Raymond A. Hult: Dubious economic bluster from the White House

(Evan Vucci | AP file photo) In this May 7 photo, President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting about the coronavirus response in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington.

For over three years now, President Trump has bragged he’s been singularly responsible for creating the greatest economy in the history of the United States.

He apparently intends to win reelection in large part based on that bravado.

The reality is, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, his claim of monetary wizardry has been largely overblown. Following the arrival of the pandemic, he’s been significantly culpable for causing a steep economic decline.

It was actually President Obama who has been just as much if not more responsible for improvement in the economy after the 2008 Great Recession he inherited from the Republicans. In almost every monetary category, improvement during Obama’s administration was equal to or superior to that of Trump.

The truth is Trump was fortunate to be elected during a sustained economic rise and it’s reasonably argued that improvement would have continued unabated had Hillary Clinton won.

Under Obama, the unemployment rate dropped from 10% to 5.8%. The rate continued to drop under Trump to 3.4%, only half the drop under Obama. GDP growth has been about the same for both. The Dow Jones Industrial average soared under Obama matching the increase under Trump.

Trump campaigned on lowering the trade deficit, but it has grown during his time in office. The U.S. economy added more than 577 thousand jobs in Obama’s last two years in office, while Trump couldn’t top that that rate of growth up to the time the pandemic hit. The trend is the same when considering the racial pay gap, growth of household income and household income adjusted for inflation.

In the meantime, Trump has bragged about how his orders to deregulate have been a stroke of superior business acumen.

It’s now clear the primary factor for the 2008 recession was the deregulation of banks during the Bush administration. Is it really worth the risk? Not to mention the jeopardy of Trump eliminating regulatory oversight over other critical areas of concern including clean water, air and climate change.

Our monetary guru of a president continues to brag about his 2017 tax reform bill. Estimates from the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimated that, in 2018, the top 1% of earners would receive 20.5% of the benefits from the tax cuts. By 2027, the top 1% would receive approximately 83% of the benefit.

The concept of a “trickle down” effect has proved just as dubious as when promoted and failed in the past. Adding to the bill’s blunder was unnecessarily escalating an already overblown deficit.

Trump can’t now dodge culpability for our abrupt economic decline following the COVID-19 pandemic blanketing America. Prior, he disbanded the pandemic task force charged with preparing for potential viral invasions. He ignored daily briefings in January and February warning of the virus’s spread.

In a April 21 New York Times commentary, ”epidemiologists estimated that 90% of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. might have been prevented if social distancing policies went into effect two weeks earlier.” That seems to be confirmed by the March 16 first stay-at-home and business closure order in the nation, encompassing the six-county San Francisco Bay area resulting in an immediate flattening of the curve while cases soared in comparison with nine other major metropolitan cities with no such prompt orders.

Obviously, tens of thousands of deaths could have been prevented by instituting earlier safeguards and not pussyfooting around for two months when prompt action could have helped flatten the curve far earlier. It’s clear now thatTrump was trying to ignore the pending disaster out of fear it might adversely cause a run on the stock market and negatively affect his reelection chances. Instead, his inaction has now tanked the economy with the unemployment rate skyrocketing to historic highs.

How long our economic nose-dive is going to last or how much worse it will get is yet unknown. What can’t be denied is it is a lot worse than it had to be if more preparation had been infused earlier on. That lack of early planning can be directly linked to the glaring indifference of our commander in chief.

Still warranted bragging about his economic preeminence? I don’t think so.

Raymond A. Hult

Raymond A. Hult, Bountiful, is a retired FBI special agent who investigated numerous con-men falsely claiming superior attributes they didn’t possess.