02-19-2017  8:01 pm      •     

WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump is displaying a spotty memory about his past views on foreign policy.

Just as he claimed to have loudly opposed the Iraq invasion before it happened, which he didn't, Trump claimed in the latest Republican presidential debate that he never called for U.S. intervention in Libya, which he did.

Some claims made in the Thursday's debate and how they stack up against the facts:

TED CRUZ: Trump "agreed with the Obama-Clinton policy of toppling the government in Libya. That was a disaster. It gave the country over to radical Islamic terrorism and it endangered America."
TRUMP: "He said I was in favor of Libya? I never discussed that subject. I was in favor of Libya? We would be so much better off if Gadhafi were in charge right now."

THE FACTS: He actually argued on numerous occasions, and fervently so, that the U.S. should intervene to stop a humanitarian disaster in Libya. He said the U.S. would have a "major black eye" if it didn't take out Moammar Gadhafi, the autocratic leader.

In a February 2011 video captured on BuzzFeed not long before the U.S. and NATO stepped in, he said, "Gadhafi in Libya is killing thousands of people, nobody knows how bad it is.

"And we're sitting around, we have soldiers all over the Middle East, and we're not bringing them in to stop this horrible carnage. And that's what it is. ... We should go in, we should stop this guy, which would be very easy and very quick, we could do it surgically. ... This is absolutely nuts, we don't want to get involved."

True to his business principles, Trump proposed sending Libya's successor government a bill for the U.S. intervention: "From your oil, we want reimbursement."

___

CRUZ: "The Obama-Clinton economy has done enormous damage to the Hispanic community."

THE FACTS: The bursting of the housing bubble in late 2007 is what really damaged the Hispanic community, before Barack Obama took office.

Under Obama, Hispanics have made strides from the depths of the Great Recession. Their unemployment rate is 5.9 percent. The rate is above the national average of 4.9 percent, but it's well below the 2009 peak of 13 percent.

Hispanics have gained 5 million jobs under Obama, a 25 percent increase since 2009. Under George W. Bush, there was a 21 percent growth of 3.45 million jobs.

But there is one key area where Hispanics are struggling to recover: Median income for that group was $28,757 in 2014, about $1,644 less than in 2007 after adjusting for inflation.

Cruz exaggerates when calling it the Obama-Clinton economy. Hillary Clinton was his secretary of state with little or no influence on his economic policy.

___

MARCO RUBIO: "It is a health care law that is basically forcing companies to lay people off, cut people's hours, move people to part-time. It is not just a bad health care law, it is a job-killing law."

THE FACTS: The claim that Obama's health care law is a job-killer is hard to square with the fact that the economy has added more than 13.4 million jobs since the law took effect. The unemployment rate has fallen to 4.9 percent from 9.9 percent since Obama signed the act.

Nor is there evidence that workers are being moved en masse to part-time hours. The number of part-time workers has actually fallen slightly since the health care law was passed: There were 27.6 million part-timers working in March 2010, and there are 26.3 million now.

To be sure, about 6 million of those with part-time jobs would prefer full-time work but have been unable to find it. That figure has declined steadily from 9 million since the Great Recession ended in June 2009, though it is still high.

The persistence of "involuntary" part-time employment has led many economists to worry that it could be a long-term problem, but they disagree on whether the health care overhaul is the root cause of that.

___

TRUMP on coarse language used by former Mexican President Vicente Fox over Trump's proposal to make Mexico pay for a fortress-like wall along the border: "I saw him use the word that he used. I can only tell you, if I would have used even half of that word, it would have been national scandal. This guy used a filthy, disgusting word on television, and he should be ashamed of himself, and he should apologize, OK?"

THE FACTS: At issue, it must be said, is the F-bomb. Fox dropped it when denouncing Trump's plans for the wall.

Trump, meantime, has run a profanity-laced campaign, blurted out the S-word on multiple occasions and used an offensive term for coward against rival Ted Cruz.

But what about THAT bomb?

At a rally in New Hampshire, he declared: "We're not going to let Mexico steal all our businesses. ... We're going to bring business back. ... And you can tell them to go" — pausing — "themselves because they let you down, and they left."

He didn't say the word. He mouthed it.

And Trump used the word loudly and several times in a 2011 Nevada speech before he was a candidate.

___

RUBIO: Repeats a flawed claim to have wiped out an insurance "bailout" in President Barack Obama's health care law. "When they passed Obamacare they put a bailout fund in Obamacare ... we led the effort and wiped out that bailout fund."

THE FACTS: Rubio was a vocal opponent of the "bailout." But Republicans weren't able to wipe it out — just to limit it. And other GOP lawmakers say Rubio did not engineer the maneuver.

