Trump takes victory lap on big GDP number

President Trump took a victory lap at the White House on Friday, touting his tax and regulatory policies as drivers of the best economic growth in nearly four years.

The U.S. economy expanded at a 4.1 percent rate in the April-to-June quarter, the highest level since growth hit 5.2 percent in the third quarter of 2014, the Commerce Department reported.

{mosads}In a speech at the White House, Trump said the country is growing “at the amazing rate” and that “we’re on track to hit the highest annual average growth rate in over 13 years.”

Trade deals will further help the economy and “we’re going to go a lot higher than these numbers and these are great numbers,” said Trump, surrounded by top administration officials on the South Lawn.

Republicans are hoping that a string of good economic news will bolster their hopes in the November midterm elections. The booming economy is the foundation of the GOP’s pitch to voters as the party tries to defend its vulnerable House majority.

Trump and his top economic aides seized the chance to bolster that message Friday with a hastily planned speech held an hour after the growth report was released.

The president attributed the boom to GOP efforts to slash taxes, repeal finance and energy regulations and strike fairer trade deals, and he called the U.S. “the economic envy of the entire world.”

“Everywhere we look, we’re seeing the effects of the economic miracle all across America,” Trump said.

Trump also touted a $50 billion drop in the U.S. trade deficit and a recent agreement with the European Union to negotiate a free-trade deal.

“We were abused by countries themselves, even allies,” Trump said. “We were abused like no country had ever been abused on trade before. They stole our jobs and plundered our wealth. But that ended.” 

Trump and his top aides touted the trade deficit decrease as proof that his tariffs on imported steel, aluminum and Chinese goods are yielding fairer trade terms for the U.S. But economists attribute it to buyers stocking up on U.S. crops before retaliatory tariffs imposed by several nations drive up prices.

Economists have also doubted the sustainability of the second quarter growth rate. Analysts have attributed the massive spike in growth to one-time increases in consumer spending driven by tax cuts, and the global rush to buy U.S. soybeans before tariffs kick in.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimated that those factors accounted for 1.4 percentage points of growth, and that the second-quarter growth rate would be 2.7 percent without them.

Trump’s top economic advisers disputed those concerns Friday, saying the U.S. could expect similar growth levels for the foreseeable future.

“If we look at the data today, we can see the proof in the pudding that the president’s policies are working. And it’s not just in the top line, it’s in the details,” said Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Kevin Hassett.

“If you stand up for American workers and let our allies know the deal that aren’t reciprocal aren’t acceptable, we can make a lot of progress.”

National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said “this is a boom that will be sustainable as far as the eye can see. It is no one shot-effort.”

Updated at 12:01 p.m.

Tags 2018 midterms Donald Trump GDP growth Trump economy

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