Trump Says He Created 600,000 Jobs. Not True

“We’ve created over 600,000 jobs already over a very short period of time and it’s going to really start catching on now,” Trump said Tuesday at the White House, flanked by his top advisers and the CEOs who are members of his Business Advisory Council.

He repeated the statement later at a press conference: “Already we’ve created more than almost [sic] 600,000 jobs.”

Official government data does not back up that claim.

According to CNNMoney’s Trump Jobs Tracker, 317,000 jobs have been created since Trump took office. The president is trying to take credit for nearly double that number of jobs.

The ultimate authority on how many jobs are created (or lost) each month is the US Labor Department. CNNMoney’s 317,000 figure includes how many jobs the Labor Department reported were created in February (219,000) and March (98,000).

A White House spokesman said Trump is including all the job added in January as well (216,000). Trump was only in office for 11.5 days that month.

But even if you give him all of the gains for January, that still only brings the tally to 533,000 jobs created so far in 2017.

The math doesn’t quite add up to 600,000.

Trump likes to count job promises

There’s ongoing debate over whether a president should take credit for creating jobs at all. Most of the hiring is done by the private sector. But there’s a case to be made that government policies on taxes, regulations, trade, etc. do influence whether businesses want to hire or not.

“The president’s comments touting the administration’s economic record accurately reflect the growing optimism about his policies and the future outlook for the country,” a White House spokesman told CNNMoney.

Trump has frequently said he’s influenced companies like Ford, Charter Communications, General Motors and ExxonMobil to hire more workers, even though some of the businesses themselves refuse to give Trump credit for their hiring decisions.

Then there’s the fact that some of the jobs these companies are touting as new hires are part of projects that were in the works long before Trump was elected. (CNNMoney has a running fact check of these announcements here).

Trump vs. Obama

The bottom line is: Yes, business and consumer optimism has picked up since Trump won the election. That is likely a factor in some hiring decisions by businesses. But the reality is the economy has added an average of 178,000 jobs a month so far this year. That’s very close to, and even slightly lower than, the average last year (187,000 a month) when President Obama was in office.

Trump’s Budget Director Convinced Him to Cut Key Program Because ‘He Didn’t Know’ What It Did

President Donald Trump’s proposed budget contained a lot of cuts to key programs that help Trump’s own voters, such as the Appalachian Regional Commission that has been responsible for helping slash high poverty rates in rural America.

In an interview with CNBC’s John Harwood, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said that he was able to convince Trump to slash the Appalachian Regional Commission and similar programs in his proposed budget because he had no idea what the program did.

“My guess is he probably didn’t know what the Appalachian Regional Commission did,” Mulvaney said of Trump. “I was able to convince him, ‘Mr. President, this is not an efficient use of the taxpayer dollars. This is not the best way to help the people in West Virginia.’ He goes, ‘Okay, that’s great. Is there a way to get those folks the money in a more efficient way?’ And the answer is yes. And that’s what’s we’re going focus on doing.”

Harwood then asked Mulvaney if Trump was aware that his budget cuts might hurt his own voters — and Mulvaney responded that the best way to help all voters was to spur higher economic growth.

“I think what the president will tell you is, ‘The best thing I can do for those folks, whether or not they voted for me, is to figure out a way to get 3.5 percent economic growth,’” he said.

Elsewhere in the interview, Mulvaney said he’s working on getting Trump on board with making some changes to Social Security, including the disability benefits program, which he said has “become effectively a long-term unemployment, permanent unemployment program.”

(h/t Raw Story)

DeVos Undoes Obama Student Loan Protections

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Tuesday rolled back an Obama administration attempt to reform how student loan servicers collect debt.

Obama issued a pair (PDF) of memorandums (PDF) last year requiring that the government’s Federal Student Aid office, which services $1.1 trillion in government-owned student loans, do more to help borrowers manage, or even discharge, their debt. But in a memorandum (PDF) to the department’s student aid office, DeVos formally withdrew the Obama memos.

The previous administration’s approach, DeVos said, was inconsistent and full of shortcomings. She didn’t detail how the moves fell short, and her spokesmen, Jim Bradshaw and Matthew Frendewey, didn’t respond to requests for comment.