At issue is a part of the health care law called "risk corridors," intended to compensate insurers that signed up sicker-than-expected patients under the health care law, incurring high costs. The government could pay just 13 percent of risk-corridor claims last year because of lower-than-expected fees paid by insurers who were doing well financially. Congressional Republicans barred the administration from using taxpayer dollars to make up the difference, but Rubio wasn't responsible for that move.

___

TRUMP: Challenged by former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney to release his tax returns, he said, "I will absolutely give my return, but I'm being audited now for two or three years, so I can't do it until the audit is finished, obviously." He further said that he's been audited for "12 years, or something like that. Every year they audit me, audit me, audit me."

THE FACTS: It was the first time Trump has mentioned audits as a reason to delay releasing his returns — after saying over the last several weeks he planned to make them public soon.

But in any event, no level of scrutiny prevents him from making his returns public, said Joseph Thorndike, a tax law professor and contributing editor to Tax Analysts, an industry publication.

___

TRUMP: Criticizing Romney for delaying filing his own tax returns, said, "Mitt Romney looked like a fool when he delayed and delayed and delayed ... And Mitt Romney didn't file his return until September 21st of 2012, about a month and a half before the election. And it cost him big league."

THE FACTS: Trump is wrong. Romney released his 2010 tax returns and 2011 tax estimates in January of 2012, earlier in the election season than any of the current leading Republican candidates have offered comparably recent information. But Romney continued to face scrutiny over his reluctance to produce filings from earlier years, and released additional tax information during the general election campaign.

___

RUBIO: Trump "hired workers from Poland. And he had to pay a million dollars or so in a judgment."

TRUMP: "That's wrong. That's wrong. Totally wrong."

THE FACTS: Rubio is at least partially correct. A labor union sued Trump in 1983 over his use of Polish immigrants in the country illegally who had been hired to help with demolition on property that would become Trump Tower. The lawsuit claimed the 200 workers had poor job conditions and were owed back pay.

The union sought about $1 million in payments to its pension fund it claimed he avoided by hiring the immigrant workers, according to a New York Times report of the case in 1990. Trump denied knowing that the workers were in the country illegally or details of their working conditions, but according to news reports a judge concluded he had known. The case was settled in 1999 and court records were sealed.

At the time, it wasn't the legal responsibility of employers to check on workers' legal status before hiring them.

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  • WASHINGTON (AP) — One month after the inauguration, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Donald Trump's White House still is a hard-hat zone. Skeletal remains of the inaugural reviewing stands poke skyward. Random piles of plywood and cables are heaped on the ground inside crooked lines of metal fencing. The disarray outside the president's front door, though not his fault, serves as a metaphor for the tumult still unfolding inside. Four weeks in, the man who says he inherited "a mess" at home and abroad is presiding over a White House that is widely described as itself being a mess. At a stunning pace, Trump has riled world leaders and frustrated allies. He was dealt a bruising legal blow on one of his signature policies. He lost his national security adviser and his pick for labor secretary to scandal. He's seen forces within his government push back against his policies and leak confidential information. All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. "I can't believe there's actually a politician doing what he says he would do," says an approving Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old office furniture sales broker from River Falls, Wisconsin. "That never happens." Disrupt Trump has. But there may be more sound and fury than substance to many of his early actions. Trump did select Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a nomination that has drawn strong reviews from conservatives. But the president is regrouping on immigration after federal judges blocked his order to suspend the United States' refugee program and ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, which had caused chaos for travelers around the globe. Some other orders on issues such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall and former President Barack Obama's health care law are of limited effect. Trump says his early actions show he means to deliver on the promises he made during the campaign. "A lot of people say, 'Oh, oh, Trump was only kidding with the wall,'" the president told a group of police chiefs recently. "I wasn't kidding. I don't kid." But the Republican-led Congress is still waiting to see specifics on how Trump wants to proceed legislatively on top initiatives such as replacing the health care law, enacting tax cuts and revising trade deals. The messy rollout of the travel ban and tumult over the ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn for misrepresenting his contacts with Russia are part of a broader state of disarray as different figures in Trump's White House jockey for power and leaks reveal internal discord in the machinations of the presidency. "I thought by now you'd at least hear the outlines of domestic legislation like tax cuts," says Princeton historian Julian Zelizer. "But a lot of that has slowed. Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. At his long and defiant news conference on Thursday, Trump tried to dispel the impression of a White House in crisis, squarely blaming the press for keeping him from moving forward more decisively on his agenda. Pointing to his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, Trump said, "You take a look at Reince, he's working so hard just putting out fires that are fake fires. I mean, they're fake. They're not true. And isn't that a shame because he'd rather be working on health care, he'd rather be working on tax reform." For all the frustrations of his early days as president, Trump still seems tickled by the trappings of his office. When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited the White House last week to discuss the national opioid epidemic over lunch, the governor said Trump informed him: "Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.'" Trump added: "I'm telling you, the meatloaf is fabulous." ___Follow Nancy Benac on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbenac
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