US President Donald  Trump gestures during the State of the Union address in the chamber of the US House of Representatives in Washington, DC, on January 30, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Win McNamee        (Photo credit should read WIN MCNAMEE/AFP/Getty Images)
Fact-checking Trump's SOTU claims
02:45 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

President Donald Trump on Tuesday delivered his first State of the Union address, and CNN’s Reality Check Team was there to vet his claims.

The team of reporters, researchers and editors across CNN listened throughout the speech and analyzed key statements, rating them either true, true but misleading, or false.


Biggest tax cuts in history?

By Jeanne Sahadi, Sam Petulla and Tami Luhby, CNN

Trump thinks everything he does is huge. Tax reform is no different.

“Just as I promised the American people from this podium 11 months ago, we enacted the biggest tax cuts and reform in American history,” he said. “Our massive tax cuts provide tremendous relief for the middle class and small businesses.”

Tax analysts and Treasury data, however, contradict the assertion that the tax cuts included in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act are the biggest in US history.

As a share of the economy, four other tax cuts have been bigger than Trump’s since the 1960s: Those of President John F. Kennedy’s passed in 1964, President Ronald Reagan’s 1981 tax cuts, and the 2010 and 2013 tax cuts under President Barack Obama, which included making permanent earlier tax cuts signed by President George W. Bush.

It’s unclear how the White House is measuring “reform.”

“Reform is a much more subjective measure, so it is hard to rate,” said Howard Gleckman, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center.

Generally, tax experts define reform in one of three ways, he said. Replacing the income tax, simplifying the code and lowering rates in exchange for getting rid of most tax breaks. By those measures, Gleckman said, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act falls short. It retains the income tax. It simplifies the code in some ways but further complicates it in others. And while it lowers rates, it also retains most tax preferences from the previous tax code.

As for the tax cuts themselves, they are notable, although not enormous for many.

The middle class, for instance, would see tax cuts on average, especially in the next five years. But they would be modest – with an average increase below 2% in after-tax income. By contrast, higher income households would see an average bump in after-tax income north of 2%, according to the Tax Policy Center.

Plus, for most middle-income groups, their tax cuts will start to diminish and then disappear completely, since individual tax cuts and other benefits would expire after 2025. Republicans say they will extend the individual tax cuts beyond that date.

Verdict: False.

President Donald Trump gestures as delivers his first State of the Union address in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol to a joint session of Congress Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018 in Washington, as Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Paul Ryan applaud. (Win McNamee/Pool via AP)
Trump: We are enacting the biggest tax cuts
01:06 - Source: CNN

Black unemployment

By Tami Luhby, CNNMoney

Trump has been touting the fact that black unemployment has fallen to a record low 6.8% in recent weeks.

“African-American unemployment stands at the lowest rate ever recorded,” the President said Tuesday.

It’s true that the unemployment rate for African-Americans has never been lower. It’s one of the benefits of the strong job market.

In the past, Trump has falsely taken credit for the stat. The unemployment rate for blacks has been dropping for years, along with the rates for other racial groups.

Plus, black joblessness remains far higher than the rate for whites, which stands at 3.7%.

The President got into a high-profile spat with Jay-Z this past weekend after the rapper told CNN’s Van Jones that just putting money in people’s pockets doesn’t make Trump a good leader.

Trump tweeted the next morning: Somebody please inform Jay-Z that because of my policies, Black Unemployment has just been reported to be at the LOWEST RATE EVER RECORDED!

Verdict: True.

2.4 million jobs since Trump elected

By Patrick Gillespie and Tami Luhby

There’s no question that the job market is strong right now. It has been for years.

Trump opted on Tuesday to cite the growth in jobs from his election, rather than when he took office in January.

“Since the election, we have created 2.4 million new jobs, including 200,000 new jobs in manufacturing alone,” he said.

It’s true that the economy has added 2.4 million jobs since November 2016. And it created 196,000 manufacturing positions last year … or 214,000 since November 2016.

