As U.S. stocks plunged on Monday, President Donald Trump was speaking at an event in Ohio but noticeably not taking credit for the market despite doing so repeatedly when stocks were rising.
The stark contrast was a sign that Trump may be absorbing a tough message, underscored by former White House advisers, that American presidents traditionally have avoided commenting directly on Wall Street’s fickle trends.
Gene Sperling, a top economic adviser to Democratic former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, said Trump erred in recent months by focusing so heavily on the stock market.
“Even though the stock market tripled under Bill Clinton, his view was that you should always focus your policies and your public messages on bread-and-butter kitchen table issues … and that focusing on the stock market would take your eye off the real economy,” Sperling said.
White House spokesman Raj Shah, in an adjustment to the administration’s message on stocks, told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Trump’s speaking event in Ohio, “Look, markets do fluctuate in the short term. We all know that … But the fundamentals of this economy are very strong and they’re headed in the right direction.”
(See the interactive graphic “Trump takes credit for stock market records” here: http://tmsnrt.rs/2E4FmaQ )
Throughout a speech at a factory in Blue Ash, Ohio, Trump made no mention of stock markets. That departed sharply from past practice.
In his State of the Union address last week, Trump said, “The stock market has smashed one record after another, gaining $8 trillion and more in value in just this short period of time.”
On Jan. 7, he wrote on Twitter, “The Stock Market has been creating tremendous benefits for our country in the form of not only Record Setting Stock Prices, but present and future Jobs, Jobs, Jobs. Seven TRILLION dollars of value created since our big election win!”
Three days before that, he tweeted, “Dow just crashes through 25,000. Congrats! Big cuts in unnecessary regulations continuing.” He had sent similar tweets for months.
The Republican president told Reuters in a Jan. 17 interview he has been getting kudos from people grateful for increased 401(k) retirement plan values and he believed the rise would not have happened if his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton had won the 2016 presidential election.
“If the Democrats won the election, the stock market would have gone down 50 percent from where it was, and now look at the percentage increase. It’s a record increase,” Trump said.
Once the markets closed, the White House issued a statement saying Trump’s focus is “on our long-term economic fundamentals, which remain exceptionally strong, with strengthening U.S. economic growth, historically low unemployment, and increasing wages for American workers.”
“The president’s tax cuts and regulatory reforms will further enhance the U.S. economy and continue to increase prosperity for the American people,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.
The benchmark Dow Jones industrial average soared 42 percent between Election Day 2016, when Trump won the presidency, and its historic peak a week ago above 26,400.
On Monday, the Dow fell to below 24,000 but regained some of its midday losses to close at 24,345. In the past five trading days, the index has erased all its gains since late November.
The benchmark S&P 500 <.SPX> has pulled back more than 6 percent from a Jan. 26 record high.
The “Trump rally,” as some traders have dubbed it, has coincided with a sweeping tax code overhaul approved in December, which slashed corporate taxes, and a deregulation push.
The S&P 500 rose 34 percent from Trump’s election to its recent high.
But stocks have been climbing since March 2009, when Obama inherited a serious financial crisis and the worst economic recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s. At that time, the Dow was trading at around 6,500.
Trump has also criticized his predecessor Obama’s effect on markets. In November 2012, Trump tweeted, “The stock market and U.S. dollar are both plunging today. Welcome to @BarackObama’s second term.”
The S&P 500 rose 126 percent from Obama’s 2008 election to his final day in office in 2017.
Former Obama press secretary Jay Carney on Monday tweeted, “Good time to recall that in the previous administration, we NEVER boasted about the stock market — even though the Dow more than doubled on Obama’s watch — because we knew two things: 1) the stock market is not the economy; and 2) if you claim the rise, you own the fall.”
Doug Holtz-Eakin, president of the American Action Forum and a former economic adviser to 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain, said, “The president shouldn’t comment about the stock market. Indeed if anyone is going to make major pronouncements about economic data, it should be the Treasury secretary or the agency releasing the data, so if they get it wrong you can get rid of them. You don’t want the president owning those things.”
(Reporting by Steve Holland in Washington and Trevor Hunnicutt in New York; Writing by Kevin Drawbaugh; Editing by Will Dunham and James Dalgleish)
Republican lawmakers ask judge to destroy smoking gun documents proving GOP’s white supremacy
Republicans on Monday sought a court order to block damning documents from being used against them in a lawsuit.
"North Carolina Republican lawmakers on Monday asked a court to make sure the files of the now-deceased GOP strategist Tom Hofeller are destroyed, or at least kept secret, instead of being used in a high-profile gerrymandering lawsuit," the Raleigh News & Observer reported.
"The filing comes after the groups behind the lawsuit, including Common Cause, accused Republican lawmakers of making false statements in court in a previous gerrymandering case, when the state’s 2011 maps were ruled unconstitutional," the newspaper noted. "That blockbuster accusation made national headlines and was, it said, based on Hofeller’s files which had been secret until recently."
Maddow slams Trump’s era of government officials ‘saving the country from the commander-in-chief’ with leaks
Rachel Maddow on Monday worried about the pattern of government officials leaking to the press to stop President Donald Trump from sabotaging United States' interests to help Russia.
The MSNBC anchor broke down the key questions raised by the bombshell New York Times report that officials were keeping secrets from Trump to protect U.S. interests.
Maddow reminded of a June 2017 story by Michael Isikoff.
Trump angrily demands newspaper reveal unnamed sources behind bombshell report on his Russia policy
President Donald Trump on Monday evening again lashed out at The New York Times for reporting on his Russia policy.
"The story in The New York Times about the U.S. escalating attacks on Russia’s power grid is fake news, and the failing New York Times knows it," Trump argued in a tweet sent after 10 p.m.
"They should immediately release their sources which, if they exist at all, which I doubt, are phony," he continued.
"Times must be held fully accountable," he demanded.