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Fact-checking Trump's Illinois speech on trade

President Donald Trump on Thursday made several false or misleading claims about the steel mill he had traveled to Gr...

Posted: Jul 27, 2018 7:06 AM
Updated: Jul 27, 2018 7:06 AM

President Donald Trump on Thursday made several false or misleading claims about the steel mill he had traveled to Granite City, Illinois, to visit, as well as about his campaign victory and the economy itself.

Granite City, a blue-collar steel town in southern Illinois, is among the relatively few areas of the country that has reaped benefits from Trump's protectionist trade policies. The 25% tariff Trump slapped on most steel imports in March helped revive a steel plant here that had been forced to lay off roughly 2,000 workers in 2015. Some workers at the plant credited Trump on Thursday with helping them get their jobs back.

But other industries in the surrounding area have experienced negative consequences from Trump's trade policies, which the President declined to mention in his wide-ranging speech on Thursday.

Here's a list of a few of the things Trump claimed:

1,000 new jobs

Trump cited the roughly 1,000 jobs that have recently been revived in this steel town as evidence that his tariffs are working. But it's important to note that his trade policies are hurting other industries in this same area, likely enough to offset those gains.

Local downstream manufacturers that rely on steel and now have to pay higher prices for it have suffered -- such as Mid Continent Nail Corporation in a nearby Missouri town, for example, which had to lay off more than 100 workers this summer due to the tariffs.

In Illinois -- the largest soybean producing state in the country -- farmers have also been hit by the retaliatory tariffs.

"When you lose a market it's very, very difficult to get it back, especially if there are other reliable suppliers out there," Illinois Farm Bureau lobbyist Adam Nielsen told WGLT radio in Illinois. "We'd like to see more talk and less escalation."

The steel plant where Trump spoke added these 800 new jobs as a result of two idle furnaces being restarted. The plant was closed in 2015 -- but the process of it reopening started well before Trump announced his steel tariffs. Roughly 500 of those jobs were added in March thanks to the tariffs -- another 300 are projected to be added by this fall, which is likely what Trump was referring to when he said "far more" jobs than projected would be added here.

But the other 200 jobs that were added back to this plant since its original closure (which would bring us to Trump's 1,000 number) were added in February 2017 as a result of a ruling from the International Trade Commission -- not tariffs.

How many new mills?

Trump said US Steel Corporation will be opening seven new mills. The company's spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a CNN request for comment.

But The Washington Post gave Trump four Pinocchio's less than a month ago for claiming six new steel mills are being opened. Local news reports show US Steel announcing two facilities would be opened. As a publicly traded company, US Steel is required to announce major changes, such as opening new plants. So far, they have not made any such announcements.

The company's spokeswoman Meghan M. Cox told The Washington Post at the time: "To answer your question, we post all of our major operational announcements to our website and report them on earnings calls. Our most recent one pertained to our Granite City 'A' blast furnace restart."

Winning a majority of women voters

Trump claimed Thursday he won a majority of women voters in the 2016 election, something he's said before. In fact, he won (narrowly) among white women voters but thanks to minority women voters, he lost overall among women to Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

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