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Fact Check: Sanders’ Misleading Wage Claim



Sen. Bernie Sanders claims that “the average American worker today, despite the strong economy, is not getting ahead.” Not so. Hourly wages have been rising faster than inflation for years, and that trend has continued under President Donald Trump.

“Real” (inflation-adjusted) hourly wages for production and nonsupervisory employees have gone up nearly 0.8 percent since Donald Trump took office, after rising 2.8 percent during Obama’s eight years in office.

To be sure, the rise has gone in fits and starts. Sanders seized a hiccup in the long-term trend during an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo on June 7, when he said “real wage increases for the average American worker … last year” amounted to “zero.”

Sanders, June 7: [D]o you know what the increase in wages — real wage increases for the average American worker was last year?

Cuomo: About 3 percent.

Sanders: Zero. Not a — nope. It kept pace with inflation for the average American worker. It didn’t make a nickel more after you account for inflation. …

So, the bottom line is, the average American worker today, despite the strong economy, is not getting ahead.

Asked for backup, Sanders’ press office pointed to a May 10 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that shows the real hourly wage for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls did not go up at all between April 2017 and April 2018. (See Table A-2.)

But that is no longer correct. Figures downloaded from the BLS website, which are based on slightly more recent and extensive data than in the press release, show a 0.1 percent increase in real hourly wages in that 12-month period. Even that figure remains preliminary, and subject to revision for another month or so.

The larger fact is that real hourly wages have been generally rising since hitting a low point in 1994-95. As of April, they were 19 percent higher than that low point (though still 1.5 percent below the highest point reached in 1972).

Furthermore, paychecks are rising even faster than hourly wage rates, because part-time workers are finding more work and full-time workers are getting more overtime pay. Inflation-adjusted weeklyearnings for production and nonsupervisory employees have risen 1.4 percent under Trump, after rising 3.7 percent under Obama.

Looking at all private-sector workers (including managers and supervisory workers), real weekly earnings went up 4 percent during Obama’s eight years, and have gone up another 1.1 percent under Trump, according to the most recent figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Those figures are a bit volatile because the Consumer Price Index can fluctuate a bit month to month. During Trump’s time in office, for example, the 12-month change in real hourly earnings has fluctuated between a decrease of 0.4 percent (during the 12 months ending February 2017) and an increase of 0.8 percent (during the 12-month period ending June 2017).

That’s mainly due to the yo-yo effect seen in gasoline prices (which make up more than 5 percent of the CPI) and sometimes food prices. And as we all know, gasoline prices have been on a tear in recent months, but can drop almost as quickly as they rise. The Energy Information Administration expects them to drop in September, after the summer driving season is over.

Sanders is free to argue that the rise in real wages and earnings is too slow, and that the average worker isn’t getting ahead fast enough. That’s a matter of opinion. And he’d be correct to say that real hourly wages haven’t yet recovered to the peak levels seen in the early 1970s. But he’s wrong to seize on a monthly blip in the statistics to support a misleading claim that they are not getting ahead at all.


NewsThisSecond therefore rates this claim as mostly false. As the main point is misleading.


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Trump May Pardon Military Men Accused Or Convicted Of War Crimes




WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump has asked for files to be prepared on pardoning several U.S. military members accused of or convicted of war crimes, including one slated to stand trial on charges of shooting unarmed civilians while in Iraq, the New York Times reported on Saturday.

Trump requested the immediate preparation of paperwork needed, indicating he is considering pardons for the men around Memorial Day on May 27, the report said, citing two unnamed U.S. officials. Assembling pardon files normally takes months, but the Justice Department has pressed for the work to be completed before that holiday weekend, one of the officials said.

One request is for Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher of the Navy SEALs, scheduled to stand trial in coming weeks on charges of shooting unarmed civilians and killing an enemy captive with a knife while deployed in Iraq.

Also believed to be included is the case of Major Mathew Golsteyn, an Army Green Beret accused of killing an unarmed Afghan in 2010, the Times said.

