WASHINGTON — It’s been a while since we’ve done a roundup of President Donald Trump’s claims. We usually handle the president’s various gaggle and media availabilities in our database of false and misleading claims. (12,019 and counting.)

But given the attention to the worsening economic news, we thought a roundup of claims made during his press availability with the Romanian president on Tuesday would be appropriate. Some of these statements are already in the database; some of them are new. We will keep it focused on the economy except for the last item.

• “They [the Federal Reserve] also did quantitative tightening, which was ridiculous. And so — and despite that — you know, if you look — I guess you could call it normalized, but if you look, our economy is doing fantastically, and if you take a look at the previous administration, they weren’t paying interest. They had no interest rates, they had loosening, not tightening, and frankly it’s a big difference.”

Trump consistently appears jealous that the Fed kept interest rates near zero during the Obama administration. Obama, of course, faced the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, with unemployment reaching 10 percent. The economy is now basically at full employment. Zero percent interest rates would mean the economy was again in a free fall — presumably not something Trump wants.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump often complained the stock market was kept artificially high by low interest rates and would come crashing down once rates were raised. But it did not.

One reason the Fed raised interest rates to 2.5 percent in December 2018 is to better prepare for the slowing economy down the road.


“In the last three downturns, the Fed cut the fed-funds rate by five percentage points, 4.8 percentage points, and 5.3 percentage points,” noted prominent economist Martin Feldstein at the time. “But with a starting level of 2%, it could reduce the federal-funds rate by only two percentage points before hitting zero.” (Feldstein died in June.) He also noted that extremely low interest rates can destabilize the economy, with businesses taking on excessive debt and bankers lending to lower-quality borrowers.

“We’re right now the number one country anywhere in the world by far as an economy.”

Trump often makes this claim, but it’s unclear what it’s based on. The United States is certainly the largest economy, but it does not have the highest economic growth in the world, even if one looks only at advanced economies.

“We’ve been talking about indexing for a long time, and many people like indexing, and it can be done very simply, it can be done directly by me. And so we’ve been looking at that. As you probably have heard, I can do it directly.”

Trump suggests he can order the indexing of capital gains for inflation without an act of Congress. (This would reduce taxes for people who hold stocks for long term.) But Attorney General William Barr, when he served in the same post during the George H.W. Bush administration, studied the issue and concluded that a president could not do it on his own: “The question was clear, can we, simply through administrative action, index capital gains? … Not only did I not think we could, I did not think that a reasonable argument could be made to support that position,” he said in 1993.

The Congressional Research Service, in a 2018 report, said such a move would reduce government revenue by $10 billion to $30 billion, with small effects on economic growth and national savings. “The change would favor high-income individuals with about 60% benefiting the top 0.1% and around 90% benefiting the top 1% in the income distribution,” the report said.


“So it was the G-8 for a long time, and now it’s the G-7, and a lot of the time we talk about, we talk about Russia — we’re talking about Russia cause I’ve gone to numerous G-7 meetings, and I guess President Obama, because Putin outsmarted him — President Obama thought it wasn’t a good thing to have Russia in, so he wanted Russia out … For most of the time, it was the G-8, it included Russia, and President Obama didn’t want Russia in because he got outsmarted.”

This is false. Russia was ousted from the Group of Eight (G-8) because of the invasion and annexation of Crimea, with the rest of the group of industrialized democracies saying the act was inconsistent with the “shared beliefs of the G-8.” There had been 22 meetings of the G-7 before Russia was invited to join by then-President Bill Clinton. Then Russia attended 17 meetings before it invaded Crimea. The G-7 meeting in France later this month will be the sixth since Russia was removed. So it’s incorrect to say “most of the time” the group included Russia.

“They send millions of Mercedes over, they send millions of BMWs over.”

Trump, in complaining about what he perceives as hard-nosed negotiating by the European Union, greatly inflates the number of German cars imported to the United States. About 300,000 BMWs and 350,000 Mercedes are sold in the United States each year — and more than one-quarter of German vehicles sold here are made in the United States, in factories in Alabama, Tennessee and South Carolina.

 “Our country cannot continue to pay China $500 billion a year because stupid people are running it.”

Trump consistently inflates the U.S. trade deficit with China. It was $380 billion in 2018, $337 billion in 2017 and $309 billion in 2016, according to the Commerce Department. Notice that it has continued to grow under Trump. As we often note, countries do not make or lose money on trade deficits.

• “China’s had the worst year they’ve had in 27 years. And a lot of people are saying the worst year they’ve had in 54 years.”

China had the worst year in terms of economic growth in 27 years, but at 6.2 percent, it’s still three times faster than the United States’ rate. We have no clue why Trump claims “a lot of people” say it is the worst in 54 years.

• “Your statement about, ‘Oh, will we fall into a recession for two months,’ OK? The fact is, somebody had to take China on. My life would be a lot easier if I didn’t take China on. But I like doing it because I have to do it.”

A recession is two quarters of negative economic growth. That’s six months, not two months.

“All of a sudden, she starts with tears — tears. And I don’t buy it — I don’t buy it. I don’t buy it for a second because I’ve seen her in a very vicious mood at campaign rallies — my campaign rallies — before she was a congresswoman. I said who is that? And I saw a woman that was violent and vicious and out of control and all of a sudden, I see this person who’s crying because she can’t see her grandmother.”

Both in his remarks to reporters and in a tweet, Trump claimed that Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., was “violent.” Apparently, he’s referring to a video that resurfaced in July of Tlaib protesting during a 2016 speech that Trump gave at the Detroit Economic Club.


“It is unacceptable that anyone with the platform of a major party candidate has worked to mainstream hate.” Tlaib wrote in the Detroit Free Press, explaining why she disrupted the speech. “Trump has created an atmosphere wherein my sons are questioning their place and identity as Arab Americans and Muslims.”

In the video, she is certainly loud, but “violent?” It may be in the eye of the beholder. But the dictionary definition of “violent” is “using or involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something.” That’s not what Tlaib was doing.


President Donald Trump rattled off a slew of false and misleading claims during his meeting with the Romanian president. (The Washington Post/The Washington Post)