Wednesday, January 18, 2017 3:40 PM
I hope President Donald Trump brings a renewed spirit of morality to America. But since honesty is a primary principle of moral behavior, I’m disheartened by his first news conference as President-Elect. Fact-checking organizations found a number of his statements to be questionable or out-right false.
For example, he claimed “I have no loans, I have no dealings” in Russia. That’s hard to know because he hasn’t released his tax returns, repeating his claim that “you learn very little in a tax return.” Clearly, his returns would offer valuable details on his financial affairs.
Trump said, “You know, the only one that cares about my tax returns are the reporters, okay?” Not true. The Pew Research Center released a poll the day before the press conference showing that close to two-thirds of Americans think the issue is important. Sixty percent of the people polled by Pew said Trump has a responsibility to publicly release his tax returns.
About health care, Trump said, “Some states have over 100 percent increase” in premiums under the Affordable Care Act. “Obamacare [is] imploding as we said. Some states have over 100 percent increase.”
False: Arizona is the only state with a triple-digit increase. On the other end, a few states saw decreases. The average premium increase across all states was 25 percent. Furthermore, premiums rose much faster under the eight years of President George W. Bush, before the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010.
Another bit of chicanery occurred when he pointed to a table stacked high with file folders and said, “These papers are just some of the many documents that I’ve signed turning over complete and total control [of my businesses] to my sons.”
He was referring to a plan to avoid any conflict of interest between his duties as president and his role as the owner of a multi-billion-dollar business by turning the management of his companies over to his sons. So he’s going to put his sons in charge and then not discuss any business matters with them. Believable? And the plan itself? Government ethics gurus from both parties call it ridiculous.
Even the pile of papers on the table were bogus according to several sources who could see the folders. They noted that none of them were labeled and the papers were blank. Reporters were not allowed to touch or examine the documents.
So what? you might ask. All politicians misshape the truth. Maybe so. But according to several fact-checking organizations, our new president is a master of dishonesty. For example, Politifact rates 69 percent of his fact-checked statements as Mostly False, False, or Pants on Fire.
Seeing all this, I wonder whether Mr. Trump is uninformed, deluded or just plain dishonest. Whatever the case, I hope we citizens are not afraid to speak truth to power, and that we expect those in power to speak truth to us. If we want a spirit of renewed American morality, we must pay careful attention to President Trump’s honesty as he tries to improve our already great nation.