DeVos’s move comes a week after one of the student loan industry’s main lobbies asked for Congress’s help in delaying or substantially changing the Education Department’s loan servicing plans. In a pair of April 4 letters to leaders of the House and Senate appropriations committees, the National Council of Higher Education Resources said there were too many unanswered questions, including whether the Obama administration’s approach would be unnecessarily expensive.

A recent epidemic of student loan defaults and what authorities describe as systematic mistreatment of borrowers prompted the Obama administration, in its waning days, to force the FSA office to emphasize how debtors are treated, rather than maximize the amount of cash they can stump up to meet their obligations.

Obama’s team also sought to reduce the possibility that new contracts would be given to companies that mislead or otherwise harm debtors. The current round of contracts will terminate in 2019, and among three finalists for a new contract is Navient Corp. In January, state attorneys general in Illinois and Washington, along with the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB, sued Navient over allegations the company abused borrowers by taking shortcuts to boost its own bottom line. Navient has denied the allegations.

The withdrawal of the Obama administration guidelines could make Navient a more likely contender for that contract, government officials said. Navient shares moved higher after the government released DeVos’s decision around 11:30 a.m. New York time. Navient stock ended up almost 2 percent.

The Obama administration vision for how federal loans would be serviced almost certainly meant the feds would have to increase how much they pay loan contractors to collect monthly payments from borrowers and counsel them on repayment options. Already, the government annually spends around $800 million to collect on almost $1.1 trillion of debt. DeVos, however, made clear that her department would focus on curbing costs.

“We must create a student loan servicing environment that provides the highest quality customer service and increases accountability and transparency for all borrowers, while also limiting the cost to taxpayers,” DeVos said.

With her memo, DeVos has taken control of the complex and widely derided system in which the federal government collects monthly payments from tens of millions of Americans with government-owned student loans. The CFPB said in 2015 that the manner in which student loans are collected has been marred by “widespread failures.”

DeVos’s move “will certainly increase the likelihood of default,” said David Bergeron, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank with close ties to Democrats. Bergeron worked under Democratic and Republican administrations over more than 30 years at the Education Department. He retired as the head of postsecondary education.

During Obama’s eight years in office, some 8.7 million Americans defaulted on their student loans, for a rate of one default roughly every 29 seconds.

Former Deputy Treasury Secretary Sarah Bloom Raskin worked on student loan policy during the latter years of the Obama administration, in part over concern that borrowers’ struggles were affecting the management of U.S. debt. DeVos’s decision to reverse some of her work “with no coherent explanation or substitute” effectively means that the Trump administration is placing the welfare of loan contractors above those of student debtors, she said.

In a statement Tuesday, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who is suing Navient, agreed: “The Department of Education has decided it does not need to protect student loan borrowers.”

(h/t Bloomberg)

Trump: China Trade to Improve If ‘North Korean Problem’ Solved

U.S. President Donald Trump added public pressure to his efforts to encourage China to rein in North Korea, saying Tuesday that he told Chinese President Xi Jinping that such action will help improve the conditions of a trade deal with the U.S.

“I explained to the President of China that a trade deal with the U.S. will be far better for them if they solve the North Korean problem!” Trump wrote on Twitter just before 8 a.m. in Washington.

“North Korea is looking for trouble. If China decides to help, that would be great,” Trump followed up minutes later. “If not, we will solve the problem without them! U.S.A.”

The tweets come after Trump and Xi spent Thursday and Friday meeting at the president’s Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida. Trump has long criticized China for exporting more to the U.S. than it imports and vowed during his campaign to be tough on China in trade negotiations.

(h/t Bloomberg)

Trump Sued for Not Releasing White House Visitor Logs

Three organizations are suing the Trump administration for not making public the logs that show who is visiting the White House.

The National Security Archive, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), and the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University have all filed a suit under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) calling for the release of the logs.

The suit has formally been filed against the Department of Homeland Security, as the organizations say the Secret Service has not provided the log information despite FOIA requests.

We hoped that the Trump administration would follow the precedent of the Obama administration and continue to release visitor logs, but unfortunately they have not,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said in a statement.

