Many gaping mouths, including embittered and now unemployed never-Trumpers, made breathless claims Thursday about the president lying to the troops. Naturally, these claims were then echoed across liberal media.
But he didn’t.
They claimed he bald-faced disrespected and lied to their faces while visiting them in Iraq (something many of them just hours before were claiming he’d never do), are so insanely obsessed with catching Trump doing something “wrong,” that they never seem to understand that sometimes his inaccurate specificity undersells the truth.
They just always assume the worst so he can then regularly not only correct the record but then demonstrate the way in which he is over performing as president.
They have a hard time accepting this if they anchor shows on the two cable networks that continue to fall behind Fox News Channel (even when their audiences are combined.)
But here are the details.
President Trump said: "You protect us. We are always going to protect you. And you just saw that, 'cause you just got one of the biggest pay raises you've ever received. ... You haven't gotten one in more than 10 years. More than 10 years. And we got you a big one. I got you a big one. I got you a big one.”
Later he went on to say: "They had plenty of people that came up, they said, 'You know, we could make it smaller. We could make it 3%, we could make it 2%, we could make it 4%,'" Trump told the troops about the latest pay raise. "I said, 'No. Make it 10%. Make it more than 10%.’"
Neither statement is accurate, when taken out of context, but neither is also completely inaccurate either.
Nevertheless that didn’t stop the media.
Don Lemon of CNN: "Even in a combat zone, this president can’t tell the truth, lying right to their faces. Telling them he got a 10% pay raise this year. And that it was the first they got in ten years. That’s a lie."
Joe Scarborough of MSNBC: "The President also lied about pushing through a huge pay raise for the troops. I don’t get it. Because it’s not true. It’s not even close to being true.”
Jim Sciutto of CNN: “He said that he gave them their first pay raise in ten years, and that he gave them a pay raise of ten percent—not true.”
The Hill: “Trump incorrectly claims military pay hasn’t gone up for 10 years."
So where’s the truth?
The most problematic part of what Trump said is that he was in fact mistaken in his first statement. The military has received pay raises annually. For six of the eight years that Obama was president they received a paltry 1-1.7% raise per year. Even when you factor in the first two years' raises under Obama of 3%+, Obama’s average raise for the military was 1.9% per year. In President Trump’s first three years he has averaged 2.4%. He also conflated the “not getting a raise” to the bill he signed in September of this year, which for the first time in a decade, did not tie raises and spending for the military to a “continuing resolution” but rather became a hardened budgetary item. This sense of permanence in where the funding comes from is a more secure reality for the military men and women who serve for it is not served up on the whim of things like whether or not the Congress will choose to shut down, as opposed to funding the voter’s priorities of border security.
Other than that point, none of the above media critiques are true in the reporting of what the president said or meant.
Don Lemon, do you see anywhere in the quote above that says the president claimed he provided a 10% raise in a single year? Nope. Joe Scarborough and Jim Sciutto you’re both just wrong.
Trump never indicates in his statement that he isolated the raise the troops were receiving under his watch as being accomplished in the calendar year of 2018. Many of the media outlets breathlessly reported that he had said as much, but look at his own words—he didn’t.
What he did imply is that he had given them a raise of roughly 10%. At 2.4% per year times 4 years he will have overseen a raise of 9.6% for the troops in his first term. Comparatively over Obama’s last 4 years that administration served up a whopping 1.25% pay raise per year equalling roughly half of Trump’s raise over an equally comparable period of time.
If Trump’s consistency holds for the duration of two full terms he will deliver up nearly 19.2% in pay increases over the course of his time in office, shattering Obama’s totals.
To be clear the president, after having a bit of jet lag, and having visited with the troops, was inaccurate in the timing of when pay raises have happened. He was correct in that it has been ten years plus since military funding scheduled pay raises—as they should be—budgetarily and with confidence that Congress will fund.
But to be even more clear the president has also given them a huge pay raise—double the size of Obama’s—and rounding out to roughly 10 percent, unless term two rolls around, and then it may end up looking more like 20 percent.
Bottom line is the military men and women who serve this Commander-In-Chief love that, even though the media claimed he’d wouldn’t visit them, he did.
They love even more that he cares enough about them and their welfare that he prioritized their pay increases to be huge—double what they were under Obama—and set to stay that way, at least while he continues to call the shots.