Pence praised the administration’s record with the military—but reality says otherwise.
Speaking at the Republican National Convention on Wednesday night, vice president Mike Pence spoke about how Donald Trump has “rebuilt our military.” There was one problem: it wasn’t an accurate depiction of reality.
Let’s see how Trump has actually failed the armed forces in the last four years.
The Budget Is Basically the Same
On Jan. 8, Trump pointed out that he had spent $2.5 trillion to rebuild the military, claiming that because of that the “U.S. armed forces are stronger than ever before.” But a fact-check of PolitiFact shows that Trump’s military spending is similar to that of previous administrations and that he’s boasting about money that he hasn’t spent yet.
Additionally, most weapons and infrastructure remain the same since Trump was elected.
Trump Failed to Ask Putin About Russia’s Bounty on the Troops
In June it was reported that American intelligence officials had concluded that a Russian military intelligence unit had secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan, which includes American troops.
On July 29, when the president was asked if he had pressed Russian president Vladimir Putin on the intelligence from his own government, Trump simply dismissed it as “fake news.”
Trump Has Not Addressed the Multiple Investigations at Fort Hood
On July 31, President Trump met with the family of Vanessa Guillén. Guillén is among ten soldiers that have died under questionable circumstances at Fort Hood Base in Texas since March. The president offered to pay for Guillén’s funeral and added, “We didn’t want this swept under the rug. They’re doing a very strong investigation. … We’ll get to the bottom of it.” Yet he hasn’t addressed the organizational problems at Fort Hood. Five more Fort Hood soldiers died after Guillén.
Trump has Politicized the Military, Causing More Division
In the days and months following the murder of George Floyd, Trump has continuously threatened to send in troops to deal with the social unrest in various cities. On June 2, he said: “If a city or state refuses to take the actions necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.”
But his threat of putting the military against citizens is causing further division. Furthermore, as the Washington Post points out, the military has only been called in to enforce “domestic law more than 100 times in its history.” Some of those historic moments include World War I, World War II, assisting with school desegregation in the 1950s, and protecting civil rights marchers in the 1960s. Safeguarding civil rights marchers is a stark difference from Trump’s suggestion of shooting marchers, as he did so in May via Twitter.
READ MORE: What Veterans Are Saying About Trump and the Russian Bounties: ‘I Don’t Think He Cares About Troops at All’
Trump and Pence Claim Having Implemented “VA Choice,” an Obama-era Program
“And after years of scandal that robbed our veterans of the care they earned, President Trump kept his word,” Pence said on Wednesday. “We reformed the VA … and veterans choice is now available to every veteran.”
The claim that Trump reformed the VA Choice program, which “allows veterans to see doctors outside the government-run VA system at taxpayer expense,” was first launched by former President Barack Obama in 2014.
What Trump did provide is an extension to the program. As the Associated Press notes, “veterans are to have that option for a private doctor if their VA wait is only 20 days (28 for specialty care) or their drive is only 30 minutes.”
Still, VA’s top health official, Dr. Richard Stone, testified in Congress in 2019 that Trump’s VA Choice expansion is “almost be a non-event.” That’s in part because wait times in the private sector are typically longer than at VA.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.