Four Issues With Donald Trump's Inaugural Address

January 20th 2017

Kyle Jaeger

President Donald Trump's inaugural address followed many of the same themes voters heard during the presidential campaign — including several misleading claims about jobs, immigration, crime, and education. But putting his claims in the context of what has been achieved over the last eight years raises some questions.


On jobs.

Trump pledged to return jobs to the manufacturing industry, lamenting the fact that factories have been shuttered across the country. He blamed "other countries" for "making our product, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs."

Auto factory 1951

Though it's true that outsourcing has contributed to the loss of manufacturing jobs, experts agree that increased automation has been the main source of those industry losses. Even as manufacturing jobs have declined, productivity has increased.

On the economy.

"For too long, a small group in our nation's capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have bore the cost," Trump said. "And while they celebrated in our nation's capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land."

Capitol Dome, Washington D.C.

The poverty rate ticked up by less than one percent from 2009 to 2015, from 13.2 to 13.5 percent. But by many other metrics, low and middle-income families benefited under the Obama administration, NPR reported. The unemployment rate fell from 7.8 percent when Obama took office in 2009 to 4.7 percent in 2016. The average household income rose by about $1,000. And the wage gap between men and women, as well as black and white workers, also narrowed.

The influence of money in politics, however, has been a consistent concern among voters, who worry about lawmakers accepting donations from lobbying groups and supporting policies that don't reflect the public's interest. Lobbying groups spent $3.2 billion in 2015, for example, compared to $1.4 billion in 1998, according to OpenSecrets.

In tandem with economic growth, Almost 20 million Americans gained health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

On education.

The president said the U.S. education system was "flush with cash" but "leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge."

students in a classroom

The federal government spent three percent of its budget on education in 2015, with most funding coming from state and local entities. Some experts argue that funds are unequally distributed in certain school districts, leaving low-income students with fewer resources to achieve.

In terms of average academic performance, however, American students rank lower in mathematics and average in science and reading by international standards, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

The graduation rate hit a record high of 82 percent during the 2013-14 school year.

On crime and drugs.

Trump talked about "the crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential" and vowed to end "this American carnage."


The number of gangs and rate of gang-related violence has increased over the past five years — but contrary to Trump's repeated claims about the issue, the overall violent crime rate in the U.S. has decreased since 2008, according to FBI data.

Drug overdoses, on the other hand, have increased substantially over the past decade — a trend that can be explained by the rise in opioid abuse in America. More than 33,000 people died from opioid overdoses in 2015, and for the first time in U.S. history, heroin overdoses outnumber gun-related homicides. Drug policy experts have argued that the opioid epidemic is the product of prescribing trends, with physicians dispensing more addictive painkillers that have fed into a cycle of addiction.

On border control.

Trump said that the U.S. has "defended other nations' borders while refusing to defend our own." Without directly referencing his proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, he vowed to "bring back our borders."

U.S. Mexico Border

In terms of immigration enforcement efforts, the Obama administration actually deported more undocumented immigrants than past presidents, "setting a record of more than 2.4 million formal removals," The New York Times reported. The undocumented immigrant population in America peaked during the Bush administration at 12.2 million in 2007, but it gradually decreased and stabilized in the years since — resting at about 11 million since 2009.

You can read Trump's full speech here.