Former president Donald Trump was obsessed with the gross domestic product.
"Nobody's ever seen a number like this!" Trump declared at a rally last October, referring to the GDP.
As it turns out, Trump was right — but not in a good way.
Across Trump's four years in office, the nation recorded its lowest overall rate of GDP growth — at 1.6 percent — since President Herbert Hoover's administration during the Great Depression, according to a new report from Bloomberg.
Last week's GDP release included revisions back to 1999, so it's time for a new set of presidential growth comparis… https://t.co/LMGqPNyQyx— Justin Fox (@Justin Fox) 1627909330.0
Annual GPD numbers go back to 1929, and growth was negative-7.4 percent until Hoover left office in 1933. GDP growth reached a record high of 5.5. percent under John F. Kennedy, and prior to Trump the next-lowest rate was 1.8 percent under George W. Bush. The GDP grew by a rate of 2.1 percent under Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama.
"This is, let's be clear from the start, not a perfect way of measuring presidential economic performance," Bloomberg's Justin Fox reports. "There are lots of things that determine economic growth rates other than who is in the White House, and when a president does make a difference the results may be felt long after he's left Washington. Still, it's a widely used metric and Trump was downright obsessed with it."
Noting that the comparison may seem unfair due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Fox tried adjusting the GDP numbers backward and forward by one quarter. He also averaged them with another key indicator — gross domestic income — and corrected them for population growth, but things didn't get much better for Trump, who remained at or near the bottom of the pack.
Trump's historically low number continues a trend of the last 75 years in which both the GDP and job numbers have grown faster under Democratic presidents than Republican ones, with the notable exception of Ronald Reagan's administration. While some have suggested that Democratic presidents have simply been luckier, others say it's due to the fact that they tend to focus on broad-based economic growth policies, rather than just tax cuts.
"Trump offered hints of a different economic approach, but the signature legislative accomplishment of his term was another big tax cut and his growth numbers will drag the Republican averages down even further," Fox notes. "Maybe it's mostly bad luck. This is getting to be an awfully long run of it, though."