Fact-Checking Hillary Clinton’s Economic Speech

by Jackie Calmes
from New York Times

With both major-party presidential candidates vying for working-class voters,Hillary Clinton on Thursday followed Donald J. Trump to Michigan to outline her job-creation plans, answering his economic address on Monday in Detroit. Mrs. Clinton spoke at Futuramic Tool & Engineering Company in Macomb County, long known as a home to political ticket-splitters. Some of her statements deserved a closer look. Here are a few.

Claim: “Even conservative experts say Trump’s agenda will pull our economy back into recession. And according to an independent analysis by a former economic adviser to Senator John McCain, if you add up all of Trump’s ideas — from cutting taxes for the wealthy and corporations, to starting a trade war with China, to deporting millions of hardworking immigrants — the result would be a loss of 3.4 million jobs. Now, by contrast, the same analyst found that with our plans, the economy would create more than 10 million new jobs.”

Fact Check: Mrs. Clinton stretched facts to ascribe such negative findings about the Trump agenda to “conservative experts” and a former McCain adviser. She referred to an analysis of the Trump plans in June by the economic research firm Moody’s Analytics led by Mark Zandi. He did advise the McCain presidential campaign in 2008, but he also has advised Democrats, including President Obama’s team, and contributed to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign last year.

Moody’s concluded that Mr. Trump’s plans would cost 3.5 million jobs and provoke “a lengthy recession” by the end of his term. That analysis does not reflect changes that Mr. Trump unveiled on Monday, which reduced the size of his tax cuts. Previously, a range of analysts estimated his tax cuts could add about $10 trillion to the federal debt over 10 years. Reducing that cost presumably could in turn reduce analysts’ projections of lost jobs and economic growth. But it remains unclear, because Mr. Trump did not provide enough detail to draw conclusions.

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Claim: “We will work with both parties to pass the biggest investment in new, good-paying jobs since World War II.” To date, such investments “have been completely blocked in Congress, and American workers in communities have paid the price.”

Fact Check: Mrs. Clinton was referring to her proposal for $275 billion in new infrastructure spending to build and modernize roads, bridges, airports, railways, ports, schools, water systems and more. That sum is ambitious, and indeed Mr. Obama’s annual call for a similar infrastructure program has been blocked by congressional Republicans, who object to its size and to proposals to pay for it with tax increases.

But hers would not be the biggest investment since the war, allowing for inflation. That honor probably belongs to the project to build the interstate highway system, initiated during the Eisenhower administration, which cost $329 billion by the 1996 estimate of an association of automotive and highway construction industries. Adjusted for inflation 20 years later, that would be more than $500 billion.

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Claim: Lack of broadband access “disadvantages kids, who are asked to do homework using the internet — five million of them live in homes without access to the internet. So you talk about an achievement gap — it starts right there.”

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