Friday, August 28, 2020

Trump lies

President Donald Trump told some lies in his convention speech last night. Here are some of them, from the Washington Post's Fact Checker:

“America has tested more [for the coronavirus] than every country in Europe put together, and more than every nation in the Western Hemisphere combined. We have conducted 40 million more tests than the next closest nation.”

— Trump

Trump is talking about raw numbers, which is misleading. (And if you believe China, Beijing actually exceeds the numbers of tests, 90 million to 79 million for the United States.)

The key indicator is tests per capita, which gives a read on the share of the population that has contracted the novel coronavirus that causes covid-19. The United States still lags major countries such as Russia and is tied with Britain in terms of number of tests per million people.

Another problem is test results are slow in the United States. “Test results for the novel coronavirus are taking so long to come back that experts say the results across the United States are often proving useless in the campaign to control the deadly disease,” The Washingon Post reported in July. “The long testing turnaround times are making it impossible for the United States to replicate the central strategy used by other countries to effectively contain the virus — test, trace and isolate.”


“When I took bold action to issue a travel ban on China, very early indeed, Joe Biden called it hysterical and xenophobic. And then I introduced a ban on Europe, very early again. If we had listened to Joe, hundreds of thousands more Americans would have died.”

— Trump

Trump oversells in the impact of his so-called “travel ban” — and on Biden’s criticism.

On Jan. 31, the president announced that effective Feb. 2, non-U. S. citizens were barred from traveling from China, but there were 11 exceptions. Meanwhile, U.S. citizens and permanent residents could still travel from China but were subject to screening and a possible 14-day quarantine.…

Any criticism was scattered and relatively muted. Trump points to a comment by former vice president Joe Biden — “This is no time for Donald Trump’s record of hysteria and xenophobia … and fearmongering to lead the way instead of science” — but Biden says that did not refer to the travel restrictions.…


“The United States has among the lowest case fatality rates of any major country in the world.”

— Trump

This is false. Case fatality measures how many people known to have gotten covid-19 eventually die of covid-19, and the U.S. rate is currently 3.1 percent. Johns Hopkins University says that puts the United States 11th among the 20 countries most affected by the disease; the United States ranks fourth for deaths per 100,000 population.

Trump’s phrasing appears to turn on the phrase “major country." Among members of the [OECD], for instance, the U.S. rate is lower than the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain but higher than Australia, Japan, South Korea, Turkey, Latvia, Czechia and Israel, among others.


"The Biden-Bernie manifesto calls for abolishing cash bail, immediately releasing 400,000 criminals onto the streets and into your neighborhoods.”


This is all wrong. Defendants awaiting trial have not been released in states that have moved to abolish cash bail. For example, in New Jersey, former governor Chris Christie, a Republican allied with Trump, led a coalition to abolish cash bail and replace it with a point-based system that assesses risk based on the nature of the charges, the defendant’s prior record and the risk to the public.

The Biden-Sanders unity task force simply says, “Poverty is not a crime, and it should not be treated as one. Democrats support eliminating the use of cash bail and believe no one should be imprisoned merely for failing to pay fines or fees.” That’s the same argument Christie would make.


“Our NATO partners … were far behind in their defense payments. But at my strong urging, they agreed to pay $130 billion more a year, the first time in over 20 years that they upped their payments. And this $130 billion dollars will ultimately go to $400 billion. Secretary General [Jens] Stoltenberg, who heads NATO, was amazed, and said that President Trump did what no one else was able to do.”

— Trump …

Trump’s $130 billion figure comes from a NATO estimate that its European members and Canada will spend $130 billion additionally on defense over the four years between 2016 and 2020. (The $130 billion is an estimate for cumulative defense spending through 2020, in 2015 dollars, as an increase over 2016 spending.)

Trump falsely claims this is $130 billion a year, rather than over four years.

The $400 billion figure is for eight years.

But NATO figures show that the defense expenditures for NATO countries other than the United States have been going up — in a consistent slope — since 2014.


“The Biden plan … he’s even talking about taking the wall down. How about that?”


False. Biden has stated in no uncertain terms that he would not take down the portions of the border fencing system Trump has built, though he would stop further construction. "There will not be another foot of wall constructed on my administration,” Biden told NPR this month.


“Biden has promised to abolish the production of American oil, coal, shale and natural gas, laying waste to the economies of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Colorado and New Mexico.”


False. Biden would not abolish fossil fuels. His plan on energy and the environment calls for “net-zero [carbon] emissions no later than 2050.” That’s 30 years from now. In the interim, Biden’s plan says, “we must look at all low- and zero-carbon technologies,” leaving the door open to carbon capture and other fossil-fuel-based sources. The “net-zero” language is a term of art, meaning that some fossil fuels would continue to be used so long as their emissions are offset by other means. Biden also says he would allow existing fracking operations to continue but would not grant new permits on federal lands.

(Photo by Saul Loeb, AFP, Getty Images.)