Quantcast
Connect with us

The reality of Trump’s economy: Growth was four times better under Jimmy Carter

Published

on

- Commentary
David Cay Johnston
David Cay Johnston

Donald Trump keeps boasting about what a great economy he should get credited for creating. But his administration’s own reports don’t support his claims, which also don’t come close to what he promised voters.

This article was originally published at DCReport.org

His results so far have been, well, just average.

As if it was a stellar achievement, Trump boasted last week that the economy grew at an annual rate of 3.2% in the first three months of this year. Big deal. That’s precisely the average since 1947.

ADVERTISEMENT

Candidate Trump boasted many times that he would boost economic growth. In October 2015, he said:  “I actually think we can go higher than 4 percent. I think you can go to 5 percent or 6 percent.”

So far, the best he has done is 4.2% in the second quarter of 2018.

That figure was achieved by a threat that briefly juiced the numbers. Trump declared he would impose all sorts of trade tariffs. Smart importers and exporters took advantage of the delay between the threat and the effective to bulk up on deals early. That briefly pumped up economic growth by moving up deals scheduled for later in the year. The proof? In the next three months, economic growth fell by almost half to just a 2.2% rate.

Presidential Scorecards

Obama’s quarterly economic growth rate beat Trump’s best four times, George W. Bush five times, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan 13 times each. One-term president Jimmy Carter beat Trump six times and one-termer George H. W. Bush did it five times.

Carter’s best, by the way, was 16.4% growth, four times Trump’s best so far.

ADVERTISEMENT

The tariffs gambit was not the only stimulus Trump used to pump up his short-term numbers and trick voters not steeped in economic data, fiscal policy and trade reports.

With solid backing by from Republicans in Congress, Trump is borrowing extra trillions of dollars in our name. That’s a classic type of economic stimulus.

Republicans traditionally denounced borrow-and-spend as a tax on our children and grandchildren. A tax cut, like Trump’s, that does not pay for itself with equal or increased revenue is just a tax increase deferred into the future – with interest.

ADVERTISEMENT

Tax revenues this year are down about 10%.

The Trump/radical GOP tax cut that took effect last year mostly benefits the rich and corporations. That means the cost of the borrowing is an obligation we all must bear, but the benefits flow mostly to those who need help the least.

ADVERTISEMENT

Bigger Deficits

Trump’s last budget is projected to run a deficit almost 1.5 times the size of Obama’s last budget deficit according to the Trump administration’s own data, known as Historical Table 1.3.

Trump’s average annual budget deficit over four years will be the worst of any president from Carter through George W. Bush.

The average Trump shortfall will be 4.6% of the economy.

ADVERTISEMENT

Obama’s was about the same as Trump at 5% of the economy, mostly because of the Great Recession that he inherited. In his second term, Obama’s budget shortfall was less than 2.5% of the economy.

George W. Bush came in at 3.3%. Clinton’s annual deficit was a mere 0.1% because he ran surpluses in his second term.

The cost to you of Trump’s borrow-and-spend approach? Instead of retiring the federal debt in eight years, as Trump told voters he could easily do because he was “the king of debt,” the federal debt is growing at the rate of $30 per day for a family of four. That’s almost $11,000 per year for that family.

Trump’s borrow-and-spend, however, has failed to stimulate faster jobs creation.

ADVERTISEMENT

Under Trump, job growth is slower than under Obama. Trump’s average is 198,000 more jobs per month. That’s good, but far from great.

Obama, during his last six years and a month, averaged 204,000 more jobs each month

Why not rate Obama based on his full eight years? Because when he took office jobs were disappearing at the rate of 750,000 a month, clearly not his fault.

Just Staying Even

America’s population grew by 19 million people in the eight years between when Obama and Trump took office. Taking the larger population into account makes Trump’s job growth figures even less impressive since a larger population requires more jobs just to stay even.

ADVERTISEMENT

Trump promised if elected the nation would add 25 million new jobs in ten years. He’s on track to fall more than a million jobs short of that goal.

That goal was nothing to brag about, either. Before Trump started making campaign promises the projections of future job growth were about what Trump sold as a miracle waiting for him to make it happen.

The reality is that Trump’s economic performance, measured by his own administration, is merely average.

Given the strong and growing economy he inherited, average is nothing to boast about. And since attaining average has included tariffs that raise the price of some imported goods together with massive increases in federal borrowing the long-term consequences are going to be anything but great and probably not even average.

That suggests a new slogan for Trump’s 2020 campaign: Make America Average Again.

ADVERTISEMENT


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

‘Don’t let him rewrite history’: GOP ex-congressman slams Trump for painting fewer than 100,000 COVID-19 deaths as a victory

Published

on

At Wednesday's coronavirus task force press conference, President Donald Trump reiterated his claim that if fewer than 100,000 Americans die from COVID-19, it will be a victory for him.

Former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) had none of it.

He ignored the warnings. He ignored the scientists & doctors. He refused to prepare. He lied about the virus. This country wasn’t ready. People got sick. People died. People lost their jobs. Because he cared more about himself than the country.

Don’t let him rewrite history. https://t.co/9snqoJ1VQI

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Wisconsin GOP plots to strip Democratic governor of more power — a day after forcing voters to stand outside in a pandemic

Published

on

This week, Republicans in the Wisconsin legislature have faced national fury after their successful lawsuits blocking Democratic Gov. Tony Evers from delaying the election and extending absentee voting.

But just one day after tens of thousands of voters were forced to stand in public lines and risk COVID-19 exposure just to exercise their constitutional right to vote, the Wisconsin GOP found yet another way to weaponize the pandemic for partisan gain.

According to Molly Beck of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Republicans in the legislature have slipped a provision into the state's relief bill authorizing unemployment disbursement under the federal CARES Act, that would allow the state's Finance Committee to make budget cuts without input from Evers — stripping him of power at exactly the moment when the public would be looking to the governor for help.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

CDC quietly deletes hydroxychloroquine guidance as study hyped by Trump comes into question

Published

on

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday quietly removed bizarre guidelines for using the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for the new coronavirus. The unproven treatment has been repeatedly hyped by President Donald Trump in spite of the warnings of Dr. Anthony Fauci.

The CDC published "highly unusual" dosing guidance based on "unattributed anecdotes rather than peer-reviewed science" last month amid pressure on federal health officials from Trump, Reuters reported. The agency now appears to have quietly removed those guidelines from its website this week.

Continue Reading
 
 
You need honest news coverage. Help us deliver it. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free.
close-image