The si­lent part­ner in Trump’s boasts — Barack Obama

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - NEWS - By HOPE YEN and CALVIN WOOD­WARD As­so­ci­ated Press

WASH­ING­TON >> Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has a si­lent part­ner behind sev­eral of the ac­com­plish­ments he likes to boast about: Barack Obama.

De­spite as­sail­ing his Demo­cratic pre­de­ces­sor for wag­ing a “cruel and heart­less war on Amer­i­can en­ergy,” for example, Trump can brag about U.S. en­ergy supremacy thanks to the sec­tor’s growth in the Obama years.

And the Obama-Trump decade is soon to yield an eco­nomic record if things stay on track a lit­tle longer — the most sus­tained ex­pan­sion in U.S. his­tory. Though Trump claims all the credit, the ex­pan­sion started in Obama’s first year, con­tin­ued through his pres­i­dency and has been main­tained under Trump.

There are no fist bumps in the off­ing, how­ever.

The past week saw the kick­off of Trump’s 2020 cam­paign with a rally in Florida. That and other events pro­vided Trump a plat­form that he used to ex­ag­ger­ate what he’s done, take some fac­tu­ally chal­lenged swipes at Obama and Democrats at large, and make prom­ises that will be hard to keep.

A sam­pling:


TRUMP, on sep­a­rat­ing chil­dren from adults at the Mex­i­can border: “When I be­came pres­i­dent, Pres­i­dent Obama had a sep­a­ra­tion pol­icy. I didn’t have it. He had it. I brought the families to­gether. I’m the one that brought ‘em to­gether. Now, I said some­thing when I did that. I’m the one that put peo­ple to­gether . ... They sep­a­rated. I put ‘em to­gether.’ — interview with Tele­mu­ndo broad­cast Thurs­day.

JOSE DIAZ-BALART, in­ter­viewer: “You did not.”

THE FACTS: Trump is not telling the truth. The sep­a­ra­tion of thou­sands of mi­grant chil­dren from their par­ents re­sulted from his “zero tol­er­ance” pol­icy. Obama had no such pol­icy. Af­ter a pub­lic up­roar and under a court order, Trump ceased the sep­a­ra­tions.

Zero tol­er­ance meant that U.S. au­thor­i­ties would crim­i­nally pros­e­cute all adults caught cross­ing into the U.S. il­le­gally. Do­ing so meant de­ten­tion for adults and the re­moval of their chil­dren while their par­ents were in cus­tody. Dur­ing the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, such fam­ily sep­a­ra­tions were the ex­cep­tion. They be­came the prac­tice under Trump’s pol­icy, which he sus­pended a year ago.

Be­fore Trump’s zero-tol­er­ance pol­icy, mi­grant families caught il­le­gally en­ter­ing the U.S. were usu­ally re­ferred for civil de­por­ta­tion pro­ceed­ings, not re­quir­ing sep­a­ra­tion, un­less they were known to have a crim­i­nal record. Then and now, im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials may take a child from a parent in cer­tain cases, such as se­ri­ous crim­i­nal charges against a parent, con­cerns over the health and wel­fare of a child or med­i­cal con­cerns. ••• TRUMP on de­ten­tion cen­ters at the border: “Pres­i­dent Obama is the one that built those prison cells.” — Tele­mu­ndo interview.

THE FACTS: He has a point. Whether they are called prison cells or some­thing else, Obama held chil­dren in tem­po­rary, ill-equipped fa­cil­i­ties and built a large cen­ter in McAllen, Texas, that is used now.

Democrats rou­tinely and in­ac­cu­rately blame Trump for cre­at­ing “cages” for chil­dren. They are ac­tu­ally re­fer­ring to chain-link fenc­ing in­side the McAllen cen­ter — Obama’s cre­ation.

Con­di­tions for de­tained mi­grants de­te­ri­o­rated sharply dur­ing a surge of Cen­tral Amer­i­can ar­rivals under Trump, par­tic­u­larly in El Paso, Texas.


