President Donald Trump traveled to speak to American troops in a warzone for the first time Wednesday and promptly made the same false claims he repeats back home.
Trump spoke to service members at al-Asad air base in Iraq after a secret overnight trip with the press pool. During his speech, Trump claimed that he was able to get them a pay raise of “more than 10 percent” after claiming they hadn’t gotten a raise in a decade. Both claims were false.
“Is anybody here willing to give up the big pay raise you just got?” Trump said. “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.”
Actually, military service members have gotten a pay raise every single year over the last decade, according to the Defense Department. The pay raises have ranged from 1 to 3.9 percent.
Trump claimed that he had gotten the troops at 10 percent raise.
“We had plenty of people that came up. They said, ‘You know, we can make it smaller. We can make it 3 percent. We can make it 2 percent. We can make it 4 percent.’ I said, ‘No. Make it 10 percent. Make it more than 10 percent,’” Trump told the troops.
Actually, the budget passed by Congress and signed by the president gives the troops a 2.6 percent raise. Last year, the troops got a 2.4 percent raise.
Politifact noted in May that after the 2.4 percent raise for 2018, Trump also claimed it was “first time in 10 years.”
Service members received much bigger raises under President Obama in 2009 (3.9 percent) and 2010 (3.4 percent).
Trump wants to slash military budget:
Even as Trump brags about the fictional 10 percent pay raise and his restoration of the military, Trump himself publicly called for the defense budget to be cut.
“In October, Trump announced he would require all federal agencies to submit budget proposals for fiscal 2020 at a level 5 percent lower than this year, in an effort to shrink government spending,” The Military Times reported. “He later said the Defense Department would be spared from that precise requirement but would aim for a funding level of $700 billion next year, well below the $733 billion mark defense planners had been anticipating.”
Trump later called the size of military spending “crazy.”
“I am certain that, at some time in the future, President Xi and I, together with President Putin of Russia, will start talking about a meaningful halt to what has become a major and uncontrollable Arms Race,” Trump tweeted. “The U.S. spent 716 Billion Dollars this year. Crazy!”
Trump later caved to lobbying from Republican Senators to approve a record-high military budget for the next fiscal year.