From Donald Trump’s 2017 presidential inauguration through the end of November 2019, the American economy added a total of about 6.2 million jobs. But during a speech at a White House event on paid family leave on Thursday, the president credited his daughter, Ivanka Trump, with personally creating more than twice as many jobs over the same timespan.
“14 million people she’s gotten jobs for,” Trump said, referring to Ivanka. “Her goal when she started it two years ago was 500,000 jobs. She’s done over 14 million, so that’s really something.”
Trump just claimed, absurdly, that Ivanka Trump has "gotten jobs for" 14 million (!) people. pic.twitter.com/fT4VHsti9N— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 12, 2019
This wasn’t the first time Trump lauded his daughter in this way — he made the same claim during a speech to the Economic Club of New York last month. The problem, however, is that the entire American economy hasn’t even added half as many jobs as Trump is giving Ivanka credit for creating.
To be clear, the economy isn’t in bad shape, even if Trump’s jobs record to date lags behind that of Barack Obama. While GDP growth so far this year has been unspectacular and wages are stagnant, the unemployment rate is at a 50-year low. That means that people who want to find a job can, for the most part, find a job. But there isn’t a shred of evidence that Ivanka has created a single one of them, much less tens of millions — aside from, perhaps, the 18 people who worked for her namesake fashion brand before she shut it down in July 2018.
The workforce policy board Ivanka co-chairs works with private companies to get them to offer training opportunities to workers. According to the Washington Post’s Fact Checker, the fruit of that effort has been companies offering more than 6.5 million training opportunities to workers. That’s nothing to sneeze at — workforce development is important — but a training opportunity is not the same thing as an actual job.
Trump, however, is conflating the two — and in this example, he has seemingly rubbed off on his daughter. Speaking at a White House event in October 2018, Ivanka alluded to the training opportunities created with the help of her workforce policy board, saying, “We’re up to 6.3 million new jobs. That represents 5 percent of the current workforce. So it’s really remarkable.” Again, though, a training opportunity is not a job.
Not only is Trump’s claim about Ivanka and job creation totally absurd, it also illustrates how some of his lies grow more outlandish over time as he gradually embellishes them.
During a White House event in February, Trump claimed Ivanka “has created millions of jobs.” That claim was obviously false and prompted the aforementioned article in the Washington Post’s Fact Checker. By July, however, Trump had added a veneer of specificity to his fib when he said Ivanka “has worked on almost 10 million jobs.” Now, on Trump’s third telling, not only has Ivanka “worked on” jobs, but the number she’s supposedly directly responsible for creating has been jacked up all the way to 14 million.
This sort of lie escalation is commonplace for Trump. In fact, a similar dynamic was on display during another speech he delivered in New York in November, when he bragged about how tariffs are hurting the Chinese economy.
Trump says China, which has reported its lowest GDP growth in 27 years, is having its worst year is "more than 57 years." He'd been consistently saying "57" for a while after starting with the correct figure and then going all the way up to "61."— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) November 12, 2019
To cite another example, I detailed in October how it took Trump mere weeks to go from saying America “was very low on ammunition” when he took office to later making the even more absurd claim that “when I took over our military, we did not have ammunition.”
In November, Trump tweeted on Twitter that his election-eve rally in Kentucky helped “lift the poll numbers of Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin by 19 points” — a false claim even more outlandish than the one he initially made after the election, in which he tried to take credit for Bevin not losing by a wider margin than he did by claiming his rally helped Bevin “[pick] up at least 15 points in [the] last day.” (The last poll conducted before the Kentucky election actually showed Bevin ahead by five points.)
Of course, it’s not exactly breaking news that Trump’s truth barometer is broken beyond repair. As of August, he had made more than 12,000 false or misleading claims over the course of his presidency. In November, I wrote about how he’s willing to lie even in situations where the most cursory examination of what he’s saying proves that he’s fibbing.
But Trump’s lie on Thursday, about Ivanka creating more jobs than have been added to the entire American economy since he took office, shows how he just can’t help himself. He builds on his lies until what he’s saying becomes so untethered from reality that it’s impossible to take seriously. The dynamic would be comical if Trump wasn’t supposed to be the leader of the free world.