At the Republican National Convention, President Trump made numerous claims of his genius managing the U.S. economy. But what is his actual track record?

The U.S. economy performed about the same in Trump’s first three years in office, before the COVID-19 pandemic, as it did in the last three years of President Obama’s term in office. Statistics from the U.S. Bureaus of Labor Statistics and Economic Analysis show similar performance in employment, economic growth and wage growth.

Trump’s version of trickle-down economics, his 2017 tax cuts primarily for large corporations and the wealthy, was a failure. This $1.3 trillion of deficit spending accomplished little in real economic growth. Those tax dollars certainly would have been put to better use now to help Americans suffering from job losses and stimulate consumer spending.

Trump’s biggest economic failure has been his denial and then ineffective management of the COVID-19 epidemic, worsening its economic toll and deepening the economic hole we need to climb out of. His failure to mitigate the spread of the virus and the resulting death toll worsened business closures and job losses more than they would otherwise have been.

Lessons learned from the 1918-1919 flu epidemic in the U.S. documented in a 2020 study by MIT economists found that those American cities that had stricter lockdowns and social distancing requirements, emerged from that pandemic with the least severe economic impacts, and had greater job and economic growth thereafter than those cities that did not.

Comparing the negative economic impact in the U.S. to countries that were more proactive in controlling the coronavirus’s spread tells a similar story. For example, the July 2020 unemployment rate in Germany was 6.4%, while it was 10.2% in the U.S.

Don’t be fooled by Trump’s political rhetoric and chest thumping. He is no economic mastermind.


George Seel


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