State of the Union fact check: What Donald Trump is claiming

PHOTO: President Donald Trump delivers the State of the Union address as U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan look on in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives, Jan. 30, 2018.PlayWin McNamee/Getty Images
WATCH Fact-checking Trump's State of the Union address

After a tumultuous and busy first year in office, President Donald Trump delivered his first State of the Union address to Congress and the country.

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Our team of journalists from ABC News investigated some of those statements, looking for additional context, detail and information.

Here is ABC News' fact check of the address:

PHOTO: President Donald Trump delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 30, 2018. Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
President Donald Trump delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 30, 2018.

Fact check No. 1

TRUMP CLAIM: "We enacted the biggest tax cuts and reforms in American history."

OUR TAKE: False

WHY: The recently enacted tax bill is the 12th largest as a percentage of the GDP and the fourth largest in inflation-adjusted dollars since 1918.

This is a claim the president has repeatedly made, but analyses of the current tax law and previous legislation show that's not the case.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed into law at the end of last year comes with a $1.5 trillion price tag, and according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, an independent bipartisan public policy organization, it ranks as the 12th largest tax cut as a percentage of GDP and fourth largest in inflation-adjusted dollars since 1918. If the plan is extended, the group estimates the bill would cost $2.2 trillion, making it the eighth largest tax cut as a percentage of GDP and fourth largest in inflation-adjusted dollars since 1918.

The tax cut signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1981 was the largest since 1918 -- reducing federal revenues by 2.9 percent of GDP, according to the Treasury Department.

The president also claimed roughly 3 million workers have received bonuses stemming from the tax cuts. That figure appears to come from a conservative political advocacy group, Americans for Tax Reform, which recently wrote based on anecdotes, “At least 3 million Americans are receiving special tax reform bonuses.”

-- Arlette Saenz

PHOTO: President Donald Trump delivers the State of the Union address in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives Jan. 30, 2018 in Washington. Mark Wilson/Getty Images
President Donald Trump delivers the State of the Union address in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives Jan. 30, 2018 in Washington.

Fact check No. 2

TRUMP CLAIM: “We have eliminated more regulations in our first year than any administration.”

OUR TAKE: It’s complicated

WHY: Information available from the Office of Management and Budget only goes back to 1995.

Trump has definitely taken an aggressive approach to eliminating regulations. Federal agencies withdrew 635 rules between fall 2016 and fall 2017, according to the Office of Management and Budget. But it’s difficult to verify if he has eliminated more than any administration in history because similar numbers for previous administrations are not readily available. Some of the Trump administration’s proposals are still going through the process or held up by legal challenges. It’s not even possible to check if the Trump administration has rolled back more regulations than Reagan, who also emphasized deregulation, because information available from the Office of Management and Budget only goes back to 1995.

-- Stephanie Ebbs

PHOTO: Democratic members of congress listen as President Donald Trump delivers the State of the Union address from the House chamber of the United States Capitol, Jan. 30, 2018. Jasper Colt/USA Today Network
Democratic members of congress listen as President Donald Trump delivers the State of the Union address from the House chamber of the United States Capitol, Jan. 30, 2018.

Fact check No. 3

TRUMP CLAIM: "We are now an exporter of energy to the world."

OUR TAKE: Mostly spin

WHY: The U.S. has exported energy -- from crude oil to natural gas to coal -- for a long time.

Continuing a longstanding trend, energy exports did tick up slightly during the first 10 months of the Trump administration, from 11.5 quadrillion BTU (standard unit of measurement) in January to October 2016 to 14.6 quadrillion BTU in January to October 2017. But the U.S. has exported energy -- from crude oil to natural gas to coal -- for a long time. And America is still a net importer, and has been since the 1950s -- meaning the U.S. still imports more energy than the nation exports. (A report from the Energy Information Administration projects the U.S. will likely become a net exporter by 2026.)

-- Erin Dooley

PHOTO: President Donald Trump delivers his first State of the Union from the floor of the House of Representatives in Washington, Jan. 30, 2018. Michael Reynolds/EPA
President Donald Trump delivers his first State of the Union from the floor of the House of Representatives in Washington, Jan. 30, 2018.

Fact check No. 4

TRUMP CLAIM: "Unemployment claims have hit a 45-year low. Something I’m very proud of. African-American unemployment stands at the lowest rate ever recorded, and Hispanic American unemployment has also reached the lowest levels in history."

OUR TAKE: Lacking context

WHY: The figures have been on a downward trend for years.

The president’s assertion that first-time claims for unemployment benefits recently hit a 45-year low is true. But the president’s claims about African-American and Latino unemployment rates are lacking context.

The African-American unemployment rate is at a record low of 6.8 percent --- but has steadily declined since reaching 16.8 percent in 2010. The Latino unemployment -- currently at 4.9 percent -- reached a record low of 4.8 percent earlier this year. In 2009, it sat at 13 percent. The current unemployment rate sits at 4.1 percent a record low after reaching as high as 10 percent in 2009. These unemployment figures are according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

While the economy is faring well under Trump’s watch, he can’t solely take credit for the change in unemployment rates as these figures have been consistently decreasing for years.