“Given the many issues we have already seen in this White House with conflicts of interest, outside influence, and potential ethics violations, transparency is more important than ever, so we had no choice but to sue.”

The three groups are asking not only for the records of who is visiting the White House, but for records that show who is meeting the president at his private properties in New York and Florida.

President Trump has frequently met with world leaders at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, most recently when he conferred with Chinese President Xi Jinping last week.

The Obama administration said in September 2009 that it would begin releasing the logs after CREW filed multiple lawsuits, the organization said.

“President Obama routinely released the data we’re seeking with no damage to presidential privilege, and this information is central to the Secret Service mission and thus clearly agency records subject to FOIA,” Tom Blanton, the director of the National Security Archive, said in a statement.

Another employee of the National Security Archive said it filed the first FOIA related to Trump on Jan. 23.

(h/t The Hill)

Trump Spotted at Florida Golf Club

President Trump was spotted playing golf on Sunday for the second day in a row at his West Palm Beach, Fla. golf club, according to reports.

The president also traveled to Trump International Golf Club for a round of golf on Saturday.

The president left for Trump International Golf Club around 9:30 a.m. on Sunday wearing a white polo shirt and red cap, according to White House pool reports.

Trump on Thursday left the White House for Mar-a-Lago where he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Xi left the resort on Friday afternoon, according to the Palm Beach Post.

Trump left the golf club at 2:30 p.m., according to pool reports. Trump is scheduled to return to Washington later on Sunday,

(h/t The Hill)

Trump Wrongly Takes Credit for Planned $1.33 Billion Toyota Spending

President Donald Trump took credit for Toyota Motor Corp. investing $1.33 billion in an existing U.S. factory, championing spending by a Japanese automaker he’s blasted for building a plant in Mexico.

The outlays in Georgetown, Kentucky, aren’t new — they’ve been in the works for years. But the way they’re being marketed is. Instead of emphasizing cost efficiency, Toyota is highlighting ample spending and the previously announced addition of 700 jobs. The president has taken notice.

Toyota’s announcement “is further evidence that manufacturers are now confident that the economic climate has greatly improved under my administration,” Trump said in the automaker’s statement Monday.

The bigger the U.S. investment the better right now for Toyota. Trump singled out the company in January for its plan to build a Corolla small-car factory in Mexico. As Toyota’s North American Chief Executive Officer Jim Lentz discussed setting up autonomous- and connected-car business units in the U.S. with Trump last month, the president cut him off and said the company needed to “build those new plants here.”

While Toyota is pleased Trump recognized the significance of its investment, according to Wil James, the Kentucky factory’s president, the company started preparing for the redesigned Camry that will be built at the plant during Barack Obama’s administration.

“We’ve been working on this Camry now for over three years, so this is not something that’s just brand new and picked up most recently,” James said in an interview Monday on Bloomberg Television.

As part of the $10 billion that Toyota plans to invest in the U.S. over the next five years, the company’s spending in Kentucky paves the way for output of the redesigned Camry sedan later this year. The car will be the first in North America to adopt the Toyota New Global Architecture system for designing, engineering and manufacturing vehicles.

In describing the system referred to as TNGA in March 2015, Toyota said it was aiming to reduce the amount of spending required to prepare the production line for a new model by about half. The Toyota City, Japan-based company is avoiding any emphasis of the frugal benefits of TNGA with regards to its plans in Georgetown.

“This is the largest investment in our plant’s history,” James said in the statement. “This major overhaul will enable the plant to stay flexible and competitive, further cementing our presence in Kentucky.”

Toyota will spend the $1.33 billion over the next two or three years, James said in a press conference at the Georgetown plant. It’s only after the money is spent — including on more flexible equipment in the welding shop and elsewhere — that TNGA’s expected cost savings will kick in, he said.

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin predicted the state’s best year ever for capital investments by big companies during the event at the plant.

(h/t Bloomberg)

Reality

Toyota made the announcement in May 2014.

Appearance of Trump Helicopter at Mar-a-Lago Raises Questions

President Trump’s personal helicopter spent the weekend parked in a prime spot on the front lawn of Mar-a-Lago, despite the fact that Trump is barred from using it while president.

