Trump and his administration create a lot of noise. A multitude of Trump scandals demand extensive news coverage, and Trump’s deranged Twitter tantrums get a ton of attention, as they should. But all of the chaos makes it harder to follow the policy actions and fundamental shifts occurring below the radar.
One of those recent shifts involves America’s GDP, or Gross Domestic Product, our main measure of overall economic growth, reported quarterly. During Obama’s final two years, GDP came in at 2.6% in ’15 and 1.9% in ’16. These numbers weren’t great, but given the horrendous Sub-Prime disaster Obama inherited from George Bush–plummeting home prices, cratering stock markets, runaway unemployment–they were fine.
But slow steady stable growth wasn’t enough for the Republicans. They wanted higher growth because, as owners and CEOs, they would make more money. But of course, they publicly pretended they were trying to create more jobs–even though they inherited from Obama a great job market and a solid economy. In his campaign speeches Trump regularly talked about how, if elected, he would magically get our GDP to four percent, not the wimpy growth of that loser Obama. *It’ll be so easy for a business genius like me!* And his policy initiatives in office were meant to bolster that promise, if only on a superficial basis. The Tax Scam was supposed to boost profits, which would trickle down to the workers, creating a virtuous cycle of increased growth. Likewise, easing regulations on industries like oil extraction, natural gas, and coal would increase business activity and bolster GDP and employment.
Trump’s supporters have been beating their chests and gloating over the coming GDP miracle ever since, insisting that the expected increases would prove that Trump was the best pick for president, a true business wiz.
In his first year, Trump’s GDP never reached 3% in any quarter. So Trump tried to revise his GDP promise down to 3%. In his second year, he had two great quarters in a row, one above 4% and one above 3% (so did Obama). But those appear to have been the high water marks for now. Trump’s economic advisers are quietly conceding that GDP in the coming year will be nowhere near 4%. Most economists forecast GDP in the low to mid 2% range for the next several years, not far from the trend track of the Obama economy.
It’s hard to overstate what a disaster these latest GPD forecasts are for Trump and his supporters. GDP was one of the core fantasies that Trumpers trumpeted on social media, so the failure to live up to its promise is a massive blow to the Trumpers’ narratives and expectations, especially because Trump and the GOP got almost everything they wanted–tax cuts, de-regulation, elimination of the ACA mandates.
As activists, we can’t let Trump and the corrupt GOP forget that their economic promises were smoke and mirrors, based on an economic “trickle-down” theory that has been disproven over and over in recent decades. Trump isn’t a business wiz–he’s an incompetent pretender who has no clue how to run a casino, much less one of the largest economies in the world. And the GDP numbers prove it. I can imagine the protest rally chants already:
“Four percent G-D-P? Trump can’t even get us three!”