-- Arlette Saenz

PHOTO: From left, Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court John Roberts, Associate Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Neil Gorsuch are seen before President Donald Trump delivers the State of the Union address from the House chamber, Jan. 30, 2018. Jack Gruber-USA TODAY NETWORK
From left, Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court John Roberts, Associate Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Neil Gorsuch are seen before President Donald Trump delivers the State of the Union address from the House chamber, Jan. 30, 2018.

Fact check No. 5

TRUMP CLAIM: "Working with the Senate, we are appointing judges who will interpret the Constitution as written, including a great new Supreme Court justice, and more circuit court judges than any new administration in the history of our country."

OUR TAKE: True

WHY: The Senate confirmed 12 of Trump’s circuit court nominees in his first year in office -- far more than his recent predecessors.

Trump has broken records with his confirmation of circuit court judges. In his first year in office, the Senate confirmed 12 of his circuit court nominees -- a figure far greater than his recent predecessors. Today, another appellate court judge was confirmed by the Senate.

Anne Joseph O’Connell, a University of California, Berkley, professor who studies presidents' judicial nominations, has assembled data on judicial appointments made by recent presidents. During President Barack Obama’s first year in office, three of his circuit court nominees were confirmed while President George W. Bush saw six of his picks approved by the Senate in his first year. President Bill Clinton had three appeals court judges confirmed in his first year while five of President George H.W. Bush’s circuit court nominees were confirmed in his first 12 months.

Last year, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, tweeted the president had confirmed the most circuit court judges in the history of the country.

-- Arlette Saenz

PHOTO: President Donald Trump holds up copies of his speech upon arrival and before delivering his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 30, 2018. Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo
President Donald Trump holds up copies of his speech upon arrival and before delivering his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 30, 2018.

Fact check No. 6

TRUMP CLAIM: "The coalition to defeat ISIS has liberated very close to 100 percent of the territory just recently held by these killers in Iraq and in Syria and in other locations as well."

OUR TAKE: True

WHY: The State Department reported in December that ISIS had lost 98 percent of the territory it once held specifically in Iraq and Syria.

The State Department reported in December that ISIS had lost 98 percent of the territory it once held specifically in Iraq and Syria at the height of its so-called caliphate after suffering a string of defeats in Iraq and then Syria. The coalition is fighting the last ISIS fighters in their remaining towns and slices of territory in eastern Syria.

But the threat from the terror group remains, and has largely morphed into cells in Iraqi and Syrian cities. In addition, the group has expanding globally, from the Philippines to West Africa.

The offensive against ISIS began under Obama, but Trump did accelerate it by giving more authority to field commanders. According to the State Department, 50 percent of all the territory ISIS has lost has been taken from them in the last 11 months.

-- Conor Finnegan

PHOTO: President Donald Trump gestures after his State of the Union address in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, Jan. 30, 2018. Win McNamee, Pool via Getty Images
President Donald Trump gestures after his State of the Union address in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, Jan. 30, 2018.

Fact check No. 7

TRUMP CLAIM: "Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives. Under our plan, we focus on the immediate family by limiting sponsorships to spouses and minor children. This vital reform is necessary not just for our economy, but for our security, and our future."

OUR TAKE: False

WHY: Citizens and green card holders can petition for immediate family, not an unlimited number of family members.

U.S. citizens can petition for certain family members to receive either a green card or visa -- a spouse, minor children, sons and daughters, parents, or siblings. Green card holders can petition for a spouse, minor child, or unmarried son or daughter to also become a permanent resident. And refugees or asylum seekers can apply for a spouse or minor child to also obtain that refugee or asylum status.

Still, after applying there is a long wait list for all applicants besides spouse, parent or minor child. As of November, nearly 4 million people are waiting to get off the list, according to the State Department. Once someone gets to the front of the line, he or she must pass the required background checks and meet requirements for admission.

-- Conor Finnegan

PHOTO: President Donald Trump delivers the State of the Union address in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives Jan. 30, 2018, in Washington. Mark Wilson/Getty Images
President Donald Trump delivers the State of the Union address in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives Jan. 30, 2018, in Washington.

Fact check No. 8

TRUMP CLAIM: "For decades, open borders have allowed drugs and gangs to pour into our most vulnerable communities. They have allowed millions of low-wage workers to compete for jobs and wages against the poorest Americans. Most tragically, they have caused the loss of many innocent lives.”

OUR TAKE: Mostly spin

WHY: A 2016 report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine found that the impact of immigration on the wages of native-born workers overall is very small.

The president here is implying that lax immigration laws and enforcement have led to increased crime, but a 2015 study by the pro-immigrant American Immigration Council found that immigrants are less likely to commit serious crimes or be behind bars than the native-born, and high rates of immigration are associated with lower rates of violent crime and property crime.

This held true for both legal immigrants and the unauthorized, regardless of their country of origin or level of education.

A 2017 CATO Institute study found that legal and illegal immigrants are less likely to be incarcerated than natives. Although, the study’s numbers did not represent the total number of immigrants who can be deported under current law or the complete number of convicted immigrant criminals who are in the U.S., but merely those incarcerated.

