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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Groundhog Friday

This week, we have an all-Trump-ticket edition of Groundhog Friday, our wrap-up of debunked claims that politicians keep repeating.

As Trump noted at several points this week, his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, did not have many public events. “People don’t know where she is,” Trump joked during an Aug. 24 rally in Florida.

Follow the links to our original stories for more information on each claim.

Groundhog2Trump on African-American youth unemployment, Aug. 25 interview on CNN: “You have black youth that can’t get jobs, 58 percent can’t get jobs.”

(This claim was repeated this week on multiple occasions: Aug. 23 campaign rally in Austin, Texas: “58 percent of young African Americans are not employed”; Aug. 24 rally in Tampa, Florida: “58 percent of African-American youth are not employed, 58 percent”; Aug. 24 rally in Jackson, Mississippi: “58 percent of African-American youth are not working”; and Aug. 25 rally in Manchester, New Hampshire: “58 percent of African-American youth are not working.”)

In an appeal to African-American voters, who he says have nothing to lose by voting for him, Trump continues to make misleading claims about the percentage of black youth that are “not working.” But he recently went way beyond that in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, saying “58 percent” of black youth “can’t get jobs.” That’s flat-out wrong. The official unemployment rate for African Americans age 16 to 24 was 20.6 percent in July, according to nonseasonally adjusted data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In contrast, the rate was 9.9 percent for whites, 11.3 percent for Hispanics and 10 percent for Asians.

To get to 58 percent, the Trump campaign also counted millions of African Americans 16- to 24-years-old who were “not in the labor force” in 2015. The problem is that figure would include individuals, including full-time high school and college students, who are not working, not looking for work or may not even be able to work. Doing the math that way leads to a misleading picture of the labor market for black youth, and makes it wrong to say that some youth can’t get a job, when they may not be looking for one.

Using the Trump campaign’s math, 57 percent of black youth were “not working” as of July, according to BLS data. Just to compare, the figure was around 44 percent for white youth, 50 percent of Hispanic youth and 61 percent for Asian youth. Yet Trump does not mention the percentages for those racial groups.

“Trump’s Economic Speech,” Aug.9



Trump on “open borders,” Aug. 22 rally in Akron, Ohio: “Hillary Clinton’s plan amounts to total and absolute total open borders. It’s open borders.”

(Trump repeated the claim many times this week: Aug. 24 rally in Tampa, Florida: “Hillary Clinton wants to have a totally open border where people can just pour in and take your job and lots of other things happen”; Aug. 23 in Austin, Texas: “Hillary Clinton wants a totally, completely open border”; Aug. 24 in Jackson, Mississippi: “Her push for open borders will lower the wages and kill the jobs of lawful American residents”; Aug. 25 in Manchester, New Hampshire: “She supports open borders that violate the civil rights of African Americans by giving their jobs to people here unlawfully.”)

Trump also pushed this idea in an ad we wrote about this week, and originally in a June speech about his Democratic opponent. The claim that Clinton is proposing “open borders” is false. She has proposed and supported, and voted for as a senator, border enforcement and security.

Clinton’s campaign website says she supports “humane, targeted immigration enforcement,” and says she would “focus enforcement resources on detaining and deporting those individuals who pose a violent threat to public safety.” She said during a Democratic debate in November, “Border security has always been a part of that [immigration] debate.” The 2013 Senate immigration bill that she has supported would have made large investments in border security, including additional border fencing, and, in fact, she voted, along with a majority of senators in 2006, for the construction of 700 miles of border fencing and enhanced surveillance technology.

“Trump’s Attack on Clinton’s Character,” June 22



Trump on Clinton’s refugee plan, Aug. 24 rally in Jackson, Mississippi: “Hillary Clinton also wants to push to bring in 620,000 refugees in her first term.”

Clinton didn’t say that’s how many refugees she would allow into the country as president. Instead, the number comes from a Republican-led Senate subcommittee that made assumptions about what Clinton would do.

Last year, Clinton proposed that the U.S. accept 65,000 refugees from Syria — 55,000 more than the 10,000 President Obama authorized for admission from that country for fiscal year 2016. For 2017, Secretary of State John Kerry has said that the administration would aim to admit at least 100,000 refugees from all over the world, not just Syria. The subcommittee then assumes that Clinton would admit 100,000 plus 55,000 every year that she would be in the White House for a first term.

“Trump’s Terrorism Speech,” Aug. 15



Indiana Gov. Mike Pence on unemployment rates, Aug. 22 town hall in Iowa: “In the state of Indiana, I’m proud to say that unemployment dropped from over eight percent to 4.6 percent, nearly cut it in half. Unemployment doubled when Governor [Tim] Kaine was running the state of Virginia. So that kind of stuff might come up [in a debate].”

Pence is making an apples-to-oranges comparison that ignores prevailing economic trends during the different times when he and Kaine were governors. As governor of Virginia from 2006 to 2010, Kaine served during the Great Recession when every state saw unemployment rates rise significantly, while in comparison, Pence took office in 2013 at a time of an economic expansion following that recession.

A more apt comparison is how well the two states did relative to the national average.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in Virginia during Kaine’s time in office went from 3.2 percent in January 2006 to 7.4 percent in January 2010. The national unemployment rate over that period went from 4.7 percent to 9.8 percent, so the state did better than the nation as a whole. Virginia’s unemployment rate was 1.5 percentage points better than the national average when Kaine took office and 2.4 percentage points better when he left.

As for Pence, the unemployment rate in Indiana was a little worse than the national average when he took office (8.4 percent in Indiana, 8.0 percent nationally) and was slightly better than the national average in July (4.6 percent in Indiana, 4.9 percent nationally).

“Kaine vs. Pence on Unemployment,” Aug. 5



Trump on small-business taxes, Aug. 24 rally in Florida: “There are over 600,000 Hispanic-owned businesses here in Florida. Hillary Clinton’s plan would smother them with new regulations, drive up their electricity bills and then raise their taxes to as much as almost 50 percent higher than they’re paying now.”

Trump previously has made the misleading claim that Clinton “would tax many small businesses by almost 50 percent.” But what he said in Tampa, Florida, is outright false, when he claimed Clinton would raise small-business taxes by “as much as almost 50 percent higher than they’re paying now.” (The emphasis is ours.)

Here are the facts: Business owners who are part of partnerships, LLCs and sole proprietorships pay taxes on profits through their individual tax returns — not at the corporate tax rate. These businesses and households earning more than $5 million a year already pay a marginal income tax rate of up to 43.4 percent; Clinton proposes an additional 4 percent tax on income above that threshold, raising the highest possible rate from 43.4 percent to 47.4 percent.

So, small-business owners earning more than $5 million a year in gross adjusted income would pay roughly 9 percent “higher than they’re paying now,” not 50 percent. And the top rate would apply to few such businesses — far fewer than the 600,000 Hispanic-owned businesses in Florida. Alan Cole, an economist at the Tax Foundation, told us there are about 34,000 tax filers nationwide above the $5 million threshold set by Clinton.

“Trump’s Economic Speech,” Aug. 9