Stephen Moore: Trump’s critics on the economy – So wrong, so often

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Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

There’s an old saying about baseball and life that no one ever had a 1.000 batting average. It turns out that’s not exactly true. At least when it comes to the Trump economy, anti-Trumpers defied the near-impossible statistical odds and somehow have batted 1.000 on their predictions. They managed to get it wrong every time.

A chorus line of President Donald Trump’s critics, including the best and brightest minds of the liberal intelligentsia, predicted an economic and stock market free fall if Trumponomics were implemented. They weren’t just wrong; in many cases, they were fantastically wrong. So wrong that Paul Krugman, the leader of the Armageddon brigades four years ago, recently had to cry uncle. He begrudgingly admitted the Trump economy is doing “pretty well,” which is like saying that Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes had a “pretty good year.” Then, he insisted that Trump is a moron.

Having worked as an economic adviser to the 2016 Trump campaign, I had to go to battle almost every day with the whiz kids who predicted economic apocalypse if Trump won. “Under Trump, I would expect a protracted recession to begin within 18 months,” moaned former presidents Bill Clinton’s and Barack Obama’s chief economist Larry Summers. Well, where is it?

The former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, Eric Zitzewitz, warned on the eve of the election, “If Trump wins, we should expect a big markdown in expected future earnings for a wide range of stocks — and a likely crash in the broader market.” The market is up roughly 60%.

The New York Times summarized a 2016 study by economist Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics by warning, “If Donald Trump were elected president and put in his stated policies, the United States would experience a lengthy recession, enormous job losses, much higher interest rates and diminished long-term growth prospects.” The economy under Trump has precisely the opposite result on every measure.

Even more wrong was Steve Rattner, MSNBC’s economics guru (still!) and former Obama automobile czar, who told investors, “If the unlikely event happens and Trump wins, you will see a market crash of historic proportions, I think … The markets are terrified of him.”

And in case there was any voter confusion about the menace that Trump represented, a Washington Post editorial in October 2016 declared, “A President Trump Could Destroy the World Economy.” There were dozens of stories about why the Trump tax cuts couldn’t and wouldn’t work.

You might even say there was a “scientific consensus.”

The purpose of this column is not to rub their noses in it — well, maybe a little. The truth is I’ve been wrong in some of my economic predictions over the years. I thought the Clinton presidency would be a disaster for the economy. Still, after his first two shaky years in the White House and a GOP takeover of Congress, Clinton announced that “the era of big government is over,” and the economy soared. I’ve admitted my mistake. I will readily concede that the economic winds could shift next week, and the economy could start to slip.

My point is this: Where are the mea culpas from the liberals who got predictions about the economy upside down over the last three years? Their economic malpractice was the equivalent of a doctor amputating the wrong arm.

I don’t have to recite the catalog of statistics on how good financial conditions are today. It’s all wrapped up in the recent Gallup poll, which finds nearly 9 out of 10 people feel good about their personal lives. Trump didn’t destroy the economy. He rebuilt it.

Where is the humility from the left in admitting, “Hey, my economic worldview has been put to the test and proven all wrong? I better rethink this. Maybe tax cuts and deregulation and energy production really do fire up the supply side of the economy. Maybe putting America first really does help the stock market and raise incomes. Maybe everything I was taught in college and grad school about Keynesian economics is a fraud.”

Alas, we hear none of that, just flimsy excuses for why they were so wrong about Trump. First, the economy was going to crash. Then, when it didn’t crash, the boom was just a “sugar high” from large budget deficits and tax cuts. Then, when the “high” lasted three years, we were told a recession was “right around the corner.” Then, when the recession didn’t happen and the economy picked up steam in the last six months, we heard that this was just the continuation of the Obama trend. So, this is the left’s line of reasoning: If the economy crashes, it’s Trump’s fault. If the economy soars, Obama gets the credit.

The wonder of it all is that the anti-Trumpers are still squawking from their lofty perches as if nothing that happens in the real world — rather than in la-la land or on MSNBC — really matters. Being wrong five or 10 or 100 times isn’t punishable; it can even win you a Nobel Prize.

It is the unique sanctuary of punditry and academia. If you hired a stock picker that consistently recommended losing stocks, would you keep that person on retainer? If you hired a contractor and the house collapsed, would you pay him? If a football team lost every game, would you give the coach a five-year contract extension?

But the press keeps turning to the same sources no matter how many times they have been wrong on the economy. Then, they wonder why they receive criticism for being fake news.

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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