Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.
Joe Biden is at it again — living in his own parallel universe. The same former vice president who says that his son Hunter was hired by a Ukrainian oil and gas company because of his expertise in energy policy is now claiming that President Donald Trump has “squandered” the strong Obama economy he inherited.
Here is how Biden put it in a speech last week in Scranton, Pennsylvania: “Donald Trump inherited a strong economy from Barack and me.” Then he added: “Things were beginning to really move. And just like everything else he’s inherited, he’s in the midst of squandering it.”
What’s next? Jimmy Carter taking credit for the Reagan boom?
This is the left’s continuing history rewrite to explain the booming economy in the third year of Trump’s presidency. Today we are at or below record levels of unemployment, inflation and interest rates in half a century. Wages and salaries are rising at their fastest clip in at least two decades. There is an all-time high of 7 million unfilled jobs in the United States.
The Washington Post is freaking out about the continued good news on the economy — especially the latest data — that I reported on two weeks ago: that median household income has increased by $5,003 since Trump became president. This was based on census data, but the Post ranted last week that Trump continues to “inflate his own numbers.” Nearly every assertion in the article was wrong or twisted, and Trump was right.
What is especially rich in the Post, Joe Biden and others’ claims that Trump’s success is just a continuation of the Obama economy is that this time three years ago, these same Trump-haters promised that a Trump presidency would cause a “global financial calamity” and even a “second Great Depression.” The stock market would “never” recover from Trump’s election, Paul Krugman of The New York Times assured us.
Now — whoops — with the economy surging, all of a sudden, it’s just Obama’s doing. The double standard here is so transparent that only someone suffering from TDS — Trump derangement syndrome — would miss it. If the economy were crashing today, the left would say that it was all Trump’s fault. But with the economy doing quite well, Obama gets the credit.
The continuation of the Obama trend argument is leaky at best. First, Obama gave us the weakest recovery from a recession since the end of World War II. The economy grew by about 14% in the Obama recovery over seven years. In the normal recovery, the economy grew by almost twice that amount, or 27%. In the last Obama year, the economy slowed down to a piddly 1.6% growth, and economists warned that a “recession is right around the corner.”
Yes, Biden is right that at the end of the Obama-Biden presidency, “things were really starting to move” — in the wrong direction. That’s why Trump won the election. Nearly every poll in 2016 showed that jobs and the economy were the biggest worries of the American voters — especially in the Midwestern states that Trump flipped from blue to red.
Income growth had increased in Obama’s second term, but it flattened out in 2016. The surge in middle-class incomes started to accelerate in early 2017, after Trump took office.
Middle-class incomes have grown almost three times faster under Trump than under Obama. This is like trading in a Pinto for a Porsche and as you’re flying down the highway saying it’s just a trend.
Small business and consumer confidence as well as the stock market surged in the days after the Trump election and have stayed high ever since. Coincidence? Hardly.
More to the point, most of Trump’s policies have been to reverse Obama policies, not to continue them. Obama raised tax rates; Trump cut them. Obama grew regulations at a record pace; Trump has been rescinding them at a record pace. Obama negotiated the Paris climate accord — a $100 billion tax on the American economy — and Trump smartly pulled us out.
Obama passed Obamacare; every day, Trump has been finding ways around the law they called the Affordable Care Act, in order to reverse stampeding health costs and try to make health care “affordable.”
The economy is far from perfect, and the latest weaknesses in industrial production, for example, are worrisome. The China trade standoff has clearly slowed growth in Trump’s third year in office. I would never say never to a recession in the next year or two, but I’m with Larry Kudlow: It doesn’t seem likely right now.
But the biggest threat to the economy right now is that we may repeal the Trump growth policies and return to Obamanomics. This is what Biden is promising, and if it comes to pass, we will learn the bitter lesson that the good old days under Obama really weren’t so good at all.
Stephen Moore is a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation and an economic consultant with FreedomWorks. He is the co-author of “Trumponomics: Inside the America First Plan to Revive the American Economy.”
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