The Palm Beach Daily News reported that the Sikorsky S-76, with “TRUMP” emblazoned on the tail and step, landed on the club’s newly paved helipad Saturday afternoon. Palm Beach Fire-Rescue spokesman Sean Baker told the paper that the Secret Service requested a fire engine to be on standby.

“We were surprised,” Baker said. “This was not something we knew was coming.”

The helicopter remained on the helipad Sunday, but left after a few hours. The White House didn’t respond to questions about the reason the helicopter was there. Baker said he did not know what the helicopter would be used for and said there were no reports of anyone arriving or being picked up by the helicopter Saturday.

The Secret Service says standard security protocol requires the president to fly on either Air Force One, a jumbo jet, or Marine One, a helicopter. The agency says Trump was never on the helicopter, though the president has not used Marine One for his visits to the resort.

Trump owns two Sikorsky S-76 helicopters, which also bear his family seal.

(h/t Fox News)

Donald Trump Personally Profited From Missile-Maker Raytheon’s Stock Jump After His Syria Attack

While the world is dealing with both the implications and the fall-out from President Donald Trump’s missile attack on a Syrian airfield on Thursday, the manufacturer of the Tomahawk missile used in the attack is seeing their stock surge which is good news for their investors — including the president.

As noted by the Palmer Report, Trump owns stock in Raytheon, which was reported by Business Insider in 2015.

According  to Trump’s financial disclosure reports filed with the FEC in 2015, his stock portfolio includes investments in  technology firms, financial institutions and defense firms, including Raytheon.

On Thursday, Trump launched an attack on the al-Shayrat military airfield, used by both Syrian and Russian military forces, hitting it with 59 Tomahawk missiles manufactured by Raytheon. Trump’s attack on Syria was reportedly in response to a deadly gas attack launched by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against his own people earlier in the week.

While the Tomahawk attack did little damage to the airfield — with the Syrian air force  continuing to launch assaults from the same base on Friday — investors, sensing an increasing escalation in tensions between two countries and the possibility of war , pushed Raytheon stock up.

Since taking office, Trump has refused to divulge all of his financial information — including his income taxes — and refused to place his business and financial holdings in a blind trust allowing Trump and his family to move money and investments around as they see fit.

(h/t Raw Story)

Donald Trump Takes 15th Golf Trip in 11 Weeks Since Becoming President

Donald Trump is taking his 15th golf trip in the 11 weeks since becoming President, as he spends another weekend at one of his own luxury resorts.

The President is coming off the back of a high-stakes summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has closed a sixth of his country’s golf courses since 2011 and will not play a sport which maintains a reputation for decadence and corruption in China.

But President Xi left the President’s luxury Mar-a-Lago resort on Friday night, and by Saturday morning Mr Trump was on the links at his International Golf Club in Florida, the White House press pool was informed.

During a campaign rally last year, Mr Trump referred to a string of his golf clubs when claiming: “You know what – and I love golf – but if I were in the White House, I don’t think I’d ever see Turnberry again, I don’t think I’d ever see Doral again, I own Doral in Miami, I don’t think I’d ever see many of the places that I have.

“I don’t ever think that I’d see anything, I just wanna stay in the White House and work my ass off, make great deals, right? Who’s gonna leave? I mean, who’s gonna leave?”

He is now back on the green for the 15th time since 20 January. The trip also marks the 10th weekend in a row President Trump has spent at one of his own properties.

Thanks in particular to increased security bills at the waterfront Mar-a-Lago resort, he is on course to spend more on travel in a single year than the $97 million Barack Obama spent during his eight years in office.

The billionaire has already racked up $23 million in travel bills, at roughly 10 times the rate of his predecessor.

While still a private citizen, the billionaire tycoon repeatedly criticised former President Barack Obama for playing golf rather than attending to his presidential duties.

“Can you believe that,with all of the problems and difficulties facing the U.S., President Obama spent the day playing golf.,” he wrote in one 2014 tirade.

In a similar attack back in 2013, Fox News pundit and staunch Trump backer Sean Hannity wrote: “Glad our arrogant Pres is enjoying his taxpayer funded golf outing after announcing the US should take military action against Syria.”

In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s cruise missile barrage against a Syrian air base, the tweet is being re-circulated on social media.

(h/t The Independent)

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