AP FACT CHECK: Trump on making Christmas great again
WASHINGTON — To hear Donald Trump talk, you'd think Barack Obama was the president who stole Christmas.
Although Trump doesn't generally single him out by name on this subject, the president's meaning is unmistakable when he declares, as he has done since long before the holiday season, that's he making it OK to talk about Christmas again. Obama, it would seem, did not. But that's not what the record shows.A look at that matter and others that arose in a week bristling with action on taxes and Trump's words on foreign policy, politics and more:
TRUMP: "People are proud to be saying Merry Christmas again. I am proud to have led the charge against the assault of our cherished and beautiful phrase. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!! — a tweet Christmas Eve.
THE FACTS: "Merry Christmas," the president said when presiding over the lighting of the National Christmas Tree and celebrating "the birth of our Savior."
That president was Obama, marking "my family's Christian faith" and other faiths in his final Christmas tree ritual in office, in 2016.
The White House holidays under the Obamas had plenty of Christmas trappings and cheer. Obama offered a more general holiday message on the official greeting card, but wished "Merry Christmas" at the National Tree lighting, on his
TRUMP: "The bottom line is, this is the biggest tax cuts and reform in the history of our country. This is bigger than, actually, President Reagan's many years ago." — remarks to reporters Friday.
THE FACTS: Not so, in either case. For months Trump has refused to recognize larger tax cuts in history, of which there have been many, or to grant that other presidents have enacted big tax cuts since Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. The White House won't explain how he arrives at his conclusion.
An October analysis by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget found that it would be the eighth biggest since 1918. As a percentage of the total economy, Reagan's 1981 cut is the biggest followed by the 1945 rollback of taxes that financed World War II. Trump's plan is also smaller than cuts in 1948, 1964 and 1921, and probably in other years.
Additionally, a Treasury Department analysis found Reagan's 1981 tax cut had an annual average cost of nearly 2 percent of GDP. This would translate into roughly $400 billion in today's dollars. The current tax cuts peak at $280 billion in 2019.
Valued at $1.5 trillion over 10 years, the plan is indeed large and expensive. But it's much smaller than originally intended. Back in the spring, it was shaping up as a $5.5 trillion package. Even then it would have only been the third largest since 1940 as a share of gross domestic product. The government uses percentage of GDP to measure most budget and tax issues over time because that measure puts tax revenues and federal outlays in context relative to the entire economy.
VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: "You're delivering on that middle-class miracle." — to Trump at a Cabinet meeting Wednesday.
THE FACTS: Modest doesn't usually make for a miracle. Pence's praise to the boss reflects Trump's assertion that "it's a tax bill for the middle class," as he often put it, but average people are not the prime beneficiaries of the tax cuts.
Aside from businesses, rich people get the most.
The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimates the biggest benefit of the new law will go to households making $308,000 to $733,000. Households making over that should get a tax cut worth 3.4 percent of their after-tax income. For the richest 0.1 percent (making over $3.4 million), the tax cut should be worth 2.7 percent of their after-tax income. For middle-income earners: 1.6 percent, the center estimates.
Moreover, only high-income people would get a meaningful tax cut after 2025, when nearly all of the plan's individual income tax provisions are due to expire.