Here are the stats from the President’s first year in office: 2 million jobs were added in 2017, growing for a record 87 straight months. (Technically, Trump only gets credit for the 1.8 million jobs created since last February. That’s because the January report was done under former President Barack Obama’s watch.)

Unemployment is at 4.1%, matching the lowest level in 17 years. Companies say they are having a hard time finding workers to fill jobs.

Still, job growth actually slowed last year. That’s because he inherited a strong job market from former Obama. The United States added almost 3 million jobs in 2014, 2.7 million in 2015 and 2.2 million in 2016.

That trend is what’s expected in such a long economic expansion. As unemployment moves to historic lows, job gains eventually slow down.

Verdict: True.

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 30:  U.S. President Donald J. Trump delivers the State of the Union address in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives January 30, 2018 in Washington, DC. This is the first State of the Union address given by U.S. President Donald Trump and his second joint-session address to Congress.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
CNN poll: 48% reacted positively to SOTU speech
02:22 - Source: CNN

Wage stagnation

By Tami Luhby and Patrick Gillespie, CNNMoney

Trump took credit for workers getting higher wages under his tenure.

“After years of wage stagnation, we are finally seeing rising wages,” he said Tuesday.

Last year, wages grew an average of 2.6% – the same rate as 2016. And it’s still considered weak improvement: The Federal Reserve hopes to see wages increase about 3.5% annually.

Wage growth has accelerated somewhat over the past two years. It averaged a paltry 2.2% since October 2010, even though the economy has added jobs every month.

The relative lack of wage growth is a big reason many Americans still feel left out of the recovery from the Great Recession.

Verdict: False.

Auto industry recovery

By Julia Horowitz, Chris Isidore and Tami Luhby, CNNMoney

Trump highlighted the strength of the auto industry, saying he “halted government mandates that crippled America’s auto workers, so we can get the Motor City revving its engines once again.”

But the auto industry’s recovery began years ago. If anything, the comeback has lasted so long that it’s starting to level off: US car sales fell in 2017 for the first time since 2009, coming in at 17.2 million vehicles. They had set a record in 2016 of 17.6 million cars sold.

Still, the industry is healthy. Car prices are going up, and people are buying more expensive models.

Those trends didn’t begin when Trump took office. The Obama administration bailed out General Motors and Chrysler in 2009. What followed was the industry’s longest period of sustained growth in decades.

Verdict: False.

SOTU trump 05
Trump: The era of economic surrender is over
01:13 - Source: CNN


ISIS territorial loss

By Laura Koran, CNN

“Last year, I pledged that we would work with our allies to extinguish ISIS from the face of the earth,” Trump said Tuesday. “One year later, I’m proud to report that the coalition to defeat ISIS has liberated very close to 100% of the territory just recently held by these killers in Iraq and in Syria.”

There is no doubt the military campaign to defeat ISIS has claimed major victories in the past year. The terror group was expelled from their self-proclaimed capital in Raqqa, Syria, as well as its onetime stronghold in Mosul, Iraq.

Exactly how much territory has ISIS lost? Estimates vary, but it’s clear it no longer has firm control over large swaths of land as it did during its heyday in 2014. Last month, the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS estimated that the group had lost 89% of its territory in Iraq and 87% in Syria since that time.

Of course, some of those coalition gains were made during the Obama administration. Just ahead of the inauguration last year, a survey from the analysis firm IHS Conflict Monitor estimated the group had lost nearly a quarter of its territory over the course of 2016.

While the anti-ISIS effort began under the Obama administration, military officials and diplomats credit Trump with delegating more of the day-to-day decision making to commanders on the ground, which they say brought new momentum to the effort.

Still, experts warn that ISIS remains a threat within the region and, potentially, to the US homeland. As the terror group loses physical territory, it is increasingly turning its attention to online radicalizatio