We Fact-Checked Trump’s Speech
Former President Donald J. Trump announced his re-election bid on Tuesday night in an address at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. During the speech, he spoke about U.S. energy policies, the border wall and tax cuts. We checked the speech for accuracy, and this is what we found.
Trump exaggerated his record on oil and gas.
“Gas prices have reached the highest levels in history. And expect them to go much higher now that the strategic national reserves, which I filled up, have been virtually drained in order to keep gasoline prices lower just prior to the election. Joe Biden has intentionally surrendered our energy independence,” Mr. Trump said.
This is exaggerated.
Mr. Trump also did not completely fill up the Strategic Petroleum Reserve nor has Mr. Biden almost emptied it. Since the first oil was delivered to the stockpile in 1977, it stored the most oil under former President Barack Obama, about 726 million barrels. Under Mr. Trump, the amount fluctuated between 634 million and 695 million barrels. Under Mr. Biden, it has fallen to about 445 million barrels in August, the month with the most recent figures.
The notion that the United States gained “energy independence” under Mr. Trump, and reversed course under Mr. Biden, is also misleading.
Even before Mr. Trump took office, the United States had been projected to become a net energy exporter in the 2020s “because favorable geology and technological developments result in the production of oil and natural gas at lower costs,” according to the Energy Information Administration.
The country became a net exporter of petroleum in 2020, the first time since at least 1949. That remained the case in 2021. It became a net exporter of natural gas in 2018 and remains so today, with exports reaching record levels in 2021.
Donald Trump, Post-Presidency
The former president remains a potent force in Republican politics.
- Midterms Aftermath: Donald J. Trump faced unusual public attacks from across the Republican Party after a string of midterm losses by the former president’s handpicked candidates.
- 2024 Plans: Mr. Trump announced his intention to seek the White House for a third time. But a growing rift with Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, a potential challenger, could threaten deep divisions among Republicans.
- Legal Peril: From the inquiry into his handling of classified documents to the Jan. 6 investigations, Mr.Trump is in legal jeopardy on several fronts.
- Truth Social: Mr. Trump’s right-wing social network faces two federal investigations and an uncertain financial future. But it has still managed to outpace its rivals.
The term “energy independence” can also suggest that the United States did not rely at all on imports. That, too, is false. In 2020, the United States still imported 7.9 million barrels of crude oil and other petroleum products a day.
Trump’s incomplete border wall did not stop unauthorized immigration and drugs.
“When the wall was finished, that’s how we set all these records. We have records that nobody can even compete with right now. It’s a disaster. I believe it’s 10 million people coming in, not three or four million people, they’re pouring into our country. We have no idea who they are and where they come from. We have no idea what is happening to our country and we are being poisoned,” Donald J. Trump said.
The Trump administration constructed 453 miles of border wall over four years, and a vast majority of the new barriers reinforced or replaced existing structures. Of those, about 47 miles were new primary barriers. The United States’ southwestern border with Mexico is over 1,900 miles.
The number of unauthorized migrants stopped at the border could be viewed as a proxy for those who cross undetected. The numbers could also indicate more effective enforcement.
Border patrol agents apprehended roughly 400,000 unauthorized migrants in the 2020 fiscal year. During that year — the last full year under Mr. Trump — the coronavirus pandemic caused disruptions to travel and migration across the world. Officials also seized about 707,000 pounds of drugs at the southwestern border.
Many other factors beyond border security also affect migration patterns and drug smuggling: the economic and security conditions of the country of origin, the demand and supply for drugs, terrain and climate conditions, among others.
“Changes in drug smuggling cannot always be directly linked to changes in border security efforts,” the Congressional Research Service has noted.
Trump’s tax cut was not the biggest in history.
“Businesses were pouring back because of our historic tax and regulation cuts, the biggest in both categories in history, bigger even than what Ronald Reagan was able to produce. And he produced a lot,” Mr. Trump said.
Mr. Trump has falsely claimed time and time again that the 2017 tax cut he signed into law is the “largest” in history.
According to a report from the Treasury Department, the 1981 Reagan tax cut is the largest as a percentage of the economy (2.9 percent of gross domestic product) and by the reduction in federal revenue (a 13.3 percent decrease). The Obama tax cut in 2012 amounted to the largest cut in inflation-adjusted dollars: $321 billion a year. By comparison, Mr. Trump’s 2017 tax cut was about $150 billion annually and amounted to about 0.9 percent of gross domestic product.