Trump Likes To Claim That President Obama Handed Him A Bad Economy
President Donald Trump desperately wants Americans to believe the economy was in tatters when he waltzed into the Oval Office, saying on occasion that he was “given a very tough hand,” because when he “came up here, we had an economy that was going down.”
But this couldn't be further from the truth, as pointed out in The Washington Post, meaning Trump is “either lying or delusional”.
In the past 45 years, only one president has inherited a better economy than Trump did. That was George W. Bush, who took office at the tail end of the tech bubble, when unemployment was a mere 4.2 percent. Trump has been luckier, though, in that his term didn't begin just as an economic expansion was ending. On the contrary, the slow and steady recovery that President Barack Obama kick-started with the stimulus has continued under Trump — just a little slower and a little steadier than before.
The economy is operating as one might expect, but it has naught to do with Trump's policies.
Indeed, the much touted tax cuts are not providing their promised boost and it's likely they never will:
The truth is that, so far at least, Trump's signature accomplishment, a $1.5 trillion tax cut for corporations, has mostly increased payouts to shareholders, as its critics said it would — providing little boost to the economy, because wealthy investors don't tend to spend as much — and not increased business investment, as its supporters promised. Which, if it continues to be the case, would mean it wouldn't ever promote much faster growth.
So where does this leave Trump's claim that he is turning around a dying economy?
In about the same place as his claims as a businessman:
He inherited far more than most people could ever dream but tried to convince everyone that it was far less than it obviously was. Which is to say that the “very, very small” million-dollar loan he admits he received from his father is just like the “very tough hand” he got from Obama: misleading at best and fictitious at worst when it comes to describing actual events.
The way Trump describes himself as triumphing over some of the least-adverse economic circumstances a new president has ever faced makes you wonder what he would have said about someone who managed to turn the highest unemployment rate a president has been bequeathed in the postwar period into the longest streak of consecutive job growth on record. Oh, wait, we know the answer to that one. Trump would have said that “the economy cannot recover” with that person “in office” — because that person was Obama.
Now, it is becoming clear that Trump's economy is growing shaky. It is unclear which factor is most responsible for the severe pandemic downturn: states' rules to shut down their economies or citizens deciding to stay home on their own accord.
Many conservatives have insisted it was entirely the fault of the government rules, and that we could simply fix the economy by shoving people back to work and pretending as if everything is fine.
However, a study of county-level data found that conservatives' claim was simply false.
"While overall consumer traffic fell by 60 percentage points, legal restrictions explain only 7 percentage points of this. Individual choices were far more important and seem tied to fears of infection."
Consumers chose to be careful about their outside interactions to minimize the risk of spreading or contracting the virus. The virus caused the economic downturn rather than state governments.
But containment was possible, if only Trump and his cohort had taken wiser steps from the beginning: "With a lockdown to contain the initial surge, then a test-trace-isolate program to catch new outbreaks before they spiral out of control, countries can return to something like normal life," The Week's Roy Cooper wrote.
Countries across the world have demonstrated that this can work — even ones that were caught napping and had very severe outbreaks, like Italy and Spain, have now almost completely contained the virus.
Cooper notes that Trump did none of that.
When the virus hit, he did basically nothing besides deny the U.S. was in danger, promise it would vanish on its own, and complain testing made him look bad. Now that we're in the middle of a second giant surge of cases, he still refuses to even urge people to wear a mask.
His administration has also so far resisted further economic rescues, particularly extending super-employment. If that expires in July on schedule, the economy will plunge further.
It will be difficult for the economy to make any type of recovery until widespread herd immunity is reached, which means if Joe Biden wins in November, he will be inheriting a far worse economy than Trump could have imagined.