During his 2020 State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Trump touched on a wide variety of issues, from the economy and health care to immigration and the military.
Trump also took the opportunity to highlight what he considers his biggest accomplishments so far, including overseeing a period of economic growth, the passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), and more, giving his address the air of a campaign rally — especially as this year’s campaign season is just getting underway.
But over the course of his speech, President Trump made several claims that were exaggerated or factually incorrect. Here are the facts you need to know about Trump’s claims.
Trump spoke about an “affordable” and “high-quality” health care system and said that “we will always protect patients with pre-existing conditions.” But health experts say the President has long supported efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and subsequently strip away consumer protections for patients with pre-existing conditions.
“He supported, and continues to support, efforts to repeal the ACA that would take those consumer protections away,” Jonathan Oberlander, a health policy professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, told Politifact.
It was former President Barack Obama’s signature health care law that banned health insurance plans discriminating against those with preexisting conditions by charging them higher prices.
During his speech, President Trump gave an update on one of the signature promises of his campaign: the construction of a wall along the southern border with Mexico. Trump said that over 100 miles of the “long, tall and very powerful wall” have been constructed, and that more than 500 miles will be completed by “early next year.”
Although Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad F. Wolf marked the completion of 100 miles of border wall in January, officials have been less clear about when they expect to complete the rest of the wall.
In December, Mark Morgan, acting commissioner for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said that while officials originally planned to complete 450 miles of wall by the end of 2020, they may not hit that target.
“It’s hard right now to be able to say whether we’re still going to be able to meet that goal, but I’m confident that we’re going to be close,” Morgan said, according to Reuters.
Just a month earlier, Wolf had said that they were “on track” to have 450 or 500 miles of the wall completed by the end of 2020. Reports say that the project has been slowed by difficulties in acquiring the public land needed to finish the project.
Health Care for Undocumented Immigrants
During his speech, Trump criticized some Democratic lawmakers and candidates’ support for providing what he called “unlimited free health care” to undocumented immigrants. “If forcing American taxpayers to provide unlimited free health care to illegal aliens sounds fair to you, then stand with the radical left,” Trump said.
Providing health care for undocumented immigrants has had bipartisan support in the past. In 1986, President Ronald Reagan signed into law an omnibus budget law that included the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act — federal legislation that required hospitals to treat anyone arriving at an emergency room, regardless of their ability to pay or their citizenship status.
That law, also known as the Patient Anti-Dumping Act, prevents hospitals from denying treatment to emergency patients or inappropriately transferring them to other hospitals when they are in an unstable condition.
During his speech, President Trump credited his administration’s “bold regulatory reduction campaign” with turning the United States into “the number one producer of oil and natural gas in the world, by far.”
“With the tremendous progress we have made over the past 3 years, America is now energy independent, and energy jobs, like so many elements of our country, are at a record high,” Trump said, per the remarks as prepared for delivery. “We are doing numbers that no one would have thought possible just 3 years ago.”
But it isn’t clear that Trump can claim sole credit for increasing the country’s energy output.
Much of the United States’ recent increase in energy production is due to technological innovation, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Higher-producing horizontal wells are becoming more common, for instance. While the number of natural gas- and oil-producing wells declined from 1,035,000 in 2014 to 982,000 in 2018, oil and gas production continued to increase.
Moreover, Trump’s policies have been a “mixed bag” for the industry, Kyle Isakower, vice president for regulatory and economic policy at the American Petroleum Institute, told NPR in August. He noted that Trump’s steel tariffs have driven up costs, for instance.
Some in the industry are concerned that Trump could be harming the energy sector in the long term. Even some oil and gas lobbyists and executives have expressed concern that deregulation has gone too far, creating uncertainty about future potential regulations.