigration.