Friday, September 7, 2018

Fifty-two "Major Wins" Claims and Facts - Part Two of Two

26.  Obamacare individual mandate penalty GONE.
Not gone yet.  The individual mandate penalty was the least popular provision of the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare).  Soon after the ACA passed into law, the National Federation of Independent Businesses challenged the constitutionality of the individual mandate.  The US Supreme Court ruled that the mandate was constitutional in 2012.  In December 2017 Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which eliminated the individual mandate penalty - effective as of 1 January 2019.

27.  My Administration is providing more affordable healthcare options for Americans through association health plans and short-term duration plans.
True and false.  The Department of Labor and the Department of Health and Human Services have approved a wide variety of both association health care plans and short-term duration health care plans (that can be renewed for up to 36 months).  There are quite a few options, and groups can form their own associations for coverage.  BUT - while a lot of these plans may cost less than your "regular" employer health coverage, they don't have to cover the 10 "essential benefits" that insurers must cover under the ACA.  That means that the health care plans could skip coverage on prescription drugs, maternity care, mental health services or substance abuse treatments.  Before you sign on to any new health care plan be sure to see a summary of your benefits - review them carefully to see exactly what your chosen plan will cover and will not cover.

28.  Last month, the FDA approved more affordable generic drugs than ever before in history.  And thanks to our efforts, many drug companies are freezing or reversing planned price increases.  We reformed the Medicare program to stop hospitals from overcharging low-income seniors on their drugs - saving seniors hundreds of millions of dollars this year alone.
True (although the date is off) - according to the Department of Health and Human Services  Report on 100 Days of Action on the American Patient First Blueprint written by Dan Best, Senior Advisor (sic) to the Secretary for Drug Pricing Reform.  In July of 2018, 126 generic drugs were approved for sale by the Federal Drug Administration.  

29.  Signed Right-To-Try Legislation.
True.  On 30 May 2018, the President signed the Right To Try legislation. However, the Right To Try legislation grants no rights.  It merely grants permission for a patient to try to get experimental medication from a pharmaceutical company.  Patients would be allowed to try experimental drugs, but there is nothing in the bill to make it mandatory for companies to provide these medications.  Access to these experimental drugs will likely be feasible only for wealthy Americans who can afford to pay for the treatment, as well as any consequences of any negative side effects out of their own pocket.

30.  Secured $6 billion in NEW funding to fight the opioid epidemic.
Yes and no.  In February 2018 the federal budget targeted $6 billion for a two-year period, fiscal 2018 and 2019.  At the end of March 2018, Congress appropriated $3.6 billion of those monies for fiscal 2018, which will end on 30 September.

31.  We have reduced high-dose opioid prescriptions by 16% during my first year in office.
True, according to new data from the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science, which tracks medication use and spending; in particular, higher-dose prescriptions that were above 90 morphine milligram equivalents dropped 165 in 2017.  - But, all opioid prescriptions were down by 12% between 2016 and 2017; so is this a continuing trend, or has the anti-opioid campaign (which I've never seen or heard of) working?

32.  Signed VA Choice Act and VA Accountability Act, expanded VA telehealth services, walk-in clinics and same-day urgent primary and mental health care.
True.  The President signed an executive order extending the Veteran's Choice Program Extension and Improvement Act on 19 April 2017; on 23 June 2017, Congress approved the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017.  On 12 January 2018, Veterans' walk-in clinics, primary urgent care clinics, and mental health clinics were expanded; and on 11 May 2018 the "Anywhere to Anywhere" Telehealth Program was instituted.

33.  Increased our coal exports by 60%; U. S. oil production recently reached all-time high.
True.  US coal exports rose gradually, but steadily from 2006 through 2012; but then steadily declined through 2016.  In 2017, however, US coal exports rose by 61%, due to soaring demand in Europe and Asia.  In June 2018, US crude oil production reached a record high of 10.67 million barrels of oil per day.

34.  United States is a net natural gas exporter for the first time since 1957.
True.  The US exported more natural gas than it imported in 2017, marking the first time since 1957 that the US has been a net natural gas exporter.  Net exports averaged 0.4 billion cubic feet per day last year, flipping from inflows of 1.8 billion cfpd in 2016, according to the US Energy Information Administration.  (But - can Trump take credit for this?  It's been a growing business in the US for years.)

35.  Withdrew the United States from the job-killing Paris Climate Accord.
True.  On 4 August 2017, the United Nations was officially notified that the US would no longer be a supporting member of the Paris Climate Agreement.  (Whether the Agreement was a "job-killer" is open to interpretation.)

36.  Cancelled the illegal, anti-coal, so-called Clean Power Plan.
Yes and no.  The Clean Power Plan was an Obama administration policy aimed at combating global warming that was first proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in June 2014. It became law in 2015.  On 10 October 2017, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced the formal process to change EPA rules and repeal the plan.  Near the end of November Pruitt signed a formal proposal that would end the Clean Power Plan.  The standard regulatory procedures to implement or change a regulation will likely take up to two years.  Potential legal challenges may cause delays to repeal the regulation.  The 2018 Federal Budget completely defunded the Clean Power Act.
  The EPA projects that the Clean Power Plan will save the average American family $85 per year in energy bills in 2030, and it will save enough energy to power 30 million homes and save consumers $155 billion from 2020 through 2030.  The plan would create 30 percent more renewable energy generation in 2030 and will help lower the costs of renewable energy.  It would also create hundreds of thousands of jobs, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

37.  Secured record $700 billion in military funding; $716 billion next year.
True.  The largest amounts of funding ever for our military.

38.  NATO allies are spending $69 billion more on defense since 2016.
????   I honestly cannot figure out where this figure and description of "spending" is coming from...

39.  Process has begun to make the Space Force the 6th branch of the armed forces.
True.  Because the President wants to be the one responsible for creating this 6th Branch of the US military.  It is not included, by name, in the 2019 Congressional Budget, and Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said that cost estimates have not been done yet.  Shanahan personally wrote the mandated Congressional Report that lays out a plan for reorganizing the space components of the military.  It sys the Depart of Defense will "marsha; space resources into a Space Force."

40.  Confirmed more circuit court judges than any other new administration.
True.  The President had 12 circuit court judges approved during his first year in office.  That is more than any president in his first year since circuit courts were created in 1891.

41.  Confirmed Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch; nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
True on both.

42.  Withdrew from the horrible, one-sided Iran Deal.
True.  On 8 May 2018, the President announced the US no longer supported the Iran nuclear deal, pitting him against our closest allies.  He announced he would initiate new sanctions on Iran, crippling the touchstone agreement reached by his predecessor.  During his remarks, the President frequently misrepresented the provisions of the international agreement.

43.  Moved U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.
True and False.  The new US Embassy celebrated it's opening in Jerusalem on 14 May 2018.  But on 7 June 2018, the White House issued a short press release stating that the President had signed the waiver delaying the implementation of the Jerusalem Embassy Act by six months, due to national security concerns.  -  Because the Jerusalem Embassy Act was approved by Congress in 1995, and it states that the US must recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel and move its embassy to the city, or else Congress will significantly hit State Department funding.  However, the legislation had a waiver attached to it, allowing the president to delay the move every six months without facing consequences if he/she believed that implementing the law would hurt American national security interests.  -  Since 1995, Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama consistently signed the waiver.  Now the 45th President is doing it, also.

44.  Protecting Americans from terrorists with the Travel Ban, upheld by Supreme Court.
True (if you believe that terrorists are coming to get you).  Presidential Proclamation 9645 was upheld by the US Supreme Court on 26 June 2018 by a 5 to 4 vote; it was the President's third executive order regarding his Travel Ban, which places a visiting ban on seven countries, all of which are predominantly Muslim in belief.
  The President's stated reason for the issuing of the executive order was to prevent terrorism.  An internal report compiled by the US Department of Homeland Security's Intelligence and Analysis Unit concluded that people from the seven nations affected by the travel ban pose no increased terror risk.  The report found that "country  of citizenship is unlikely to be a reliable indicator of potential terrorist activity" and that few individuals from the seven named countries access the US in any case, since the State Department grants such a small number of visas to citizens of those countries.  The report found that of 82 people determined to have been inspired by a foreign terrorist organization "to carry out or try to carry out an attack in the United States, just over half of them were US citizens born in the United States," while the rest came from a group of 26 different countries, only two of which were among the seven nations included in the Travel Ban.

45.  Issued executive order to keep open Guantanamo Bay.
True.  On 30 January 2018 the President signed an executive order to keep the prison at Guantanamo Bay open.  "The United States may transport additional detainees to US Naval Station Guantanamo Bay when lawful and necessary to protect the Nation," the order stated.  By one estimate, it costs US taxpayers over $10 million per year for each detainee at Guantanamo Bay, as compared with $78,000 per year to detain someone in a maximum security federal prison. 

46.  Concluded an historic U.S.-Mexico Trade Deal to replace NAFTA.  And negotiations with Canada are underway as we speak.
 Sorta-kinda.  A preliminary agreement has been reached with Mexico to replace NAFTA.  The President wants to call it the U.S.-Mexico Trade Deal; and the reach a U.S.-Canada Trade Deal separately.  Both Mexico and Canada want a three-sided agreement, like NAFTA - not just a one-on-one agreement like the President wants.

47.  Reached a breakthrough agreement with the EU to increase U.S. exports.
True.  An agreement was reached, but I'm not sure if it's a "breakthrough."  The EU head agreed to purchase more liquified natural gas and non-GMO soybeans from the US, and to work on international standards for medical devices.  Specifics regarding automotive and industrial tariffs are being worked on.

48.  Imposed tariffs on foreign Steel & Aluminum to protect our national security.
True.  The President did impose tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum that is imported from Canada, Mexico, and the European Union - our allies.  He complained of "cheap steel and aluminum," but that is being imported by China; not the three countries hit with the tariffs.  - But, how do tariffs for allies on steel and aluminum "protect our national security?"

49.  Imposed tariffs on China in response to China's forced technology transfer, intellectual property theft, and their chronically abusive trade practices.
True.  The President decided to impose tariffs on $50 billion worth of imports from China as punishment for alleged theft of American intellectual property.  Such violations, from counterfeiting famous brands and stealing trade secrets to pressuring companies to share technologies, have long angered China's overseas competitors.  US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer just completed a seven-month investigation into China and intellectual property at the President's direction.  The $50 billion figure is based on US estimates of the lost corporate earnings caused by China's alleged IP theft or forced technology transfers. US officials were said to find strong evidence that China uses foreign-ownership restrictions to compel American companies to switch technology to local firms, and that China supports and conducts cyber attacks on US companies to access trade secrets.

50.  Net exports are on track to increase by $59 billion this year.
????   Could not find this in any statement or release on-line.  However, according to the US National Trade Data (compiled by the Census Bureau) the Report for July 2018 Trade in Goods and Services , released 5 September 2018 states:  " Deficit: $50.1 Billion;  Exports: $211.1 Billion;  Imports: $261.2 Billion"

51.  Improved vetting & screening for refugees, and switched focus to overseas resettlement.
True  True, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen announced additional security enhancements and recommendations to strengthen the integrity of the US Refugee Admissions Program.  These new measures are part of the administration's ongoing efforts to intensify screening and vetting for all persons seeking to travel to the US, and they are designed to keep nefarious and fradulent people from exploiting the refugee program to enter the US.  The recommendations include:  (1) Additional screening for certain nationals of high-risk countries.  (2) Administering the USRAP in a more risk-based manner when considering the overall refugee admissions ceiling, regional allocations, and the groups of applicants considered for resettlement.  (3) A periodic review and update of the refugee high-risk country list and selection criteria.
   And,yes, this administration has switched it's focus to overseas resettlement, by which, they mean not allowing refugees into the United States, and pointing them toward other countries.  1 April marked the halfway point in the federal government's fiscal year, and so far, the US has only admitted 10,548 refugees, placing it on track to fall far short of its already low admission ceiling of 45,000 individuals.  Resettlement workers and refugee advocates say that this is further evidence of the 45th administration's deliberate efforts to sabotage the refugee resettlement system now and for years to come.

52.  We have begun BUILDING THE WALL.  Republicans want STRONG BORDERS and NO CRIME.  Democrats want OPEN BORDERS which equals MASSIVE CRIME.
Sentence one: False.  Sentence two: probably true.  Sentence three: probably false.   -  There are projects underway to replace fencing along the border in San Diego and further east in Calexico.  Those call for new and taller bollard-style barriers, which include a comb-like array of steel posts that border agents can see through, some of which were planned long before the President decided to run for office.
  A recent appropriation by Congress of $1.6 billion allows for the replacement of old fencing, but not for the construction of any sort of concrete or see-through wall prototype as the President requested.  "The one thing we don't fund is the one issue we all campaigned on - a border security wall - and that is not in the legislation," Republican Representative Jim Jodan, founder of the House Freedom Caucus, said of the omnibus bill.
  In San Diego, the project underway will replace 14 miles of scrap metal fencing that is now 8-to 10 feet high with the bollard-style barrier.  That replacement will be 18-to 30 feet in height and include an anti-climbing plate, according to a US Customs and Borer Protection news release, that announced the start of construction on 1 June 2018.  The press release calls it the third "border wall construction project," which is misleading.  That's because none of the projects that have already started will produce the solid, 30-foot high concrete barrier that the President promised during his 2016 campaign.  More specifically, they won't include any of the eight border wall prototype designs ordered by the current administration.

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