The ongoing economic boom under President Trump has put Democrats in an increasingly tight bind. How do you justify removing Trump from office when the economy is doing so well on his watch?
Here’s how CNN’s Jake Tapper posed the question to presidential hopeful Amy Klobuchar.
“Unemployment is the lowest it’s been since I was nine months old. You’re really not going to give President Trump any credit for that in terms of his tax cuts, deregulation or anything he’s done?”
He put basically the same question to fellow hopeful Cory Booker.
Both stuck to their talking points. The credit, they said, belongs to President Obama.
“I think that we have had policies in place starting with President Obama that have aided that recovery,” Klobuchar said.
Trump’s National Economic Council Director, Larry Kudlow, didn’t waste any time responding, telling Fox News later the same day that “What Mr. Booker and some others are saying is simply not true factually.”
Kudlow is right.
While the recession ended in June 2009 — just six months after President Obama took office and long before his stimulus money was spent — Obama presided over the weakest economic recovery in history.
By the time Obama left office, in fact, GDP was trillions of dollars below where it would have been had the recovery from the so-called Great Recession been average.
What’s more, in Obama’s last year in office, the economy was stagnating again, leading many to speculate about whether the country was in a permanent state of slow growth.
GDP growth decelerated throughout 2016. It went from 2.3% in Q2, to 1.9% in Q3 to 1.8% in Q4.
“There was a sharp slowdown in business investment, caused by an interrelated weakening in emerging markets, a drop in the price of oil and other commodities, and a run-up in the value of the dollar,” The New York Times reported.
Sentier Research, which tracks real household income on a monthly basis using census data, reports that real median family income didn’t budge from August 2015 to November 2016.
In addition, the stock market was flat all year, as was the unemployment rate.
Consumer and business confidence remained humdrum.
What’s happened since Trump took office is the very definition of a turnaround.
The stock market exploded as soon as the market had a chance to absorb the fact that pro-growth Trump had beaten Hillary Clinton. Confidence in the economy suddenly surged. It’s remained at high levels ever since. GDP growth has been accelerating.
As we pointed out in this space earlier, the economy created 5.2 million new jobs created in the 28 months Trump’s been in office. That’s not far behind Obama’s last 28 months, but comes at a time when economists had already declared the economy at full employment. Plus, the gains in manufacturing, construction and goods-producing jobs have outpaced those under Obama.
The unemployment rate began to steadily decline in 2017, to the point where it’s now as low as it’s been in 50 years. The rate of wage increases suddenly started to increase.
Democrats won’t admit this, and not just because it happened under Trump.
The reason they can’t credit Trump is that the turnaround was largely the result of Trump’s reversing Obama’s anti-growth agenda and implementing policies that today’s Democratic Party vehemently opposes: tax cuts and deregulation.
That leaves Dems with pretty much just two choices: Deny that there’s a strong economy and seem out of touch. Or try to give Obama the credit and look foolish.
Correction: The original version misstated job growth in President Obama’s last 28 months in office as 3.2 million (a mistake caught by an astute reader). That number was for jobs created in Obama’s last 16 months in office. Over the last 28 months of his administration, the economy created 5.7 million jobs. The article has been updated, and we regret the error.
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