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Bloomberg Campaign Press Release - Bringing the Data: Debunking the Trump Economy

February 05, 2020

President Trump's self-proclaimed turnaround of the U.S. economy was a prevalent theme throughout last night's State of the Union. At one point he touted that, "the years of economic decay are over." This might lead one to believe the U.S. economy was in free-fall prior to Trump stepping into office and saving the day.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Let's start with the most obvious indicator: economic growth. The chart below shows real GDP since President Obama's 2009 inauguration through the end of 2019. What's clear is that the growth momentum that began under Obama has continued at a consistent rate. This means that, while the growth rate hasn't decelerated, Trump has not been effective in making it grow meaningfully faster either.

Trump has at various points predicted a 4%, 5% and even a 6% GDP growth rate. Trump has yet to achieve any of these lofty goals — but Obama did. In fact, GDP grew faster than 4% in four separate quarters under Obama and over 5% in two; both came years after the Great Recession. Trump's fastest quarterly GDP growth rate of 3.5% is below Obama's sixth fastest of 3.6%.

Some might argue economic growth was fueled by an increase of government debt under the Obama administration, but like GDP, the rising debt trend has continued unabated under Trump, despite him not having to combat a historic recession. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office projects that, as a result of Trump's tax and economic policies, the federal deficit will top $1 trillion in each year over the next decade.

Finally, let's talk about jobs. During the first three years of Trump's administration, job growth averaged 193K per month — below the 224K average during Obama's last three years in office. Additionally, due to Trump's trade war with China, Rust Belt states LOST 36,000 manufacturing jobs over the past year, a sector that Trump promised to revitalize.

Other data points to consider are that more Americans are uninsured under Trump, one-quarter of Americans report having no pension or retirement savings, and income inequality rose "significantly higher" in 2018. The bottom line is Trump did not turnaround the economy. If anything, he has made many people's lives harder.

Michael Bloomberg, Bloomberg Campaign Press Release - Bringing the Data: Debunking the Trump Economy Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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