US media has attacked Trump again for presenting a portrait of the United States that is variance with reality. It seems that in order to justify his election slogan – Make US Great Again- he is presenting a gloomy picture of US. The obvious question one must ask is whether Trump is relying on fact or rhetoric.
Trump said in his inaugural speech that Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered, but the jobs left and the factories closed. But there is no empirical evidence that the D.C. area got rich off the rest of the country, as Trump suggests.
Trump has been criticized for mixing various issues when he says that for many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry; subsidized the armies of other countries, while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military. Experts say he seems to be referring to free-trade agreements in the first part of his sentence, though he ignores the fact that many U.S. industries also benefit and grow when they are able to sell products overseas.
A 2013 Senate report found that the United States spent $10 billion a year on bases abroad, with 70 percent focused on three countries — Germany, South Korea and Japan. Germany is the center of European defense obligations, while the troops in Japan are the core of U.S. projection of power in Asia. The troops in Korea deter an attack by North Korea.
Given a defense budget of more than $500 billion, the cost of maintaining these bases is a mere pittance.
The United States doles out about $6 billion a year in foreign military financing, with most of it going to just two countries: Israel and Egypt. But this money comes with a catch — most of it must be spent on U.S. hardware, creating jobs for Americans.
As for the “very sad depletion” of the U.S. military, this is hyper-exaggeration. One can argue about whether the military budget should be boosted, but there is no question that the U.S. military is stronger and more capable than any other nations.
Trump appears to be referring to U.S. involvement in military adventures, such as the 2003 Iraq invasion he supported, and possibly foreign aid. Foreign aid amounts to less than 1 percent of the U.S. budget, with about $18 billion going to economic and development aid and $8 billion for security assistance.
Even the Marshall Plan advanced by President Harry S. Truman, designed to stabilize Europe after World War II, was only a little over $100 billion in today’s dollars. Hence, its total lies when Trump says that “We’ve spent trillions and trillions of dollars overseas while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay. We’ve made other countries rich, while the wealth, strength and confidence of our country has dissipated over the horizon.”
Contrary to Trump’s rhetoric, the United States is far wealthier than other nations. According to the International Monetary Fund, the United States has a gross domestic product of $18 trillion, one-third larger than that of China, the nearest rival and a frequent target of Trump’s attacks.
A Pew Research Center analysis found that the vast majority of Americans are either upper-middle income or high income; many Americans who are classified as “poor” by the U.S. government would be middle income globally.
Trump again engages in hyperbole, attributing the entire decline in manufacturing to foreign trade. The number of U.S. workers engaged in manufacturing is now about 12.3 million, up from 11.5 million in 2010, after the Great Recession hurt many manufacturers.
But that’s still a decline from about 17 million in the 1990s. Trump continues to attack companies that ship jobs overseas, and has promised to keep jobs in the United States. But Trump has had a long history of outsourcing a variety of his products as a businessman, and he has acknowledged doing so.