Reuters could not immediately identify a way to contact Gallagher and Golsteyn.

The newspaper reported that the cases of other men are believed to be included in the paperwork, without naming them.

The Department of Justice declined to comment on the report, while the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Legal experts cited in the report said that pardoning several accused and convicted war criminals, including some who have not yet gone to trial, has not been done in recent history, and some worried such pardons could erode the legitimacy of military law.

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Migrant Crisis

Trump Administration Considers Flying Migrants Across Country to Relieve Border Crowding




Migrants wait in El Paso, Texas, to board a van to take them to a processing center on May 16. PHOTO: PAUL RATJE/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

The Trump administration may begin flying asylum-seeking families at the southern U.S. border across the country to have their initial claims processed, a Customs and Border Protection official said Friday.

For months, immigration authorities have been shuttling newly arrested migrants—mostly families and children from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador—between border stations as facilities have become overwhelmed. Migrants have routinely been bussed hundreds of miles from the border in Southern California or El Paso, Texas, to as far away as Tucson, Ariz., before authorities process and then release them to aid groups.

Now, plans are being laid for the air transportation of parents and children out of overcrowded stations to other locations in the U.S., including northern and coastal states with Border Patrol offices that have capacity, if the flow of families doesn’t diminish, the CBP official said.

“This is an emergency. The entire system is overwhelmed,” the official said. “We are just trying to safely get them out of our facilities as quickly as possible.”

Border Patrol officials have flown nearly 1,000 migrants from overcrowded processing centers and stations in the Rio Grande Valley to nearby Del Rio, Texas, and San Diego since last Friday, another U.S. official said Friday.

The private, contracted flights have cost between $21,000 and $65,000 each and can carry a maximum of 135 people, that official said.

Mark Bogen, the mayor of Broward County in South Florida said Friday that he was told by local law-enforcement to expect as many as 135 migrants to be flown to the area and released by the Border Patrol after their asylum claims are processed.

Mr. Bogen said Broward County doesn’t have the resources to manage such an influx and that its shelters are already crowded with homeless local residents.

“We don’t know if these are seniors or kids,” he said of the potential migrant arrivals. “We were provided one thing: the number 135.”

The CBP official said no migrants were currently being flown to Florida. “We are in preliminary planning stages,” the official said.

The Trump administration contends that the record number of adults with children presenting themselves for asylum has brought the border infrastructure to a breaking point. CBP said on Friday that the agency had averaged 4,500 apprehensions per day over the preceding week. Some 248,000 migrants travelling as families illegally entered the U.S. between October, the start of the federal fiscal year, and April—more than in any prior full year.

Democrats, who control the House of Representatives, have blamed President Trump for exacerbating the flood of families to the southern border by cutting aid to Central America and threatening to close the border altogether.

The White House is seeking $4.5 billion in emergency border funding from Congress along with changes to asylum laws that the Trump administration says would make it easier to detain families longer, process applications more quickly, and deter more people from making the journey to the U.S.

Democratic lawmakers have refused to fund asylum policies they consider inhumane, but indicated late Thursday that they would consider funding some of the administration’s requests, making a counteroffer that excludes funding for detention beds, a Congressional aide said.

(Reporting by Wall Street Journal)

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Trump Administration Rejects Subpoena For Tax Returns




WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is missing another deadline to produce President Donald Trump’s tax returns. A top House Democrat says he expects to take the administration to court as early as next week over the matter.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (mih-NOO’-shin) says in a letter Friday that he will not comply with the subpoena from the House Ways and Means Committee for six years of Trump’s tax returns because the request “lacks a legitimate legislative purpose.”

Mnuchin’s rejection of the subpoena had been expected. Earlier Friday, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal had said, “We will likely proceed to court as quickly as next week.”

Democrats are seeking Trump’s tax returns under a 1924 law that directs the IRS to furnish such information to the chairs of Congress’ tax-writing committees.

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