Sir Win­ston Churchill: There’s num­bers, sta­tis­tics, and damned lies


Don­ald Trump has won sev­eral Pinoc­chio Awards for telling whop­pers. Look it up. But I think his claim of turn­ing around a failed Obama econ­omy tops them all. To be­gin with there was no fail­ing econ­omy to turn around.

In 2009 Pres­i­dent Obama in­her­ited the worst econ­omy since the Great De­pres­sion. The real es­tate mar­ket had col­lapsed from un­bri­dled spec­u­la­tion, overex­ten­sion and bad loans, un­em­ploy­ment was at near de­pres­sion-era lev­els and sev­eral ma­jor Wall Street and Detroit firms were fac­ing bank­ruptcy due to the dereg­u­lated, free-rein poli­cies of the Ge­orge W. Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion. In­ci­den­tally, Bush will re­main our only pres­i­dent to de­clare war and cut taxes in the same year. And I still can’t be­lieve he did that.

Obama got a lot of Re­pub­li­can crit­i­cism for bail­ing out Wall Street firms and Detroit auto man­u­fac­tur­ers. But a Re­pub­li­can ad­min­is­tra­tion would have done the same thing in a heart­beat. These bold moves halted the eco­nomic free-fall, thus avoid­ing mass un­em­ploy­ment. And, amaz­ingly, ev­ery last penny was paid back with in­ter­est. How much bet­ter could Obama’s re­sults have been? Now let’s look at the real facts of Don­ald Trump’s “eco­nomic mir­a­cle.”

Let’s start with job growth, Trump’s num­ber one brag­ging point. We are cur­rently en­joy­ing the 95th straight month of em­ploy­ment growth, the long­est on record by far. But this de­cline in un­em­ploy­ment didn’t be­gin af­ter Trump as­sumed of­fice as he would have us be­lieve. It started back in Jan­uary 2012 in the fourth year of the Obama’s first term and con­tin­ued in un­in­ter­rupted up­ward growth through the present month. Un­em­ploy­ment has now reached the amaz­ingly low rate of less than four per­cent. Ef­fec­tively, ev­ery- one who wants a job has one. Of those ninety-five to­tal months of con­tin­u­ous job growth, seventy-four took place un­der Barack Obama. That’s eighty per­cent if you care to do the math. Trump turned noth­ing around, he sim­ply latched on to Obama’s suc­cess.

And how about wages? Av­er­age hourly wages have risen as un­em­ploy­ment has de­clined, but not enough to make up for the many years of work­ers’ in­come stag­na­tion. And a re­cent surge of in­fla­tion driven by higher oil prices from Trump’s silly tar­iff war has negated much of these wage gains. As for the cre­ation of new pri­vate­sec­tor jobs, those num­bers peaked in 2015 un­der Obama at 2.87 mil­lion and have de­clined slightly since then. But Trump con­tin­ues to brag that he is do­ing things Obama failed to do. What could that be other than fudg­ing the truth?

It’s pretty much the same story with GDP (na­tional in­come) growth. Yes, the Re­pub­li­cans have ex­pe­ri­enced a healthy GDP pro­duc­tion in most quar­ters of 20172018. But in no quar­ter has it ap­proached the 5.1% in­crease in the sec­ond quar­ter of 2014 dur­ing the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Here are the facts: Trump in­her­ited a healthy econ­omy al­ready on the up­swing, falsely de­clared it a dis­as­ter, got by with it, promised to make Amer­ica great again, and now he’s declar­ing vic­tory. Vic­tory over what? Noted econ­o­mist Aaron So­journer writes, “Trump took the Obama econ­omy and added a Key­ne­sian spend­ing boost (mostly mil­i­tary spend­ing), a move the Re­pub­li­can Con­gress would never have let Obama get by with.”

The down side of this pros­per­ity nar­ra­tive is that pre­cious lit­tle of this in­crease has shown up in work­ers’ pay­checks. And they are the ones who put Trump over the top in the 2016 elec­tion. They should learn some­thing from this. But I doubt it.

Ge­orge B. Reed Jr., who lives in Rossville, can be reached by email at reed1600@bell­


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