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Trump’s boasts about the economy are lies


There’s a meme out there—a false one, as we’ll see—according to which Trump accomplished a great deal, and might even have won re-election based on those accomplishments, were it not for his disastrous mishandling of the pandemic and the dislike of him by women because of his reprehensible personal qualities.

What are Trump’s supposed accomplishments? Mostly in the economic sphere, they were summed up in this article by the online periodical, Prospect: “Median household income at an all-time high, unemployment at its lowest rate for fifty years, and a thriving stock market.” The article quoted a Washington, D.C. Trump loyalist: “President Trump’s polices put the working class and middle class first, something that it feels hadn’t happened in my lifetime.”

Indeed, Trump himself has consistently pushed this perception. Earlier this year, before he lost the election, he tweeted, “I built the greatest economy in the World, the best the U.S. has ever had. I am doing it again!” Just a few days ago, his White House press office issued this typical statement: “The economy has come roaring back to life under President Trump. The stock market has hit record high after record high, helping more Americans build wealth and secure their futures. Through needed tax cuts and reform, the Administration will bring jobs back to our country.”

It’s obvious that Trump, even in defeat, is trying to control how historians record his stewardship of the U.S. economy. Of course, that economy has been battered by COVID-19, but before the pandemic struck (due to Trump’s wilful indifference to it), the economy, as the Prospect article stated, was roaring. Did Trump create that soaring economy, or did he inherit it from Obama?

Let’s look at the facts. The economy was doing well under George W. Bush until the housing bubble hit in 2008-2009, creating what is now called The Great Recession. (We can argue about the causes of the housing bubble, but IMHO it was caused by Republicans’ obsession with lowering controls on banks, which led to their irresponsible lending practices.) Let’s take a look at several indices by which the U.S. economy is measured: the stock market, unemployment and household income, all three of which Trump brags about.

This first chart shows the ten-year performance of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, from 2010 through early December 2020.

After the market’s collapse due to the Bush Great Recession, in 2009, (when Obama was sworn in), the Dow Jones began a long, steady rise. You can see how it briefly dipped again in mid-2020 (at the right side of the chart) because of the pandemic, but it quickly restored itself, thereby continuing what has essentially been an impressive performance that began under Obama and merely continued under Trump. So much for Trump taking credit for the stock market.

But wait, there’s more! How about the NASDAQ? Here’s its ten-year performance, 2010-2020. You can see the curve almost exactly mirrors that of the Dow Jones:

Again, this proves that Trump inherited a healthy, growing NASDAQ, and did not create it.

Trump also loves to brag about how he brought unemployment down. Is that true? No. This chart shows the U.S. unemployment rate from 2006-December 2020.

Again, you can see how unemployment began to spike late in the Bush administration, culminating in 2010. Then, when Obama was in charge, unemployment began a dramatically long, steady decline that continued under Trump, until the pandemic caused it to soar (the 2020 numbers are not shown on this chart, but it’s safe to say unemployment is no longer at a 50-year low!). So much for Trump’s boast that he personally reduced unemployment! He didn’t; he merely inherited a reduction in joblessness from Obama.

Trump also loves to claim he is responsible for a jump in median household income in the U.S. It’s true that household income (again, prior to the pandemic) was at record highs in America, but that had nothing to do with Trump. This chart shows that household income (the red line) has been rising consistently in America since 2000, except for a dip following the Bush Great Recession.

By mid-2011, when Obama was firmly in control, household income resumed its upward spike, at an angle closely following that of the stock markets. So, once again, Trump’s claim that he personally caused household income to rise is just another misrepresentation of the facts, i.e., a lie.

It is precisely because all the favorable economic indicators began flourishing under Obama that Trump feels the need to deny that Obama had anything to do with the recovery from the Bush Great Recession. Earlier this year, before COVID hit and the economy was skyrocketing, Trump accused Obama of “trying to take credit for the economic boom taking place under the Trump administration.”

Most Republicans, who don’t bother to inform themselves about facts, will believe that stupendous falsehood, but, of course, these are the same people who think that Mexico paid for the border wall, that Trump’s 2017 inaugural crowd was the biggest in history, and that Trump never gave hush money to porn stars to shut up about his affairs with them.

We all hope that the U.S. economy, so battered by the pandemic that Trump ignored for too long, will fully recover in 2021. It would be wonderful if the trends that began under Obama continue under President Biden (and I expect they will). Trump will still be out there, tweeting in between rounds of golf about how he saved the economy. But the American voters (with the exception of deadend Trumpers) will understand the truth. Facts are facts, and no matter how much Republicans deny the facts, they speak for themselves.

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