FACT CHECK: Trump's Speech On The Economy, Annotated
Donald Trump laid out his plan for the economy, criticizing globalization and policies that promote free trade, in a speech in Monessen, Pa., on Tuesday.
NPR's politics team has annotated Trump's speech. The portions we commented on are bolded, followed by analysis and fact check in italics. We will update further.
The speech follows:
Thank you everybody. I'd like to thank the owner of the plant. I'd like to thank Rick Santorum, our great senator. And I have to say all of the amazing workers. Gabe [Hudock] said they're the most important. The amazing workers.
And I know you've been through some very, very tough times. But we're going to make it better and we're going to make it better fast. Just watch. It is great to be here. I'd like to thank Alumisource and all the amazing workers here for hosting us.
So today, I am going to talk about how to make America wealthy again. Have to do it.
We are 30 miles from Steel City. Pittsburgh played a central role in building our nation.
The legacy of Pennsylvania steelworkers lives in the bridges, railways and skyscrapers that make up our great American landscape.
But our workers' loyalty — you know it better than anybody — was repaid with total betrayal.
Our politicians have aggressively pursued a policy of globalization — moving our jobs, our wealth and our factories to Mexico and overseas.
[The Trump campaign provided a footnoted version of this speech on its website. Interestingly, this passage and others later in the speech cite research from the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank whose research has often been cited by Bernie Sanders, among others. — Danielle Kurtzleben]
Globalization has made the financial elite who donate to politicians very, very, wealthy. I used to be one of them. Hate to say it, but I used to be one. But it has left millions of our workers with nothing but poverty and heartache.
[Trump seems to be acknowledging one of the biggest criticisms leveled at his campaign. He runs on fiercely protectionist policies, but many of the goods produced under his name (as well as his daughter Ivanka's) have been produced in other countries, as Harvard's Robert Lawrence detailed in a March column at PBS. — Danielle Kurtzleben]
When subsidized foreign steel is dumped into our markets, threatening our factories, the politicians have proven, folks, have proven, they do nothing.
For years, they watched on the sidelines as our jobs vanished and our communities were plunged into Depression-level unemployment. Many of these areas have still never recovered. And never will unless I become president. Then they're going to recover fast.
Our politicians took away from the people their means of making a living and supporting their families.
Skilled craftsmen and tradespeople and factory workers have seen the jobs they loved shipped thousands and thousands of miles away.
Many Pennsylvania towns once thriving and humming are now in a state [of] despair. This wave of globalization has wiped out totally, totally, our middle class. It doesn't have to be this way. We can turn it all around — and we can turn it around fast.
But if we're going to deliver real change, we're going to have to reject the campaign of fear and intimidation being pursued by powerful corporations, media elites, and political dynasties.
The people who rigged the system for their benefit will do anything — and say anything — to keep things exactly the way they are.
The people who rigged the system are supporting Hillary Clinton because they know as long as she is in charge nothing is going to change.
The inner cities will remain poor. The factories will remain closed. The borders will remain open. The special interests will remain firmly in control.
Hillary Clinton and her friends in global finance want to scare America into thinking small — and they want to scare American people out of voting for a better future. And you have a great future, folks. You have a great future. These people have given her tens of billions of dollars.
My campaign has the absolute opposite message.
I want you to imagine a much better life and a life where you can believe in the American dream again. Right now you can't do that. I want you to imagine how much better our future can be if we declare independence from the elites who've led us to one financial and foreign policy disaster to another.
Our friends in Britain recently voted to take back control of their economy, politics and borders. I was on the right side of that issue, as you know — with the people — I was there, I said it was going to happen, I felt it — while Hillary, as always, stood with the elites, and both she and President Obama predicted that one and many others, totally wrong.
Now it's time for the American people to take back their future. They're going to take it back.
That's the choice we face. We can either give in to Hillary Clinton's campaign of fear, or we can choose to believe again in America.
Very sadly, we lost our way when we stopped believing in our country.
America became the world's dominant economy by becoming the world's dominant producer. You know that from right here. Right in this plant.
The wealth this created was shared broadly, creating the biggest middle class the world had ever known.
But then America changed its policy from promoting development in America — in, in, in America — to promoting development in other nations. That's what's happening and that's what happened.
We allowed foreign countries to subsidize their goods, devalue their currencies, violate their agreements, and cheat in every way imaginable. And our politicians did nothing about it.
Trillions of our dollars and millions of our jobs flowed overseas as a result.
I have visited cities and towns across this country where a third or even half of manufacturing jobs have been wiped out in the last 20 years.
[Promoting the growth of manufacturing is an economic policy that embodies Trump's Make America Great Again slogan. Manufacturing employment is down by 37 percent since its peak in 1979, and politicians often point at the decline of manufacturing jobs as a symbol of the declining middle class — these jobs were once a clear path to a middle-class life for many Americans. But over the years, the U.S. economy has become increasingly service-based. Manufacturing employment has rebounded some, but it's hard to see all those manufacturing jobs coming back. In addition, to be clear, manufacturing jobs have fallen off, but not manufacturing production, which has grown over time, interrupted mainly by recessions. — Danielle Kurtzleben
[Manufacturing employment did drop off steeply after China joined the WTO and fell further during the Great Recession. Since bottoming out in 2010, though, the U.S. has added 832,000 factory jobs. While outsourcing accounts for some of the job loss, it's also true that today's American manufacturers are highly efficient, requiring fewer workers to produce the same or more stuff. — Scott Horsley]
Today, we import nearly $800 billion more in goods than we export. Can't continue to do that.
[Trump's statement here is accurate. The trade deficit in goods was $762.565 billion for 2015, as noted on Page 6 of this census report. When combining goods and services, the U.S. trade deficit drops to $500.361 billion, because of a trade surplus on services. — Will Huntsberry]
This is not some natural disaster. It is political and politician-made disaster. Very simple. And it can be corrected. And we can correct it fast. When we have people with the right thinking, right up here. It is the consequence of a leadership class that worships globalism over Americanism. This is a direct affront to our Founding Fathers, who America wanted to be strong, they wanted this country to be strong, and they wanted it to be independent and they wanted it to be free.
Our Founding Fathers understood trade much better than our current politicians, believe me. George Washington said that "the promotion of domestic manufactur[ing] will be among the first consequences to flow from an energetic government."
Alexander Hamilton spoke frequently of the "expediency of encouraging manufacturing in — in, in, in — the United States." And listen to this. The first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, warned that "the abandonment of the protective policy by the American government ... will produce want and ruin among our people." He understood it much better than our current politicians. That's why he was Abraham Lincoln, I guess.
[Associating your policies with the Founders and Lincoln arguably has a sort of halo effect — you can link your ideas to figures that everyone loves (not to mention one Founder in particular who is so hot right now). But that doesn't mean protectionist policies of the 18th and 19th centuries could be justified in the same way today. We asked Barry Bosworth, a senior fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution, about this.
[For one thing, he said, not everyone at the time agreed that protectionism was a good thing.
["The issue was a major source of dispute in the 1800s between the agricultural interests who wanted trade and the eastern industrialists who wanted protection," he wrote in an email. One argument was that the developing U.S. economy had "infant industries" that needed protection. "Of course, the infant industry argument is not attractive to the United States today when we have the largest and most advanced economy, but we do hear infant industry arguments from some poorer emerging markets," he wrote. — Danielle Kurtzleben]
Our original Constitution did not even have an income tax. Instead, it had tariffs — emphasizing taxation of foreign, not domestic, production.
Yet today, 240 years after the Revolution, we have turned things completely upside down.
We tax and regulate and restrict our companies to death, and then we allow foreign countries that cheat to export their goods to us tax-free. How stupid is this? How could it happen? How stupid is this?
As a result, we have become more dependent on foreign countries than ever before. Ladies and gentlemen, it's time to declare our economic independence once again. That means voting for Donald Trump. I'll do it. No doubt about it. Not even a little doubt.
It also means reversing two of the worst legacies of the Clinton years. America has lost nearly one-third of its manufacturing jobs since 1997 — even as the country has increased its population by, think of this, 50 million people.
At the center of this catastrophe are two trade deals pushed by Bill and Hillary Clinton. First, the North American Free Trade Agreement, or the disaster called NAFTA. Second, China's entry into the World Trade Organization.
NAFTA was the worst trade deal in the history, it's like this history of this country,
[It's hard to say what Trump's gauge is for "worst in history." But NAFTA doesn't seem to have been catastrophic for the U.S. economy or for U.S. jobs. As we pointed out in our last Trump speech annotation, nonpartisan analyses have found only a small economic impact from NAFTA. The Congressional Research Service wrote in a 2015 report, "NAFTA did not cause the huge job losses feared by the critics or the large economic gains predicted by supporters." -- Danielle Kurtzleben]
and China's entrance into the World Trade Organization has enabled the greatest jobs theft in history of our country.
[There is recent evidence that trade with China really has contributed significantly to job losses in the U.S. One highly cited 2013 study on the China-U.S. trade relationship found that "import competition explains one-quarter of the ... decline in U.S. manufacturing employment" between 1990 and 2007. One of that paper's authors, David Autor, told NPR's Chris Arnold this year that that amounted to nearly 1 million jobs. — Danielle Kurtzleben]
It was Bill Clinton who signed NAFTA, people don't remember, in 1993, and Hillary Clinton who supported it. And the havoc it wreaked after he left office was unbelievable.
[As noted by the Washington Post, more Republicans than Democrats supported NAFTA at the time of its approval. — Sarah McCammon
[Also, as the Post's Glenn Kessler noted, NAFTA was negotiated under George H.W. Bush, not Clinton, and Bush signed it. As this 1992 article from the Baltimore Sun explains, that signing set the stage for Congress to vote the deal up or down. Clinton later signed it into law, after the three countries ratified it. — Danielle Kurtzleben]
It was also Bill Clinton who lobbied for China's disastrous entry into the World Trade Organization, and Hillary Clinton who backed that terrible, terrible agreement.
Then, as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton stood by idly while China cheated on its currency, added another trillion dollars to our trade deficits, and stole hundreds of billions of dollars in our intellectual property.
And I've been talking about China for many years. And you know what? Nobody listened. But they're listening now, that I can tell you.
The city of Pittsburgh, and the state of Pennsylvania, have lost one-third of their manufacturing jobs since the Clintons put China into the WTO. Fifty thousand factories across America have shut their doors in that time. And this factory, because of your great owners Gabe and Gloria, it's hanging in. Hanging in. But they just told me, it's not easy.
Almost half of our entire manufacturing trade deficit in goods with the world and it's the result of trade with China. It was also Hillary Clinton, as secretary of state, who shoved us into a job-killing deal with South Korea.
As reported by the Economic Policy Institute in May, this deal doubled our trade deficit with South Korea and destroyed nearly 100,000 American jobs. As Bernie Sanders said, Hillary Clinton "voted for virtually every trade agreement that has cost the workers of this country millions, millions, of jobs."
Trade reform, and the negotiation of great trade deals, is the quickest way to bring our jobs back to our country. To understand why trade reform creates jobs, and it creates a lot of them, we need to understand how all nations grow and prosper.
Massive trade deficits subtract directly from our gross domestic product. From 1947 to 2001 — a span of over five decades — our inflation-adjusted gross domestic product grew at a rate of 3.5 percent.
However, since 2002 — the year after we fully opened our markets to Chinese imports — that GDP growth rate has been cut almost in half.
[There was also a major recession between 2002 and today — one that trade with China didn't cause. In addition, there was strong growth in some of those years. — Danielle Kurtzleben]
What does this mean for Americans? Not good. For every 1 percent of GDP growth we fail to generate in any given year, we also fail to create over 1 million jobs. What a waste. And what a sad, sad thing.
[Trump has favored other policies, like Brexit and his economic plans, which experts have said could potentially hold back U.S. economic growth. — Danielle Kurtzleben]
America's job creation deficit, due to slower growth since 2002, is well over 20 million jobs — and that's just about the number of jobs our country needs right now to put America back to work at decent wages. Wages are very low because there's no competition and they're going to go up because we're going to thrive again as a country.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership is the greatest danger yet.
[Earlier this year, the U.S. International Trade Commission projected the TPP would have a modest net benefit to the U.S. economy by boosting the agriculture and the service sectors, though it would very likely depress manufacturing slightly, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. As the Journal wrote, "If anything, the The ITC report and other reviews by economists show the deal's impact of the TPP is likely to be extremely small on the overall U.S. economy and most industries." — Sarah McCammon]
The TPP, as it's known, would be the death blow for American manufacturing. It would give up all of our economic leverage to an international commission that would put the interests of foreign countries above our own.
It would further open our markets to aggressive currency cheaters. Cheaters. That's what they are, cheaters. They're not playing by the rules. They're cheating.
It would make it easier for our trading competitors to ship cheap subsidized goods into U.S. markets — while allowing foreign countries to continue putting barriers in front of our exports. Which is what they do. It's very hard to export to their countries. They make it very difficult. We, on the other hand, come on in everybody, come on in. Bad leadership.
The TPP would lower tariffs on foreign cars, while leaving in place the foreign practices that keep American cars from being sold overseas. That's not all, mark my words. China will enter the TPP through the back door at a later date. They are watching; they are studying. They're not it in now, but they're gonna be in it. If it's good, they'll be there. By the way, if it's no good, they'll pass. It's the same way. Always is.
The agreement would also force American workers to compete directly against workers from Vietnam, one of the lowest-wage countries on Earth.
Not only will the TPP undermine our economy, but it will undermine our independence. That's what's happened. The TPP creates a new international commission that makes decisions the American people are no longer given the right to veto.
These commissions are Great Hillary Clinton's Wall Street funders who can spend vast amounts of money to influence the people on the commissions and the outcomes. It should be no surprise, then, that Hillary Clinton, according to Bloomberg, took a "leading part in drafting the Trans-Pacific Partnership." Please remember that. Especially in November.
She praised or even pushed the TPP on 45 separate occasions, and even called it the "gold standard."
Hillary Clinton was totally for the TPP just a short while ago, but when she saw my stance, which is totally against, she was shamed into saying she would be against it too — and I will tell you, it was the same shame that she had recently when she was sort of forced into saying "radical Islamic terrorism" which she didn't want to say, but she was shamed into that one. But have no doubt that she will immediately approve it if it is put before her, and that is guaranteed. Guaranteed.
She will do this just as she has betrayed American workers for Wall Street throughout her career. Her whole career she has betrayed the American worker. She's trying to put on a good front now. She will betray you again. Her career and her husband have signed so many disasters. And never ever forget NAFTA. Just never ever forget it, because you know what it's done and I know what it's done. And in touring I've seen the devastation that it's left behind.
Here's how it would go: She would make a small token change, declare the TPP pact fixed, and ram it through. And you will suffer.
That's why Hillary is now only saying she has problems with the TPP "in its current form" — you know what that means. That means like they'll make a little two-word change, and she'll fix it and she'll feel great. But she says in its current form — she will rush to embrace it again at her earliest opportunity.
If the media doesn't believe me, I have a challenge for you and Hillary. Ask Hillary Clinton if she is willing to withdraw from the TPP her first day in office and unconditionally rule out its passage in any form.
There is no way to fix TPP. We need bilateral trade deals. We do not need to enter into another massive international agreement that ties us up and binds us down. Like TPP does.
A Trump administration will change our failed trade policies, and I mean quickly.
Here are seven steps I would pursue right away to bring back our jobs:
No. 1: I am going to withdraw the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which has not yet been ratified.
[No. 2] I'm going to appoint the toughest and smartest trade negotiators to fight on behalf of American workers.
[No. 3] I'm going to direct the secretary of commerce to identify every violation of trade agreements a foreign country is currently using to harm you, the American workers. I will then direct all appropriate agencies to use every tool under American and international law to end these abuses. And abuse is the right word.
No. 4: I'm going tell our NAFTA partners that I intend to immediately renegotiate the terms of that agreement to get a better deal by a lot, not just a little, by a lot for our workers. And if they do not agree to a renegotiation, which they might not because they're so used to having their own way. Not with Trump, they won't have their own way. Then I will submit notice under Article 2205 of the NAFTA agreement that America intends to withdraw from the deal.
No. 5: I am going to instruct my Treasury secretary to label China a currency manipulator. Which should've been done years ago. Any country that devalues their currency in order to take unfair advantage of the United States, which is many countries, will be met with sharply. And that includes taxes and tariffs.
[This promise sounds a bit recycled, like those aluminum cans behind the candidate. Mitt Romney also promised to label China a currency manipulator in 2012. For that matter, so did Barack Obama in 2008. — Scott Horsley]
No. 6: I am going to instruct the U.S. Trade Representative to bring trade cases against China, both in this country and at the WTO. China's unfair subsidy behavior is prohibited by the terms of its entrance to the WTO, and I intend to enforce those rules and regulations and basically, I intend to enforce the agreements for all countries, including China.
[No.] 7: If China does not stop its illegal activities, including its theft of American trade secrets, I will use every lawful presidential — hey look this is very easy, this is so easy. I love saying this — I will use every lawful presidential power to remedy trade disputes, including the application of tariffs consistent with Section 201 and 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 and Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.
