Fact-checking Donald Trump's 2018 speech at CPAC

President Donald Trump holds up his notes as he reads a story about a snake, to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), at National Harbor, Md., Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP)
President Donald Trump holds up his notes as he reads a story about a snake, to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), at National Harbor, Md., Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP)

President Donald Trump spoke for more than hour at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Feb. 23, 2018, veering from prepared remarks to joke about his hair and ask conference goers what they wanted more — tax cuts or the Second Amendment — while delivering a litany of questionable claims related to immigration, health care and the country’s economy.

We fact-checked his remarks.

‘We passed the biggest tax cuts in the history of our country’

False. The Republican tax package passed in December does not stack up as the largest cut ever.

The Treasury Department has published a list of the biggest tax bills between 1940 and 2012, measured not only by contemporary dollars, but also by inflation-adjusted dollars and as a percentage of gross domestic product — two metrics that experts say give a sense of scale.

In dollars, at least one tax bill on the Treasury list, such as the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, is larger than the 2017 tax law. As a percentage of GDP, the 2017 tax law came in at seventh at 0.9 percent of GDP. The top-ranking bill was the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981, at 2.89 percent of GDP.

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False
"We enacted the biggest tax cuts and reforms in American history."
State of the Union speech
Tuesday, January 30, 2018

‘The tax cuts are phenomenal and popular and helping people and helping our country. You saw Apple just brought $350 billion in.’

Trump's claim about Apple is somewhat misleading. We rated a similar claim Half True.

Over the next five years, Apple said it plans to hire another 20,000 workers. But the majority of the $350 billion will go towards pre-planned expenses — in other words, the cost of doing business, not new investment.

After deducting the costs of paying suppliers and paying taxes, one expert estimated the investment at no more than $37 billion. And based on Apple’s press release, it could be $34 billion.

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"Apple has just announced it plans to invest a total of $350 billion in America, and hire another 20,000 workers."
In the 2018 State of the Union address
Tuesday, January 30, 2018

‘If you had a puddle in your land, (the EPA) called it a lake for the purposes of environmentals.’

This is misleading. The EPA does not, and did not, regulate puddles.

Congress passed the Clean Water Act in 1972 after high-profile disasters and pollution problems, including the Cuyahoga River fire in Ohio and fish kills at Florida’s Lake Thonotosassa in 1969.

The goal of the act was to regulate discharges into water, but for years industry groups and environmental advocates debated which bodies of water should be included.

In May 2015, the EPA announced a new rule intended to clarify which bodies of water fall under the act. Although the final rule explicitly excluded puddles, it was put on hold nationwide pending litigation. Trump has criticized the rule and earlier this year his administration suspended it.

‘No president has ever cut so many regulations in their entire term.’

Trump has certainly deregulated with gusto over his short time in office, but his administration’s boasts about cutting red tape are often prone to exaggeration.

When we previously looked at the narrower question of whether Trump has signed more deregulatory laws than any other president, we rated it Half True. Trump’s use of the Congressional Review Act to roll back regulations set a record in his first year. However, experts have told us that other presidents signed laws that cut more rules than Trump.  

The deregulatory action with the greatest estimated savings was the repeal of a Federal Acquisition Regulation on "Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces," estimated to have saved $417 million in fiscal year 2017. The repeal was possible thanks to a joint resolution from Congress, which was then ratified by the president.

Says the Manhattan terrorist who drove a truck through pedestrian lanes ‘came in through chain migration. And a part of the lottery system. They say 22 people came in with him.’

The suspect, Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, of Uzbekistan, did enter in 2010 through the diversity visa lottery system. But experts have told us Trump’s claim that he brought in 22 more family members are improbable, and unproven.

If he were a U.S. citizen (he's not) he could have petitioned his parents and three sisters to join him. Saipov, however, was a green card holder, which means he could only petition for a spouse and unmarried children to come to the United States. Media reports indicate that Saipov married a woman who already lived in the United States, and their three children were born in the United States.

Chrysler ‘is now moving from Mexico into Michigan.’

The auto company does plan to spend $1 billion to shift production of its Ram trucks from Saltillo, Mexico, to Warren, Mich. However, this is no zero-sum game where a U.S. gain is Mexico’s loss. The Mexican plant will start making another kind of vehicle, and the company expects no change in the number of workers.

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"Chrysler is leaving Mexico and moving back to Michigan."
In a speech in Washington.
Tuesday, January 16, 2018