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Honored Social Butterfly

Trump boasts a great economic record. Too bad it’s Obama’s.

Trump boasts about a great economic record. Too bad it’s Obama’s.

 

In recent days, President Trump and allies have offered a fulsome defense of a presidential economic record.

 

Alas, the presidential record they’re describing isn’t Trump’s. It belongs to his predecessor, Barack Obama. And perhaps also to Obama’s second-in-command, Joe Biden.

 

Team Trump, in promulgating the myth of Trump’s economic genius, has recently doubled down on a false narrative: that Trump inherited a recession and magically turned it into a boom. This is almost the exact reverse of events of the past 3½ years. In reality Trump inherited from Obama an expansion — one that, in retrospect, turned out to be the longest in U.S. history — and converted it into a bust.

 

Not just any bust; a possible depression, at least for the working class.

 

Now, my standard disclaimer applies: Presidents generally get too much credit when the economy is good and too much blame when the economy is bad. They don’t control the business cycle and can affect things only on the margin. For example, they could bungle the response to an existing downturn (by, ahem, appointing incompetent aides, discrediting real experts, increasing distrust in government statistics, alienating crucial allies — that sort of thing).

 

But Trump has asked to be judged by cold, hard economic metrics. So let’s indulge him.

 

Right now, employment is down, on net, 6 million jobs since Trump became president. Contrary to White House adviser Peter Navarro’s christening of Trump as “the greatest jobs president” in history, Trump is on track to become the worst jobs president on record. That is, if not reelected, he will likely become the first president since modern employment statistics were recorded to leave office with fewer jobs than there were at his inauguration.

 

That’s because, while payrolls are growing, we remain deeply in the hole; the Congressional Budget Office recently forecast that under current law the U.S. economy won’t until 2022 recover all the jobs that existed when Trump was inaugurated. Recovering to the level at the start of the pandemic would take even longer.

 

Team Trump’s response to this unflattering legacy has been simply to invent a different one.

During the Republican National Convention last week, Trump and his surrogates repeatedly claimed that Trump “built” the “strongest,” “best,” “greatest” economy ever.

 

National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow touted Trump’s record as “a roaring success.”

 

There are multiple problems with this spin.

 

First, it seems peculiar to freeze the record in February as they did, high-school-yearbook-deadline-style, and pretend the past half-year didn’t happen. Whatever the economic conditions at the start of 2020, today — two months before Election Day — unemployment is at 10.2 percent, a higher rate than ever experienced during the Great Recession. And, of course, that’s under Trump’s watch too.

 

Imagine if Herbert Hoover had run for reelection on a message of: “Remember the first seven months of my presidency? Man, were we booming then!”

 

Second, the economic trends under Trump even pre-pandemic were decent, but not spectacular. Just as they were under Trump’s predecessor.

 

Job growth under Trump, pre-coronavirus, continued at about the same pace it had under Obama. Actually, it was a bit slower: Employers added an average of 185,000 jobs per month under Trump through February 2020, compared with 216,000 per month during Obama’s second term. Economic output growth under Trump, pre-pandemic, was likewise roughly equal to that during Obama’s second term.

 

This despite the fact that Trump benefited from an enormous fiscal stimulus, through both tax cuts and spending increases, and an accommodative Federal Reserve.

 

At the RNC, Kudlow falsely claimed that Trump had “inherit[ed] a stagnant economy on the front end of recession.” Again, the United States was not in recession when Trump took office (as it had been when Obama was first inaugurated). In January 2017, the unemployment rate was 4.7 percent and had been falling steadily for more than seven years. It continued falling at about the same pace over the subsequent three years.

 

What changed? Only that unemployment data Trump had labeled “phony” under Obama miraculously transformed to “very real” once Trump took office.

 

Even the more esoteric economic victories Trump might try to claim have been a bust.

 

So far, China’s promised purchases of U.S. products are below 50 percent of the year-to-date targets set out in Trump’s vaunted trade deal. Despite glowing convention testimonials from a Wisconsin dairy farmer and a Maine lobsterman, their industries have suffered greatly under this president. Wisconsin led the nation in farm bankruptcies last year, with the number of failing farms jumping 20 percent; the value of Maine’s lobster harvest has likewise declined under Trump, because China had been the top U.S. export market.

 

Meanwhile, Vice President Pence fear-mongers that “our economic recovery is on the ballot.” Kudlow warns that a vote for Biden means turning “back to the dark days of stagnation, recession and pessimism.”

 

Where, exactly, do they think we are now?

 

Trump boasts about a great economic record. Too bad it’s Obama’s. 


"FAKE 45 #illegitimate" read a sign at the Woman's March in DC, 1/27/2017
Esteemed Social Butterfly

Frankly, I think IMPOOPUS's jealousy, inferiority complex, and obsession with anything Obama is a little creepy. 

 

Little chubbo Donnie is sounding like a broken record.  Same old, same old BS.  🥱

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