Thursday, 22 October 2020 16:13

OPINION: The success of President Trump

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The election is upon us and early voting is already underway in many states. As is always the case with an incumbent president, voters are determining whether the current president is worthy of a second term. In short, this election is a referendum on President Trump. Let’s discuss the success of Donald Trump’s first term in office.


We’ll limit this article to Trump’s favorite topic, the economy.

Trump likes to say that he built the greatest and fastest-growing economy, the likes of which the world has never seen before. Is that true? Let’s take look at it.

Below is a graph of the unemployment numbers from his inauguration date of January 2017 through December 2019. I’ve left off any 2020 numbers so that any coronavirus-related unemployment won’t unfairly tip the scale. 

Figure 1: Unemployment Numbers - Jan '17 - Dec '19

As you can see, unemployment was around 10% before he came into office. Read that again: 10%. Can you believe that? One out of every 10 people was unemployed. That is enormous. After Trump was inaugurated, the unemployment rate steadily dropped for almost three whole years. At the end of 2019, the numbers were under 4%. This was a fantastic reversal and is worthy of praise.

Trump was successful here, so let’s move on to Gross Domestic Product, or GDP.

Below is a graph from January 2017 through December 2019. Again, I’ve left off any 2020 numbers so that the coronavirus related economic numbers won’t unfairly affect the results. 

 

Figure 2: US GDP – Jan ’17 – Dec ‘19

As can be seen, the GDP started rising after Trump’s inauguration in Quarter 1 (Q1) of 2017 through to Quarter 4 (Q4) of 2019. His presidency started at a GDP 15,200 billions of dollars in early 2017 and at the end of 2019 it was at around 18,800 billions of dollars. In percentage terms, that’s a 23% growth. That is amazing!

Actually, let’s take a step back. I’ve been lying to you this entire time. These graphs are not indicative of the date range that I’ve described. For each graph, I’ve manipulated the dates to mislead you. Let’s look at each of these.

The first graph representing unemployment numbers actually covers the range of August 2009 through December 2019.

 

Figure 3: Unemployment Numbers - Aug '09 - Dec '19

The second graph representing US GDP also represents this same date range of August 2009 through December 2019. 

 

Figure 4: US GDP – Aug ’09 – Dec ‘19

The reason that I have intentionally misled you is to point out some things. 

First, Trump did not turn the economy around as he likes to say. As you can tell by both graphs, Trump was only continuing the trend set under the Obama years. These graphs display the recovery after the Great Recession and the transition from Obama to Trump in January 2017. As you can see, there was no sudden shift in unemployment or GDP numbers as Trump would like you to believe. Is Trump worthy of re-election based on continuing a trend set by his predecessor? I can’t answer that question, but it is worth considering.

Second, in my previous articles I’ve repeatedly talked about how Trump lies and misleads. He has lied and misled here, also. The economy was doing pretty good under Obama’s last three years and was setting a good trend. The economy was getting healthier and healthier each year. Trump likes to say that he created this economic growth. But did he really? Again, I can’t answer that question. Still, it is worth pondering.

Third, and most importantly, it is important to be skeptical. I intentionally misled you here. People mislead all the time. However, I was kind enough to tell you that I misled you. I intentionally botched the date ranges to make it seem as if Trump was more successful as a president. It is important for you to always do your own research. People are not going to stop lying, misleading, and manipulating you for their own gain. It is important to always take things slow and research for yourself. And as one of my personal rules, you should be skeptical of what I say. Don’t trust me. Look it up for yourself.

All in all, I’ve shown to you how Trump has not been forthright about his economic performance as president. Trump likes to say that everything he does is great and is the best ever. To Trump, everything he does is great; that is Trump. But it is important for us, as American citizens and voters, to maintain a healthy level of skepticism. Is everything Trump touches great? Maybe what our president says isn’t exactly true. Is it really true that Trump built the greatest economy in the world, or is it more complicated than that?

To maintain complete transparency, I used the below sources for my data. If you don’t trust me, please do your own research.

Unemployment: https://www.bls.gov/charts/employment-situation/civilian-unemployment-rate.htm

GDP: https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/GDPC1

Alex Auman is a Richmond Country native. He currently lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. He writes about politics, ideas and current events.

Last modified on Thursday, 22 October 2020 18:02