Donald Trump on Monday peddled largely uncontroversial Republican economic plans during a major policy address in Detroit—but he also pushed a slew of falsehoods about the health of the American economy.
During the subdued, buttoned-up address, which came on the heels of a long week of missteps for the campaign, Trump cast himself as the antidote to the job-killing economic policies of Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama.
He called for a moratorium on all new government regulations and railed against the federal tax code and the failure of international trade deals, much of which is well-traveled territory for Trump.
“We need to stop believing in politicians and start believing in our great country,” the nominee told the crowd. As President, Trump vowed to “jump-start America,” noting, “It can be done, and it won’t even be that hard.”
Trump also repeated his well-worn claim that the “real” unemployment rate is much higher than the Labor Department reports, which he framed as an intentional effort to spin the state of the U.S. economy in “one of the biggest hoaxes in American modern politics.”
The New York real estate mogul has suggested the unemployment rate is actually anywhere from 21 percent to as high at 42 percent, while the federal government has reported the rate hovering around 5 percent. As the Wall Street Journal points out, Trump’s claim is correct only in the sense that it includes groups the Labor Department doesn’t count as unemployed, like the elderly, teenagers in school, the disabled and stay-at-home parents.
In one false line of attack on Clinton, Trump claimed the former secretary of state has proposed “one of the biggest ever” tax increases, which he said would target middle-class Americans. A video sent out by the campaign last week, which relies on an incorrect transcript, misleadingly claimed Clinton said at a campaign event, “We are going to raise taxes on the middle class,” when she actually said “aren’t.” Her campaign has disputed any remarks about raising taxes on the middle class.
Tearing another page out of the playbook of Republican orthodoxy, Trump promised he would repeal “disastrous Obamacare, saving another 2 million American jobs.” However, the notion that the Affordable Care Act “killed” 2 million jobs, which is based on a bungled interpretation of a Congressional Budget Office report, has been thoroughly debunked.
According to Trump, the U.S. has the highest business tax rate among the major industrialized nations of the world at 35 percent, which under his plan would be slashed to no more than 15 percent. Although the country has the third-highest top marginal corporate income tax rate in the world (and the highest among the industrialized nations), the reality is that the money collected is cut significantly by things like tax credits and offshore tax havens. In 2010, the average effective federal tax rate paid by large, profitable corporations was just 12.6 percent, according to the Government Accountability Office.
Pointing to the dire economic situation in Detroit, the GOP nominee said it’s a city “controlled by Democratic politicians, at every level.” Even that isn’t true: Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is a Republican and both chambers of the state Legislature are controlled by Republicans.
This post has been updated.