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PolitiFact Va: 10 Fact Checks From Trump’s Virginia Rally

Pres. Trump at a rally
President Donald Trump does a little dance as he leaves the stage during an campaign rally Friday, Sept. 25, 2020, in Newport News, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

President Donald Trump made his first 2020 campaign visit to Virginia on Friday, telling several thousand supporters at Newport News/ Williamsburg International Airport that Democrats “will destroy our country.”

During a 70-minute speech, Trump promised to wage an aggressive campaign in Virginia. He defended his record and excoriated former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee.

Here are quick fact checks of 10 claims Trump made during his speech that had been previously vetted by PolitiFact. 

“We gave you the biggest tax cut in history.”

This is wrong. The Joint Committee on Taxation — Congress’s nonpartisan arbiter of tax analysis — said the 2017 tax bill would cost the government (or save taxpayers) about $1.5 trillion over 10 years, or about $150 billion a year.

Several bills since 1980 were larger, according to the Treasury Department, measured not only by contemporary dollars but also by inflation-adjusted dollars and as a percentage of gross domestic product, which is a measure of the size of the overall economy. In inflation-adjusted dollars, the recent tax bill is the fourth-largest since 1940. And as a percentage of GDP, it ranks seventh. We’ve summarized the tax laws here.

“We achieved energy independence.”

It hasn’t happened yet, but the country is moving toward it.

One definition of energy independence says it occurs when domestic production outpaces domestic consumption. For the U.S., the gap between production and consumption has been narrowing for some time, and the two figures have been running neck and neck.

Some experts prefer another sense of the phrase, which defines energy independence as total disengagement from the global energy market, or zero imports. By that definition, the U.S. is much farther from achieving energy independence because the country still imports a significant amount of petroleum. 

he U.S. is close to regularly producing more energy than it consumes and exporting more energy than it imports. But it hasn't settled into complete energy independence in that way yet. We’ve rated Trump’s promise to achieve energy independence a Compromise.

The Obama administration “spied on my campaign.”

This is False. Multiple independent investigations, including a series of bipartisan Senate reports, found no influence by the Obama administration over the FBI investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and contacts with the Trump campaign. 

The FBI targeted four people with greater or lesser roles in the Trump campaign, but conducted that independently of the White House, a review by the Justice Department found.

Biden would “impose a $4 trillion tax hike on you, that’s what he wants to do.”

Very few Americans - including people attending Trump’s rally - would experience a tax increase under Biden’s plan, which would raise tax rates on families earning $400,000 a year or more. 

Biden also plans to raise corporate taxes and analysts say that may have a trickle-down effect of slightly lowering wages. Those losses in pay, however, might be evened out by tax credits for individuals and families in Biden’s plan.

“The Biden plan...would destroy protections for pre-existing conditions.”

There’s no basis for this claim and PolitiFact rates it “Pants on Fire.”

Biden wants to protect the Affordable Care Act, which created protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Trump and Republicans for years have tried to get rid of the health care law, without an alternative that would maintain the same protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

Biden “wants to ban fracking.”

Biden said in a March 15, 2020 Democratic debate that he supported a fracking ban, which was a departure from his past position. Following the debate, a Biden campaign representative clarified the position, saying Biden wants a ban only on new fracking activities on federal lands and waters.

Democrats “are going to destroy the suburbs...They’re going to change the zoning that allows them to build projects in the suburbs.”

That’s an extreme interpretation of Biden’s proposal to reinstate an Obama administration requirement related to addressing discrimination in housing. 

Under the Obama administration’s 2015 change to the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, localities receiving HUD funding were required to work with the federal government to identify barriers to fair housing and come up with strategies for dealing with them. 

Experts say restoring that regulation would not force those jurisdictions to rezone or build low-income housing. PolitiFact and other fact checkers have found this Trump claim to be false

“We’ll have (appointed) maybe even more than 300 federal judges, including Courts of Appeals, and now we’re going to have three Supreme Court judges.”

Trump could be well on his way to appointing 300 federal judges by the end of his term.

As of Sept, 24, the U.S. Senate has confirmed 218 federal judges nominated by Trump, including 53 on U.S. courts of appeal. There are 56 federal bench vacancies, including one on the Supreme Court caused by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Trump has nominated U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace Ginsberg. If Barrett is confirmed, she will become Trump’s third appointee to the high court.

If you’re wondering, there are 890 authorized federal judgeships.

“They want to ban school choice and charter schools.”

This has been rated Mostly False. Biden supports school choice, but not in the manner Trump has in mind.

Unlike Trump, Biden opposes vouchers and using public money to fund private K-12 schools. He calls for increasing federal funding to schools serving lower income neighborhoods and increasing teacher pay. Biden also opposes for-profit and low-performing charter schools.

But Biden supports good charter schools and allowing students to pick among public schools. These qualify as school choice options.

“I heard their Pledge of Allegiance (at the Democratic National Convention). They had it in their caucus. As I’m watching, I said, ‘Oh, they made a mistake..they left the words ‘under God’ out. But then I heard it a second time and they made the same mistake.”

On each night of the DNC, "under God" was included in the Pledge of Allegiance. But some Democratic caucuses omitted "one nation under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance during DNC meetings.”