MSNBC conducted a live fact check during a telecast of a speech President Donald Trump gave in Springfield, MO on Wednesday.
In a speech trumpeting his own proposed tax cuts, President Trump hailed the Tax Reform Act of 1986, a significant tax reform which passed during former President Ronald Reagan's tenure.
“Our last major tax rewrite was 31 years ago,” he said. “It was really something special… In 1986, Ronald Reagan led the world, cutting our tax base by 34 percent. Under this pro-America system, our economy just went beautifully through the roof.”
But White House speechwriters (rather conveniently) omitted the fact that Trump had long criticized the reform for including a provision which applied the new law to old investments, and gutted the value of rental real estate for the owners who had otherwise anticipated their tax deductions. In 1991, for example, Trump referred to the legislation as a "disaster," telling Congress, "This tax act was just an absolute catastrophe for the country."
A conspicuous banner on MSNBC's airing of the speech fact-checked the President in real time.
"The Last Word's" Lawrence O'Donnell observed that Trump, during his speech, appeared to be learning things for the very first time as he read them from the teleprompter: "You can tell that Donald Trump's teleprompter is filled with things he does not know."
For example, Trump appeared to be enlightened upon reading the lines fed to him about Springfield "being the birthplace of a great American icon: The legendary route 66. Who would've known that?" (Well, the locals in attendance would've been privy to that nugget of trivia.)
The President spoke at the Laren Cook Industrial Plant that manufactures fans, and spoke about eliminating some deductions from the tax code which might be harmful to affluent tax filers, including the owner of the plant.
"That is why tax reform must dramatically simplify the tax code, eliminate special interest loop-holes, and I'm speaking against myself when I do this I have to tell you," said Trump. "And I might be speaking against Mr. Cook, and we're okay with it, is that right? We're speaking 'maybe we shouldn't be doing this,' you know? But we're doing the right thing. It's true."
O'Donnell was quick to question the authenticity of Trump's statement on taxes. "We have no idea whether it affects him or not," O'Donnell said, given that the American public is left in the dark when it comes to the president's personal tax returns.
Indeed, many have called on the president to release his tax returns, something he has refused to do, citing an ongoing audit by the IRS. Despite Trump’s claims to the contrary, audits do not formally prohibit anyone from releasing their returns to the public. (Former President Richard Nixon publicly released his tax returns while under audit in 1973.) Since the days of Nixon and Watergate, Americans have expected that their leaders not hide their finances and personal tax returns. As Politico noted last December, many members of the GOP have wagered that the American public cares little, if at all, for the president's financial disclosures (or lack thereof), let alone his unwillingness to entirely divest himself from his many businesses.
Aside from the lies and tax cut talk, Trump barely touched on Texans' suffering in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. His recent trip to Texas was met with criticism after making the visit more about him than the lives that were impacted by the storm. The speechwriters did include some platitudes on the teleprompter for Trump's Springfield speech.
O'Donnell criticized Trump, expressing that not much more was said about the "mounting, increasing tragedy," on Wednesday. The focus was more on tax cuts and campaigning against Claire McCaskill, the Democratic Senator from Missouri whose name Trump didn't seem to know before reading it on the Teleprompter.
"Our president didn't say another word about Texas today," O'Donnell said.
While the president has "declared Texas an emergency disaster area and promised to send aid," as we've pointed out recently, the Trump administration has come under fire for slashing roughly $667 million from FEMA state and local grant programs which play key roles in disaster response." These cuts also "include $90 million from FEMA’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant Program funding to local communities and all $190 million of funding for the National Flood Insurance Program’s Flood Hazard Mapping and Risk Analysis Program," another indicator that the disaster's magnitude was as preventable as it is unfortunate.
Twitter expressed their disdain for Trump's speech.
You can watch Lawrence O'Donnell's segment of The Last Word below: