PolitiFact previews Donald Trump's State of the Union address
Jon Greenberg
By Jon Greenberg January 29, 2018

President Donald Trump delivers his first State of the Union address Tuesday night, and we’ll be live fact-checking throughout the evening.

Trump ran for office on revving up the economy, and we expect he’ll shine a big spotlight on the gains the country has seen on his watch. He’s already signaled that he’ll roll out a $1.7 trillion infrastructure plan during his speech. It’s hard to imagine he won’t spend time talking about the $1.5 trillion tax cut law and the spate of corporate announcements of wage hikes and expansions around that.

Immigration, the military, health care and terrorism are on our watch list.

Rep. Joe Kennedy, D-Mass., will deliver the Democratic response, and we’ll be checking him, too.

Stay with us Tuesday as the PolitiFact operation churns away, letting you know how closely their words match the facts.

Here’s an overview of some of Trump’s recent claims and promises that we might hear again.

Jobs and the economy

Companies from Disney to WalMart to FedEx have released plans to pay their workers more, and they tie it back to the tax cuts Trump championed.

With unemployment at historic lows, Trump said the rate for African-American is at its lowest point ever. That rates Mostly True. When it comes to homeownership for blacks, Trump has gotten carried away, saying it’s never been higher. Actually, it’s been falling since 2004.

He’ll likely take a victory lap for the stock market. He said it had the quickest 1,000 point gain in history and that is True.

Our usual caveat is that no president can take full credit, or shoulder the blame, for the economy.

Trump has pushed a deregulation agenda from Day One and if he hasn’t fully delivered yet, our Trump-o-Meter promise tracker has found that he’s been making steady progress. With the backing of congressional Republicans, the administration rolled back a stream protection rule. One executive order began unwinding the Obama administration’s clean power plan, and another said that for each new regulation imposed, two must be revoked.

Beware of premature claims of victory on this front. Agencies have to follow a time-consuming rulemaking process, and laws might need to change.

Trump’s likely discussion of an infrastructure package falls under several of the infrastructure promises we’re tracking, including bringing manufacturing back to the United States.

He went too far recently when he said Chrysler is leaving Mexico and moving back to Michigan. The carmaker is moving some of its truck production to Michigan, but it’s not dropping any workers in Mexico. We rated that Half True.

Immigration, DACA and the wall

Trump’s wall with Mexico is linked at the hip with creating a legal safe space for undocumented people brought to this country as children, aka DACA, aka Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Trump’s latest gambit offered a path to citizenship for 1.8 million young adults in exchange for a $25 billion trust fund to both build a wall and boost immigration enforcement.

During the campaign, Trump vowed not only to build a wall, but to get Mexico to pay for it. While getting the cash from Mexico seems like the longest of long shots, we’re rating the overall promise In the Works.

Trump often casts immigration policy as a response to crime. He recently said Mexico is the "number one most dangerous country in the world." By every yardstick but one, it is not. The one exception is the death toll for journalists. We rated this claim Mostly False.

Trump aims to scuttle the visa lottery program, the gateway for 50,000 people each year from low-immigration nations. He described the program as "they give us their worst people, they put them in a bin," and "the worst of the worst" are selected. That’s not at all how it works, earning Trump a Pants on Fire.

We’ll be ready for overstated claims about the cost of illegal immigration and the scale of success at stopping border crossings.

Terrorism and defense

The Islamic State forces are collapsing on the battlefield, and it’s a safe bet that Trump will continue to highlight that. He’s said that his administration got more done in months than the Obama administration did in many years. Yes, the big victories came under Trump, but the work started under Obama.

Congressional Republicans and Trump have been pushing for hefty increases in defense spending. The challenge has been getting that budget passed, and Trump has tended to get ahead of things. For example, he said America’s nuclear arsenal is stronger than ever before, which is False, because the process that began under Obama will take years to deliver.

Many of Trump’s promises about the military fall into the In the Works category.

Health care

So far, Trump has been denied one of his central goals, the repeal of Obamacare. But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t had a number of smaller victories, some of which could have powerful effects.

One key step came in the tax bill, which zeroed out the penalty for people who don’t buy insurance. Trump has said that effectively repealed Obamacare, but with other bigger pieces of the program left intact, we rated that False.

Still, looking at his move to expand the reach of association health plans and other steps in his first year, we see much in play that could change insurance markets. While some might see cheaper rates, people who are older and less healthy could find themselves paying more.

A major issue left hanging from last year is the fate of about $10 billion to pay back insurance companies for charges they paid to hospitals and doctors.

Under Trump, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services opened the door to letting states apply work requirements to able-bodied Medicaid recipients. A conservative think tank said requiring work has been proven to move people from dependency to self-sufficiency. Many studies spanning many years fail to back that up. We rated that claim Mostly False.

If you hear something that you want fact-checked Tuesday, email us at [email protected] or tweet your request with #PolitiFactThis

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PolitiFact previews Donald Trump's State of the Union address