The economy is the strongest it’s ever been by a wide array of metrics, but most importantly, everyone who wants a job can now find one. Naturally, Trump’s critics would love to pretend that Barack Obama is responsible for it all, and he simply passed the baton to Trump for the final 100 meters of the race. Even Obama has said as much, telling a crowd in September “When you hear how great the economy’s doing right now, let’s just remember when this recovery started.” Given that Obama used to always blame his economic hardships on George W. Bush – by his logic should we be thanking Bush for the Trump economy?
There are a number of reasons why we know that to not be the case. For example, we can look at the Congressional Budget Office’s economic projections published during the Obama years for 2017 onward, and compare to them to actual economic growth under Trump. In 2016 Obama’s CBO projected that economic growth would be 2.2% in 2017, and 2.1% in 2018. In reality, growth did come in close at 2.3% in 2017, but that was before the Trump tax cuts were passed. Economic growth is expected to come in around 3% this year.
Kevin Hassett, the chairman of Trump’s Council of Economic Advisors, has pointed out that the same is true on a whole host of other economic metrics – that they’re performing much better than they were predicted if Obama’s economic policies were kept in effect with no changes. In other words, our current economic landscape cannot be due to Obama, because it’s performing much better than it would in a hypothetical Obama third-term.
And here’s something else to consider: Trump practically inherited a recession, because part of the economy did fall into recession in 2015 and 2016. Like me, however, you were probably unaware of that fact. And as it turns out, that’s because the media didn’t want to report on bad economic news as a presidential election came near. The New York Times finally acknowledged as much in an article headlined “The Most Important Least-Noticed Economic Event of the Decade.” Surely they must understand the irony, given that they were among the publications conveniently ignoring the “most important lest-noticed” economic event of the decade.
“(In 2015 and 2016) 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,” reports the Times’, Neil Irwin. You can see the recession visualized below (shaded in grey):
Now here’s the thing: this wasn’t your regular recession (defined as GDP contracting 6 months in a row), but rather a sector-specific recession. “The pain was confined mostly to the energy and agricultural sectors and to the portions of the manufacturing economy that supply them with equipment. Overall economic growth slowed but remained in positive territory. The national unemployment rate kept falling. Anyone who didn’t work in energy, agriculture or manufacturing could be forgiven for not noticing it at all.”
But those sectors are the exact reason why the media ignored their hard times – because individuals employed in those sectors heavily vote Republican. There are 72 Republicans for every 28 Democrats in the agricultural sector, and Republicans tend to congregate in “goods-producing” industries (while Democrats are found more frequently in the service sector).
President Trump appealed directly to this base, hence why publications like the Times (and literally all others) would want to ignore this.
Regardless, the sector has since rebounded since Trump took office – and Obama sure as hell can’t take credit for that.