President Trump bragged Wednesday to troops stationed in Iraq that he had secured them a massive pay raise, repeating a false claim he's made repeatedly on the campaign trail.
Trump made the boast during his first visit as president to troops in a combat zone.
Trump, who spent more than three hours along with First Lady Melania Trump at Al Asad Air Base near Baghdad, addressed several hundred servicemen and -women, boasting that he had delivered them “one of the biggest pay raises you've ever received.”
The president also stated — incorrectly — that he had authorized the first military pay increase in a decade.
“You haven't gotten one in more than 10 years,” Trump said. “More than 10 years. And we got you a big one. I got you a big one. I got you a big one."
Military pay, in fact, has risen every year for three decades. It was raised 2.4% in 2018 and will rise by another 2.6% in 2019, due to the National Defense Authorization Act signed by Trump in August.
Although the 2.6% increase is the largest in nine years, Trump still exaggerated significantly, claiming that he delivered a pay raise some four times larger than that and, in another uncertain anecdote, that he fought for it over unnamed military personnel who’d wanted a smaller increase.
“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 claimed. “I said, ‘No. Make it 10%. Make it more than 10%.’
“Because it's been a long time. It's been more than 10 years. It's been more than 10 years,” he continued. “That's a long time. And, you know, you really put yourselves out there, and you put your lives out there. So congratulations.”
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump pose for a photograph as they visit members of the military at a dining hall at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018.Associated Press/Andrew Harnik
Presenting himself as an ardent supporter of the military just days after the resignation of respected Defense Secretary James N. Mattis, who cited policy disagreements with the president in an astonishing resignation letter, Trump also repeated another common falsehood — his claim that the new Pentagon budget is the largest increase in defense funding ever.
“We have secured a record increase to our military budget, and we are purchasing all of this great equipment — $700 billion last year; $716 billion — with a ‘b’, with a ‘b,’” Trump said. “We were fought very hard by the Democrats and others. But I said, ‘We have to take care of our military.’”
The figures Trump mentioned refer to budget authority, the amount of money the Defense Department is able to spend — that’s different from the actual amount of money spent, known as budget outlays.
The current budget authority for the Pentagon is not a record.
Editor's Note: The following story highlights a veteran atIron Mountain. Committed to including talented members of the military community in its workplace, Iron Mountain is a client of Hirepurpose, a Task & Purpose sister company. Learn more here.
Jackie Melendrez couldn't be prouder of her husband, her sons, and the fact that she works for the trucking company Iron Mountain. This regional router has been a Mountaineer since 2017, and says the support she receives as a military spouse and mother is unparalleled.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A 40-foot-tall (12 meters) cross-shaped war memorial standing on public land in Maryland does not constitute government endorsement of religion, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday in a decision that leaves unanswered questions about the boundaries of the U.S. Constitution's separation of church and state.
The justices were divided on many of the legal issues but the vote was 7-2 to overturn a lower court ruling that had declared the so-called Peace Cross in Bladensburg unconstitutional in a legal challenge mounted by the American Humanist Association, a group that advocates for secular governance. The concrete cross was erected in 1925 as a memorial to troops killed in World War One.
The ruling made it clear that a long-standing monument in the shape of a Christian cross on public land was permissible but the justices were divided over whether other types of religious displays and symbols on government property would be allowed. Those issues are likely to come before the court in future cases.