In 2017, on a typical day, there were 19,828 Border Patrol agents patrolling the borders with 654 miles of U.S.-Mexico border pedestrian and vehicle primary fencing. In fiscal year 2017, Customs and Border Protection officers and Border Patrol agents arrested 20,131 criminal aliens, and another 10,908 individuals who were wanted by law enforcement authorities.

On the economy, a 2016 report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine found that the impact of immigration on the wages of native-born workers overall is very small. It also found that there is little evidence that immigration significantly affects the overall employment levels of native-born workers. However, the report also found that, to the extent that negative impacts occur, they are most likely to be found for those who have not completed high school -- who are often the closest substitutes for immigrant workers with low skills.

-- Geneva Sands

PHOTO: President Donald Trump claps during the State of the Union address in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol to a joint session of Congress, Jan. 30, 2018 in Washington. Win McNamee/Pool via AP
President Donald Trump claps during the State of the Union address in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol to a joint session of Congress, Jan. 30, 2018 in Washington.

Fact check No. 9

TRUMP CLAIM: "In recent weeks, two terrorist attacks in New York were made possible by the visa lottery and chain migration. In the age of terrorism, these programs present risks we can just no longer afford. It is time to reform these outdated immigration rules and, finally, bring our immigration system into the 21st century."

OUR TAKE: Mostly spin

WHY: Both men entered the country legally through the two programs President Trump mentioned and were not radicalized until years after they arrived in the U.S.

Trump is referencing the two terror attacks in New York last fall: On Halloween, Sayfullo Saipov is accused of ramming a truck onto a bike lane and pedestrian walkway, killing eight and injuring 12; and in December, Akayed Ullah is accused of detonated a pipe bomb in a botched attack at the New York Port Authority.

Saipov entered through the diversity visa lottery program in 2010, allegedly carrying out his terror attack seven years later. New York law enforcement authorities said he was radicalized after he moved here, with 90 videos and 3,800 images of ISIS propaganda found on his phone. Ullah legally came to the U.S. from Bangladesh in 2011 through his uncle, who had immigrated here years prior. He passed through background checks then and wasn’t radicalized until at least 2014, according to the criminal complaint against him. His alleged attack was six years after he first came to the U.S.

-- Conor Finnegan

         
              
                     
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                SLIDESHOW: President Trump's first State of the Union in photos             
        
    
    

Fact check No. 10

TRUMP CLAIM: “Last year, Congress also passed, and I signed, the landmark VA Accountability Act. Since its passage, my administration has already removed more than 1,500 VA employees who failed to give our veterans the care they deserve.”

OUR TAKE: Mostly spin

WHY: The law was enacted in June, by that time 500 of the 1,500 Veterans Affairs employees removed from their jobs for poor performance had already been fired under a previous system.

About 1,500 VA employees have been fired since January 2017, but 500 of them were removed prior to June, when the VA Accountability Act was enacted. The law makes it easier to remove VA employees for poor performance or disciplinary reasons. It streamlined the previous appeals system that allowed employees to challenge the reasons for their dismissal, a process that could drag on for extended periods of time.

-- Luis Martinez

Fact check No. 11

TRUMP CLAIM: “Last year, the FDA approved more new and generic drugs and medical devices than ever before in our history.”

OUR TAKE: True

WHY: The FDA approved 1,027 generic drugs in FY 17, a "record number," according to Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb.

Despite the president’s boast, however, it’s worth pointing out that fiscal year 2017 began in October 2016, which includes the last few months of the Obama administration.

The agency's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research also approved 46 so-called novel drugs, the highest number in at least a decade, and a record 95 "novel" devices in 2017. New drugs included cancer therapies and medications to treat infectious diseases and neurological disorders.

-- Erin Dooley and Dan Childs

Fact check No. 12

TRUMP CLAIM: "We slashed the business tax rate from 35 percent all the way down to 21 percent, so American companies can compete and win against anyone else, anywhere in the world. These changes alone are estimated to increase average family income by more than $4,000."

OUR TAKE: It's complicated

WHY: It's a bold prediction, based on economic estimates that are far from uniform.

This claim that the corporate tax cuts alone will save the American family $4,000 on average mimic a questionable estimate the Trump administration's Council of Economic Advisers released in a memo last fall.

The memo said, "The average household would, conservatively, realize an increase in wage and salary income of $4,000." That estimate is predicated on the assumption that the American worker pays a majority of the corporate rate. But many leading economists disagree with that notion, arguing the tax burden is spread between the workers, shareholders and owners.

According to Forbes magazine, leading tax policy analysis firms including the Tax Policy Center, the Congressional Budget Office and the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation estimate the American worker pays only between one fifth to a quarter of the corporate tax. Because so many economists disagree with Trump's claim, ABC News conservatively rates the statement as "complicated."

Other changes to the tax code could save families money in other ways, depending on their income and state of residence.

-- Justin Fishel

ABC News' MaryAlice Parks and Troy McMullen contributed to this report.