TRUMP: “This will be the largest trade deal ever made, and it won’t even be close. If you take a look at the num­bers, sec­ond is so far away, you don’t even call it sec­ond. So it’s very ex­cit­ing. And very ex­cit­ing for Mex­ico; very ex­cit­ing for Canada.” — re­marks Thurs­day with Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau.

THE FACTS: That’s wrong, simply by virtue of the num­ber of trade part­ners in­volved.

The pro­posed new agree­ment, re­plac­ing the North Amer­i­can Free Trade agree­ment, cov­ers the same three coun­tries. The Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship, ne­go­ti­ated by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, included the three NAFTA part­ners — United States, Canada and Mex­ico — plus Ja­pan and eight other Pa­cific Rim coun­tries. Trump with­drew the United States from the pact on his third day in of­fice.

Even the Pa­cific deal pales in com­par­i­son with one that did go into ef­fect with the U.S. on board, the Uruguay Round. Con­cluded in 1994, the round of ne­go­ti­a­tions cre­ated the World Trade Organizati­on and was signed by 123 coun­tries. The Fed­eral Re­serve Bank of Bos­ton said the WTO’s ini­tial mem­ber­ship ac­counted for more than 90 per­cent of global eco­nomic out­put. ••• TRUMP on his tar­iffs: “We are tak­ing in bil­lions and bil­lions of dol­lars into our trea­sury . ... We have never taken 10 cents from China.” — rally Tues­day in Orlando, Florida.

THE FACTS: It’s false to say the U.S. never col­lected a dime in tar­iffs on Chi­nese goods be­fore he took ac­tion. They are simply higher in some cases than they were be­fore. It’s also wrong to sug­gest that the tar­iffs are be­ing paid by China. Tar­iff money com­ing into the trea­sury is mainly from U.S. busi­nesses and con­sumers, not from China. Tar­iffs are pri­mar­ily if not en­tirely a tax paid do­mes­ti­cally.


TRUMP: “Pres­i­dent Obama made a des­per­ate and ter­ri­ble deal with Iran - Gave them 150 Bil­lion Dol­lars plus I.8 Bil­lion Dol­lars in CASH! Iran was in big trou­ble and he bailed them out. Gave them a free path to Nu­clear Weapons, and SOON. In­stead of say­ing thank you, Iran yelled ... Death to Amer­ica. I ter­mi­nated deal.” — tweet Fri­day.

TRUMP, on his ac­com­plish­ments: “And then ter­mi­nat­ing one of the worst deals ever made, the Iran deal that was made by Pres­i­dent Obama — paid $150 bil­lion. Paid $1.8 bil­lion in cash. I ter­mi­nated that and Iran is a much dif­fer­ent coun­try.” — Fox News interview Wed­nes­day.

THE FACTS: There was no $150 bil­lion pay­out from the U.S. trea­sury. The money he refers to rep­re­sents Ira­nian assets held abroad that were frozen un­til the in­ter­na­tional deal was reached and Tehran was al­lowed to ac­cess its funds.

The pay­out of about $1.8 bil­lion is a sep­a­rate mat­ter. That dates to the 1970s, when Iran paid the U.S. $400 mil­lion for mil­i­tary equip­ment that was never de­liv­ered be­cause the gov­ern­ment was over­thrown and diplo­matic re­la­tions rup­tured.

That left peo­ple, busi­nesses and gov­ern­ments in each coun­try in­debted to part­ners in the other, and these com­plex claims took decades to sort out in tri­bunals and ar­bi­tra­tion. For its part, Iran paid set­tle­ments of more than $2.5 bil­lion to U.S. cit­i­zens and busi­nesses.

The day af­ter the nu­clear deal was im­ple­mented, the U.S. and Iran an­nounced they had set­tled the claim over the 1970s mil­i­tary equip­ment order, with the U.S. agree­ing to pay the $400 mil­lion prin­ci­pal along with about $1.3 bil­lion in in­ter­est. The $400 mil­lion was paid in cash and flown to Tehran on a cargo plane, which gave rise to Trump’s dra­matic accounts of money stuffed in bar­rels or boxes and de­liv­ered in the dead of night. The ar­range­ment pro­vided for the in­ter­est to be paid later, not crammed into con­tain­ers.

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