Trump just took credit for opening six steel plants but there’s a huge problem

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President Trump, in a desperate attempt to justify his unilateral imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminum that has started an international trade war – which is costing thousands of U.S. worker’s jobs – has claimed several times recently that the president of U.S. Steel told  him they are doing a big expansion because of the benefits of his politics.

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The truth is that Trump is lying, or has his facts wrong. 

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Let’s explain.

On June 20, at a roundtable with U.S. workers in Duluth, Minnesota, Trump bragged that “The head of U.S. Steel called me the other day, and he said, ‘We’re opening up six major facilities and expanding facilities that have never been expanded.’ They haven’t been opened in many, many years.”

Trump repeated his claim two days ago at the White House where he added that as a result of his policies,  “so many things have changed.”

It struck the Fact Checker at The Washington Post, Glenn Kessler, as odd that such big, impactful news as the opening or re-opening of half a dozen plants would not have been announced publicly by U.S. Steel, which as a publicly traded corporation has a legal obligation to make such material news public. 

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The Fact Checker found that U.S. Steel had announced plans to restart two blast furnaces at existing facilities in Illinois, one in March adding 500 jobs and the other in October adding 300 jobs,  but that was previously announced.

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Even so, that is not the same as six new and greatly expanded plants,

To clear this up, the Fact Checker called Meghan M. Cox, spokeswoman for U.S. Steel, who responded that they post “all major announcements” on their website and report them on earnings calls – but nothing has been revealed except the two blast furnaces being revived.

“Translation: The president is wrong. But apparently, U.S. Steel is afraid to say that out loud,” reports the Fact Checker.

“The Facts,” writes the Fact Checker are that “President Trump has a tendency to cite conversations that did not occur quite the way he describes them — if they took place at all. So we were a bit suspicious when he mentioned a phone conversation with Dave Burritt, chief executive of U.S. Steel.”

Cox also ignored questions about whether her boss had spoken to Trump on the phone since he did appear at a White House meetings several months ago.

“So one can only assume the phone call did not happen,” adds the Fact Checker.

A check with Wall Street analysts who closely follow U.S. Street also found them “scratching their heads,” wrote the Fact Checker. “They knew of no such expansion.”

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It is possible Trump misunderstood what he was told or was referring to a possible deal with the Japanese which is still only in the talking stage, but not likely.

So the Fact Checker looked at it using his Pinocchio Test.

“This should be easy to clear up: Either the president of U.S. Steel tipped market-moving information to the president of the United States, or he did not.

“Interestingly, the securities markets have not reacted at all to the president’s disclosure; U.S. Steel’s stock fell the day after Trump made his comments about six new facilities, and it has continued to decline.

“Perhaps that means the stock market puts a low premium on the president’s statements.

“Here at The Fact Checker, we award Four Pinocchios.”

That is the Fact Checkers way of saying Trump lied or got it wrong, but either way, his clams that his trade war is leading to job-creating victories at a high level is fake news.

Since this is Trump, who has a long history of exaggeration to the point of lying, we believe that he is lying, although he is so delusional that after he repeats it enough times, the president seems to believe what he is saying.

Unfortunately, the rest of America can’t believe much of anything he says. 

Benjamin Locke

Benjamin Locke is a retired college professor with an undergraduate degree in Industrial Labor and Relations from Cornell University and an MBA from the European School of Management.

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