In touting his policies to expand defense spending and strengthen the military, the President took credit for improving the Department of Veterans Affairs, specifically expanding health care choices for veterans.
“The vets– the VA was in horrible shape,” said Trump. “Now, they have choice. And nobody could get choice. John McCain couldn’t get it. Nobody could get it. They tried for years. They couldn’t get it.”
Facts First: Trump is rewriting history. The Veterans Choice Program was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2014 and was co-sponsored by Senator John McCain. Trump signed a bill to continue the program and eventually consolidated other programs under the new Veterans Community Care Program.
aimed to expand veteran’s access to health care by increasing the number of medical staff in the VA system as well as allowing those who met certain criteria (either from wait time or distance to a VA facility) to see doctors outside of the VA system.
The bill signed by Trump in June of 2018, the VA MISSION Act
, will consolidate several different VA health programs into the new Veterans Community Care Program. The program was set to start this summer, and for the year between the VA MISSION Act provided $5.2 billion to continue the Veterans Choice Program. The bill also expanded veteran’s ability to take their VA benefits to private doctors.
When Stephanopoulos asserted that Americans are paying for the tariffs on China, Trump retorted “No, they’re not.”
“China subsidizes their product in order to keep people working,” Trump said before going on to argue that many companies were also moving out of China in order to avoid the tariffs. “So there is no tariff.”
Facts First: Trump is flatly wrong on this notion. US consumers and companies pay a large chunk of the tariffs Trump has placed on China. In addition, while there is evidence that US importers are shifting part of their production outside China, there isn’t much to suggest there’s a mass exodus of companies relocating away from China.
Economists at Goldman Sachs estimate that 40% of the cost of tariffs has been passed on to consumers, with producers and retailers taking on the rest.
According to a study
from economists at Princeton, Columbia and the New York Federal Reserve, by the end of 2018 US companies and consumers were paying $3 billion a month more, plus $1.4 billion in additional losses, because of these new tariffs, mostly on China.
In their Economic Report published in March, Trump’s own administration admitted that despite any “benefits” which the tariffs may have are offset by the “costs paid by consumers in the form of higher prices and reduced consumption.” So yes, Americans are paying these tariffs.
As for Trump’s claim that companies are fleeing China to avoid paying tariffs, it’s difficult to measure how prevalent that trend is. Or if it’s even happening at all.
US imports from countries outside of China have increased in the first four months of 2019 compared to last year: 22% from Taiwan, 17% from South Korea, 38% from Vietnam, and 13% from Bangladesh. But part of this increase could be part of an already upward trend of importing more from countries outside of China and from the strong US economy, which leads to higher imports overall.
US Census Bureau trade data published this month noted that US importers are taking in 12% less from China this year. While this is a significant number it’s difficult to argue that “many” companies are moving out of China. Additionally, there are a large number of products made exclusively in China due to the interdependence of global supply chains.
As Facts First has previously noted
, for example, many raw materials integral to the US chemical industry now fall under Trump’s tariffs and are “unavailable outside of China,” Jennifer Abril, president of the Society of Chemical Manufacturers & Affiliates told CNN in May.
This article has been updated.