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Trump’s Mediocre Economic Gains, In Three Graphs

Reprinted with permission from DCReport

At Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, Donald Trump claimed repeatedly that he has created a great economy. Trump may have hoped that people forget his towering 2016 claims and promises. My spring 2019 analysis of Trump economic performance was a grade of C , average.

So, what are the facts? Here are some hard numbers to judge Trump claims against reality.

Gross Domestic Product growth in the last quarter of 2019 was 2.1 percent. For the entire year, it was 2.3 percent. That means economic growth slowed.

That’s nothing to brag about. The average growth rate since 1947 has been 3.2 percent.

Voters should remember Trump promised if elected that he would blow away the performances of predecessor Barack Obama and others.

Here’s Trump in September 2016 on GDP growth: “We are looking at three percent but we think it could be five (percent) or even six (percent). We are going to have growth that will be tremendous.”

During the final presidential debate a month later Trump promised that if elected, “We’re bringing it (economic growth) from one percent up to four percent, and I actually think we an go higher than four percent. I think you can go to five percent or six percent.”

Jobs Growth Slows Under Trump

And how about jobs growth? Trump promised jobs galore but jobs growth has slowed significantly.

Obama inherited a collapsing economy. Three million jobs vanished in the first four months of 2009. That awful trend reversed in October 2010 when the economy began growing jobs in an unbroken chain since.

From then through January 2017, Obama’s last month in office, jobs averaged 201,600 per month.

Trump, from February 2017 to the end of 2019, averaged just 191,100. That’s 5 percent less per month.

Another White House announcement boasted that last year showed an average of 176,000 new jobs per month. That’s 25,000 fewer jobs added each month than under Obama, a decline of almost 13 percent.

So much for exceeding expectations.

Wages have increased. But that apparently is due to local and state increases in the minimum wage.

The federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour was set in July 2009. Inflation has eroded its value to about $6 per hour today.

Trump has said he may, possibly, perhaps, someday consider increasing the minimum wage. Trump’s chief economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, calls the minimum wage “a terrible idea.”

Soybeans Shrivel and Farms Go Bust

How’s it going for soybean farmers since Trump’s gratuitous trade war promoted China to buy soybeans from Brazil?

Farm bankruptcies increased by 20 percent  in 2019 compared with 2018, data released by federal courts last week showed.

Family farm bankruptcies, known as Chapter 12 filings, have been on the rise since 2015. But remember Trump promised to improve the lots of America’s farmers, not make them worse.

Trump’s trade war with China has created a boom for Brazilian soybean farmers. Soybeans are America’s second most valuable crop, worth $39 billion in 2018, right behind corn at $51 billion.

In 2019 China grew more than 17 million tons of soybeans, about a third of its consumption. China has started expanding soybean production, which it could quickly multiply. Afterall, the can-do spirit thrives in China, which just built a hospital for Coronavirus patients in 10 days. Ten days.

Should Beijing decide to further expand its soybean farms then American farmers will have permanently lost sales. In turn, American farm incomes will shrink.

To provide cover for his trade war Trump is giving American soybeans farmers $28 billion of taxpayer money. About $19 billion has already been turned over. Don’t expect Trump to mention this Farm Belt welfare as what it is, socialism, and a burden for all taxpayers.

Then there’s the Trump/Radical GOP tax law adopted in December 2017. It slashed the corporate tax rate 40 percent. The lowered individual rates heavily favor the richest Americans.

That law was, Trump claimed, going to spur a massive increase in domestic capital investment, which is a key to more jobs.

After a brief increase in domestic capital investment in 2018, it has fallen back to previous levels. In other words, the Trump tax cut did not do what Trump promised.

Trump also promised voters he could pay off the federal government’s debt if he got two terms. Instead he already has pushed annual budget deficits back to the trillion-dollar level.

So, in light of Trump’s Tuesday night address to Congress, ask yourself if what he says is fact or fiction.

Danziger: Bull Rider

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.com.

As Economists Warn Of Looming Recession, Kellyanne Touts ’Trump Economy’

Kellyanne Conway told reporters that concerns about the economy were overblown, just as a majority of economists have said a recession may be approaching, brought on by key Trump policies.

Speaking to reporters in the driveway of the White House on Monday — regular press briefings have been canceled for months — Conway lashed out at journalists for covering the indications of a possible recession.

“It’s nice to see the media finally cover the Trump economy. You seem to cover it only when you can use the ‘Sesame Street’ word of the day, ‘recession,'” Conway said. “The fact is, the fundamentals of our economy are very strong, and you know it.”

On Monday, an overwhelming majority of economic experts made it clear that they disagree with Conway’s assessment of things.

Some 74 percent of the economists surveyed by the National Association for Business Economics in a report released Monday said they are concerned about the possibility of a recession by the end of 2021.

“Thirty-four percent of the economists surveyed said they believe a slowing economy will tip into recession in 2021. That’s up from 25 percent in the February survey,” the Associated Press reported.

“An additional 38 percent of those polled predicted that recession will occur next year, down slightly from 42 percent in February. Another 2 percent of those polled expect a recession to begin this year.”

In previous surveys, the economists expressed concerns about Trump’s trade war dampening economic growth and weakening the economy.

Because of the trade war initiated by Trump, American goods are not being purchased in international markets. Farmers have been among the hardest hit, with the massive market in China for products like soybeans now completely cut off.

Last week, four major banks warned that Trump’s ongoing trade war could lead to a recession.

Instead of ending his trade war, Trump is tapping billions from American taxpayers to bail out the farmers. Yet the money farmers are receiving in federal payments doesn’t make up for what they would earn on the global market. Farms have been forced into bankruptcy at an alarming rate, jumping 45 percent in the Midwest since Trump started his trade war.

A host of other products are experiencing price increases attributable to the Trump tariffs.

American businesses are suffering, American consumers are paying the price, and experts are warning that the country could be heading toward a recession.

But according to Conway, who is not an economist or financial expert, everything’s fine, the economy is strong, and that’s all media should be reporting.

 

Published with permission of The American Independent.

There’s Little Joy In Trump’s Economy

The American people have been ordered to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the economic recovery. Note the lack of balloons, however, and that the marching bands have their feet up.

President Donald Trump, of course, is a brass section unto himself. He’s been trumpeting the “Trump economy,” even though nearly eight of those 10 years were under Barack Obama.

Consider this recent presidential tweet: “More people are working today in the United States, 158,000,000, than at any time in our Country’s history. That is a Big Deal!”

That is a good thing, but a big deal? No. First off, there are more people in the U.S. than ever before. More to the point, only 20,000 nonfarm payrolls were added last month. That prompted this sober headline from CNBC: “Job creation grinds to a near-halt in February.”

Stock investors have enjoyed a very nice run (as they did in the Obama years). But down in the trenches of blue-collar America, things aren’t nearly as hot. Factory workers are finding plenty of jobs, and their wages are creeping up. But solidly middle-class paychecks, once the pride of our manufacturing economy, have not returned.

The happy message clashes with reports that a record number of Americans died in 2017 from alcohol, drugs and suicide. These largely self-inflicted tragedies have been called “deaths of despair.”

Of course, it’s not only about money. The loss of strong families has left many troubled people bereft of help, love and solace when hopelessness takes over.

But add in threats to the government benefits important to working Americans, and you have major-league anxiety. Of special concern is the Affordable Care Act, which the Trump administration is doing its best to dismantle. For many families facing health crises, medical coverage is all that stands between making do and destitution.

Candidate Trump played the self-made billionaire, promising to do for struggling Americans what he did for himself. (Actually, his father gave him $413 million in today’s dollars.) Upon being elected, he continued to do for himself, while delivering daily pep talks to working folk.

His tax cut sent nearly all the benefits to the top incomes. The savings for the lower incomes were meager and designed to expire shortly.

It can’t be said that the tax cuts did nothing to goose the larger economy. They did, but that magic is about to expire. And by the way, it was all done with borrowed money.

The trade war spectacle has taken a bite out of the economy’s animal spirits. The marquee event is the battle with China. One hopes that Trump will succeed in stopping China’s very unfair trading practices: illegal government subsidies, biased regulations and theft of intellectual property.

But his announcement that China may guarantee purchases of U.S. soybeans sets off a long yawn. The Chinese were importing enormous shiploads of soybeans before Trump launched the trade war.

As a commodity trader told Bloomberg News, “The markets are a little tired of some of the ups and downs and the eight or 12-hour news cycle of tweets.” Oh, yes, the trade deficit — a Trumpian obsession — is now the highest in 10 years.

Trump routinely deafened Twitter with his promise of 4 percent growth in the economy. The gross domestic product hasn’t even passed 3 percent for any year. Better times, meanwhile, are not yet to come.

Economists see the economy softening, and the manufacturing sector seems to know it. “SC businesses brace for eventual recession,” says a pessimistic headline in The (Charleston, South Carolina) Post and Courier.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com.To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.