Trump’s White House Goes With Truthiness

Damian Paletta has the story about a document circulating in the White House.

White House officials working on trade policy were alarmed last month when a top adviser to President Trump circulated a two-page document that alleged a weakened manufacturing sector leads to an increase in abortion, spousal abuse, divorce and infertility, two people familiar with the matter said.

The documents, which were obtained by The Washington Post, were prepared and distributed by Peter Navarro, director of the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy. They were presented without any data or information to back up the assertions, and reveal some of the materials the Trump administration reviewed as it was crafting its trade policy.

Here is a graph from that document:

Kevin Drum has already done the work of debunking the whole thing.

…the crime rate has been dropping since 1991. As a result, the incarceration rate began dropping about 15 years later. It’s been dropping steadily for the past decade and has dropped by more than half for young black men since 2001. Child poverty is at an all-time low. The abortion rate has declined 50 percent since 1980. The homelessness rate has dropped steadily since HUD began keeping statistics a decade ago, and is now down 20 percent since 2007. Domestic violence, like other violent crime, has dropped dramatically over the past two decades. The mortality rate varies among different demographic groups, but has been dropping steadily since 1960. The teen birthrate is down, but overall fertility has been basically flat since 1970. The divorce rate has been dropping since 1980, and is now at a 40-year low. Hell, even the marriage rate has stabilized over the past decade.

In other words, Navarro is wrong about nearly everything. However, opioid use is up and single-parent households have increased. I guess two out of twelve isn’t bad.

What caught my eye about Paletta’s reporting was his statement that the document was “presented without any data or information to back up the assertions.” The word that came to my mind when I read that was Stephen Colbert’s “truthiness.” That one made it into dictionaries with the definition: “the quality of seeming or being felt to be true, even if not necessarily true.”

You see…in the world of Trumpians, we are experiencing the phenomenon of “American carnage.” Information like Navarro’s just feels true in their guts. So who needs data or facts to back it up? The president’s nostalgia voters eat this stuff up because it feels true to them too. Those feelings have now become the basis for how this administration is crafting its trade policy. Is it any wonder that the talks to renegotiate NAFTA are failing spectacularly?

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.