When a president lies

By Becky Wandel

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(Leigh Vogel/Sipa USA/TNS)

Donald Trump has always been a liar. As a businessman, a presidential candidate, the president-elect and now the president, his penchant for perjury has shown itself, and it is hard to deny.

For example, on Monday Trump tweeted from the @POTUS account, “The NSA and FBI tell Congress that Russia did not influence electoral process” – a lie. Not only did the United States intelligence community release a joint report on Jan. 6 about Russian meddling, concluding that “Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election.” The heads of these agencies, Michael Rogers and James Comey, also defended their report in a House Intelligence Committee hearing on March 20. Director Rogers said, “Today, more than two months after we issued this assessment, we stand by it as issued.” This is indisputable evidence that proves the president wrong. The NSA and FBI did not tell Congress that Russia did not influence the electoral process. That is the truth.

Politifact, the Pulitzer Prize-winning fact checking website, rated Trump’s tweet on this subject as downright false, even going so far as to caption this rating with the words, “They didn’t say that.” 16 percent of Trump’s statements have been giving an even worse rating, labelled as “Pants on Fire,” while 53 percent are either “Mostly False” or “False.” These three ratings make up the bad half of a six-step scale, and also characterize a combined 69 percent of the statements this site has rated for the president. Nearly seven out of 10 times they check how the president speaks to us, he is lying.

For comparison, that number is 26 percent for Barack Obama, 42 percent for Mitt Romney, 26 percent for Hillary Clinton and 45 percent for Mike Pence. I couldn’t find a single politician, besides the president, for whom that number was over 50 percent.

I can’t speak to why we have made this exception for Donald Trump, but I do think the frequency of his lies is important to keep in mind as he rolls out his first piece of legislation, the American Health Care Act. If we consider broken campaign promises to be lies, this bill is full of them.

Politico tracked six major promises Trump made about health care reform, and this bill breaks all of them. He promised “insurance for everybody” and that “no one will lose coverage,” but the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that 24 million people will lose coverage over the next 10 years if this bill is to pass. Trump also promised that there would be “no cuts…to Medicaid,” but this bill would cut Medicaid by an estimated $880 billion.

Lies.

We all laughed last year when Trump said that he could “shoot somebody and…. [not] lose any voters,” but he wasn’t so wrong. He’s getting away with things that no other politician could –lying to his electorate more than any of his contemporaries and, with this health care bill, preparing to rob his voter base blind. The white, blue-collar Trump base would be seriously hurt  by this bill.

According to The Boston Globe, the 10 states who that would fare the worst under the new plan all backed Trump in the general election. Age-based subsidies are also under attack, meaning that, according to CNBC, enrollees aged 55-64 – another demographic that went for Trump – would be hit particularly hard with increased costs. And, who exactly would benefit in exchange for the suffering of these poor, old and rural communities? I’ll let you guess.

This is all to say that Donald Trump isn’t who he convinced us he was. He isn’t a Republican – some Republicans hate this bill. And he isn’t a populist, as he’s hurting the very constituencies that voted for him. He’s not even a real politician – something we all saw when he first announced his candidacy and was laughed off by pundit after pundit. With this bill, Trump is beginning to remind us who he really is – a very rich man who has always been very rich, and who is doing everything he can to protect the interests of the other very rich men in this country. It is as simple as that.

To best protect ourselves for the next four years, and to be best informed, we have to spend our time examining the details of his Trump’s policies, and be critical of every one. Trump’s political theater, his posturing, his spewing and spluttering on Twitter and – in short –  his word, means nothing to us. It’s all lies.

Becky Wandel is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]