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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Donald Trump's funny money statements, public and private, are piling up

President Donald Trump with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed

President Donald Trump with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office in 2018. Credit: Pool / Getty Images / Kevin Dietsch

President Donald Trump's record of assertions that turn out to be dodgy, inaccurate or blatantly false has an interesting subset — money.

That's one thing he was supposed to be good at.

Last Friday, Trump said unchallenged on Fox News: "Saudi Arabia is paying us for [our troops]."

"We have a very good relationship with Saudi Arabia. I said, ‘Listen, you’re a very rich country. You want more troops? I’m going to send them to you, but you’ve got to pay us.’

"They’re paying us. They’ve already deposited $1 billion in the bank."

Which bank? When was the deposit? How much was agreed to overall? At what rate?

Anyone interested is still waiting for answers.

So far this sounds like a rerun of a previous go-round in October, when Trump said the Saudis were paying "100 percent" of the cost of sending thousands of troops to the kingdom.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper could respond only vaguely at the time: “Something that we expect of all of our partners and allies, whether it’s Asia or Europe, is to help share the cost, share the burden of either housing, hosting our troops on their land or supporting them in deployments, whatever the case may be.”

Trump has his own special brand of truthlessness. When it comes to money, he's been known to inflate or minimize his own holdings, depending on whether he's boasting of success or having to pay taxes.

But what matters to citizens is how he accounts for taxpayer funds.

Mexico will pay for the wall, Trump said. Mammoth corporate tax cuts will pay for themselves, allies and appointees suggested.

Neither was ever close to being true.

On Monday, the president tweeted: “I was the person who saved Pre-Existing Conditions in your Healthcare.”

Actually, Democrats passed the protections for those with preexisting conditions.

Last August, Trump told an Ohio audience: “You’re not paying for those tariffs. China’s paying for those tariffs. Until such time as there is a deal, we will be taxing the hell out of China.”

A recent report by the New York Fed described in detail how tariffs are being paid by manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers, as well as consumers through higher prices. The report also linked tariffs to U.S. manufacturing job losses.

Even when the transactions he cites did take place, Trump, who once blithely called himself the "king of debt," frequently fakes the numbers.

Last summer, he said Puerto Rico "got $92 billion" in disaster aid. At that point, Congress had allocated $42.5 billion.

On Jan. 5, Trump tweeted while threatening Iran: “The United States just spent Two Trillion Dollars on Military Equipment." The actual amount is closer to $420 billion, defense experts say.

Last month, he said NATO member countries’ spending on defense was “heading down” three years ago.

In fact, spending went up in 2015 and 2016.

Trump's faulty funding statements follow the usual line that he's winning while others are losing. But the real numbers are what they are, no matter what he wants them to be.

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