And when they say trade expansion, they're talking about other countries, they're not talking about us, because there is no expansion. They get the expansion, we get the joblessness. That's the way it works. Not going to happen anymore.
President Reagan deployed similar trade measures when motorcycle and semiconductor imports threatened U.S. industry. I remember. His tariff on Japanese motorcycles was 45 percent and his tariff to shield America's semiconductor industry was 100 percent. And that had a big impact, folks. A big impact.
Hillary Clinton, and her campaign of fear, will try to spread the lie that these actions will start a trade war. She has it completely backwards.
Hillary Clinton unleashed a trade war against the American worker when she supported one terrible trade deal after another — from NAFTA to China to South Korea.
[Trump isn't just disagreeing with Clinton's policies. Powerful right-leaning groups like the Chamber of Commerce also disagree with him. The chamber reacted to Trump's speech with tweets saying that Trump's plans would cost jobs and that NAFTA has been good for the economy. — Danielle Kurtzleben]
It doesn't matter, no matter where she went, the American worker was hurt and you will be hurt worse than ever before if she becomes president of the United States. That I can tell you.
A Trump administration will end that war by getting a fair deal for the American people. And the American worker. The era of economic surrender will finally be over. It will be over. You're not going to see it anymore. Although, I can't guarantee it, because after me they're probably [going to] start doing it again. But we will have have four, maybe eight great, great, great productive years. And we'll never go back and we'll make sure we never go back.
A new era of prosperity will finally begin.
America will be independent once more. Independent once more. Doesn't that sound great?
Under a Trump presidency, the American worker will finally have a president who will protect them and fight for them. We will stand up to trade cheating — cheating, cheaters, that's what they are. Cheaters. We will stand up to trade cheating anywhere and everywhere it threatens the American job.
We will make America the best place in the world to start a business, we'll hire workers, and we'll open factories. And we'll get rid of these horrible regulations that make it impossible to do business in this country. This will also include massive tax reform to lift the crushing burdens on American workers and businesses.
We will also get rid of all of these rules, and all of these problems, and all of the bureaucracy, which are destroying, absolutely destroying our job creation capacity, which we use to be the best in the world. And now we're getting close to the bottom, folks. We're getting close to the bottom.
Many people think that these regulations are an even greater impediment than the fact that we are one of the highest-taxed nations in the world. We are also going to fully capture America's tremendous energy capacity. This will create, for our workers, and that's what we want, for our workers, growth for our economy and [to] begin reducing our budget deficits, which are massive. Yearly budget deficit, massive.
Our trade deficits, we don't even want to talk about it. Our budget deficits are massive. Hillary Clinton wants to shut down energy production and shut down the mines. And she wants to shut down, and she said it just recently, she wants to shut down the miners. I want to do exactly the opposite.
[Here's what Hillary Clinton actually said about coal mining jobs. — Scott Horsley]
A Trump administration will also ensure that we start using American steel for American infrastructure. And aluminum. Just like the American steel from Pennsylvania that built the Empire State Building. That's what we're going to do. It built the Empire State Building. It will be American steel that will fortify America's crumbling bridges. American steel.
It will be American steel. It will be American steel that sends our skyscrapers soaring, soaring into the sky. Beautiful sight. More beautiful with American steel. It will be American steel that rebuilds our inner cities. It will be American hands that remake this country, and it will be American energy — mined from American resources — that powers this country.
It will be American workers who are hired to do the job. Nobody else. American workers. We are going to put American-produced steel and aluminum back into the backbone of our country. This alone will create massive numbers of jobs. High-paying jobs. Good jobs. Not the jobs we have today, which everybody agrees are bad jobs. We're going to create [a] massive number of good jobs. On trade, on immigration, on foreign policy, we are going to put America first again.
We are going to make America wealthy again. We are going to reject Hillary Clinton's policy of fear, and her policy of absolute nonsense, because it's not working. And it's grossly incompetent, and we can't take it any longer and we're not going to take it any longer. We are going to embrace the possibilities of change. But real change — not Obama change.
It is time to believe in the future. It is time to believe in each other. It is time to believe In America again. This is how we are going to make America great again — for all Americans. For all Americans. We are going to make America great again for everyone — greater than ever before.
And I promise you, if I become president, we are going to be working again. We are going to have great jobs again. You're going to be so happy. You're going to be proud of your president. You're going to be proud, proud, proud of our country once again. Thank you.
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